RON’S MODEL SPOT

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New Zealand Classic Car - - Automobilia - Words: Ron Ford Pho­tos: Adam Croy

any man­u­fac­tur­ers have moved to resin for mak­ing their mod­els, as it al­lows smaller runs and cheaper tool­ing. Trax is one such com­pany, of­fer­ing mod­els — usu­ally in 1:43 scale — of the more ex­otic Aus­tralian clas­sic cars. The one I have for re­view is TRR08, a Vaux­hall Vagabond (E se­ries). I have al­ways liked the E se­ries Vaux­hall ever since my un­cle bought one new all those years ago. The Vagabond is cer­tainly more ex­otic than his Wyvern! Trax seems to have cap­tured the lines of the car very well, but — and I don’t know if it is an op­ti­cal illusion — the model looks too stubby. There are nice touches, such as the slightly cut down door with the han­dle on a raised sec­tion as per the orig­i­nal. The resin con­struc­tion al­lows for some fine de­tail­ing, and gives a sim­i­lar sur­face fin­ish to metal. Just about all the bright­work is made of plated photo-etched parts, in­clud­ing the all-im­por­tant bon­net flutes. The most im­pres­sive part is the heav­ily barred grille. The head­lights, side lights and tail lights are glazed. The wind­screen is made from very thin plas­tic, and is crys­tal clear. The plated in­ner frame is finely made, with ex­tremely thin wiper blades. The open in­te­rior is well de­tailed, although it is fairly sparse. There is nice two-ton­ing to the up­hol­stery. The small di­als are shown, and the steer­ing wheel has a plated boss. Un­der­side de­tail is rea­son­able, with re­al­is­tic wheels and tyres. The rear set seems to rub on the body, so the model is not free run­ning. The Vagabond is fin­ished in a rather bright glossy red with cream and red in­te­rior. It is avail­able from topgear.com.au at around $100 all­up. Some years ago Van­guards re­leased an Austin A60 Cam­bridge in 1:43 scale, along with the Mor­ris Ox­ford equiv­a­lent. Later, Cararama (Hong­well, China) made its own ver­sion of it along with other Van­guards such as the Tri­umph Her­ald, Rover P4, Ford Es­cort MKI and Ford Cortina Mkia. The rea­son this is men­tioned is that a new ship­ment of th­ese mod­els has been seen in the lo­cal model shop. The Austin is not as re­fined as the Van­guards one, but is still quite ac­cept­able, and has re­fine­ments such as glazed head­and tail­lights. It is avail­able in two-tone ma­roon and cream. The in­te­rior is black, and it is priced at around $20. While on the sub­ject of Austin A60s and resin mod­els, one of the newer mak­ers, Neo, has put out an A60 Cam­bridge Trav­eller. Like the Vagabond, it is well de­tailed, but show­ing some of the prob­lems of resin mod­els, as the photo­-etched wind­screen frame is lift­ing at one cor­ner and the wind­screen wipers have dis­ap­peared — prob­a­bly wiped off dur­ing clean­ing! The Trav­eller is painted a typ­i­cal BMC colour of mid green, with a cream roof and dark­green in­te­rior. Neo mod­els are not read­ily avail­able in New Zealand, but a web search will point you to sell­ers over­seas. Model shops and even toy shops are be­com­ing few and far be­tween, so it was very grat­i­fy­ing to find on a re­cent visit to Christchurch that there were still two ded­i­cated model shops in the CBD, Acorn Mod­els (acorn­mod­els.co.nz) and Iron­horse Hob­bies (iron­horse­hob­bies.co.nz). Both shops had a great se­lec­tion of mod­els of all types, in­clud­ing diecast clas­sic cars.

