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by Pete Hagenbuch
In a recent ad in Old Cars Weekly, ThorTek’s usual full-page ad showed a 1970 Superbird in full NASCAR regalia for $75. The #43, in Petty blue, will sell for $75 and will be followed by none other than Bobby Isaacs’ orange K & K Insurance #71 Dodge Charger Daytona! I don’t know about you, but these are two I’ve dreamed of owning since I first caught the collecting disease! My informant tells me they’re a good quality source and expects the models will be excellent.
ThorTek, of Friendswood, Texas, is a sort of a bellweather for what’s coming. They have it in their ads before anyone else, even if it’s only a dream in a modelmaker’s eye! Sometimes even their website, thortek.com, doesn’t know about the model yet. ThorTek is a good source with low prices and I use them frequently.
There is another website I find valuable and I probably visit it at least once a week. It is Scale18.com, run in conjunction with Kevin’s Hobbies of Anmore, British Columbia. Kevin claims to have, on his “Huge List,” every 1/18 scale model ever made. Anywhere. And I believe him. If the huge list has a weakness, it’s that he’s a little slower than ThorTek in getting the latest titles on his list. Kevin’s is another good source and often has the lowest prices.
This isn’t my favorite Chrysler model, but it is one of the favorite cars I drove to and from work. In fact, my 1969 Dodge Charger R/T was the first of several cars in which I looked forward to my 27 mile trek to work in the morning. What matter that it sucked up a gallon of gas every 10 or 11 miles? Gas was cheap, particularly when you were having fun!
The model is Mattel’s, and I paid $30 for it in 1999 and you can still get it for that price. The model is that bright metallic blue with black vinyl top and white bumblebee stripes. So was mine. The model has a black interior; mine was darl blue. The model is a hemi with casr wheels. Mine was a 440 with covers.
Mattel, the folks who make those Hot Wheels toys our kids grew up with, also make diecast models in 1/18 scale. They seem dedicated to making $30 models of pretty uniform mediocrity. They have a contract with Ferrari which gives them the exclusive right to all Ferrari models, and have for the last several years. Recently, Kyosho, the only Japanese player in the diecast game, and a source of high quality medium priced models, has been offering new Ferrari models as well; I assume they are paying Mattel for the rights to those particular cars. By the way, in my 300 car collection, I have more Ferraris than Chrysler products and a lot of them are Mattels. They’ve been the only game in town.
But back to the ’69 Charger. For a $30 model, the exterior is well done. In judging a diecast model, the price must be kept in mind. Bright moldings, wipers, grill, and lights are excellent. Finish isn’t perfect but acceptable, as are the door and hood fits. The deck lid doesn’t open. The vinyl top lacks any grain, though there are two fore-and-aft seams. The five-spoke wheels are nice, as are the red stripe tires. The interior is adequate, with minimal detail. No sill trim, only window regulators on the door panels, and no attempt to simulate carpeting.
Under the hood is an obvious Hemi but shouldn’t the head covers be black crackle finish? The radiator and top hose are present but no wires connect the chrome plated distributor (and cap) to the spark plugs. The all-black battery is present but would certainly look better with colored caps. The dash panel is devoid of detail (no brake booster or heater housing) and the bright yellow windshield washer fluid bag is not present.
So here is a model with a very nice exterior. The characteristic full length crease is most definitely present — Ertl American Muscle doesn’t have it. I’m happy to proclaim that I like the model, it captures the feel and look of the real car and does it for thirty bucks. You can display it somewhere where the hood doesn’t get opened and pocket the savings.
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:
Mattel’s Dodge Charger - $30 replica of the classic car
1957 Chrysler 300C
Pete Hagenbuch, Mopar engineer Pete Hagenbuch Interview Models and promos Model forum