O F F - T H E - S H E L F
In 1995, I wrote an article for Collecting Toys magazine, a wonderful publication but no longer in print, titled: 'American Muscle in Miniature.' In this piece I reviewed all the classic American muscle cars produced in 1:64 scale as of that time. At the end of the article I said, "You can bet that muscle car mania is far from over." As it turns out, this was a bit of an understatement.
Don't get me wrong. I love the bad-boy, big-block, Detroit bruisers built from 1964-1973. I even owned a '70 Olds 442 W30. At the same time, We seem to have reached a point where muscle cars are taking up an un-fair number of the new issues form the major diecast producers. Johnny Lightning has done three muscle cars sets and offered many more in their Mustang, Classic and re-issue series. Racing Champions Mint Editions have also provided a wide variety of these beasts. Every year, Hot Wheels, Matchbox and others are offering 3-4 new muscle car castings. GM, Ford, Mopar and AMC are well represented, even including cars like the Demon Duster and AMC Rebel Machine. Perhaps it's time to move on.
Far too many wonderful cars have never or seldom been done in 1:64. Case in point, consider the Pontiac GTO. Just a few years ago, this king of muscle cars was barely represented in 1:64 scale. The options were limited to a custom '68 GTO, one of the original Johnny Lightning models by Topper (re-released by Playing Mantis) and a decent '69 GTO by Zlymex. An obscure '64 GTO convertible was also offered as part of a Valvoline promotion and is a rare find today. The Muscle USA series by Johnny Lightning has filled in four more GTO models. The '65 convertible and '69 Judge were first and now the '71 Judge and a lovely '67 coupe have followed. Matchbox added the '70 Judge bringing the total to seven out of the eleven GTO years represented. The '66 is sure to be done by someone before long and the '72-'74 models may even be possible the way things are going. While it's great to have all these GTO models, is it fair to continue this trend at the expense of so many other missing cars?
Where are all the Maserati, Bentley or Chrysler cars. None of the Chrysler 300 cars have ever been done. The Maserati Ghibli is a no-show in 1:64. The Bentley Continental of the 1950's, The Lincoln Continental Mk. II, Studebaker Avanti and BMW 507 are some of the greatest classics ever and yet none exist in small-scale diecast. Does the diecast market need to be so dependent on the Muscle segment of the U.S. collector car market?
I enjoy all the muscle cars in my collection but I'm ready for a bit more variety. American luxury coupes would be a welcome addition where few have been done. Pre-war classics are sadly lacking from all but Hot Wheels. Ferraris of the 1950's barely exist in 1:64. Let's spread the wealth of automotive history and give the muscle cars a rest.