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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Johnny Lightning 1965 Buick Riviera and 1978 Dodge Warlock

Johnny Lightning has not been able to create any new toolings since its revival last year, but that didn't stop them from reusing older castings and adding the long-lost proper details to really make these castings stand out as the best they've ever been.  The latest include the classy Buick Riviera and for the first time the 1978 Dodge pickup without the Little Red Express.

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1965 Buick Riviera

The beauty of Bill Mitchell's Buick coupe actually started out as a higher-end trim to the Buick line in the late 1950's and early 1960's to existing Buick models.  Then in 1963 the Riviera became its own two-door coupe with sleek styling that features Coke-bottle shaped rear fenders.  The coupe was based on the existing Buick platform that was shorter and also much ligher abling the Riviera to be the sportier car of the line before the Grand Sport line appeared in the GSX musclecar.  The headlights were fixed on the outside, but in 1965 they were now properly concealed on the outer covers, while the taillights were now moved to the rear bumper.  This was a luxury coupe and inside you got a nice clean dash with a V-shape to the center, leather seats, power steering, power brakes, and all for a fraction less than what a Cadillac coupe could offer.  The engine is a 425 CID Nailhead V8 that produced 350 horsepower through a two-speed Turbo-Hydraulic automatic transmission.  The sleek lines would gradually start to thin out to a more normal look in the next few decades and unlike the Eldorado it would take a decade before the Riviera adopted the Eldorado/Olds Toronado front-wheel drive layout.

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The beautiful seafoam mist green color of this car is simply gorgeous!  The pointed front has a large eggcrate grille with the outer headlight covers and lower chrome bumper that gives this Riviera a sleek look.  The sides shows how the paint and trim flow nicely along the Coke bottle curves along with the classy Riviera badges on the front fenders.  Even the 5-spoke mag wheels with white line tires look great here and also give the proper stance of the car.  The rear has the detailed gridded taillights with a nice Nevada Riviera plate.  This color is so nice it beats the red, but somehow it's a pegwarmer at some Toys-R-Us's where I got this one from.  The base, in proper metal, shows off the X-brace frame and all of the proper drivetrain details, while the engine shows itself off in blue with black air filter housing even if the engine block looks a bit melted on details.  The interior features seating for four in white with matching ribbed door panels.  The steering wheel sits in front of dual pod gauges and a nice flat dashboard with simple control layout and a shifter on the center console.  To sum the whole car up its clean, stylish, and a bit of a performer for this classy Buick that wears the Riviera name.

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1978 Dodge Warlock

This 1978 Dodge is no stranger to my blog or any diecast manufacturers as its mostly represented as the Lil' Red Express truck with its semi-truck exhaust stacks behind the cab, yet there are other versions that still use the Express look minus the stacks.  Like the Express the Warlock was part of the Dodge Adult Line concepts in 1976 that translated to production.  The Warlock has the same features as the Express but uses gold pinstriping around the truck.  The boxy look of the D-series trucks look good on these packages if they were starting to feel a bit dated (with more years to come).  Even with the cool custom look they were still simply basic trucks with more power: a 440 Magnum V8 from the Dodge Police Cars that produced an estimated 250 horsepower through a three-speed automatic transmission.  When Chrysler went through bankruptcy protection the Adult Line of models were eliminated to cut down on unnecessary costs.

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The Warlock has been common in black, but to see it in another color is a nice surprise.  This dark green with gold pinstripes look great on this Truck.  The casting still looks good despite being a late 1990's tooling that lacks the proper detailing of more current Johnny Lightning castings.  The front has round headlights and rectangular signal lights that flank the grille, lower chrome bumper with twin vents just above, and a hood that needs a bit of silver trim to finish off the grille look.  The sides show off the boxy cab that has silver trim and Power Wagon badges to add to the gold trim, while the stepside bed has wood plank details even if they are not painted on.  To give it a dose of attitude the chrome rally wheels from GM on rubber tires perfectly fits this truck than any past wheel selection JL has given this truck.  The rear has larger taillights, Warlock on the tailgate, and PowerWagon plate.  The hood opens up to reveal the blacked-out engine bay with modest details (at least the engine block and air cleaner is visible).  The bed area has always had the detailed wood trim and chrome strips and this is no surprise here; note the holes at the edges of the bed as past examples accepted tonneau covers to fit here and clip into these holes.  Of course not everything's complete as the base does not show much of detail and still has the exhaust leading out to the non-existent stacks, while the interior has the simple bench and dash layout but just isn't as clean cut as one would expect in a modern JL casting.  Still it's great to see this casting back again in something other than a Lil' Red Express, and expect a similar situation to another JL truck later this year.

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