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First Peek with Joe Kelly Edition Date

Exoto Shelby 289 Cobra
Minichamps BMW M3 Racer “Jagermeister”


Exoto Shelby 289 Cobra BMW M3 GTR “Jagermeister” DTM 1988
Joe Kelly
Joe Kelly

I guess I spoke a little too soon about IMHE, prototypes, models for the table, and such. Through the good graces of Exoto and Minichamps, neither of whom will be attending the show this year, we have a couple of very nice cars to look at this week, the Shelby Cobra and the BMW M3 Racer "Jagermeister". Sorry – no H61 fire truck as of yet, but I’m told it’s in the mail. We’ll see. Methinks I’ll use the time to add a new room dedicated to these beautiful behemoths.

Click thumbnails to see larger images





  Exoto Shelby 289 Cobra

It’s a sad fact that many of us will never get to ride in an honest to God Shelby Cobra, even sadder that if we did, we’d never get to really put the stones to it. There are those who possess the wherewithal to bang cars of this vintage and caliber around. To those, I extend my envy – and an open invitation to have me along sometime.

To the rest of us, I extend these photos and my complete delight at the Exoto model of the car, seen here in black with saddle buckets. This is about as sexy a diecast as I’ve ever had the pleasure to decant here at the Kelly house; a lissome vision rolling on breathtaking spoke wheels and thin line whitewalls that keeps me coming back for another lingering look.

In a nuts and bolts sense, the model is perfectly proportioned, and despite lacking a trunk-mounted luggage rack, looks for all the world like the car Steve McQueen picked up from Shelby himself in ’63. Brilliantly polished, assembled flawlessly, and fresh out of the box, this is one damned handsome model car.

Like any zamac-rich endeavor, it’s also heavy – surprisingly so. In the hand, the car feels substantial. And what the hand feels, the eyes verify. Shut lines around the opening doors, hood, and trunk are straight, and the panels blend into the car’s lines evenly. Photo-etched fasteners outline the attachments for a canvas roof and side screens; these incredible motes are stepped at the center behind the cockpit, and hollowed on the doors. The badging on the car’s sides and at either end is legible and credible – no mean feat for something the size of a match head.

The most striking feature is those photo etch spoked wheels. Delicate and rendered in just the right silver matte, they set the car’s stance and lovely turned-in lower body line off. When coupled with the road-scuffed whitewalls, they lend gravity and realism to the model’s image.

Other, less primary details delight: the thin-tubed bumpers that bracket the model are surprisingly strong and deeply chromed. The lensing is deep and reflective, and the raked, winged windshield is optically clear. Small castings for the hood latches, working gas cap, and license plate hardware are crisp and finely fitted. And the license plate itself is rendered in scale relief – the lettering rises above the enameled surface in a detail piece worthy of a ring box.

Nothing sets a good roadster off like an inviting cockpit, and this one’s got the red carpet out. Actually, it’s black, and provides the basis for a tactile and visionary display of Exoto’s art. The soft-touch saddle seats wear full harnesses, and the steering wheel has photo-etch riveting around its rim. The pebbled black dash is home to eight gauges and dials, legible, bezeled, and joined by toggles, fasteners, and a grab handle.

That last item is a well advised addition. Under the Cobra’s hood is an eye-popping display of the Ford 289, surrounded on all sides by details that call out from seemingly every recess and surface. Stiff, believable wiring fans out over gorgeous “COBRA” valve covers; these units are so well done that they seem to have been cast and milled. The air cleaner’s screening and simulated blue rubber lip sit atop an area full of chromed linkages, flexible cooling hoses, fine wire, and enough detail to engage the enthusiast for happy hours.

The car’s metal tube frame is the base for more of the same. In between the braces, the lower engine block peeks out and offers the business end of the four-into-one headers. These lead to an exhaust system that’s riveted to the frame and terminates in hollow straight pipes. Brake cables lead to the spin-through disks past impeccable suspension castings that flex stiffly in front. The rear, dominated by the red differential, features half shafts that rotate and follow the suspension in its travel. All of this, and a rearward view of those amazing wheels, begs a mirror to park this one on.

