by Pete Hagenbuch
If you've ever even looked at 1/18 scale diecast models, the chances
are good you've seen an Ertl model. Ertls are everywhere. And they come
in a never-ending variety of nameplates. And no matter how they
camouflage the boxes, you can always find "American Muscle" on them
somewhere. They rarely ever retire a name; it keeps coming back in
different colors and/or different boxes. In the normal price range of
$20 to $45 the inconsistencies in quality are huge; from GDAwful to
Very Very Nice. As Mopar devotees we are lucky; Ertl makes some really
sweet models. They also make some stinkers.
There are two areas where Ertl models are almost beyond reproach.
One is their Classics. I don't mean collector cars, I'm talking about
Classics as defined by the CCCA. There are three; Auburn 851 boat
tailed speedster, Cord 810/812 convertible and the very rare Deusenberg
SSJ roadster, of which only two were made. All three models are
excellent. And then there is their Ertl Precision Line. These are all
Fords except for the 300C and all but the Model T Ford are superb.
Fully detailed interiors, trunks which even contain jack and spare tire
and also the reinforcing in the deck lid, along with the sheet that
explains jack and spare tire use. Engines and interiors overflow with
detail. Most have working final drive gears so you can see the
universal joints turning when you turn the rear wheels. Engine detail
is also very well done. Ford models available include a 1965 Mustang
convertible, a 1957 T-bird with removable hard top, and a 1937 Lincoln
Zephyr business coupe, a strange choice making it a beautiful model of
an ugly car.
But, let us get to the 300C, perhaps the most desirable of all the
300 letter series. This is a nice model! The massive grill, leaning
forward like it was straining to move. The headlight pockets matching
the slant of the grill. And fins like they all should have been, not
huge but not apologizing for being there. I've been a model builder for
more than 50 years and the only way I know to get a paint finish like
this is hand rubbing. Door, hood and deck lid fits are good. All bright
trim is sharp and well made and the glass in the wrap-around windshield
is thin enough to keep distortion to a minimum. Headlamps have no
pupils, so common in less opulently turned out models. Detail of grill,
bumpers, wipers, and lights is excellent. When you lift the hood, you
find that mighty 392 cu. in. Hemi reposing there. When I look at the
twin oval air cleaners (unsilenced) I can just hear a bit of the roar.
There are few things in life that sound better to these old ears than
the deep-throated intake howl of a big engine running WOT and tuned for
power! No, the model is silent. We can't have everything.
In the engine compartment, few things are missing. The dash panel
contains the heater motor and heater housing and the power brake
reservoir. The battery is in its place at the left front, complete with
terminal clamps and wiring and the caps are clearly visible. All five
of them. I almost wish I hadn't noticed! The distributor should be at
the back and the spark plug wires are covered by a conduit attached to
the cylinder hear cover. I'm not going to say they aren't there. I
can't see them. A finishing touch is the bright yellow windshield
washer bag mounted on the right fender side shield.
The interior of this model is also very nice. From the carpeting to
the fully finished headliner with lights and sun visors. Sill trim is
well done, and the 60-40 folding front bench seat backs do fold. The
seats are of a softer plastic which has no particular effect on their
appearance. The instrument panel is well done and the steering wheel,
lights and inside mirror are all copacetic. Transmission controls on
this car must be pushbuttons and they're a bit hard to find. They are
there, at the base of the A pillar but all black and a bit undersized.
The retractable radio antenna really does!
I bought my 300C at Great Lakes Hobby on Van Dyke in Utica, Michigan
for $70 in 2001. The model has gained another color, green, and should
be readily available for $70 or less. I don't know what prompted Ertl
to build this one in their Precision Ford series but I'm surely glad
they did. Come to think of it I can even forgive them for some of their
really bad models. But not enough to keep me from telling you readers
Whenever I encounter a collector, whether it be of toys, or models,
or cars or whatever, it seems like it only takes a minute or two until
the word "favorite" pops into the conversation. I've been thinking
about this as I was describing this beautiful Ertl model. It sort of
depends on how I feel at the time how I would answer the favorite
question. First of all, I don't have an overall favorite in my 300+
1/18 scale model collection. It varies. There is no doubt that this one
is the best model I have of a Chrysler Corp. car. But is it my
favorite? No. And that's because I don't think black models show off
the details as well as lighter colors. Is the 300C my favorite Mopar
car? Most days the answer is yes. But I also love the 300B. The 1967-69
Barracuda is another favorite of mine. And the 1971-1974 B Body cars
were really beautiful. I particularly like the Plymouths of those
years, may they rest in peace with all the other muscle cars.
