POWr Multi Slider

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Flatbed Haulers, Part 3: Matchbox Real Working Rigs International Flatbed and Western Star Tow Rig



The final look at the flatbed saga includes two cool, but short-lived, tow trucks from the short-lived Matchbox Real Working Rigs.  The series was created in 2009 to allow Matchbox to get the scale right on large rig vehicles and tractor's, while at the same time adding more moving features and removable parts to add more play value to the line.  It was a cool idea, until recent decisions at Matchbox decided to replace the realistic rigs with generic versions designed just for the kids only, then completely axe the series.  What a shame because as you'll see these vehicles have some interesting features and, as in the flatbed truck, packaging issues are non-existent here!

Click here for Photo Gallery

International Durastar 4400 Flatbed

One of the most popular flatbed, or chassis, trucks out there is the International brand.  For decades the trucks have been seen all over the place from school bus, box trucks, utility trucks, flatbed, trash, and more.  The body has went from square '70's and '80's to a smoother hood line in the 1990's.  The current generation has  more smoother hood with sweptback headlight's.  The cab on this casting feature details like the gas tank's, large mirror's, storage boxes under the bed, and out back tri-taillights and mud flaps.  The bed is large, long, has the correct frame details, and has indents to hold the wheels of the vehicle riding along in place.  The bed slides and tilts down as well, but the coolest feature that you really don't see often in this scale is the added hydraulic fork that allows for a second vehicle to ride along in a typical boon and hook fashion (with the two rear wheels still moving on the ground.  The interior has the typical utilitarian look of medium-sized truck's, but at least the dash layout is much cleaner and well-organized than what I've seen from trucks in this class.  The engine is the Turbodiesel I-6 producing 350 hp through a choice of two automatic and three manual transmissions up to nine gears.  Front suspension is a beam axle with leaf springs, but the rear axle has air springs to aid in the assistance of pulling a vehicle onto the flatbed.  As for the Matchbox Flatbed it works flawlessly, though the rear fork sits too low to the ground (as does the ground clearance of the whole truck).  Even though there seems to be a bit too many of these trucks being made as replica's, Matchbox did a nice job giving us a proper flatbed truck for 1:64 cars.

Click here for Photo Gallery


Western Star 6900XD Series Tow Truck

If there was a truck that was long-overdue to be properly done is the tow truck that handles the heavier tractor-trailer cab's.  There's been a few that have been done in the past, like Hot Wheels Ford Rig Wrecker and Matchbox Peterbuilt Tow Truck, but again packaging restrictions in 1:64 made these trucks way smaller than what they actually are.  Again, thanks to the Real Working Rigs packaging, this Western Star lives up to the real big boy's!  This truck is longer than the International and has a higher ground clearance to really give the height.  The frame on the 6900 series is the largest frame offered by Western Star designed for logging, mining, and towing heaver loads like a tractor-trailer cab.  The front cab is shared with the 4400 series but has square fenders, and matchbox adds a chrome grille to give a front a bold look.  Air filters and steps detail the sides of the cab and the best part is the chrome exhaust stacks behind the cab. The sides of the trailer has several storage area's for tools and utilities, light bar at the top, and one huge hydraulic boon that means business.  Pull the hook arm out and flip the fork down to give something for the truck it's towing something to rest its front wheels on.  The interior is well laid-out with gauges and switches angled toward the driver.  Engines are a choice of three different Detroit turbodiesel I-6 producing 400-500 hp. with torque ranging from1400-2000 Ib.-ft. of torque!  Transmission manual gears range from 10 to 18 gears.  Front and rear axles are supported by large leaf springs to handle the weight.  As a person who has a neighbor in the area with one of these rigs you can definitely tell when he's passing by with that unique low-pitch growl from all that engine torque moving this beast! 

Click here for Photo Gallery


As for the towing operation of this casting, well let's just say that it works carrying large trucks but again the fork hovers close to the ground and the arm has a hard time holding up even moderate weight at a 45 degree angle.  Also I imagine parking this thing would be a big pain, too!  Still it's one of the most impressive tow truck's in my collection and I hope Matchbox finds a way to revive these Real Working Rigs because they were cool, and no one sums it up better than this Western Star Tow Truck!

