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Precision Miniatures 1:18 1952 So-Cal Belly Tank Lakester

Reviewed by:   Bill Bennett
     
  Precision Miniatures 1:18 1952 So-Cal Belly Tank Lakester diecast car
 
 
 

Alex Xydias and his So-Cal Speed Shop built the fastest unblown flathead-powered car in the history of Bonneville… a 1951 record that still stands! The mustered-out Army Air Corps B-17 engineer was looking for a way to put his Burbank-based So-Cal Speed Shop on the map in the hot rod culture that was booming in Southern California at the end of World War II, and a record breaking racecar seemed to be a natural. The So-Cal Speed Shop belly tank was built using a 315 gallon surplus P-38 centerline fuel tank (belly tank) as its body. Using the streamlined belly tank was a natural to this Air Corps veteran who knew that Lockheed had spent lots of time in the wind tunnel with these tanks making them aerodynamically “slippery” and they were available as war surplus for $5! In August of 1948, Alex installed a “souped-up” Ford 156 cu. in. V8-60 that he and hot rod pioneer Vic Edelbrock Sr. built. He towed the car to El Mirage dry lake and set a class record of 130.155. Initially the car was run as a streamliner, but the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) created a special class for these fuel tank cars calling them “lakesters”. Later at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Alex and his So-Cal Speed Shop team used the V8-60 to set a class record at 145.395. They swapped out the V8-60 for a larger 259 inch Mercury flathead and set another class record at 181.085. They then put in a 296 inch Mercury flathead and set yet another class record at 195.77 setting a one-way speed of 198.34 mph. This last class record was broken again the next day by Mal Hoopster running 197.88 in a Chrysler Hemi powered lakester in the same class, but the one-way speed still stands as the fastest speed ever achieved by a normally-aspirated flathead-powered car. At the 1952 Bonneville Speedweek, this car was voted the “Most Honored Car in the History of Bonneville”.

Precision Miniatures’s 1:18 scale replica of this historic car is another MASTERPIECE in their line of beautifully detailed, start from scratch, hot rods following the “Winged Express” and “Pure Hell” fuel altereds and has shown that they can play at the very highest level of detail and quality in diecasts. With the engine cowl and bubble canopy installed, the car beautifully represents the real thing. The polished red and white paint is absolutely breathtaking and looks like the So-Cal team had spent hours polishing and waxing it to make the car extra slippery on its record passes. The tiny louvers are punched out and allow you to sneak a peek at the full-race Ford flathead. When you look at the rear suspension, you’ll see tiny copper brake lines running out to the fully drilled-out backing plates. The front suspension is a maze of components, all perfectly rendered, including tie rod, steering rod, fully drilled-out front axle, and friction shocks. Since this car only went in a straight line, Precision Miniatures has chosen to give us more suspension detail in lieu of making the suspension steerable. A good decision, I think. With the engine cowl and bubble canopy off you can spend hours pouring over the beautiful flathead racing engine…… the Stromberg 97 carburetors that look different from front to back were that way on the real car to clear the streamlined body, the perfectly-duplicated throttle and clutch linkage, hi-compression Edelbrock finned heads where you can actually read “Edelbrock” in the casting, and the Kong ignition and wiring. There’s even a dipstick and I have to admit to trying to pull it out of its tube to see if there was really oil in the engine…. it’s that realistic! If you peer down into the cockpit with a flashlight you’ll see detail that is there that most owners of this beautiful model will never see…. a tube frame to protect the driver(but not his head), throttle, steering wheel, seat belts and gauges all beautifully done. Precision Miniatures, you’ve really outdone yourself on this one! If you enjoy early hot rodding or all of the nooks and crannies of competitive auto racing or if you just appreciate beautifully-done models of highly-significant automotive icons, this is a MUST HAVE!

(11/21/2003)
 
 
  Precision Miniatures 1:18 1952 So-Cal Belly Tank Lakester diecast car

Precision Miniatures 1:18 1952 So-Cal Belly Tank Lakester diecast car

Precision Miniatures 1:18 1952 So-Cal Belly Tank Lakester diecast car

Precision Miniatures 1:18 1952 So-Cal Belly Tank Lakester diecast car

Precision Miniatures 1:18 1952 So-Cal Belly Tank Lakester diecast car

 
 
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