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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Matchbox Jaguar F-type Coupe and Hot Wheels Jaguar F-Type Project 7 vs. Matchbox 1961 Jaguar E-type Coupe and 2006 Jaguar XK



One of the most long-awaited Matchbox castings is finally here for 2015, so is it worth the wait?  Not really, especially when compared to the Hot Wheels Project 7, which is not the best either, and the classic Matchbox 1961 Jaguar E-type and 2006 XK, both introduced almost ten years ago.


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Jaguar F-type Coupe and Project 7 Convertible

The idea for the return of a two-seat sports car for Jaguar has been a work in progress for over a decade.  The original concept was pinned by the Jaguar XK180 Concept in 1999, later renamed the F-type in 2000.  It was supposed to be a mid-engine two-seater to take on the Porsche 911.  However, disagreements abound on how the car should be executed, with many delays before Jaguar settled on a new platform shared with the XF sedan at the end of last decade to create a front-engine F-type that lives up to the original E-type of the 1960's.  The powertrains include a supercharged V6 or supercharged V8, both DOHC and both mated to a 7-speed automatic though a 6-speed manual is offered with the V6.  The 5.0L V8 produces 542 hp. and 502 Ib-ft of torque.  It's a tire scorcher, especially with the V8, and has a lovely sound to boot.




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The Hot Wheels version was first with the Project 7 Convertible in dark green and red.  The Project 7 takes on the similarly-named concept car with the modified front and rear bumpers, rear spoiler, headrest for the driver that goes over the hard tonneau cover and trunklid, and racind stripes and decals.  The front has the large grille with side scoops and Jaguar logo in the center grille to add the aggressive look, while headlights with LED running and signal lights are flanked by a hood stripe with Project 7 name near the left headlight.  The hood and front fenders have detailed vents, while the rear has the thin taillights reminiscent of the original E-type and quad exhaust that hike up the rear bumper for a more aggressive look.  Hot Wheels got controversey for the upchin front spoiler, but in my opinion it does not look as bad as some other Hot Wheels castings with this problem.  The base show off a few more details than the Matchbox version as both overcome excessive copyright information.  The interior has the driver oriented dash layout with shifter and bucket front seats with 5-point racing harness, though the large steering wheel lacks detail.






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On the other end of the spectrum is the Matchbox F-type coupe.  Starting with a black color was a bad start as it hides the details of the front-end, with the large detailed grille and side grille flanks with vertical bar in the middle, oh and the lower bumper is not up-chined!  The sides are nice and flat with correct details and the front fender and hood vents.  The sloping roofline has a panoramic sunroof down to the rear hatch where the Jaguar logo adorns the pop-up rear spoiler.  The back-end has the detailed taillights, F-type logo, and those quad exhaust tips.  Problem is the beltline is a bit too thick, making the car look huge and the proper 10-spoke wheels rather small.






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The interior also has the same driver-oriented dashboard with the shifter and supportive bucket seats.  I sat in a coupe at the Euro Car Show and the seats and driving position is really set up for the track.  As you approach the car the door handle flips out if you have the keyfob with you to open the door, and the rear hatch open and closes automatically with the push of a button.  Once again Matchbox bean counters win here with a steering wheel that comes out of the floor and is angled like a city bus!  At least it has the detailed spoke design.  The performance aspect of the two are similar, but the Project 7 is more fun to drive like the real car; the Matchbox casting suffers from its big size and loose dynamics: blame it on the way the rear section of the base is supported by a tab in the rear plate instead of a rear rivet post.  This setup usually results in a loose feel to the car and sometimes if the rear tab is smaller than the hole a base that moves.  I really hoped the F-type coupe would be just as successful as the Alfa 4C but unfortunately it did not take that route.




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1961 Jaguar E-type Coupe and 2006 Jaguar XK coupe

What a gem it was to get the license to make not one but two Jaguar's in 2006, a true Then and Now set.  Jaguar finally redesignes the XK coupe in 2006 that brings it more inline with the original E-type than the previous-generation with also a look toward the future.  The XK was a four-door grand touring coupe that was still powered by a 4.2L DOHC V8 that produced 300 hp. and 310 Ib-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic.  With the new F-type out making a scene, the XK quietly walks off at the end of 2015 with a future replacement that would still make it a grand touring car in a few years.





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Matchbox did a sharp job with this car.  The front has the round grille with cat logo in center on a silver bar against a black background.  The headlights are larger and curve around the front fenders, with the foglights and lower grille on the front bumper.  The sides have a sleek and low beltline with sweeping roof and exterior mirrors.  Even the wheels look appropriate on this car, with 5-spokes that appeared in 2011 that even enhanced the look more.  The rear has triangular-curved taillights with the circular reverse lamps to recall the original E-type taillights, connect with a chrome trim piece with JAGUAR letters, a rear spoiler lip and third brake light integrated in the rear hatch, and dual exhaust tips.  The base shows off excellent details with the drivetrain and massive dual exhaust system being the star of the show.  Inside the interior has a nice layout with 3-spoke steering wheel, navigation screen in the center, and two rear seats that are pretty much useless.  The rear hatch at least offers ample room to carry gear.  Handling, surprisingly, is better than the F-type coupe despite the longer length, and the lower stance helps in stable handling which the same cannot be said of the E-type.




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Now to the E-type, the classic of the Matchbox line.  The E-type was built on the racing success of the D-type in the 1950's.  Unlike other cars of the time the frame and body were intertwine with each other, adding to the light weight of the car.  The styling was a beautiful masterpiece that is still recognizable today, even copied not only by future Jaguar models but also by other automakers, including Toyota for the 2000GT sports car.  Matchbox nailed this casting as the first release in red is still the best in my opinion.  The front has a chrome oval grille with cat logo in center, connected to the side bumpers and side signal lights next to the detailed headlights.  The long smooth hood has the detailed vents and center bulge, and that roundness continues to the sides as the beltline has a soapbar look that still looks great, and those black wheels with chrome center spinner is a match made in heaven for this casting.





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While other diecast manufacturers would make a roadster, Matchbox decided to make the coupe design with the fastback rear that features a door that swings up to the right, and yet still allows the soapbar sides to wrap around the rear and show off some surface flair to the rear fenders.  The chrome rear bumpers do a full reach from the rear wheelwells to the bumper stops before the plate that reads "61 Jaguar" (its the famous Matchbox coding game here).  And lest not forget the center dual exhaust tips as well.  The exhaust snake pattern continues underneath as it connects to the lower section of the detailed engine to the 3.8L DOHC I-6 that produces 265 hp. and 240 Ib-ft. of torque through a 4-speed manual to the rear wheels.  The height of the car and the smaller width does bother me a bit and makes the car suffer in handling where there is more body lean and rear end movement than the neutral 2006 XK.  The other complaint by many is incorporating the bumpers with the interior piece, hence a chrome interior!  There are two bucket seats, the flat-faced dashboard with the array of gauges and switches, and the shifter for the 4-speed manual.








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Out of these four they are all nice, I like the details and execution of the 2006 XK and the sheer beauty of the 1961 E-type.  Unfortunately today's cost-cutting world at Mattel has resulted in two F-types that come up short compared to the two Jaguar's Matchbox released back in 2006.





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