Click here for Photo Gallery

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Flatbed Haulers, Part 2: Jada Toys VW and Ford Flatbed's



Jada Toys, once the company that populated the toy isles with the Dub City cars with big rims, metallic paint, low ride height, now lays low but still produces product lines each year.  During the course of a decade Jada has released a few flatbed trucks.  There's the 1:18 scale International 4400 Flatbed, or these two 1:64 scale trucks.

Click here for Photo Gallery


1940 Ford Flatbed:  Cool and Classic

Fast Bed Hauler isn't the first flatbed to be based on a customized early 20th century one-ton truck, this would have to go to Jada Toys.  The first flatbed was a big deal and appropriately fits right into the D-Rodz line of street rods.  The two-tone paint looks incredible, the front end is low to the ground, the big wheels fill the wheel wells, the exhaust exit the sides underneath the bed, and chrome front grille with separate headlights are nice (though the headlights shown in the pictures are placed cross-eyed on my version).  The interior is standard fare with bench seat, large 3-spoke wheel, and appropriate dashboard details.  Now for the flatbed:  it's a color-matching sliding tray that features a chrome diamond-plate tracks.  The ramp slides back and forth to fit varying vehicle length's, yet it doesn't tilt down for loading.  Also the ramp lacks any support to hold vehicles in place.  Then again the flatbed does a good job not only holding Hot Wheels 1:64 cars but also Jada's own 1:64 cars, which are larger in scale than the Hot Wheels versions.  The flatbed got more use later on, including an interesting rusted out look for the For Sale series a few years later.

Click here for Photo Gallery


VW Bus Flatbed:  Now for something odd

On the other side is one peculiar and odd piece from the V-Dubz series:  A VW Transport Pickup with a flatbed trailer!  It looks so odd, but so cool at the same time.  The ramp is the same as the '40 Ford, but now tilts down for easier loading.  The Bus, painted in this fabulous blue, looks sharp with the accurate detailing all-around the vehicle, the Bus sits very close to the ground on large color-matching VW hubcap wheels, and dual exhaust poke out at the rear.  Inside the interior very familiar to any VW bus with bus-like steering wheel and correct dash layout.  Again, just like the '40 Ford, the flatbed does an excellent job holding smaller 1:64 diecast and also the larger Jada 1:64 vehicles.  The biggest question is the engine:  What powers this six-wheel bus???  It seems like the flat-4 is still there, but the motor would have a hard time hauling heavier vehicles on the flatbed.  Still it's one cool looking piece, and I must say I love the color on this Bus a whole lot!

Click here for Photo Gallery

Flatbed Haulers, Part 1: Hot Wheels Fast Bed Hauler, Cabbin' Fever, and Matchbox Flatbed Truck's



Tow trucks are the popular form for collectors to show off in a display or diorama, and as for kids it's a way for added play to their imagination. The main tow trucks have always been the hook and boom type where one section of a vehicle hangs from the hook as its being towed away.  In the 1990's a shift toward a new-style approach was definitely needed.  With the increased use of all-wheel drive vehicles making hook and boom towing more difficult, not to mention badly-damaged vehicles or vehicles in need of a major restoration, the need for a tow truck that can carry a vehicle without one set of it's axles still moving on the ground was needed.  Hence the flatbed was born.  In this blog i'll showcase the newest flatbed from Hot Wheels, Fast Bed Hauler, against the previous flatbed called Cabbin' Fever, the Ramp Truck, and Matchbox Flatbed Truck's.  Along with a brief overview i'll subject the vehicles  to various flatbed loads by size, weight, and width to see how they hold up.

Click here for Photo Gallery


Ramp Truck:  Flatbed at angle

Before flatbeds arrived, the earliest form of this type was the ramp truck.  In a ramp truck, the bed rests at an angle.  Look closely and you can see two rolls of cable used to raise and lower the vehicle on the ramp.  As an added bonus the lower edge of the ramp has detent cloaks to further support the vehicle weight on the ramp.  In diecast terms, the ramp usually tilts to allow unloading of the vehicles off the ramp.  This Hot Wheels version introduced in the early 1990's has a classic Kenworth COE look even though the vehicle is generic.  The base is metal and the windows are clear even though there really isn't an interior.  The ramp does a good job holding average vehicles, but as the wheels get bigger and the weight gets heavier, the limits of the detent cloaks get reached and what usually happens is the vehicle ends up rolling backwards right off the ramp.  Also another downside is the ramp can only support vehicles at a determined length before the front wheels start riding on the front cab.  The Ramp Truck, despite being liked by collectors, didn't last long as the casting was final runned in 1999.  Matchbox did revive the ramp truck in 2003 on a (really) generic casting.  This ramp used a sliding tray instead of tilting.  Again that one did not last long.  Finally Maisto made one with the same exact ramp as the Hot Wheels version, but the casting Maisto used was a generic version of an Isuzu COE truck.

