RON’S MODEL SPOT
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.