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First Peek with Rusty Hurley Edition Date
7-16-06
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1:18 Precision Miniatures 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Sedan
1:18 AUTOart 2005 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

 

1:18 Precision Miniatures 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Sedan 1:18 AUTOart 2005 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
 
     
 
Rusty Hurley
Rusty Hurley
 

If you happen to be in Warren, Michigan between August 10-12, then you can attend a fiftieth anniversary celebration of the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air at the GM Tech Center. Download the agenda and registration at www.classicchevy.com.

And if you can't attend, Precision Miniatures offers you a way to observe the anniversary by creating your own 1:18 tribute to the legendary and perhaps under-rated "middle sister" Bel Air.
 

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  1:18 Precision Miniatures 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Sedan

Last April, Corey and Alan (aka the car guys) at Precision Miniatures introduced their 1956 Chevy Bel Air 4-door hard top in a gorgeous ivory over dusk plum paint scheme. That model featured a continental kit and nifty side skirts. For a complete review, see the First Peek archive for edition date 4/23/05. At that time PM promised that more versions were on the way and now three brand new gems have arrived. There’s no conny kit on these models and those formal side skirts aren’t there either. But what’s left is the soul of the model itself in your choice of scrumptious and pristine two tone color combos.

Dune Beige over Matador Red – This matador red actually has an orange hue to it, in small part due to the deep beige coloring.

India Ivory over Turquoise - a striking blue against antique ivory. A very traditional and familiar presentation seen at collector car shows popular in the USA this time of year.

Black over Crocus Yellow – in my book this one’s the must have model. The yellow has a green pitch to it and the glossy black acts as the perfect frame. While “black over” color combinations were very popular in the 50’s, many diecast makers fail to offer this alternative, preferring the more pedestrian white-over models. While each combination is limited to 1500 numbered pieces, this particular version has such a “wow” factor to it, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it disappears quickly.

The 1955-57 Bel Air series is known for their grille configurations and Precision Miniatures executes this one perfectly. It is a forceful yet delicate. On top of the grille, emblazoned on the hood, is the trademark Bel Air logo and jet-inspired hood ornament. The engine compartment is plumbed and wired, very spartan, yet entirely correct. Chassis detail is minimal but well presented – including patterned mufflers. A key upgrade on this new version is the dual exhaust which gives the car a more sporty look.

The four hinged doors open to two-toned interiors featuring patterned bench seats are dead solid perfect. Notice the scalloped pattern on the rear of the bench seat. The deep pile carpet, pose-able sun visors and a detailed two-tone dash and steering are quite realistic. Doors close with a solid thud and shut lines are minimized. The tires are period correct whitewalls and color keyed wheels are a welcome highlight. The suspension is functional!

The cavernous trunk opens and contains a spare complete with hubcap. The matted floor surface is a nice change from hard and smooth plastic so often seen in models in this price range. The chrome fittings and details are truly exceptional – this always seems to be a strong point with Precision Miniature models - and as usual it’s all flawlessly executed and richly reflects ambient light.

While very similar to the previous model, the lack of a conny kit and side skirts and the addition of the dual exhaust might actually entice more buyers who found the last models a little high falutin’. We should also mention the sturdy, screw-less, over-sized styrofoam coffin within four color box packaging. Your model will ship securely and you won’t damage it getting it out of the carton. Worth buying? Absolutely – especially in the crocus and black combo though any choice would be rewarding for the 50’s collector. Precision Miniatures is still providing first rank value at the sub $60 price point.

Legacy Motors offers all of the 1:18 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Sedan from Precision Miniatures!

 

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  1:18 AUTOart 2005 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

If you can call a $120,000+ car the affordable baby of the family, then you can say Cheerio!

More so than the more other current Astons, the Vanquish and GT-class DB9, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is supposed to appeal to young members of the more recently gentrified set. Based on the strong demand for the DB9 and Vanquish, the bet by Aston Martin is that the V8 Vantage will sell 2,500- 3,000 units per year bringing Aston Martins production total up to about 5,000 vehicles per year – pretty amazing considering that in 1991 there were a grand total of 42 Astons made.

