O F F - T H E - S H E L F

The following editorial reflects the personal thoughts of Doug Breithaupt relating to our common hobby of miniature cars. It is intended to generate discussion relating to 'Tales of Toy Cars'. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted via the 'Guest Book'.

Someone is Listening

1955 Chrysler C300 by Racing Champions

1955 Chrysler C300 #141 by Johnny Lightning

1957 Chrysler 300C by Ertl
For many years I have complained about certain cars that had never been done in 1:64 scale. I am pleased to report that either someone has been listening or perhaps we have finally exhausted all the possible variations for the '57 Chevy.

Of the many wonderful cars waiting to be commemorated in small-scale diecast, few were more deserving than Chrysler's beautiful brutes, the 300 series and Buick's Riviera luxury coupes. Finally, three Chrysler 300 models have been done and two new Rivieras have joined an earlier example.

The Chrysler C300 was introduced in 1955 and is recognized as being the first American muscle car. It was basically the combination of a Hemi engine with an Imperial body but the result was a new breed of automobile. The C300 became an immediate success at Daytona Beach and on the then young NASCAR circuit.

The 1955 C300 was raced by Lee Petty and has been reproduced as one of the Petty Car series done by Racing Champions. While the casting is modest in detail, it is quite accurate and looks like it should. With new wheels and interior modification, this casting could be offered in stock form. Let's hope RC decides to do so.

Johnny Lightning has just released another model of the1955 Chrysler C300. This is another gem from JL and is perfect in the correct ivory color. The hood opens for a view of the amazing Hemi and white-wall and wires add a nice touch.

Ertl is now owned by Racing Champions and it is clear that RC plans to let Ertl pick up where the RC Mint Edition cars left off. The 1957 Chrysler 300C is a beautiful model and a fair value at $5. With opening hood and trunk, the detailing is excellent in small-scale. It comes with a display stand and card that replicates the dealer brochure of the period. On the back of the card are the car's specifications.

Now we need the rest of the 300 series cars, especially my favorite, the 1960 300F. With new 300 models from Chrysler, the story can continue.

The Buick Riviera was a consistent member of America's best dressed cars list for over 30 years. While Buick has killed the Riviera for now, like Chrysler's 300, it may return. At least it is getting the attention it deserves in small-scale.

In the early 1960's, Bill Mitchell, chief of design at General Motors, was in London. He spotted a Rolls Royce driving through the fog and was inspired to create the 1963 Riviera. It almost became the LaSalle II but Cadillac hesitated and Buick did not.

The only example of the first-generation Riviera (1963-650 in 1:64 scale is a plastic version by Aurora (I wish I had one). Until recently, only Mego had done the second generation (1966-70) Riviera, a 1968 model. Hot Wheels has done the 1969 Riviera as a lowrider model. It has only been offered in their collector series and is a bit overpriced at $8 but i had to have it anyway.

Revell has recently moved into the 1:64 diecast arena. Their Riviera is the boat-tail of 1971. Again, it is in lowrider form but beggars can't be choosers. Both the Hot Wheel and Revell castings could be offered in stock, street form as well. The trunk opens on the '71 but is filled with sound enhancing hardware. Both the '69 and '71 have adjustable front suspension.

The '71 Riviera was also done 30 years ago by Mini-Lindy but is all in plastic. The only other Riviera is the 1984 Convertible by Road Champs. It came with two tops (shown top down) and has opening doors. While the casting is somewhat crude, it also has a certain charm and it is the sole example of the 1979-85 Riviera, a fine looking car.

First on the list for more Riviera models would be the 1963 or '65 model, followed by the stunning 1966 and then perhaps the last Riviera of the 1990's. The ugly Rivieras of the mid to late 1970's can wait a long time. Personally, I would like to see the 1970 model.

Now that we are finally getting some of these great cars in diecast, it's time to say thanks to Ertl, Johnny Lightning, Revell, Hot Wheels and Racing Champions. Does this mean that the '55 Continental Mk II, '65 Corvair Corsa and 1975 Cadillac Seville might be in the pipeline? I hope so.

1969 Buick Riviera by Hot Wheels

1971 Buick Riviera by Revell

1984 Buick Riviera Convertible by Road Champs