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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Welly 1:24 2014 BMW 335i Sport Sedan



Welly continues to impress with well-detailed 1:24 scale new castings for the low-end of the price range.  Even if one comes from Rire-Aid store as one of the cars that didn't pass quality control and lost both its exterior mirrors!  No problem, and after a new set of mirrors and a two-tone red interior, this BMW really earns "The Ultimate Driving Machine" standard.



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The 3-series line started with the racing heritage of the 2002 that made the BMW automaker the sportiest German of the bunch (not counting Porsche which was in a different category at the time).  In 1975 the 3-series line was introduced to replace the 2002 as the new compact car line for BMW.  Now in it's current sixth-generation the 3-series has grown and lost some of its sporting characteristics that car enthusiats love yet it still retains most of that sporty nature, and if that's not enough for you then take a look at the M3 and M4 models.  Speaking of which this generation is not only returns the I-6 to the M-line but also separates the sedans from the coupe and convertible lines (now called 4-series).





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This Welly casting starts off with a bold red color and Sport trim (note the logo's on the front fenders) and 5-spoke split wheels on low-profile rubber tires nicely-done with floating brake calipers over rotors on all four wheels.  Looks good!  Color options are similar to Alfa Romeo's: choice of red or white in 1:24 or 1:18 scale.  The front has detailed headlights with the projector frames and angel-eye rings, which extend and connect to the twin kidney grilles with vertical fins and exposed outer corners that connect to the lenses and all combine to give it an aggressive, wider look with a similar lower grille with foglights and a smaller central grille to allow the BMW 335i place to rest.  The rear returns the dogleg taillights with light bar strips inside, BMW plate, logo's, lip spoiler in the shape of the trunk, and dual exhaust with black tips with silver inside.




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The side profile starts with all windows up for a clean look and door handles that stand out (note: when the car is unlocked by key fob LED puddle lamps glow under each handle.  Now this car came with mirrors but because of the way the doors open (spring-tight) and with no other place to hold onto to open the doors the mirrors were the obvious choice, and after a while someone managed to pull them off!  So what I did was take one of the extra Ford Crown Vic Taxi's from Welly that were lying around and removed both mirrors to work into the BMW when I got home.  They fit, and they are sandwiched between the door and door panel; however the dash and door panels were not made for this sandwich type so door panel fit was not perfect.  After hours of grinding, filing,  and trial-and-error fits of the doors I got the doors to close at 98% smooth fit (they still stick out a little).  At the expense of the way they mount the mirrors tilt up at a slight angle, and the stock BMW mirrors are square and are body-colored, though some 3-series do have blacked-out mirrors.  As a final touch I added signal lights to the mirrors.  Hey, it's not perfect but better than nothing!






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Next up was the interior: Gone is the awkward housing for the I-Drive screen and in comes a separate pop-up screen leaving the rest of the dash to be nice and smooth, with silver trim below the screen, detailed center controls, and gauges behind a 3-spoke steering wheel.  The console has a silver trim that also connects with the I-Drive knob and the 7-speed automatic shifter, but I wanted to go further and unique by making this a 6-speed manual.  The shifter was from a 1993 Dodge Viper RT/10 and looks like the perfect fit despite the handle being canted forward a bit.  Easy fit where the previous shifter once was and was color-matched to the actual 6-speed shift knob.  The clutch pedal was added and so that the pedals are more visible to see the change I added silver to the pedals and dead pedal.  But Wait!  That's not all!  To finish it off I added red to the seats, door panels, and console arm rest to give it the unique two-tone treatment (just like the 2005 Ford Mustang GT and 2014 M-B SL500 that I profiled last month) and to give visual pizzaz to the interior.  Combine that with the rest of the fantastic interior detailing and this is one fantastic interior setup!



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The 1:18 has an opening trunk; not missed here.  Open the hood to show off what most expect to be an engine cover, and you're mostly right.  While the engine block is covered, the rest of the engine bay is flooded with details.  The engine cover says "BMW TwinPower" to advertise the 3.5L DOHC Twin-Turbo I-6 that has two different turbo's for low and high range output to produce 302 hp. and 295 Ib-ft. of torque.  The shock towers are red, the oil filter next to the engine is silver, the coolant resovoir is white, the air box connects to a hose that is directed toward the turbochargers, the hood has a nice central black finish, and the windshield cowl piece has access ports for the brake fluid resovoir and electrical components.  The base underneath doesn't show much at the front where the engine components are covered, but does the rest of the way with the large exhaust pipe toward the rear suspension in 3-D effect, and then toward the silver muffler exiting out the dual black tips.  I added detail to the exhaust (minus the rear muffler which was already detailed), rear suspension, transmission support brace, and front suspension components.


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See what a few small tweaks and emergency repair can do to enhance one sharp-looking casting: make it look even better, as in this sharp-looking BMW 3-series sedan!


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Comparison: Hot Wheels (and a Matchbox) 1960's Sport Sedan's.



