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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hot Wheels and Matchbox 1963 Corvette Grand Sport

One of the most sought-after Corvette's is the Grand Sport race cars of the 1960's.  Since then many companies have made replica's, but the two Mattel brands have made the most out of this car, with the newest being the open-top roadster for Hot Wheels.

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A champion that never was

In the early 1960's, the Corvette Racing team, lead by Zora-Arkus Duntov, constructed a new race car from the new 1963 Corvette Sting Ray body style.  The car's fiberglass body was made thinner, the rear valence panel has holes for additional lighter weight, the body has more scoops, domed hood, and flared fenders for the adaptation or larger racing tires.  The engine was an all-aluminum 377 CID V8 producing 550 hp. with free-flowing exhaust headers to the larger side pipes, and to the rear wheels through a 4-speed automatic.  The interior retains the stock 1963 Corvette dashboard and two seats, but was limited on luxury content and the seats had 5-point racing harness.  As i mentioned before, it was the Corvette champion that never was because when the cars were ready to be made and raced, Chevrolet found out about it and immediately cancelled the program.  Only five Grand Sport's were made, and most of them had brief racing careers.  Car #1 was a roadster with a short windshield, rear roll bar, and head restraint for the driver, in Sunoco blue with yellow tires.  #2 was the same roadster, but in an all-light blue color.  Car #3 was a coupe in the most recognizable blue with white stripe.  Car #4 is the same coupe in a lighter blue with orange stripe.  Car #5 was a coupe in light blue with white stripe and gold wheels.  Some had exposed headlights while others do not.  Any other Grand Sport is likely a custom-built one, including a silver roadster seen in the Fast Five movie.

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Matchbox first...

Matchbox was the first one out of the gate in the early 1990's, showing off a nicely-done coupe with the right lowered stance and wide look, even on basic Matchbox tires (which have a wide track).  The details are all-metal, including the front grille, the fenders have full wrap-around bulges, and the taillight panel has the correct holes.  The interior is detailed in chrome with the basic layout, while the base has the attached exhaust pipes though they do seem frumpy and the base is plastic instead of metal.  First version was blue with the white stripe of the #5 car, with white and red stripe arriving later.  The most-detailed version goes to the Premiere edition seres with extra details to the lights, side exhaust, racing numbers, window trim, interior, and taillight panel with a yellow plate that says "1 of 5".  Man, check out the detailing of the taillights!  Oh, and those rubber tires with Goodyear letters that really gives the aggressive look of the Grand Sport!

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...Then Hot Wheels

Long after the Matchbox version retired, in 2008, Hot Wheels released their version of the Grand Sport coupe.  It has the same amount of details as the Matchbox version, but it sits higher and seems bigger, yet not as much wider, than the Matchbox version.  The front grille is part of the plastic base below, which features a much sharper exhaust detailing.  Hot Wheels went the extra mile to add more details, including the racing decals on the side, the side scoops, the twin round vents on the front passenger-side fender, and the rear scoop on the trunk lid.  The interior has the same look as the Matchbox version, but with a little more detailing.  The first releases are the best in blue with white stripe and racing decals, followed later by the red with white stripe.  The PR5 wheels look out-of-place on this model, but what can you do when you don't have the right wheel at the right time?  Not shown, and I believed was profiled earlier this year, is the 9- or 3-pack exclusive in all-silver with only a few Corvette flag badges on the body.  Otherwise this version really doesn't impress me outside of the original racing colors.

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Now, for 2015 Hot Wheels takes a unique turn that no one, not even Matchbox, has yet to do is the roadster version.  The color is blue with yellow 5-spoke wheels and base to recall car #1.  While the body and base details carry-over, there is some differences between the coupe and roadster:  The front-end has a chin spoiler, the top is gone, the windshield is a smaller windscreen, a rear targa bar and driver head restraint is added to the flat rear decklid, and the two port holes on the right-side gain a third port.  The open interior now reveals more of the details from the twin-cockpit dash to the seats with the racing harness.  The only disappointment is the steering wheel that lacks the detailed three-spokes.  Otherwise it's a nice addition to the coupe line, and don't be surprised to see an all-silver recolor later in 2015 for the upcoming Fast and Furious 7 film!

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