Click here for Photo Gallery
 



Click here for Photo Gallery


2000:  The year flatbed's arrived at Mattel

Before I get into these two, there was one diecast manufacturer that produced a very realistic flatbed truck:  Road Champs International Flatbed Truck.  Even though it was 1:64, it was twice as long as an average 1:64 vehicle and the flatbed can handle longer vehicle length's.  The International body was nicely done and the graphics very realistic.  Metal on Metal with plastic flatbed.  Flatbed has multiple grooves to hold vehicles with different length's.  The flatbed also slides back and tilts down for easy loading.  The one biggest downside is that the flatbed was too narrow!  The only 1:64 vehicles that could fit on the flatbed without riding the ends is a few old Yatming 1:64 castings from the '70's and '80's.

Click here for Photo Gallery


In 2000 both Hot Wheels and Matchbox released flatbed trucks.  Now here's the kicker:  When the 2000 Hot Wheels poster was shown a sketch of what Cabbin' Fever was shown.  What you saw was a ramp truck with classic '50's cab styling.  What you ended up with is a flatbed truck with an extended ramp piece that, in it's folded stage in blistercard, looked like a glider for a possible replacement for the Custom Fleetside Skyshow vehicle last used in the 1970's.  As for the cab: still had classic curves, but was more modern-retro than classic retro.  Either way the big, six-wheel truck was impressive and looked good.  The front has angry-looking triangular headlights with classic round grille, wrap-around window, angled flatbed and lower trim, and hot wheels logo in between the taillights.

Click here for Photo Gallery


The flatbed was the best with a long length to accommidate various lengths and sizes of 1:64 vehicles and, as an added benefit, the ramp tilts forward toward what I like to call the 'catcher's mitt' end at the back of the cab to securely hold the vehicle in place.  Not even a heavy, all metal truck can upset the weight of this truck!  Cabbin' Fever has had a good run in the last decade, then mysteriously disappeared in the past few years.  As for the original sketch:  The original designer of Cabbin' Fever got a second chance by designing the original as an Hot Wheels Collectors.com Red Line Club model in 2013.  Featuring metal on metal base, the classic retro-styled cab, ramp truck bed that tilts back to reveal the mid-mounted engine.  It was a cool piece, as long as you were a RLC member.  For the rest, we'll have to take the new Fast Bed Hauler.

Click here for Photo Gallery


Matchbox Flatbed Truck:  The bad and good sides

On the Matchbox end, the Flatbed Hauler arrived interesting enough in a series with four classic exotics with one of them also used on the door logo's of the flatbed (a red Viper, and no that's a Johnny Lightning in the picture below).  The Flatbed truck, also shared with the cube box Delivery Truck, is a generic truck based on the Isuzu COE truck (and looks the part).  The base is metal, the roof uses police car lights, and there is an interior that is part of the clear windows.  But then there's the flatbed:  It's a tray, scrunched up at the front to fit in blistercard, that straightens out when you slide it back...well it was supposed to!  The tray slides all the way back to tilt down for loading...only pointing up without weight on it!  As for resting the vehicle on the flatbed, you get a lump in the front that raises the vehicle at the front.  Worse, the transfer of weight impacts the rear where the weak tray buckles with the weight:  any more heavier and the vehicle falls on it's rear end!  Any longer the vehicle and the same thing happens.  It is a terrible design, though Matchbox knows and in 2007 issued a revised flatbed truck.

Click here for Photo Gallery


The revised 2007 version featured an improved tray with a sturdier upper tray that slides back to extends and locks into place while the lower tray supports the front of the bed.  The light bar is now integrated into the flatbed instead of the roof, and while it may not look like it at first the whole bed unit separates into two and tilts back at an angle to allow for loading and unloading.  The end result is a flatbed that is now much more sturdier, cleaner looking, and able to haul longer and heavier vehicles without a problem.  Unfortunately the flatbed never got much use after a few years in the Matchbox line.