The 1970 Ford Escort RS1600 is the newest entry in a group that contains quite a few sporty two-door sedans of the 1960's from Mattel over the past eight years.  The popularity of taking a standard two-door European sedan and turning it to a track-ready car was all the rage back then and it is today, not to mention giving the automaker its performance heritage.  The Escort joins the similarly popular Datsun 510 from Japan that was introduced in 2009, the German BMW 2002ti introduced in 2012, and the older, and quite limited, Matchbox Alfa Romeo Gulietta Sprint GTA introduced in 2007.  Now it's time to see which one of these fast sedans takes the win!




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Exterior

The Escort looks sporty in Grabber Blue with white racing stripes that perfectly mirror the original RS stripes, FORD letters on the hood, front grille with integrated headlights, chrome bumpers, and driving lights that are part of the interior.  The rear has a typical rear-end that looks also like the Datsun with chrome bumper.  Cool touches include the passenger-side rearview mirror and some red logo on the windshield cowl on the left.  The Alfa is a classic and the only car that has a normal ride height on cool blacked-out wheels with center spinner.  The front has detailed grille with single headlights, separate front and rear chrome bumpers (like the Escort), and the V-shaped Alfa grille.  The rear also has the typical square taillights, but I do give Matchbox the thumbs up for added details to the rear that include the taillights, rear plate, and four-leaf clover.  The BMW has a low and wide stance with taillights that have a round look and flared fenders.  The front-end has single headlights with twin-kidney grille flanked by side grilles and a smooth no-front bumper.  The forward look of the BMW looks a bit odd compared to the rest of the car.  The Datsun is very sporty and popular, but the front grille that is part of the chrome base is sloppy on details when compared to the newer wagon and 620 pickup.  The rear-end has more body line details than the rest, while the sides are the most tame (aside from the Alfa) and almost has a look of a 4-door sedan.  Being littered with racing decals shows what this casting is all about: the track!





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Interior

All have seating for four with reasonable space in the back.  The Escort is the only right-hand drive car and while it doesn't have a rear seat there is room for two in the back anyways.  The dash layout is nicely done if a bit plain (so is the actual car) and the racing seats look neat.  The Alfa has nicely-done seats, but unlike the traditional Matchbox car in 2007 this one has a dashboard that needs details on the gauges and dials.  The BMW is the best of the group with a simple, sporty look with well laid-out controls and comfy seating for four.  The Datsun is the crudest with no back seat and a roll bar that shows off its track heritage.




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Engine

All four cars have I-4's, rear-wheel drive, and uni-body construction.  With the benefit of Cosworth technology, the Escort uses a 2.0L 16-valve DOHC I-4 that produces over 200 hp. through a 4-speed manual.  The Alfa also uses a 2.0L DOHC I-4 that produces 115 hp. through a 4-speed manual.  The BMW uses a 1.8L SOHC I-4 that produces 120 hp through a 4-speed manual.  The Datsun 510 uses a 1.6L I-4 that produces 96 hp. through a 4-speed manual.


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Acceleration and Braking

All had very similar performance expectations, with the Escort and Alfa the fastest in the acceleration runs, the BMW next, and the Datsun last, but again all three were very close.  In braking the BMW and, surprisingly the Alfa, had the shortest distance, with the Datsun and Escort stopping a bit later.


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Handling

While acceleration runs were close, handling was a different story.  The Escort has a rear live axle with leaf springs, as does the Alfa, while the others have independent rear suspensions.  The Alfa sits the highest so it exhibits more body roll and oversteer, but still the car was fast and well-controlled through the corners, not to mention smooth on the open road.  The Escort was just as fast with little to no body roll and a blast to drive on the track.  The Datsun was pretty good on the track, but not as fun as the Escort nor as respectable on the highway.  The BMW, even with a wide track and wider tires, failed to handle as expected, feeling much more like a larger car and exhibiting more understeer than expected.


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Features

Oh, this was a hard one to choose since all four had the same content and boxy sedan shape, but it was a tie between the racing livery and rally lights of the Escort to the details and classy shape of the Alfa.  Heck, even the BMW, despite the avant-garde front-end and handling downsides, had plenty to be proud about with a perfect interior and nice design touches.  The Datsun has a racing pedigree and a few nice touches but it needs to be retooled badly, especially with the front grille that should be part of the metal body.


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Price

All four were the entry-level points in each car line, so that's not expected, and their performance models were marked at a higher premium.  The Datsun 510 would be the winner here for the most affordable, followed by the Escort RS.  On the other hand BMW always cost a premium, and the Alfa in GTA trim is worth much higher than the other Gulietta line.

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Verdict

It was a close race on the track, but in the end the voting was pretty much spaced evenly apart.  Fourth place went to the BMW 2002: It's a sharp-looking casting with a great interior, but the car is too wide for quick handling reflects and that front-end always looks funny on the 2002.  Third place goes to the Datsun 510: It's a casting that all of a sudden is a hot commodity for collectors today, but seems too old or weak compared to the competition.  Second place goes to the Ford Escort RS1600: A wild and eye-catching casting that is fun on the track, but comes up a few details short of the win.  The First place Winner is the Alfa Romeo Gulietta Sprint GTA: Rare, sporty, good-looking, and great to drive on the highway, something you'd least expect from a race-trimmed package.  Then again, the Matchbox Alfa is no-more, so the unofficial current-to-date casting to win would be the Escort.  Either way pick your favorite because all of them offer cool looks, room for four, and fun on the track.