Introduced in 2005, the V8 Vantage was originally shown in a hot yellow but since has also been made available in more color choices more generally associated with Aston Martin, including the black and silver versions that new from AUTO art. So, when the UPS man drops this puppy off, I can’t wait to get it out and look at it.

Oh Boy.

AUTO Art’s newer four window display box really does benefit the collector who likes to leave their model untouched and in the original box. However, those of us who want to get it out had better prepare for an experience as painful and frustrating as watching the Detroit Lions offense. The model has a 12 step (!) illustrated instruction booklet for removing the model. Along the way you’ll encounter four set screws, three elastic bands, two hooks holding the doors closed and two thin metal wires securing the model. The 30-45 minutes you spend on the high anxiety extraction process is maddening because at any moment I was afraid that a sudden release of a screw or band would slingshot the model across the room.

The good news is once you’ve got it out of the package, you are reminded of what made AUTOart masters of the mid priced diecast market - if you can call $60 some odd dollars mid priced. The shape and stance of the car has been captured wonderfully by AUTOart’s engineers. Shut lines are reasonable and the low ride height appears accurate. The body has smooth transitions and its deceptively simple shape is highlighted by undulating flared fenders that are more beefy in the rear. The smooth silver paint on the review model is refined and gleaming though the closer you get and the more direct the lighting, the metal flaking does become apparent. Out of direct light and a foot away it has a nice sheen.

The bonnet bears an enameled and extruded insignia (nice touch) and it cloaks a very unique engine configuration. The engine is further back than normal, in what is termed as “front-mid mounted”. It’s a powerful 4.3-litre eight cylinder making 380hp that is so large, in fact, that Aston Martin placed the transmission of the car at the rear to generate even weight distribution. This sets a low center of gravity behind the line of the front axle which helps the Vantage V8 corner nimbly. While engine detail is minimal mainly due to the ever fashionable modesty panels, what can be seen is in fact quite detailed with a super-structure of struts that is very impressive even if more plastic than desired.

Turning the car over, you’ll see the transmission configuration as described previously along with the dual exhaust and basic, non-working suspension with detailed arms. Chassis detail is fair but all the holes for the wires and set screws are obnoxiously visible. Yes, I’m still annoyed.

There is real mesh grille work on the famous front grille, front fascia and bonnet. All glass and lighting components are executed smartly, with no mounting posts visible. The cockpit opens to a RHD configuration and a clean black and titanium ensemble on the dash, gauges and console. Carpet is flocked though the only evidence of seatbelts are the locking mechanisms. There’s not a strap in sight - so maybe this is the Rothlisberger edition. But oversights such as this are partially made up for by brilliant details like the photo etched plates on the door sills which state “Hand Built in Great Britain” (not AUTOart’s fault that this is too small to read.)

Open the rear hatch which also has the enamel insignia and you’ll see one of those AUTOart engineering niceties as the hatch open it lifts the security cover using thin plastic wire. Big, seven spoke alloy wheels sport 19” Bridgestone tires though on the model they are anonymous. The ventilated brakes and big Brembo calipers (that also have the AM wing logo stamped on them) are one of the models best features in terms of visible detail though actual brake lines are in the same phantom mode as the seat belts.

The V8 Vantage has a muscular and austere look; cool yet brash. I think the model here by AUTOart does a good, though maybe not spectacular job of capturing this car’s spirit. Of the 1:18 current Aston’s in production and available in North America (Beanstalk/ERTL’s Vanquish, Hot Wheels V8 Vantage and PMA’s DB9 being the others), this is easily the best one but it should be as it is nearly twice the price. If Exoto ever comes through with their Gran Turismo line, we might have an upper end Vanquish to use for comparison. [I still have the Exoto Tifosi publication which raves “Limited Edition available 2004”].

Given that the V8 Vantage is among the best looking production sports car out there, this model of it is well worth having; what is executed well is crisp and smart. In silver, it makes a stunning display piece, assuming you ever get it out of the box.

Legacy Motors has the remarkable 2005 Aston Martin V8 Vantage in 1:18 from AUTOart.



 

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Enjoy!
 

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Exciting changes on the way!

 
     

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