Click here for Photo Gallery
 


Click here for Photo Gallery


Fast Bed Hauler:  Looking cool while doing it's job!

For those who despise the Cabbin' Fever and never had the chance to get the RLC-only original Cabbin' Fever, then Fast Bed Hauler is for you.  The front cab has the classic 1930's one-ton chassis cab look, but with the added hot-rod look to it, including the grille and headlights that resemble a few classic Hot Wheels hot rods of recent.  Also shown is the fender curves, pinstriping, and backwards-opening doors.  The sides under the bed showcase mid-mounted twin V8 motors (very unusual location for a flatbed truck), while the rear has a modern look with a traditional bumper and tri-taillights.  The bed is a flat plastic piece that slides back up until the very end when it tilts down for loading and unloading.  Now here's the dilemma:  Some collectors have been complaining that the bed does not fit longer vehicles such as Blown Delivery. 

Click here for Photo Gallery


Well I decided to see for myself by placing various length's, width's, and weight's on the flatbed and here's the result: For average vehicles, the flatbed works fine, just adjust the bed to fit the front overhang of the vehicle.  Most of the vehicles also rests their rear wheels perfectly on the support strips at the rear of the bed.  Some vehicles may have to sit backwards depending on the length and shape of the front overhang.  Now a heavier vehicle, like the VW Drag Bus, did not make the flatbed even flinch, though I wonder if the mostly-plastic truck could handle the weight of the Bus (it did, almost losing the battle).  Even though so far, so good, problems erupted when various width's were added to the flatbed:  Normal vehicles just fit right in, but a few with a wider track (Hot Wheels Porsche 993 GT2's rear axle and the Johnny Lightning Hummer, shown, are a few examples) started to ride on one side of the bed edge.

Click here for Photo Gallery


End result:  We've come a long way from the rusty beginnings of flatbed trucks to flatbeds that are perfectly done and can support almost any type of 1:64 castings while still fitting in a normal blister.  About the only thing these trucks cannot haul is a jacked-up 4x4 truck or a tractor-trailer cab, but then again in the real world that's impossible to do as well.  As for Fast Bed Hauler I think collectors will love this casting for the classic 1930's 1-ton Hot Rod look and a flatbed that will haul most 1:64 diecast cars with ease.  Just add a metal base to future variations and it'll be one perfect flatbed truck for the Hot Wheels brand!





Click here for Photo Gallery

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hot Wheels LaFerrari with it's ancestory



If it's one thing Ferrari has made a name for itself when it comes to cars specifically built for the track and to smitten boys and men across the globe.  The uppermost point in the Ferrari line is the super exotics like F40, F50, Enzo, and now the LaFerrari.  All of these cars exhibit the latest technology out there and then some area's that are still new and for the time being expensive to mass produce, yet if it goes well and costs come down the technology seen on these vehicles trickle down into future Ferrari models and, eventually, other automotive brands as well.  Here I gathered five examples of the super Ferrari models from each decade, two of them are variations of the same model.  Let's take a look:

Click here for Photo Gallery


F40:  The beginning

In 1988 the F40 became what was known as the start of the high-priced exotic cars at Ferrari that showcased the latest technology that also hinted at the future of Ferrari models.  The story was that it was time for Ferrari to celebrate 40 years producing limited edition cars for the public, and Ferrari needed a car to succeed the 288 GTO and compete with the Porsche 959 in the FIA Group B race.  What essentially ended up was a car that would have the wedge-shaped look of current Ferrari's in the 1980's with wings and scoops of a race car.  Once approved by Enzo Ferrari himself (and the last car he would see before his death on August 14, 1988), the F40 was built with a body styled by Pininfarina made of Kevlar, carbon fiber, and aluminum.  The interior was strictly a race car with supportive seats, large 3-spoke steering wheel, and gated shifter. Almost the whole rear of the car opens up to showcase the 2.9L twin-turbocharged V8 producing 471 hp. with claims that the engine can muster almost 500 hp. if tuned properly.  Transmission is the 5-speed manual transaxle, and the suspension is the same control arms in the 288 GTO, but with advanced suspension tuning to allow the low-to-the-ground body to lift up slightly to clear speed bumps.  0-60 in 3.8 sec, 0-100 in 7.6 sec., top speed of 201 mph., and has a price tag of $400,000 US ($850,000 today).



