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.
It wasn’t even as if I was collecting muscle cars back then. Actually, I’m still not, I just have space in my collection for anything I deem sufficiently awesome. Of course, the SJ 428 was awesome to a fairly extreme degree, with up to 390 hp pumping out of the biggest 428CID engine choice for ’69. SJ was the swanky trim level, a designation which dated back to the Duesenberg days.
This model, unbelievably given the £6 I stole it for, is from Ertl’s Elite range, which uses the same tooling as their Collectors range but adds a dusting of extra detail. It also gives it a fetching vinyl roof which arguably subtracts from the sportiness of the car and gives it a bit more of a personal luxury vibe.
The sport features are still there to be seen; the hood mounted tachometer, PMD branded rally wheels. It’s a shame that a manual ‘box isn’t depicted, though. There are only pedals for stop and go.
Detail on this model is excellent. The interior is stunning, with woven seatbelts and chrome buckles, correct chrome frame detailing on the seats which look fold forwards for rear bench access. There’s an SJ decal on the centre console of that “command seat” cockpit and the dials are beautifully modelled.
There’s a detailed get-you-home spare wheel and fire extinguisher in the trunk. The headlamps, tail-lamps and side markers are nicely modelled and the chrome isn’t overdone.
Under the hood things are pretty special. Looking at images around the web of the 1:1 I’d have to say Ertl have done a damn good job. OK, the engine block itself is solid baby blue rather than a metallic shade, but everything is present and correct, with chromed rocker covers, air-cleaner and all the plug leads visible if you look closely. Bits ‘n bobs like the brake master cylinder and the cooling fan shroud all pass muster.
The stance feels right, too. It’s a nicely substantial model, in looks and feel. It’s very weighty.
There are a few little quality control issues, over time some of the little decals are lifting and I’ve just noticed that the left hand exhaust is hanging free of its mounts (actually looks rather jaunty). Also, the way the hood closes over that big chrome grille is a bit clumsy, but then it probably wasn’t 100% un-clumsy on the original.
And, ferchrissakes, £6! It would still have been a bargain if it had been on fire.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)