Clues Across: 7. Tri­umph’s small sa­loon, over 520,000 built from 1959 to 1971 (6) 8. US in­dus­tri­al­ist and small-­time car builder, whose 1953–’59 Bris­tol­-based sports cars achieved sports­car rac­ing suc­cess (6) 10. Model name for a mid 1950s Fer­rari 2.0­-litre sports racer, and a mod­ern (1980–’93) Fer­rari coupé or cabri­o­let (7) 11. Bri­tish designer/ builder/driver ac­tive af­ter WWII, build­ing the UK’S first two­-stage blown rac­ing car, then a fwd F3 500 racer, and fi­nally an F1 Alta-pow­ered sin­gle­-seater that he drove in one F1 GP (5) 12. Model name for six­cylin­der Mor­ris cars, built from 1929–’35 and again from 1955–’58 (4) 13. Model name for a Lo­tus two­-door sports coupé, built in two main se­ries from 1974–’82 (5) 17. Bri­tish car designer and stylist, whose work for Rover in­cluded the P5, P6 2000, and SD1 af­ter the BL takeover (5) 18. Lan­cia’s fwd sa­loon built from 1972–’84 — the sa­loons gained a rep­u­ta­tion as bad rust buck­ets (4) 22. US car stylist, whose cor­po­rate ca­reer be­gan at GM Pon­tiac, con­tin­ued with Loewy and Stude­baker, and ended at Chrysler (5) 23. Ford’s 1962-on­wards V8 en­gine, built in var­i­ous sizes from 3.6 to 5.8 litres (221 to 351ci) and still avail­able as a new pro­duc­tion crate mo­tor — 52 years in pro­duc­tion! (7) 24. Clincher, or edge, tyres dropped out of use around the end of the vin­tage era (6) 25. Aus­trian car, built from 1948–’60 from a VW chas­sis base and VW or Porsche com­po­nen­try, not up to Porsche stan­dards, but they gained some com­pe­ti­tion suc­cess in ral­lies and races (6)

Maserati’s 1974–’82 GT coupé — the body was a Gan­dini de­sign for Ber­tone (7) 2. Ford’s su­per-suc­cess­ful panel van — in­tro­duced in 1965, over seven mil­lion have been built in four main se­ries (7) 3. Bri­tish car, air­craft en­gine and mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle builder, its car pro­duc­tion con­tin­ued from 1920 to 1967 (5) 4. BMC Australia six­-cylin­der B­-se­ries­-en­gine sa­loon built from 1962–’65 and de­signed to ri­val Holden and Valiant in the Aus­tralian mar­ket (7) 5. Generic term used to de­scribe hor­i­zon­tally-­op­posed flat­-lay­out en­gines (5) 6. Aus­trian car and CV maker, now part of Mercedes-­benz and known for suc­cess­ful off-road-­ca­pa­ble ve­hi­cles (5) 9. US car marque built as a down­mar­ket com­pan­ion marque by Stutz, from 1929 to 1930 (9) 14. Rootes Group’s lighter­-duty com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle range ac­tive un­der Rootes’ own­er­ship from 1934 un­til the name slowly dis­ap­peared af­ter the Chrysler takeover (7) 15. Char­ac­ter­ful UK small car, popular and suc­cess­ful in the UK pre WWI, but faded in the 1920s and ceased trad­ing in 1925 (7) 16. First name of the Texas-­born rac­ing driver who af­ter his re­tire­ment from driv­ing in 1959 turned en­tre­pre­neur to build sports and rac­ing cars (7) 19. French car com­pany (1921–’36) with a very Bri­tish­-sound­ing name (5) 20. Heavy truck trac­tor unit used for over­size/dif­fi­cult trans­port ser­vice, built by Thornycroft from the early 1950s (5) 21. The ini­tial phase of the suck­-squeeze-­bang­-blow fourstroke in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine cy­cle (5)

An­other en­try in this pro­lific au­thor’s se­ries on Mercedes-Benz SL mod­els, this new book cov­ers the R230 mod­els pro­duced from 2001 to 2011. Long sticks to the for­mula he’s em­ployed for many of his pre­vi­ous au­to­mo­tive books — a com­pact and well writ­ten in­tro­duc­tion to set the scene, fol­lowed with a model- by­model guide to all the cars un­der re­view. Il­lus­tra­tions, other than the his­toric images pre­sented within the in­tro­duc­tory chap­ter, come al­most ex­clu­sively from the fac­tory’s ad­ver­tis­ing ma­te­rial of the day, and cover ev­ery­thing from desert testing and devel­op­ment shots to fancy stu­dio set­ups.

Some might ar­gue that it’s a lit­tle early to award th­ese new­mil­len­nium SLS with clas­sic sta­tus, although mak­ing a case for the AMG ­ver­sion cars might be an eas­ier ask — es­pe­cially those mod­els that came pack­ing a 5.5­or 5.9 ­litre V12.

Well pre­sented and con­cisely writ­ten, this book is also backed up by a se­ries of very use­ful ap­pen­dices list­ing year­by ­year SL range de­tails, en­gine spec­i­fi­ca­tions, chas­sis num­bers, pro­duc­tion num­bers and colour/trim sum­maries.

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