A closer view of one of those wheels awaits in the trunk. Rising on a sliding strut, the lid lifts to reveal a covered spare. Removing the cover and central pin allows the removal of this gem, a recommended activity. Elsewhere, simulated aluminum plating and parts of the tube frame share space with the piped-in electric fuel pump and the trunk lid-borne wiring harness for the license plate light.

What makes this model so attractive? Obviously, its shape, award-winning execution, and the apparent lengths that Exoto has gone to in replicating every nuance. But there’s more. Exoto are the masters of the race, modelers deluxe of historical machinery rendered to the very highest standards. The question, asked time and again, is what that level of commitment and modeling excellence would bring to an image of a classic American automobile. For many of us, this amazing, must-have model of an American street car – albeit a very exclusive one – is a harbinger of hope that Exoto will give us more of the same. Very highest recommendation.

Click thumbnails to see larger images





  BMW M3 GTR “Jagermeister” DTM 1988

Fans of the race will want to check out Mario Ketterer’s 1988 DTM ride, as built by the redoubtable Minichamps. This production model has been on the shelves since April of this year, and carries the unmistakable Jagermeister livery on its aero body. It is an irony that this same alcoholic concoction, whose consumption causes delight in many, but immediate retching in most, might be used to judiciously remove said livery, should the prospect of a stark, bright orange BMW appeal to your collecting eye.

Personal tastes aside, this is quite the model. Few modern cars have the menacing utilitarian stance of an M-series Bimmer, and when prepped for race, the car has enough attitude to scare the hell out of just about anything it sets its high beams on. Minichamps has captured that attitude in this heavy casting, an image made all the more immediate by a spot-on ride height and gorgeous Ronal Racing wheels.

Minichamps’ assembly values are among the best in the hobby, and the car’s glazing and lensing are clear and distortion free. The spring-loaded doors, hitch and tilt hood (you hitch it up, and tilt it forward) and be-spoilered trunk operate on whip-close lines. It’s a credit to Minichamps’ engineers and artists that the M3’s presence shines through the loud livery, and touches like the foil transfer badging on the trunk and perfect BMW roundels front and rear are sweet additions to the model’s appeal.

The interior is great – maybe it’s the bare blue flooring set against the orange body, but when parked with the doors akimbo, the model suddenly takes on an even meaner visage. The racing seat, the immaculate dash, the whole stripped-and-ready-to-rumble cabin has the visceral impact of a sudden turn into a dark alley filled with thugs. Something tells you that you could get hurt in here.

The all-business trunk, detailed with fuel pumps, plumbing, and a couple of other bits I can only guess the import of, lacks only the smell of racing fuel to complete the scene. These guys have gone deep on this model, and the little bits, like the painted weather strip rimming the trunk opening, pile up fast and heavy in this quality piece to convince the viewer of what this car is all about.

Under that lovely tilting hood lies the beast. Adorned with a faux fiber intake and surrounded by neat, crisp castings representing the various bottles and reservoirs attached to the walls, the tidy little screaming Mimi four is wired and plumbed. It’s a great casting, made all the better by the applied metallic, gray, and matte black colors and textures. A little oil, a little gas, maybe a blutwurst, and this could be a runner.

The nether regions of the model wear tidy castings representing the static suspension and exhaust. The big fun here is trying to guess what some of these obviously important castings do; a tiny motor, mounted mid frame, is as nice a piece as any on the car, but I’ll be dipped if I can tell you what it’s supposed to be. Other, more readily recognizable bits like the exhaust, are cleanly cast and painted – a great contrast to the body-color pan they hang below. The brake disks pass through the calipers, and they’re cast to look cross-drilled.

Minichamps makes some of the better quality models out there, a reputation that’s strong overseas, and only just becoming known to the casual collector here. Often, that lack of knowledge on the collectors’ part is due to the manufacturer’s menu of replicas from the obscure side of the street. This casting falls somewhere in between; the street version of the model elicits open lust on the part of any who see it. Street or race, Minichamps’ M3 is a model worth taking a shot at. Recommended.

Next week:


Exoto GT40 MkIV, Maisto’s Mustang Cobras, and will the fire truck arrive?


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