Friday, August 11, 2017

Matchbox Luxury: Cadillac Allante and Lincoln Town Car Limo

Here are two Matchbox cars of the early 1990's that define the American luxury car segment in the Matchbox line.  They may not be the best, but each car has a character of its own.

Cadillac Allante

Cadillac was one of the last automakers to sell a convertible before succeeding to government regulations in 1976.  Since then the market has flooded back with convertible revivals in the 1980's and Cadillac wanted to cash back in by going after the Mercedes-Benz SL convertible.  The body was designed and made by Pininfarina in Turin, Italy then shipped to Detroit for final assembly with the mechanical components of the car.  This was an expensive ordeal to ship Italy-made bodies to America but since the Fisher body plant closed down it was Cadillac's only option.  Unlike the rear-wheel drive competitors it uses a 4.1L V8 motor that produces 295 horsepower through a 4-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels.  A better 4.6L Northstar V8 motor with dual overhead cams was introduced in 1993.  The exterior was clean and simple, very Cadillac with an European twist, while the interior has a vast assortment of modern electronics at the time including an all-digital gauge cluser.  The high price and complicated manufacturing limited output and the car only lasted seven years after its 1987 introduction.  After that Cadillac had only aftermarket conversions of the Eldorado coupe before the XLR arrived in 2004 and itself lasted only a few brief years like the Allante.

There are many replica's out there and quite honestly none of them are fantastic; in fact, all of them look dated and unrefined compared to today's castings.  The Matchbox version is the best because it has that excellent details that is known to Matchbox cars and it looks great here.  Preferred is the silver with red interior over the pink (Yikes!) version; note how the wraparound lower betline trim is the same color as the interior.  The front has flush rectangular headlights that are part of the window trim, eggcrate Cadillac grille, and lower bumper with foglights in the lower chin spoiler.  The sides have a nice clean profile with detailed character lines, flared lip fenders, exterior mirrors on the doors, and a slight kick up in the fenders toward the rear trunk.  The rather tall rear-end has the clear taillights that are part of the interior trim and look great here.  The 8-dot wheels are a perfect match for this vehicle and while the suspension does not have a lot of motion here it works quite well with the stable handling of this car.  The interior has a basic layout of two seats, shifter on the console, basic dashboard layout, and the convertible nestled behind the rear seats.  Again not the best replica out there but at least this Matchbox version is far better version than many others out there.

Lincoln Town Car Limo

And now for a lesson on why a long-wheelbase car in a constraint box dimension world is not a good idea:  Take this Lincoln Town Car that is considered a Limo, but thanks to the restrictions to make every vehicle fit in the same blister or box the Limo looks more like a stretched Town Car sedan.  Either way this car looks really neat.  The Town Car is based on the Ford LTD Crown Victoria and moved to the new, smaller Panther platform in 1978 and remained there until it's final demise in 2010.  The Town Car name was adopted from the Continental line in 1980 and finally became it's own name in 1981.  The sedan was smaller than before and offered better fuel economy and better turning radius than before.  Being the top model it also has the latest creature comforts at the time.  Styling was similar to the 1970's Lincoln's but with a more aerodynamic surface and flush headlights instead of hide-away units as before.  The most common engine is the 5.0L pushrod V8 that produces 150 horsepower through a 4-speed automatic transmission.  The big Lincoln was also well-known for stretched Limousine conversions and continued that way until the Town Car was phased out and large SUV's started to take that role.

What better way to review a Town Car than a pearl white with red interior version that looks great on this car.  The front has quad square headlights with peaked front fenders that have integrated signal lights, a tall and square Lincoln grille in the center, and a lower bumper with dual front pads.  The lower chrome trim from the base also adorns the lower side sections of the vehicle and adding to the center chrome roof stripe gives a nod to luxury.  From the side I still think this is a stretched Town Car and not a limo, all thanks to packaging restrictions.  The rear has tall taillights that connect to a center bar and all of it is part of the interior, while the trunk has the boomerang antenna commonly found on limo's at the time.  The black base underneath has the detailed drivetrain and exhaust layout of a typical rear-drive sedan and the basic Matchbox wheels look great on this model.  The interior has a front bench seat that sits in front of a flat-faced dashboard with a two-spoke steering wheel, comprehensive gauges, center radio and HVAC controls, and chrome knobs for the controls.  The rear seat is a posh bench with two more rear-facing seats just behind the front seats and between them is a small center console or refrigerator.  The rear window looks rather odd on this car as it looks smaller than it should be.  Despite the constricted size this is one nicely done Lincoln Town Car and even Matchbox knows it as the Limo name is missing from the base.

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