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First Peek with Rusty Hurley Edition Date
8-08-05
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Exoto Motorbox 1:18 Jaguar XJR-9 LM Prototype
Shelby Collectibles 1:18 Cobra 427
Shelby Collectibles 1:18 350 GT


 

Exoto/Motorbox 1/18 Jaguar XJR-9 LM Prototype Shelby Collectibles 1:18 Shelby Cobra 427
 
     
 
Rusty Hurley
Rusty Hurley
 

Scenario 1
You’ve worked outside all day, gotten hot and sweaty and so tired you’re afraid to sit down because you might not get back up. You are sore but happy, knowing that you accomplished something you’ve needed to do for a long time. When you finally dragged yourself back to the house your pal opens up a cold beer straight from the cooler and hands it to you. You drink up.

How good did that beer taste?

Scenario 2
You’ve been saving up for weeks, (only buying that dirt cheap Signature Mercedes 770K Mercedes that Paul, John and the other Diecast Beatles have gone on and on about). You are taking your significant other out to a dinner at a swanky restaurant. For the first time in six months, you’re wearing pants with a zipper and a jacket without one. You impress her when you order something off the wine list called a Shiraz. You think it’s a $149.95 bottle of Arabian beer. When the wine is poured for your approval, you feel her hand run up your leg lightly as she whispers to you “I love when you treat me like this”. You drink that sweet wine.

How good did that wine taste?

Now – here’s the tricky part – did the beer taste better than the wine? Or did they both taste great?

 

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  Exoto/Motorbox 1/18 Jaguar XJR-9 LM Prototype

For the last couple of years, Exoto took major hits on all the diecast discussion boards regarding their lack of production. No one argued that Exoto wasn’t in the first rank of model makers, the only issue was that model distributing wasn't the same as model making – a new mold was as rare as snow on a summer’s day. Now, suddenly, the sleeping giant is back on the offensive with brand new models - the exquisite Ford 999 and the spectacular Motorbox Jaguar XJR-9 LM. And if this is representative of the road ahead, those that have counted out Exoto are given fair warning to open your eyes and wallets.

This legendary Jaguar has long been missing from the pantheon of 1:18 Lemans models. The car itself is a prototype of the legendary 1988 LM P1 winner, a car that ended a long steady string of Porsche dominance at the world's premiere endurance race. It was a one year wonder, the next year the fearsome Sauber Mercedes would cool the cat’s prowl on the Mulsanne straight. Still the Silk Cut Jags were a lasting feature at Sarthe, winning again in 1991 and finishing second in 1992.

The most obvious attribute of the XJR-9 is that is has so few of them. The unique shrouded wheels gives the car a form factor that is more stealth than slipstream. This is especially noticeable because of the smooth British Racing Green paint of this prototype version. The entire aerodynamic shape is quite simply seductive.

Looking at the model from an “aerial” view, the top the vents seem almost cloaked. You have to adjust your eyes carefully to appreciate the ram air cooler, brake vents, fuel door and rear tire vents.

Looking at the model from outside, when you focus on the cockpit you see the gear indicator (I think) on top of the dash – but it’s just not a slab of plastic – it’s fully and obviously wired. Opening the cockpit can lead to sensory overload. Suddenly, after a sea of BRG, there are multi-colored buttons that look like the control panel for a 747. The woven blue seatbelts are mounted to a racing seat against a backdrop of mock carbon fiber. The red ribbon-like door tethers are an unexpected find. Then again, these are the masters of furious detail at work here.

Closing the doors (a two-step process, close almost completely, then press one more time to gently snap in place.) Opening the rear bonnet, you get to see the models main attraction, the Jaguar V-12. But wait, before we leave the bonnet, on the underside note that, by George (or in this case, by Tony), there is wiring leading back to the tail lamps.

The engine is remarkable, with details such as the blue anodized cooling pipes, as well as the magnificently executed complex oil system. The diamond holes on the exhaust covers seem to be misplaced (belonging at the other end) but that’s really a miniscule detail – and one that could be different depending on which car was used to “model the model.” Replacing the rear bonnet can be a bit tricky – owners of the Exoto 1989 Sauber Mercedes LMP can attest to how finicky these bonnets can be. Patience has its own reward though; the rear bonnet locks in place nicely.

The scrubbed “Dunlop Denloc” tires and black wheels are up to Exoto’s usual standards with blue wheel mounts on one side and red on the other. The chassis is –as it is with all Lemans models - one huge skid plate.