Click here for Photo Gallery


The Hot Wheels version was released in 1988, along with other models made by countless diecast brands.  The Hot Wheels version has a metal base which protrudes upward to fill in the turn signal/foglight housing, deeply-carved side NACA ducts, vented rear window, large rear wing, and the famous Ferrari quad taillights.  The neatest feature is the rear hatch that opens up to show the V8 motor with the intake housing, twin turbo boxes, and tri-exhaust system (the center one is the wastegate from the turbo's) nicely detailed.  The interior is average but at least has the right setup.  Many countless variations of the F40 has been made, sadly most with graphics covering the body, but a few gems do appear:  this one was released in 2001 in the regular line and I must say it looks good in the light blue with the 5-spoke wheels that almost closely resemble the wheels on the actual car.  The next best is the red/black two-tone version from the 2012 Boulevard line.

Click here for Photo Gallery


F50:  Only targa Ferrari supercar

In 1995, with a resurgence going on at Ferrari to revive the quality and excitement of the Ferrari brand, the F50 arrived premature of the actual 50th anniversary date (which is 1998).  While it may look the same as the F40 with the large winged-rear and bodywork of a race car, it was totally a different car.  The engine is now a 4.7L V-12 from the 1992 F92A race car, producing 750 hp. through a six-speed transaxle.  The suspension was redesigned to now offer horizontal pushrod suspension commonly used in F1 cars, giving the F50 stronger g-forces on the skidpad.  0-60 in 3.7 sec., 0-100 in 6 sec., top speed of 194 mph., and price between $480-550 thousands of dollars.  So, yeah it seems like not much has advanced over the F40, yet the difference is a non-turbo engine and a new Targa model that uses a removable roof panel to let more air into the fast exhilarating experience of a super exotic.  The outside features smoother bodywork than the F40, a revised front end featuring exposed headlights and twin hood vents for the front radiator.  The rear engine cover is now flat, with roll hoops integrated behind the front seats for Targa models.  The interior is, yes again, race car-only with just the gauges, steering wheel, and shifter to keep you occupied.

Click here for Photo Gallery


Hot Wheels released two different versions: The first one was released in 1996 and is the best version yet.  Also it's the only one in this scale to have the open-top look.  The shape of the body and the dimensions are spot-on, the wheels look nice if inaccurate to the actual model, the interior nicely done, and the engine details under the glass are nice except you really can't see it well with the numerous vents on the glass in the way.  The hardtop released in 1999 was a backwards-step:  smaller, taller ground-clearance than the actual car or the 1996 Targa.  It does offer a metal base and 5-spoke wheels that look more accurate than the lace wheels of the Targa.  But when you consider the size is identical to an F355 that Hot Wheels also has, it seems discerning that the largest Ferrari in the lineup is so tiny in comparison.

Click here for Photo Gallery


Enzo: Taking Ferrari to the next level

Almost ten years later, it was time for Ferrari to take in the next step of its super car program.  The result is the 2003 Enzo Ferrari.  Unlike the F50, the Enzo takes a bigger leap in evolution with edgier bodywork that features a longer, F1-inspired nose, integrated scoops in the fenders, smooth rear spoiler (that pops up after 60 mph.), taillights that bulge out from the top of the rear, and a new rear bumper diffuser for the under body pan.  The body is carbon-fiber, the doors open up like a butterfly, and the interior features more content in carbon fiber, but still non-luxurious.  The 6.0L V8 features DOHC and technology from the Maserati V8 family, producing 651 hp. and 485 Ib-Ft of torque through a new six-speed semi-automatic F1-style gearbox (the first non-manual Ferrari super car).  0-60 in 3.1 sec., 0-100 in 6.6 sec., top speed of 221 mph., and a price tag of $659,000 US.  The Enzo was also the first Ferrari supercar to donate its platform to other models including the racing version of the Enzo called FXX, Maserati's version of the Enzo called MC-12, P4/5 one-off designed by Pinifarina, and the Chrysler ME-412 concept.


Click here for Photo Gallery


This Hot Wheels version released in 2003 is superbly done, and also joined by a 1:18 scale model that arrived shortly after the 1:64 version.  The sharp bodywork is nicely executed, the interior now has more eye-catching detail, and at last! the rear glass cover is clear, which allows the V-12 to be seen in plain view and it looks awesome!  Several variations have come over the years and it's surprising that most of them have nothing but paint and prancing horse logo's, with a few having some pinstripes along the side.  This black version from 2006 features the special Faster Than Ever wheels (new in 2006), though I would like to see some lighting details.  As much as the Enzo looks good, the edgy styling drew quite a bit of criticism from either those who love the styling to those who despise it.  Now that Ferrari has smooth out the awkward edgy angles on their latest Ferrari's, it was time once again to move on to the next generation of Ferrari super cars.

