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 e-mail.

They did it to me again!

The guys at Hot Wheels have done it to me again! Everyone enjoys having a toy example of their real cars and I'm no exception. Once again, Hot Wheels has provided me with the only small-scale example of a car I own or once owned. I appreciate that very much. But guys, is it too much to ask for an example that has not been modified, customized or hot rodded?

Vairy 8 - 2003
At last, a toy example of the second-generation 1965-69 Chevrolet Corvair. Of course Hot Wheels had to juice it up a bit. A mid-engine V8 sitting directly behind your right ear could be a bit intrusive but what a ride. The rear-window air scoop and vented rear deck make perfect sense. My real Corvair came with four-wheel independent suspension and the Vairy 8 would need it! I'm betting this is based on a real custom car. Does anyone know?

1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Sport Coupe

Custom '59 Cadillac - 2002
Other than lowered suspension, low-profile wheels and tires and a chopped top, the Hot Wheel '59 Cadillac is close to stock. It is clearly a Coupe de Ville, the same as the one I had. With white wall tires and a decent white over wood rose paint job it could pass for my car. It is certainly a major improvement over the earlier '59 Eldorado. Owning a '59 Cadillac is like being in the circus. You are always in the center ring. Still, it's a great ride and a well-made car.

1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville

Metrorail - 2000
The Metrorail is clearly the extreme to which any Metropolitan might aspire. Hot Wheels even offered it in the same turquoise and white my Met came in, although the top should be white too. The little Metropolitan was actually styled by Pininfarina of Italy. Mine had a few extra modifications courtesy of the tin worm and some careless previous owners. I have to admit the car had little power, less brakes and was not even on the radar scope of most sport-utility vehicles. The Metrorail seems to have addressed those concerns.

1961 AMC Metropolitan Coupe

BMW Convertible - 1990
With their BMW Convertible of 1990, they came close to doing a stock example of this car. This particular example in black and tan is especially stylish. The 'M3' graphics are fantasy as this is clearly not an 'M' car but rather a 325i Convertible. My BMW is not a convertible but is the rare all-wheel drive iX model. A former pro-rally car, it still carries many modifications, including a 2.7 litre motor with a Dinan chip.

1988 BMW 325iX

Sugar Caddy - 1970
Hot Wheels has been at the 'custom' game since their beginning. The Custom Eldorado of 1967 was not stock but it did not go far enough for the HW designers. They had to make it into the 'Sugar Caddy' with see-through top, exposed motor and rear spoiler. The '68 Eldorado shown here is the first I owned. It died in a one-on-one with a Semi on the freeway. It had bucket seats and no vinyl top. I replaced it with another Topaz Gold example, leather interior and alas, a vinyl top. It's one of Cadillac's best.

1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado

I'm not really complaining. If Hot Wheels want to do my '75 Ferrari Dino 308 GT/4 or '63 Bentley S3 as a hot rod, more power to 'em. Of course I'm crossing my fingers that Johnny Lightning does them first and does them right.

Share your thoughts on this topic with me and I'll put it in the next issue. Send to: doug@breithaupts.com.