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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pullbacks, Part 1: Welly 2003 Nissan Fairlady Z



In the diecast collecting community we tend to talk about small vehicles in 1:64 like Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Auto World, Greenlight, Johnny Lightning, and others.  Some even bring up the larger scales of 1:18 and 1:24 like Maisto, Ertl, Welly, Motormax, and others.  But one area that seems to get left off most often is the 1:43 scale range of motorized pull-back vehicles.  These were introduced long before the days of remote-controlled RC vehicles, and were around as long as cars were shaped from a tin!  Just pull them back and let them go as they speed off in a straight line.  Sometimes the plastic gearing fails and you get a vehicle that goes in reverse and never springs back forward!  While most are crudly detailed and apparently designed for young kids with stickers and wild colors, most are actually designed so nicely that look like they were built just for the collectors.  In fact, there's a few Maisto pull-backs that I got twelve years ago that were so nicely done they substituted for the larger 1:18 scale vehicle in a smaller size at a reasonable price (minus a few opening features).  The only downside to these nicely-done pull-back cars is, in fact, the motor itself; causing distorted base details, pickup beds with a narrower depth, and rear seats that are either pushed forward or blocked by a big box.

In the next few posts I will show you some of my latest examples of these wonderful, yet underappreciated, pull-back vehicles from Welly and Kinsmart  (i'll show some Maisto versions sometime later on).  Here's a look at the Welly 2003 Nissan Fairlady Z.



The return of the Z

After growing big and pricey, the 300ZX was phased out like many other Japanese sports cars in 1995.  After that the love for the Z still persists in the company, so they set sights on a newer versions that harks back to the original Z in the 1970's.  The first one was the 1999 concept painted in metallic orange that featured styling elements very close to the original 1971 240Z.  However, most couldn't see a new Z with a four-cylinder motor of the concept, while others wanted to see a Z that looks more toward the future and less toward the past.  In 2001 a second concept was shown that provided more flair and modern styling while keeping the basic elements of the Z car in the profile.  That concept would also showcase the new 2003 production car, and a revolution of a platform for Nissan.



Nissan was close to approaching bankruptcy, so a successful model line was desperately needed.  V6 Altima to rival Accord and Camry, 350Z, and a G35 sedan and Z-based, four-seat coupe sharing the same motor as the V6 Altima and 350Z:  a 3.5 DOHC V6 with an oddly-shaped intake that makes the Z motor look like a FWD car even though it is RWD.  The motor produced 287 hp. and 274 Ib-ft. torque sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual.  With a long wheelbase, wide track, and four-wheel independent suspension, the new Z carved through the tracks with the same precision found in the original 240Z, but in a more refined matter.  Oh, and that unique exhaust note!



The exterior is classic, yet very unique with more edges brought to the surface of the body and even the rear taillights!  The interior is sporty and classic with the return of the three auxiliary gauges on the center of the dashboard.  The gauges in the front move with the steering wheel, the shifter with nicely-weighted short throws, and storage cubbies behind the front seats since there isn't any glove box in the front.  The rear strut brace in the cargo area is a nice piece of artwork, though it tends to interfere with cargo room.  All of this at a price of $30 grand, much less than the 300ZX markup of close to $50 grand and reasonably price with compatible sports cars at the time.  2009 brought a new, slightly smaller 370Z with bigger motor and more edgier bodywork, though the car is more coarse than the previous model and is in desperate need of a major overhaul sometime soon.  As for the Fairlady name, many claims have been made in history, but one says the name was only considered in Japan due to the history behind the Nissan name and the Fairlady roadster predecessor's; something that the U.S. neither had, so therefore it was called the Datsun Z in the U.S.



Welly Farlady Z: Why buy a larger scale?

And here's an example of a pull-back vehicle that offers so much detail that why exactly would you need their other 1:24 and 1:18 scale models?  Shining in the Le Mans Sunset orange color, the Z offers sharp detailing in the headlights, grille, chrome 6-spoke wheels, sharp-edge taillights, Nissan plates front and rear, and Fairlady Z badge on the rear hatch.  The interior shows the proper right-hand drive setup, with everything from the gauges, center stack, shifter, seat design, and rear speakers and cubbies well laid-out! Even the rear cargo area gets a chrome trim piece on the rear strut base (note the luggage detail below the strut base to hide the motor system, even though it really wasn't needed).  Ironically while the newest Welly pull-backs get a detailed, separate inner door panels, this model is an older casting that does not get the inner panels, though the detailing's of the inner panels on the metal door still remains.  Even the base shows the correct drivetrain layout despite having to get around the motor system.



Overall, it's a nicely-done casting, and yes I do have a 1:18 scale 350Z and 1971 240Z from Maisto that I'll have to show later on, but at least I finally found the 2003 Z in the accurate Le Mans Sunset orange color!
 




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