Click here for Photo Gallery


LaFerrari:  Smooth, yet futuristic

Introduced in 2013 the LaFerrari is the latest offering from Ferrari with a super car packing the latest and next generation technologies for future models in the Ferrari line.  The biggest was the new mild-hybrid setup composing of a 6.3L DOHC V-12 producing 789 hp. and a 7-speed automated manual transaxle, mated to electric motor part of the KERS unit that produces 161 hp.  Both motors come together to produce 950 hp., yet be as efficient as a V8 motor.  Hybrid technology is big, yet Ferrari wanted to make sure whomever props down a million dollars for one of these also gets the full-effect of the Ferrari experience with a whaling V-12 motor.  The car is estimated to hit 60 mph. in under 3 seconds with a top speed of 217 mph.; more information will come out over the years when journalists try to find out how much power can this car top out.  The styling is a huge improvement with softer, yet still edgy, lines and a shorter front overhang to give the side view an equal-appearance.  Unlike past Ferrari super cars, where the styling dictates future Ferrari models, this one follows the current design standards of the 458, FF, and F12 models with the large and thin headlights.  The lower grilles are larger and feature flexible fins that open and close when needed by the force of the air at speed.  The roof is now all-clear, the side scoops are nicely tucked in like a cave, and the rear now features the center spine first seen on the F12.  The interior now features a more artful work with two-tone dash, supportive seats, center console that floats toward the dashboard, and center gauges that are all-digital save for the yellow analog tachometer in the center.  I also noticed that you may want to watch your step when you get into this car because the outer frame of the carbon fiber tub comes up halfway to the door.


Click here for Photo Gallery



As far as the new Hot Wheels version goes, it's pretty nice with the correct flow of the body, clear top roof, and interior detailing.  The engine is still there, but barely visible in the narrower rear window.  However, there are a few shortcomings to this casting:  One the ground clearance is too high compared to the actual car (it should hug the ground a little more); a similar problem I found with the HW Pagani Huyara casting.  The second is to see more decals in the rear, like the taillights; again a problem I also found on the HW F12 casting.  Overall it's not a bad casting, and the actual car will look more enticing to car enthusiast when it comes out than what the Enzo can do.  Then again so did all of these cars shown here.


Click here for Photo Gallery


Monday, February 17, 2014

Hot Wheels Then and Now: Toyota AE-86 Corolla and Scion FRS



When the Then and Now series was introduced in the 2013 Hot Wheels regular line (a.k.a. Mainline), it was an interesting way to show two identical vehicles, usually by model nameplate, in identical colors only separated by a few years (more like decades).  2013 saw two sets of Mustangs, while the rest are one set of Camaro's, Challenger's, and Charger's.  To start 2014, a different approach forms, and this one will most likely show the creativity that this series will create:  old vs. new for any model from any country in the world!



AE-86:  The last of the Rear-Wheel Drive Corolla's

When the Corolla was introduced in 1966, who knew that this car would become a legendary top-seller for Toyota.  For the first few decades the Corolla was mostly rear-wheel drive, until a change to the modern front-wheel drive setup arrived in the 1980's.  Yet, even then the 2-door fastbacks, known as AE-85 and AE-86 continued to offer rear-wheel drive and these fastbacks were more designed for those looking for a sporty image rather than one looking for basic transportation.  The AE-86 Corolla was also known as the Trueno in other markets, and all models got the 1.6L DOHC I-4 that range from 112 hp. in the U.S. to 130 hp. in Japan.  Mated to a five-speed manual to the rear wheels to a suspension with struts up front and multi-link in the rear.  The fastback appearance is not really exciting to look at, but then again it's more sportier than the standard Corolla's.  What really made the AE-86 Corolla take off is the Import tuner scene, especially in the drifting competitions where the Corolla was a favorite for its lightweight and relatively easy to find and cheap to buy.  Also give credit to the Japanese Anime 'Initial-D' for using the AE-86 Trueno as the main character's hero car.  Spicing up the hatchback with ground effects, flared fenders, and coffee-can muffler really enhances the look of the AE-86 Corolla.

