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First Peek with Rusty Hurley Edition Date
1-08-05
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PMA/Minichamps 1972 Porsche 917/10
Revell Austin Healy Sprite

 

PMA/Minichamps 1972 Porsche 917/10 Revell Austin Healy Sprite
 
     
 
Rusty Hurley
Rusty Hurley
 

"On following in footsteps but not filling shoes..."

These were the words William Barry Furlong used as he succeeded the legendary sports columnist Shirley Povich at the Washington Post. Those words give you some idea of how I feel as I look at the shoe prints of Joe Kelly, Jr., one of the most respected people in the hobby. I'm honored to walk the trail he blazed.

While the name may be different at the top of this column, the mission is the same; provide you with insight on pre-production prototype models. Nothing long - just a quick hit on upcoming products – hopefully two to three at a time.

Now, I don't know about you, but the last time I looked around the house I didn’t have any pre-production prototypes lying about. So we will get the column going again reviewing brand new models or imports destined for North America. As we get pre-production models we will work them in to the mix. If you’re from a diecast manufacturer and want your models included in a future edition of First Peek, write me at rhurley@mn.rr.com and we’ll get your product featured.

For this week’s edition, we’ll look at two items that have been primarily European imports until recently.

 

Click thumbnails to see larger images
 

 

 

 

 

  PMA/Minichamps 1972 Porsche 917/10

"It was a car for wild men and crazy boys."
- Hurley Haywood

After the 1971 LeMans race, the FIA sent the 917 packing.

Enter Josef Hoppen. As head of VW of America, he had every intention to see Porsche succeed in the McLaren-dominated Can Am series. Not having much support from Stuttgart, he decided to get some local help. And boy did he find some talent. Roger Penske and Mark Donohue signed on. After Donohue was injured at Road Atlanta, George Follmer joined the team and drove away with the series championship.

Minichamps has executed a 1:18 version of Follmer’s #7 in what is the first of a series of 917/10 models. The model is currently available only as a Porsche dealer exclusive. What is immediately most striking about it is the black and red over white L&M livery. Yes, L&M as in Liggett & Meyers cigarettes – a surprising development given Minichamp’s well known obstacles producing the Rothmans’s 956 livery. There are also Bosch and Brumos liveries available.

The paint is smoothly applied and the graphics are decaled, not tampo graphics. This is great news if you want to convert your 917/10 to a #6 Mark Donohue.

The body is dead on scale at 1:18, the swoop of the body curves are accurate and dramatic. It is a beautiful shape to behold and Minichamps has executed it seamlessly.

The front bonnet does not lift off, so one is left wondering what goodies might be hidden underneath. The squared off wheel wells, a Donohue suggestion to help stabilize the beast as it wound up to 1000 plus horsepower are faithfully replicated. The trademark half paint/half polished aluminum side panels are crisply defined. Shut lines are snug(;) just be a bit careful re-attaching the rear bonnet – it takes some tender motivation to make it flush.

The scissor doors are mounted on dog leg hinges as were the ones on the actual car. The driver’s seat is flocked and features photo-etched seatbelts (complete with miniature L&M logos!). The engine area is well executed. The rear bonnet has open air ducts and actual screen intakes. The engine appears correctly wired and is dense with machinery.

The underside of the model is basically a large skid plate with a brief opening around the engine providing a glimpse of fuel lines and suspension. An unexpected treat are the fat Goodyear slicks. They appear plump and scuffed and compare favorably to the set on Exoto’s version of the 917/30.

A 917/10 in 1/18 is a highly anticipated shape that many diecast fans have been expecting and I don’t see much that will disappoint them. It’s a must for race car collectors and it’s getting rarer by the day. For me, this is a car I’ve dreamed about owning in a larger scale since I had my first model of a 917/10…as part of an old Aurora AFX racing outfit. No model may be worth that long a wait – but this Minichamps will have fans of Porsche models thanking their lucky stars.

 

Click thumbnails to see larger images
 

 

 

 

 

  Revell Austin Healy Sprite

So let’s say one night you’re home alone and you’ve had a few of whatever beverage makes you feel all warm and mellow. You’re smiling at the glorious assembly of models you have on your shelves and one of them...smiles back!

Are you crazy? Well, of course (you’re one of us, after all, chum). But you might not be seeing things if you have a 1:18 Austin Healy Sprite from Revell.

The overall model is smallish for a 1:18 but right in line with scale. Crack open the box and that big, grinning front grill is looking right at you. This car makes me feel absolutely giddy – not something your average 45 year old brags about. There are also parts and pieces to play with –a removable top and a suitcase that fits on the external luggage rack.

The whole feel of this thing is just so British kitsch. From the fabulous reflective British Racing Green paint to the Union Jack decals to the AH emblazoned dog dish hubcaps to the tan coachwork. The only thing that isn’t British is the left hand drive.

That's because this is the American version of the Sprite known as the "Frog-Eye". This car is also known as a “Bug-Eye” (UK). The reason for mounting the headlights on top of the bonnet, giving the car it’s distinctive “Frog-Eye” look, was to meet minimum height standards for front headlights in the USA.

The build quality on this model is surprisingly good. Details that catch your eye are the headlights, the luggage rack and the grill. The chrome had a rough spot or two on my model, but really only noticeable if you are looking for it and in a birds-eye view. A little burnishing with a finger went a long way.

The doors and bonnet open. The interior is good with some nice detailing on the dash. When you open the hood, it reveals an engine that is well done. While it’s not thoroughly wired, it really doesn’t matter: the hood is so large (as it is on the 1:1), that the entire engine remains shrouded in shadow. Shutlines are tight. The undercarriage is reasonably detailed, though it’s not the attraction. Overall, the fit and finish is as good as anything I’ve seen on a Revell, including the Corvettes they manufactured as Exoto Motorbox pieces.

I like having the removable top to play with, but my personal opinion is roadsters display better when they are open. See the photos and decide for yourself.

If you are a collector of British cars or roadsters or if you’ve lived without this car because it was an import only, don’t delay any longer. Find one and purchase it. For those of you that don't typically collect this type of car (like me), consider this: there are plenty of cars in my collection that impress me with their history. But over in the corner, I have an electric blue BMW Mini-S. It has no real purpose in my collection except that it was my daughter’s favorite. Now she prefers the one that smiles back!
 

Next week:

 

- Chevy Corvette C5R Lemans 24hr #50 and more!

 
     

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