It is unfortunate we don’t see more Exoto’s in this space, but Exoto has chosen not to support First Peek, so we are limited to my personal purchases. That said this is one amazing model, reflecting the delicacy, simplicity and brute strength of the original roaring big cat. The price is more than previous Motorbox editions, but the detail is there to justify the ticket. Va-va-varoom!

 

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  Shelby Collectibles 1:18 Shelby Cobra 427

Carroll Shelby Collectibles is a new diecast company dedicated to making diecast models of cars made famous by C.S. himself. His name, picture and signature are on the box and it's clear the man himself is involved to some degree.

And just like when he started up racing, it seems Shelby's models are using other peoples stuff. Shelby's Cobra sports car project - dropping an American V-8 into a sports car – was mainly begged and borrowed. From Ford, Shelby got a 427 engine and from AC of England came a roadster chassis. Combined with a touch of Shelby magic, they formed the first Cobra.

In the case of the model, it would appear that the basic mold might have come from Yat Ming/Road Legends 427. The shape is nearly the same - and it's not a bad place to start. The model's detail, however, is not the same -not even close. And here the Shelby product shines.

The paint is lustrous and the striping accurately completed - far better then the Yat Ming, which is uneven and inconsistent. More detail abounds, from the rivets surrounding the hood, to the sharp, legible gauges. The seating is soft to the touch and very pliable. The steering wheel is detailed while the Yat Ming version is plain. There are even ribbed floor mats.

Open the hood and you'll find a plumbed 427 engine replicated with precision, especially for the price range. The Yat Ming has no wiring. Game, set, match.

The car sits on fat, treaded white-lettered Goodyears, refreshing considering the rash of no name tires seen on other models recently. Head and tail lights are reflective. Doors, trunk and hood all open. The undercarriage is adequate: here the model does not differ significantly from the Yat Ming.

There are compromises: the dog-leg hinged opening parts for one and the chrome-filled exhaust for another. The model feels fragile - like if you handled it incorrectly the windshield might fly off. But considering the price paid, you'd be disingenuous to cry foul over such minor tripe.

Overall, this is a very pleasant model.


 

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  Shelby Collectibles 1:18 Shelby GT 350

If the Cobra seems to have some heritage tied up in the Road Legends mold, then the GT 350 seems to have many similarities to the Lane models of the same vintage.

This model might be the best sub-$30 model I’ve seen since the Sunstar Horch.

I chose the GT 350 over the GT 500 simply because I love guardsman blue paint, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’d urge you to check your local shop for these because several I inspected appeared to have paint flaws – though they could have been specks of dust or dirt. The striping is well done and exactly aligned. All the insignia is accurate.

The trademark Shelby grille is perfectly black washed and the rest of the body chrome treatments, including door locks, are nicely done (though maybe a scooch wide around the side windows.) The tires are white-lettered Goodyear mounted on overly chrome wheels; the only sign of cheapness on the model.

All parts open, including the trunk and hood. The engine compartment is well beyond the simple two color lump you tend to get in this price range. The engine block painted blue, plus there are chromed valve covers as well as manifold and carburetor finished in matte silver. The entire works are wired. The articulated air vents behind the scooped hood are unique in this price range.

If you thought you had fun opening the hood, just wait until you see the interior. Soft, foldable metal trimmed bucket seats. Photo-etched seat belts, detailed wheel and dash with oversize tach. The trunk interior is clad in plaid and features an immovable full size spare. The gas cap seems a little baroque, like something around the neck of a rapper, but it doesn’t detract from the model.

Turning the model over, I was somewhat surprised to how thorough the chassis was articulated. Suspension elements and exhaust systems are fabulous – the obvious seam in the transmission mildly annoying until you realize this is a sub $30 model.

And that’s just it.

This model delivers so much more than other models in the price range, you wonder why others can’t do as nice a job as the folks at Shelby Collectibles. Then again, that’s somewhat the heritage of Shelby himself: applied magic.

I can’t imagine anyone reading this column not wanting to add this piece to their collection. Walk don’t run to your nearest shop to get one (and while you’re their, pick up the 500GT for me please.)


Now Featuring YOU

If you represent a diecast company and wish to have your products featured in First Peek, contact me directly at rhurley@mn.rr.com.
 

Next week:

 

Expecting a couple of things, including a new TVR

 
     

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