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Diecast Delights: a ’69 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ 428 in 1/18 scale.

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I still do it. Whenever we go past a toyshop I still go inside, forlornly hoping that what happened once some twelve years ago could happen again. Of course, it never does.

In 2003 I found myself idly wandering around Chelmsford. Bored absolutely rigid, I ventured into a branch of The Entertainer, a generic all-ages toyshop. Seldom do shops like that have anything for me, save for a reasonable selection of Lego. But on this day, and I’ve never seen anything like it happen since, the shop had a few remaining reduced-to-clear diecast models. Normal price £30, now £6!

And of course I wish I’d bought more than one.

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The Carchive: Oldsmobile in 1985

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We’re enjoying a heatwave right now in the UK. After the excitement of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, followed closely by the sheer overwhelmingness of an encounter with a still-active Ford Granada Estate, what better than to sit back and relax in a shady spot with a long, cool, refreshing brochure?

The Carchive has been closed for maintenance for the last couple of weeks, but now the hard hats and reflective jackets have finally been packed away and I can gain access once again. First off the shelf this time was a Brochure for the Oldsmobile line-up of 1985.

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The Noble Art of Keeping Things Going

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My manager summoned me away from my desk. The day hadn’t been going brilliantly, to be honest, there were numbers that needed to be balanced and accounts that were on the frightening side of gnarly, and it was the last day of the month. The pressure was on.

I duly dropped everything and headed outside, ready for the shouting to commence, wherupon my manager said “take a look at this”.

It was a 1986 Ford Granada 2.3 LX estate. I had never been happier to see one.

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The Carchive: The Skoda 1000MB.

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Libraries are great. Histories and cultures, collected and catalogued for the benefit of mankind. But all too often they have altogether insufficient car content. That’s where The Carchive comes in.

I’ve still got Eastern Europe in my mind after my little trip to Slovakia, so let’s finish the week off with a look at a socialist relic from before that country was divorced from the Czech Republic. It’s the Skoda 1000MB.

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The Carchive: Z20 series Toyota Soarer

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Apropos of absolutely nothing whatsoever, I fancied a look at something a little out of the ordinary from the Orient. I have a particular fascination with certain forbidden fruits enjoyed by the Japanese in their domestic market and after a little rummaging I soon uncovered this document from 1986. It’s one of my favourites. The Z20 Toyota Soarer.

“SUPER GRAN TURISMO SOARER’S ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY FOR ALL AUTOMOTIVE TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT”.

Yep, that’s what they say. They’re right, too.

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Sitting Pretty: (Most Likely) Abandoned 1996 Lada Samara 1500i

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I drive past this off-white Lada Samara almost every day, whenever I grab my car keys and go anywhere. It’s been sitting at the parking lot adjacent to the railway station as long as I remember, and after I first paid attention to it I don’t think I’ve seen it go anywhere. It’s on summer tires, but those were mounted a good few years ago, I wager.

A car so inherently disposable as a Samara, especially one manufactured as late as 1996 when the competition was quite far ahead of the little Lada, doesn’t really stand a chance of being intentionally preserved. This one will probably sit there until someone tows it somewhere to be cubed.

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Oddball Convertible Weekend: The Volvo 262C Solaire

The Volvo 262C is a classy car as it comes. Who wouldn’t love a plush version of a two-door 200-series, with a chopped roof designed by Bertone and a six up front? The only way to make it better is to chop that roof right out and turn it into a convertible. But of course.

And, as history tells, cars such as this exist.

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Oddball Convertible Weekend: The AMC Sundancer

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As weird convertible cars come, it’s difficult to get much weirder than the AMC Sundancer. Come to think of it, a regular AMC Eagle is sort of offbeat – a proto-Allroad, a lifted Concord, something as backdated and unmistakably distilled in its origins as a Saab was in the ’80s, cool by not trying to be obviously cool.

So, to turn that weirdness up a notch, an Eagle was treated to the same convertible conversion treatment as a contemporary Toyota Celica. How’s that for oddball-ity, a jacked-up 4×4 droptop?

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Oddball Convertible Weekend: The Volvo 480 Cabriolet

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“Did they really make a Volvo 480 cabriolet?” Yes, they did build a few of them. Depending of how fond you are of the wedgy Volvo, it’s either unfortunate or a blessing they didn’t build more than a small pre-production run, along with a Belgian supplier creating some prototypes of their own.

But the few press photos that exist look quite promising.

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Oddball Convertible Weekend: The Nissan Micra/March Cabriolet

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This weekend will centre around the kind of convertible cars, which can make you think “I didn’t know they made these. Why did they make these?”

The first one to go is the K11 body Nissan Micra Cabriolet, also known as the March in its home market. The first generation Micra had only the Canvas Top roof option, the K12 had the power metal C+C top, but the second, ’90s generation car did the complete basket handle thing. And it does look adorable in a ’90s way.

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