The era of Ford Escort's: From Hot Wheels Ford Anglia to the Matchbox RS Cosworth



With the new Hot Wheels 1970 Ford Escort RS1600 gaining wide appreciation mostly due to it's appearance in the Fast and Furious 6 movie, this is not the first time the Escort name has been done in diecast:  Over the decades the Escort, though in Euro-spec, has been replicated for almost each generation, including the predecessor the Ford Anglia that it replaced.  The Escort has even seen its share of the times by going to Front-wheel drive in the 1980's, then return to rear-wheel drive in the RS Cosworth in the 1990's.  While there's plenty to show (and one of them, the original Hot Wheels 1980 Ford Escort XR4i, is not shown here), here's a few of the models from different manufacturers over the course of several generations.



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First, the predecessor was the Anglia line that was a popular compact Ford vehicle for Europe and Austraila for two decades, and this fourth-generation version was the last introduced in 1959.  The styling adopted the U.S. car lines with a hint of Studebaker Starliner at the front.  The front has round headlights just above the fenders, like the 1957 Thunderbird, with an arched grille flanked by signal lights.  While at the rear it sports jet-like taillights from the '57 Thunderbird, but not all was smooth here as the roof area was still square to acommidate four people in comfort and a respectable trunk.  The interior features seating for four with a dashboard layout that has gauges behind the steering wheel and radio controls in the center.  The base shows off some driveline details with the most focus being on the rear footwell recesses.  The powertrain is a 997 CID I-4 that produces less than 100 hp. through a 4-speed manual to the rear wheels, and acceleration was sluggish at best.  Only two variants were made of this Hot Wheels casting: the blue one for the Harry Potter movies promo and this flat gray 2005 version with racing decals and 10-spoke wheels.  Despite the quirky looks, this is one highly-desirable casting; heck if I can remember this was the only version that I saw back then!



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By the 1980's the land was changing and more automakers were adapting to Front-wheel drive platforms from Rear-wheel drive models, and the Escort was one of them.  The new platform goes on a body that has the same aero look as the Ford Sierra, with flush-mounted headlights and grille.  The rear has a typical boxy look with stacked taillights (incorrect: the 2-door sedan had horizontal taillights).  This Maisto version looks bloated and homely, but at least it has an interior even though there leaves much to be desired (especially the dashboard) in details.  This red with white 16i racing graphics gives this casting a sporty look, though other variations were less impressive (there was a multi-colored police car offered one if you need an example).  The interior was a typical Euro-car layout with simple control layout, while the engine was a 1.6L I-4 that produced 100 (est.) hp through a 4-speed manual and to the front wheels for the first time.  As Ford touted the Escort a 'world car', the US version finally arrived in the 1980's, with a different look than the Euro Escort!





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In the 1990's the aero look was starting to mature (just like the US car line) with the next-generation featuring a longer front hood and a shorter rear hatchback.  This Majorette version looks great a yellow race livery, featuring clear headlights with smaller grille and metal front bumper.  The sides feature opening doors to the interior, while the rear has a rear spoiler, ESCORT carved into the decklid, metal bumper, and taillights that look similar to the 1996 3-series hatchback (Ford was first).  Like the Maisto the interior wasn't much to look at, though it has seats and a dashboard.  Kudos goes toward the metal base with working suspension.  The powertrain is a 1.6L ZETEC I-4 that produces 104 hp. through a 5-speed manual.






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Of course, for something more extreme then look at the 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth.  While it looks like a 3-door Escort hatchback on the outside, underneath it is a different platform, using the defunct Ford Sierra platform.  This means Rear wheel drive returns for the first time since the 1970's!  The engine uses a 2.0L DOHC Cosworth  turbo I-4 that produces 217 hp. to the rear wheels by a 5-speed manual.  This Matchbox version was the best while it lasted, with the first version in the Rally Racing white with blue wave graphics, sponsor logo's, and a blue interior.  The front has the same Escort headlights and grille, but with a revised lower front bumper, wider fender flares, and hood vents.  At the rear is the famed whale tail rear spoiler (a separate plastic piece) with the typical Escort rear end and a rear bumper that is part of the white plastic base, but seems unnoticeable here.  The gold SuperFast wheels, not a bright point in the Tyco-era Matchbox, look great here, and has a suspension that gives functionality while not making the car too bouncy.  The base shows off the excellent drivetrain and exhaust pattern, while the interior shows off the recaro front seats and nice dashboard layout.  It's hard to tell if it has a rear seat thanks to the frosted rear side windows (odd, but neat).  This casting seen several variations, looked good with the later 5-spoke wheels, and then disappeared after 2001, but only this racing decal for the 1994 first release is the best by far!


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After 2000 the Focus took over the torch for the Ford compact car line, including the performance versions, but while the Escort line looks less impressive in the last few generations, no one can doubt the success of the Escort's performance and rally heritage that still continues today on the Ford Focus.