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First Peek with Rusty Hurley Edition Date
10-23-05
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1:18 Precision Miniatures ’33 Willy’s Gassers
“Ohio” George Montgomery MALCO Gasser
The Hill Bros. “Red Baron"
Jack “The Bear” Coonrod’s Kamikaze Koup

 

“Ohio” George Montgomery MALCO Gasser The Hill Bros. “Red Baron”
 
     
 
Rusty Hurley
Rusty Hurley
 

Gassers were a breed of drag cars that began life in the mid 50’s and had their heyday in the 60’s. Initially sort of a super stock concept, the first gassers were mostly chopped Willys and Anglias run with pretty much all stock elements on the car with one exception – the engine.

In 1958, only five classes existed, differentiated according to total car weight divided by total engine displacement cubic inches – bolt on a supercharger and it moved you up one class. Over time, the rules loosened allowing for different body styles and engine offsets. By the end of the 1960s there were up to eleven competitive classes.

Once the format gained popularity, it didn’t take long for Gasser wars to erupt: where legends from another coast or state would storm tracks around the country taking on the local heroes. The racers and teams that dominated the Gasser wars read like a combination of 70’s rock groups and/or underground hit men: Stone, Woods & Cook, Big John Mazmanian, Shores & Hess, “Ohio” George Montgomery, Bones, Dubach & Pisano, Jack “the Bear” Coonrod, and The Hill Bros.

Precision Miniatures, who has dazzled us in the past with drag models that are as unusual as they are seminal reaches a new plateau with their series of ’33 Willy’s Gassers. The initial three cars recently released in the series are works that fuse a passion for racing history with model making at its absolute best. You can put these models along side any model maker’s works and not apologize for anything.

Each made from over 150 parts, the three models share some common elements. The excellent and secure packaging is the first of these. Individual boxes feature historic photos of the model inside in addition to written commentary by Bill Bennett, a very likeable guy despite his obvious bias towards west coast drag racers (just kidding Bill). It just so happens the two of the first three Gassers in this series are among the best of the east coast breed.

The front bonnet is packaged separately from the rest of the model to better secure it and the engine. Made of high impact plastic, the bonnet’s texture and paint color is indistinguishable from the metal body. This is actually a very good design, and allows you to place the bonnet on and off without scratching the intricate engines. It also allows for a very precise fit. Bonnets are detailed, complete with miniature locking pins (the location of which varies by model)

The bonnets and bodies feature superb paint and flawless tamp-on graphics. Body side moldings are well placed and nicely extruded. The chopped roof is always at just the right angle and a rear hatch is adequately outlined. The doors are marvelously engineered with two miniature hinges for each door placed outside the body. They swing open and shut in a firm and easy manner. The models sit on the same basic diecast frame but everything else about the chassis and suspension detail varies by model. The engine bays have a steel firewall with the most amazing individual miniaturized metal rivets.

The last common thread is the tire and wheel combinations on each model and indeed the historic photos on the side of the boxes confirms that Halibrand (or at least Halibrand-esque) wheels supporting treaded front tires and massive rear slicks were the norm. Disc brakes are replicated faithfully. The slicks in particular are incredibly well done, looking scuffed yet pristine.

It is here that we must depart for individual model reviews, because Precision Miniatures didn’t take the same model and merely paint it a different color. They made three separate works of beauty. Lucky us.

 

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  “Ohio” George Montgomery MALCO Gasser

"Ohio" George was the one pilot east of the rockies who could consistently whip the boys from the left coast. His Gasser started life as a Willys and finished it as a Mustang. The Ohio George Mustang is wonderfully replicated by GMP.

In terms of the three models, the MALCO Gasser is the leanest and maybe the meanest of them all. The livery is spare on top of baby blue paint, with no cute graphics of logos. The most remarkable graphic is the AA/G class designation stenciled in the rear side window. The fact that this car is all business is reinforced by the massive blown Ford 427 hemi engine. The engine detail is incredibly intricate and, insofar as I can tell, replicated primarily in metal. Detailing to make a watchmaker proud is consistently executed in areas like the throttle linkage, caps and engine components and complete wiring. The pitch black of the blower could have inspired Mr. Vader’s wardrobe. Fan belts are real rubber, as they are on all models. I could go on and on about the engine, but instead of me saying a thousand words I’ll let the pictures do it.

The suspension is a leaf spring arrangement inherited from the original Willys. It’s an amazing thing to see such a quaint suspension with an engine that’s got this kind of raw power. Odd or not, the results the car got on the track indicate George was onto something. The back of the car contains a single rear tail light and a branded cloth Deist chute pack with an incredibly detailed pull mechanism. Check out the wild wheelie bar configuration featuring a single wheel. He fabricated his front bonnet using fiberglass - so the non-metal implementation here is historically accurate.

