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Diecast Delights: A Renault Clio V6 in 1:18 scale

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So, I thought I was doing well managing my intake of 1:18s. I had gone five weeks without a purchase, not quite cold turkey, but pretty good. Then, suddenly, the eBay app on my phone jingled at me and boasted about how many diecast conquests I was potentially missing out on. So the addiction lives on.

With the Renault 5 Turbo safely stashed away in my collection and looking pretty marvellous, it seemed only right to find a reasonably priced copy of its descendent as a garage buddy. The model you see before you is branded under the Eagle Collectibles banner, which is part of the same group as Universal Hobbies, who, in turn, marketed a version of Revell’s Renault 5.

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Diecast Delights: A Euro Ford Ranger in 1:18 Scale

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Until the recent past pickup-trucks weren’t really a thing across Europe. I’m pretty sure, though, that within my lifetime auto historians will publish essays on the exact moment, and reason, that all that changed. It all comes down to clever marketing.

Previously, the pick-up truck was a hardy, utilitarian device (ab)used by builders and manual labourers to lug cement mixers and bricks from site to site. Latterly, and no doubt finally reflecting how things have always been West of the Atlantic, pickup trucks have been picking up sales as do-anything “lifestyle” type vehicles. It can’t hurt, either, that pickups have premium SUV levels of road presence while costing one helluva lot less.

Today’s diecast delight recalls Ford of Europe’s first proper stab at marketing a pickup, if you except the previous car-based P100 and Escort Bakkie’s. This was, of course, a Mazda with a blue oval glued on. The European Ford Ranger.

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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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Diecast Delights: A Ford Mustang SVO in 1:18 Scale

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I couldn’t resist it. While patrolling this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, diligently photographing everything that I thought I might be able to write something about, I noticed a ziggurat of diecasts in the scant shelter of Bill Shepherd Mustang’s merchandise awning. Then the part of me that controls my spending muscles and is always in the lookout for low, low prices clocked a “reduced to clear” Tag.

So I now possess a 1:18th scale Fox-body Mustang SVO. And here it is.

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Diecast Delights: A ’65 Corvette Sting Ray in 1:18 scale.

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Too much, too young: The Clash were about right. With a mortgage ensuring that what Easily Comes also Easily Goes, and with ACTUAL cars,  ones that I can get in and drive around, vying for slices of my monthly income, I’d have to be absolutely stark, staring mad to spend out serious dough on model cars. Toys, as my wife would dismissively describe them. With any luck I’ve got plenty of life ahead of me and maybe one day I’ll justify £300 for an Exoto here and a GMP there.

Or maybe I won’t. One thing that this series of Diecast Delights has confirmed is just how much absolute gold there is at the very bottom of the Diecast Heirarchy. Let’s take a look at one such model that won’t break anybody’s bank. Even mine.

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Diecast Delights: A Willys Jeep in 1/18 scale.

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If I was opening a car museum, what would I put in it? That’s pretty much what I have in mind when deciding on collecting models. Every collector, consciously or not, has a theme in mind. Some are Muscle Car completists and will scour the world, pay huge amounts and sometimes perform DIY modifications to replicate that elusive Plum Crazy Charger. Others simply have to own every Porsche or Lamborghini.

Myself, I collect models both of things that I think are awesome, and cars that I think were important. It was this that caused me to buy this Willys Jeep from eBay, on near impulse.

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Diecast Delights: An Opel Manta in 1/18 Scale

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When I was knee high to a Cortina, our visiting healthcare professional was a lady, and she drove an Opel Manta. It was a GT, the base model in the UK in the mid ’80s, and I thought it was pretty much the coolest thing in the world. It had those anthracite steel wheels with the little triangular cut-outs, and little plastic hubcaps. Much more awesome than the badly rusty Vauxhall Victor my Dad had at the time.

When I saw this model for sale in a Chelmsford toy store about fifteen years ago, I obviously had to have it. Of course, as tends to happen it represents the range topping GT/E Coupe rather than the GT Hatchback, but aside from that finding it was Manta be.

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Die-Cast Delights: A Renault 5 Turbo in 1:18 Scale

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Some people follow themes in their diecast car collections. Some folk own a model of everything ever in the entire Ferrari back catalogue. Some folk collect exclusively silver models, and there are, of course, motorsport fanatics who use their collection to demonstrate their allegiance to a given team or driver.

Me? I collect stuff I think is awesome. That’s all. And what’s more awesome than a tiny shopping hatchback transformed into a fire-breathing Group-B rally monster? The answer I’m looking for is “very little”.

It’s the Renault 5 Turbo.

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Diecast Delights: Lotus Elise 111S in 1/18 Scale

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You know, collecting diecast models is a peculiar hobby that everybody goes about in different ways. There are dozens of forums out there devoted to it, but a common theme is people fawning over the latest releases by companies like Exoto, Spark and CMC. These models are often made in extremely limited numbers, and the first person to flex their chequebook wins. The thing is, is this really collecting, or is it just shopping? And does it even matter?

With neither of my daily drivers being worth much more than £500, I have neither the funds nor the stomach to pump several hundred quid at a time into buying toys. Besides which, models at the high end of the industry are like jewellery, and end up being displayed in a similar way. It can end up being more about the model itself than the actual car it represents. For me the car is paramount, and if 85% of the detail can be bought for 15% of the price, then I’m all for it.

Hence this Lotus Elise now appearing in my collection after an eBay bidding war in which my maximum bid was £20.

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Norman Timbs Streamliner from Automodello is a 1:43 Scale beauty

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In the 1940s, a man named Norman Timbs set out to make a car of his own design. In 1948, that goal came to fruition when the Timbs Streamliner roared into existence. Its sleek all-aluminum body was hand-formed by the man who stuck his own name on the car, and the resulting shape is truly a work of art.

With a curb weight of just 2,500 pounds, the 248 cubic-inch Buick straight-eight had no problem pushing the Streamliner to a top speed of 120 miles per hour. The car became a cover girl for the second ever issue of Motor Trend, before it moved on to private ownership.

As happens to nearly all old vehicles, the car disappeared before it was discovered in a yard in the California desert. It was intact, however, and soon restored to its former glory. From there it was off to Amelia Island, where the Streamliner took home some hardware and has continued to do so ever since.

Now it’s arrived on my desk… in 1:43 scale, thanks to the excellent artisans of Automodello.

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