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'.

A Matter of Scale

Most collectors of diecast cars own or have owned a full-size collector car, and I am no exception. Finding diecast replicas of the real cars in my collection are always a special delight. When I hear of such examples, I am likely to search them out like the holy grail.

My full-size collection has varied over the years and currently stands at four cars. The oldest is a 1968 Cadillac Eldorado in fire-mist gold, with a Black leather interior (see below). Next is a 1973 Jaguar XJ12 Saloon in fern gray with a biscuit leather interior. A 1972 Oldsmobile Toronado follows in white with the Brougham interior package in caramel. Last is my 1972 Citroen-Maserati SM in silver with a black leather interior.

Only two of these cars have been done in diecast, the Citroen SM and the Cadillac Eldorado. The Jaguar XJ6 has been done in series 1 form (1968-73) but to my knowledge, the one-year-only XJ12 of 1973 has never been done. Other than the grill and of course the V12 engine, the XJ6 and XJ12 look alike. The 1972 Toronado was done as a plastic kit by JoHan but no diecast examples exist. Tomica did do the 1978 Toronado but that is as close as it gets.

The Citroen SM was a very unique car in the early 1970's and a variety of examples were produced in small-scale. In 1:64 scale, the most common are the Matchbox examples in blue or orange. Hungarian and Bulgarian examples were also done in blue, red and white. Tomica has done the SM in a variety of colors as well. I have the silver example (shown above with my full-size car) and a metallic green one. The Tomica castings are unique in that they show the car with the four US specification sealed-beam headlights while most other examples have the six, covered halogen headlights provided on cars for the rest of the world. My SM came from Canada and has the six headlights, including the inner two that turn with the front wheels. Majorette also did a 1:64 scale SM, complete with rally lights below the bumper. I have metallic orange and green examples. Last of the small SM models is the 1:55 scale Siku. It came in melon yellow with a light blue interior (ouch!) but I have a Hungarian Siku in silver with the same interior. In 1:43 scale I have examples by Matchbox in wine red and a doctor's car with roof light and red crosses. Solido still offers a nice SM in 1:43 scale, I have a red example. My favorite 1:43 scale SM is by Auto Pilen as it offers an opening hood with detail of the Maserati V6, opening doors and trunk. Corgi did a very good 1:43 scale SM but the lime green color is hard to appreciate. A plastic SM by Jean of W. Germany is in my collection as is pink rubber version made in 1975 by Imperial, both in 1:43 scale. My last SM is a 1:24 scale diecast by Narcoral of Spain. It is in silver with a black interior, matching my real car. The quality is modest and it suffers from the strange Narcoral malaise of 'liquid' wheels where the tire and wheel meet. It also has a crude V8 engine where the V6 should be. At the same time, the scale and color make it a prized part of my collection. I do not have the Norev SM models, which includes the SM Presidential car used by French heads-of-state. Let me know if you have them available...

The 1967-68 Cadillac Eldorado also attracted diecast manufacturers. Best known is the Custom Eldorado done by Hot Wheels as one of their first 16 cars in 1968 (shown left. Complete with a matte-black top and opening hood, it is actually a rather good casting of the car with hood scoops and side pipes being the most obvious custom touches. For a true custom, Hot Wheels offered the Sugar Caddy several years later with custom body work, a hot-rod engine and full green-house, glass top. Complete with racing numbers on the side, the Sugar Caddy is a true 'downtown' Cadillac. Johnny Lightning also offered a Custom Eldorado in larger 1:55 scale. My example is purple. Corgi did the 1968 Cadillac in stock form (the '68 is identified by vertical front fender lights). It came as a Whizwheel and as a Corgi Rocket as well as in standard issue. I have the Whizwheel (above) and Rocket (in gold) versions but would like to find the regular-wheeled version. Playart also did the 1968 Eldorado and I have blue, green and pink examples. Impy Lone Star did the 1967 Eldorado (shown right) and Marx did a 1:66 scale version. The last small Eldorado I have is by Tootsietoy, also in 1:66 scale. In larger scale, I have a 1:43 scale '67 Eldorado by Sabra, a Detroit Seniors casting made in Israel. Mine is blue with a red interior. Dinky did a purple version of this Eldorado but high prices have kept it out of my collection so far.

The Jaguar XJ sedans, first offered in 1968, are to my eye the best looking four-door car ever designed. Diecast examples of the first series of these cars (1968-73) are few. Only Corgi did the XJ6 of these years, again offered with regular, Whizwheel and Rocket wheels. I have the regular wheel version in yellow and the Whizwheel (shown above with my real car) in silver. The S1 XJ sedan is identified by a larger front grill and lower front bumper than the S2 version offered from 1974-78. The S1 XJ12 has a distinctive vertical-slat grill and is a one-year only car, produced in 1973. The S2 XJ6-12 was done by Ertl in 1:64 scale. Offered in wine red it was curiously packaged as an XJ10 with a picture of the XJ-S Jaguar on the back. On the base it says 'Jaguar XJ6-12'. In larger scale, Matchbox offered a 1:32 scale S2 XJ12 sedan in street and police versions, I have both. Corgi also offered an XJ12C, the coupe version of the S2 car, complete with V12 engine detail. I recently found a Guisval version of the racing XJ12C in 1:64 scale, done very nicely in silver. Solido also did a 1:43 scale XJ12 S2 and I have green and silver examples. A 1:24 scale XJ6 S2 was done by Polistil and my collection has a blue model.

In addition to matching the four collector cars I have now, I still like to find diecast examples of previously-owned cars. These include the 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, 1961 Imperial, 1966 Corvair Monza, 1961 Metropolitan, 1978 Triumph TR7, 1989 Citroen 2CV, 1967 and 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado, 1978 Corvette, 1964 Chevrolet Belair and others. The search goes on.

Editor's note: Please tell me about your diecast interests and why you collect. I would love to share your story with 'Tales of Toy Cars' readers. Your contribution may be submitted via the 'Guest Book'.

Miniature Motorcar List | Collector Cars | Tales of Toy Cars | Jaguar Video