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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Quick Looks, Part I



As much as I like to share more about each casting, sometimes there's not enough time to do a few or not enough information, or the vehicle has been profiled before either from the same manufacturer or from another manufacturer.  So what do I do when I want to show something that is cool but not enough information to fill in its own post?  Enter Quick Looks, and this time there's enough for two separate parts.  Here's #1:



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100 Years of Dodge, 50 Years of HEMI

The two biggest events for Chrysler in 2014: Dodge turns 100 and the HEMI V8 turns 50.  The first one from Greenlight is the superbly-nice 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T with 100th option package.  This option package includes sleek metallic red paint and 100th logo's on the front fenders; if they're hard-to-read just look at the packaging to see what the logo looks like.  After the Deep Water Blue Classic from the previous Muscle release, the R/T returns with the stock 5-spoke wheels and without the side stripes.  Elsewhere the other details carry-over and as I mentioned before it is beautifully-done!  The hood still opens to reveal the 5.7L HEMI V8, still features a metal base, and unfortunately for a 2014 model still offers the same drabby adn cheap interior of the 2008 model.  Still the color is nice and goes along with the blue R/T Classic and Broward County, FL Sheriff vehicles.



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The other one is a first one for me, but has been profiled under the Hot Wheels version.  The Greenlight version takes it a step further with a long, but properly-lowered stance more akin to the real car, a separate rear spoiler that tends to show off the support holes more in white, and a nose cone that fully wraps around to the point that I though it was a separate piece!  The level of details are incredible and nicely-done, though quality control is starting to go downhill with out-of-round tires and a few detail miscues like the front fender vents that don't sit flush with the front fenders.  As usual, the base and interior is shared with the '69 Charger R/T, and that's not a bad thing though this is the first Daytona that i've experienced with a properly-detailed dashboard.  Open the hood and the HEMI V8 shows off the orange color, even though it lacks additional details and it also shows off a large gap between the radiator and the nose cone.  Finally, the B5 Blue with white stripe may make you think of Richard Petty's famous #43, but the truth is Petty did not race the Daytona in 1969; he raced the Superbird in 1970.  Still, it's an awesome color!





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Two kind of buses

The first one is the short bus, a.k.a. Hot Wheels Kool Kombi, essentially a VW Kombi Panel Bus shortened to Japanese Kei-car standard.  At first, most collectors would be upset with a 'Tooned casting, but when you consider the amount of VW Bus castings made it's nice to see something unique, especially when something cute like this comes along.  Introduced in 2013, the Kombi comes in teal blue with wood trims on the side and a tan interior, with the Super Treasure adding dark metallic teal paint, rubber tires on chrome steelies, and added front-end details.  The front is all VW with large VW logo and round headlights, side trim, rooftop sunroof cover, and front bench seat and Bus-like steering wheel.  The back gets even unique with the rear door open to expose the surfboards, while the lower engine cover is removed to expose the air-cooled flat-4, tail whip exhaust, and wheelie bars.  During a brief drive around the desk the Kool Kombi feels different; more controlled like a Smart ForTwo or Mini Cooper.



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The other end is a Matchbox Lesney Classic from the Flea Market: The Greyhound Bus, a.k.a. General Motors ScenicCruiser PD-4501 specifically designed for the Greyhound Bus corporation.  This iconic shape and second-level view toward the front was not only recognizable but also used in future GM Wagons (Olds Vista Cruiser).  The bus uses elevated floor after the first ten rows of seats to allow more luggage storage below and to allow a commanding view toward the front.  The shape of the windows also recall the passenger rail cars of the early 20th century as well.  The engine in the back was a new unit of casing two I-4's to make a V8 Diesel, but this setup, along with new parts and technology, made it a challenge for mechanics to fix these buses without the required training to handle these repairs, not to mention the lack of durability testing for the engine's.  In the 1960's the engine was upgraded to a more robust Detroit Diesel V8 and improved materials.  The classic shape was replaced in the 1970's with the new MCI buses for Greyhound.  This Lesney casting is nicely-done, though it is smaller than it should be; then again so was most of the earlier Lesney casting for Matchbox at that time.  The interior is nicely-detailed, and the base is metal.  The wheels are old and clunky, and you can thank Hot Wheels for the change to larger and smoother wheels in the upcoming Superfast line.  Finally, one unique feature you'll never see again in the diecast world is the use of the Greyhound name and greyhound dog running logo on the sides (and again, you can thank today's strict copyright laws).





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Long-lost Redline

Then there's the Redline that I almost picked up years ago to restore to a restomod: the Chevy Monza 2+2.  Many years ago I saw a Monza in need as someone painted every square inch of the car, including the windows, in black paint.  It was sad and in need of some major repair, but was doable.  But for some reason after several attempts to get it, I never did!  Crazy considering the value of the casting, at minimum, is $50 with the non-Super Chromes with redline tires more valuable.  Well after years of looking and hoping for a retool in 2012 that ended up to be an IMSA racing Monza instead, I finally found one as a Super Chrome.  I personally would prefer mine with color, but then again its better than nothing, plus its got the redline tires!  The shape of the car was called "Chevy Daytona" by John DeLorean back then due to its resembalance in fastback form to the Ferrari 365 Daytona coupe.  The wedge-shape front has quad headlights similar to the Corvette Wankel concept of the mid-1970's, smooth fastback shape with a slight dip in the doorframes to the rear with the taillights that will be seen in the 1977 Camaro mid-cycle makeover rear-end.  It's hard to believe that all of this sits on the poorly-done Chevy Vega!


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A couple of surprises:  The nicely-done interior is also part of the clear blue window trim and the base is plastic instead of the usual metal base used by most Hot Wheels castings at this point.  The base also has openings for the axles to have a functioning suspension, yet it still doesn't work as much as the early Redlines of the late 1960's.  As for engines, the Monza was originally planned to have the Wankel Rotary engine, but was discarded at the last minute and replaced by either the 2.0L Cosworth I-4 or the small-block V8 to a 4-speed manual.  It's strange that such an unimpressive car with a short lifespan in the Hot Wheels line would be also the most popular and sought-after of the group in the 1970's.  Then again so was the Aries Wagon.



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