The model’s interior is testament to George’s quest for speed as it’s been stripped down to the most basic elements. That said, the instrument cluster and two tone bucket seats (and yes, since this was initially a stock series you were required to have two seats) might be the single coolest feature on any of these Gasser’s interiors. Seatbelts are made of cloth with photo etched parts, something that is shared with all three models.

Legacy Motors has the 'Ohio' George Montgomery MALCO Gasser in stock.
 

Click thumbnails to see larger images
 

 

 

 

 

  The Hill Bros. “Red Baron”

If the Ohio George car leaves you a bit cold in its pure and muscular form, it could be the Hills Bros car has the style you crave in your collection. The car has a more interesting look about it and a braggart's history. While Ohio George was happy to show up and win the Eliminator, the Hills Bros would put it in your face. As Mr. Bennett recounts, the Hill Bros. wrote a “Letter of Apology” to West Coast gassers who came east in the summer of 1967 only to be consistently trounced by the big red machine which clocked in at 163.3.in an 8.69 quarter mile.

Instead of the clean and crisp appearance of the Malco Gasser, the Red Baron has a bit more panache, starting with the candy apple red paint and gold trim. The fun Mr. Gasket logo on the front grille area is period perfect. Look closely and you’ll notice the windows are tinted. While the photos might indicate this should be a red tint (it’s yellow), play with the car in the light and you’ll see that the red paint reflects in the windows to create the red tint illusion. Pretty cool.

The engine on this one is a 426 blown and injected second generation hemi. As with the Malco car the detail is spectacular, from the wiring to the braided cables to the detailed filler caps. Instead of George’s basic engine, we see more hot rod style with chrome and black engine components. The front suspension is the more familiar coil over variety with yellow shock absorbers but the rear still uses a combination of leaf spring and shocks. The cockpit reveals a jet black and stainless steel interior a dash more austere than the MALCO - just a tach mounted in a glossy black panel. If your average trip is under 9 seconds, how many instruments do you need?

A gander at the rear of the car reveals more variation to the MALCO. The Deist chute pack (this time in gray with a different pull), third door locking pins and black wheelie bar structure with dual wheels is very hip and serves as dditional examples of how Precision Miniatures has individualized each model.

Legacy Motors has the Hill Bros. 'Red Baron' Gasser in stock.
 

Click thumbnails to see larger images
 

 

 

 

 

  Jack “The Bear” Coonrod’s Kamikaze Koup

If you wanted to race a Gasser you had three options: Buy an old Willys and fix it up (like Ohio George did), buy one from someone who is already racing one (like Hill Bros did) or pay a guy like Chuck Finders to make you one. That’s what Jack "the Bear" Coonrod did and Chuck, also the man behind the performance tuning of the Hills Bros machine, didn’t let him down. Of all the models here, this model is probably the least important historically, but it might be the most impressive model replication of the bunch.

Start with amazing banana yellow paint with just a hint of metal flake. The model positively shimmers in the right light with no annoying glitter. The Jack the Bear logo on the front is just perfect for this gasser with a hot rod heart. This model is as much about show as it is go.

But go it can with a 430 cubic inch blown Chrysler hemi that clocked up to 165.15 mph. The engine block mimics the yellow body paint. Look at the detailed photo to get a feel for the metal, chrome and brass engine detail. As with all the engines, this is another jaw dropping execution, fully plumbed and wired, but this one offers up a bit more style with the personalized valve covers and the Bear Motor scoop.

The front suspension is coil over with the rear suspension having the only ladder based implementation of the group. The springs are so crisply replicated, it seems a bit odd that the suspension isn’t operable given how realistic it looks.

The interior is spare but stylish with a jet-age inspired butterfly steering wheel. The tinted yellow windows fit with the show car feel. This model features a more interesting (though anonymous) dual-chute configuration with a wide track standard steel and chrome wheelie bar. Overall this is one delicious dragster.

Legacy Motors has the Jack 'The Bear' Coonrod's Kamikaze Koup in stock.


If we've gotten this far in the article and you're still on the fence about these models, well then dear reader I havenít done my job. This is as fine a series as has been launched by any model car company this year, and it's been a good year. What truly amazes me about Precision Miniatures in general and these models in particular is the originality of subject, the consistency of execution and the ability and dedication to differentiate down to the slightest detail. Considering the asking price for models of first rank quality these days, these qualify as an absolute steal.

Legacy Motors has all three of the Precision Miniatures Gassers in stock. Just Click Here!
 

 
     

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