All this talk about favorites brings me to a delicate subject. You
see, I don't just like Chrysler cars. Please don't tell Juergen. As a
kid growing up in the forties, my automotive dream was centered on one
car, the 1940 Ford Convertible. Red. There, I got it out in the open.
But there's more. When I was 19 I bought a 1939 Cadillac 60 Special.
For $125. With some help from my friends and a bundle of money I got it
running good and even looking pretty decent. Gas was cheap. It got
about 7 mpg in the city and close to 10 on the highway. A great car. In
side view the rear looked very much like a Lincoln Continental. You old
geezers out there remember it don't you? No sidemounts on mine, they
were an option. It had what then was a big V-8, 346 cu. in. It was
different from Ford V-8s in that the exhaust ports were on the inside
of the V, connected by a single cast manifold that began at the left
front cyl. Then back and around to the right bank where it swept up to
the right front cyl. And then down into the exhaust pipe. This was
asbestos wrapped with stainless steel wire wrapped around the whole
thing. The wrapped exhaust pipe than went rearward to the first muffler
and finally to the second muffler which was crosswise just ahead of the
rear bumper. The entire exhaust manifold had a black porcelain coating.
The intake manifold was conventional, fed by a Stromberg 2-bbl
carburetor. It didn't much like stop and go driving in warm weather.
All that heat from the exhaust manifold would cause the carburetor
float to stick. I carried a big wooden handled screw driver in the car
which I used to beat on the float chamber whenever it quit. At that
time I lived in Eastern Ohio near Wheeling, W.Va. There was a bridge
across the Ohio River there which was very narrow with curbs on both
sides about a foot high. Once my lovely Caddy quit in the middle of the
bridge. I had to get out and attack the carburetor while completely
stopping traffic. Very embarrassing. I got it going and drove on into
Wheeling with a very red face!
And what did all this have to do with Ertl's 300C model?
I guess I just love cars. A lot of cars. I have models of a 1940
Ford coupe and a very poor model of a 1939 Ford roadster. One of the
mints has a '40 convertible but so far I've resisted it. I have too
many models in too many scales already!! Partly because of my '39, I
have a weakness for most pre-1950 Cadillacs. In particular I love the
1949 2 door fastback sedan with OHV V-8 and fishtails. Currently, I am
nearing completion of a collection of Land Speed Record cars.
Wheel-driven variety. I see little connection between a wingless
jet-fighter and an automobile. These are all in 1/43 scale for obvious
reasons: my 9" long Goldenrod in 1/43 scale would grow to 21" in 1/18
For those of you who aren't up to date on LSR cars, the four Hemi
engined Goldenrod held the absolute World Land Speed Record of 409.3
mph for piston engined vehicles from 1965 to 1991. At that time a
single supercharged Hemi powered car moved the record to 409.9 mph. And
in 2003 a turbine powered (wheel driven) car moved the record to 253
mph. I've only had the Goldenrod model for a short time. I'll cover the
whole LSR scene when I have some photos.
Note: Now that Hemi is a registered trademark of Chrysler,
if you see it here capitalized, it is automatically a Mopar (trademark of Chrysler Corporation).
See our page on the actual 1957 Chrysler 300C car
Pete Hagenbuch, not content with designing the engines and fuel systems used in the actual cars, or in being a well-known slot car performance pioneer, has written reviews of numerous models:
Pete Hagenbuch, Mopar engineer Pete Hagenbuch Interview Models and promos Model forum
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