Click for Photo Gallery


This Hot Wheels version has been long around before more classic Japanese castings started to become commonplace in the Hot Wheels line, and even though it was introduced in the 2006 line it was seldom used up until recently.  This 2014 version looks great in silver with black/red/and orange striping, blacked-out wheels and red interior.  However, this version seems less popular than the 2013 Initial-D versions.  I like how the different curves and creases are tooled into this casting, making it look much more sportier than what a stock AE-86 Corolla could muster.  Since this is mostly a drift car, the interior has a driver's seat with a right-hand dash, shifter, and a few minor details.  Drift cars not only lose the extra weight to make them perform faster, but also the front wheels turn much more farther than stock, all of this allowing the car to perform longer sideways drift burnouts during drifting competitions.

Click for Photo Gallery


Scion FRS (Also known as Toyota GT-86, Subaru BRZ)

Probably one of the biggest recent accomplishment in the affordable, tuneable car for the car enthusiast is the Toyota GT-86 and Subaru BRZ.  Both was under a teamed involvement with the performance knowledge of Subaru's history with the WRX and STi names and Toyota's history of efficient mass-produced vehicles at reasonable costs, not to mention the need for a rear-wheel drive or any sports coupe back in the Toyota line since the days of Celica, Supra, MR-2, and AE-86 are long gone by now.

Click for Photo Gallery


The U.S. calls the Toyota GT-86 the Scion FRS, but either way both the Toyota and Subaru are both alike in terms of setup and styling.  The project started in 2007 with the FT-HS concept car that previewed Toyota's idea of a four-seat coupe with the engine from Subaru that Toyota recently joint partnership with (and partly owns).  The 2009 FT-86 was the start of the direction for the production GT-86, with a body-shape that will carry-over in the next few concepts before production and stay like that in production-form.  In final suit, the GT-86 showcased sweeping body curves combined with edgy surfaces.  Headlights, along with a pointed front-end give the car an aggressive look up front, while the rear taillights bulge outward from the rear fenders a slight bit.  The interior is more track-oriented with flat dashboard, large gauges, 3-spoke steering wheel, and a nice short-throw six-speed manual.  However, driver and front seat passengers over six-feet tall will extract the rear seating room, creating a two-seater instead of a two-plus two.  The trunk is guaranteed to haul four tires and a few tools for the track (and it does).  The true magic of this car lies underneath the hood:  A 2.0L Boxer (Flat) H-4 with DOHC, producing 200 hp. and 151 Ib.-ft. torque, and placed low to the ground and behind the front axle line.  All of this adds up to a car that is lightweight, fun on the track, and keep in mind that the engine, while in need of more power, is pretty easy to work on and modify without any setbacks or difficulties.

Click for Photo Gallery


Introduced last year, the Scion FRS returns in 2014 with a matching color and stripes to the Corolla, and I must say the silver is thinner and shows off more of the body lines than what the thicker dark red color could muster last year.  Nor could the headlight graphics of last year, which were always off-set to the actual lamp position, could show the bulges in the headlight lenses.  Note that the car has a body kit with ground effects, revised front bumper, and larger rear spoiler, yet still retains the stock look of the car.  The interior also has a matching red color.  Last year's red color apparently went unnoticed and most of them just stayed on store shelves.  With this color hopefully the FRS will gather more attention and more love.

Click for Photo Gallery


Seeing these two Toyota's together shows just how Toyota still has the performance pedigree despite producing some usually lifeless vehicles designed for those who want more of a reliable transportation than a vehicle to toss around the curves, and with hints of Toyota reviving the Supra nameplate it seems like the effect of the GT-86/FRS and the history from the AE-86 Corolla and other Toyota coupes are giving the Toyota (and Scion) brand a second chance to appreciate car enthusiast like us.

Oh, and F.Y.I.:  For those living in the U.S. be sure to keep an eye on your Wal-Marts in the next few months because both of the cars you see here will be the special ZAMAC cars.  ZAMAC cars have no paint, just bare metal, yet retains the graphics of the versions with paint.  How could it be any different from these silver versions?  ZAMAC will appear a bit darker and when light hits the metal the metal will shine, not the metalflakes like what the silver does to reflect light.

Click for Photo Gallery