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.

Cars of the Sizzling '60's
The purchase of a new book has stirred-up an old idea. I recently bought 'Cars of the Sizzling '60's' by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide. This is a beautiful, year-by-year review of every make and model produced in the United States during the 1960's. It has excellent color photos and also covers show cars and imports available in the U.S. between 1960-1969.

As I enjoyed the review of these big, bold American cars, a list of my favorite model from each of these ten years began to form. This is clearly a personal list of favorite designs and entirely subjective.

1961 Lincoln - Hot Wheels

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado - Siku
1960 - Chrysler 300F coupe and convertible (my favorite from the 300 letter series cars offered by Chrysler)
1961 - Lincoln Continental sedan and convertible (this car set the tone for clean, crisp design that lasted the decade)
1962 - Studebaker Hawk GT (an amazingly successful low-budget update of the '53 Lowey Coupe design)
1963 - Studebaker Avanti (one of the most innovative and beautiful designs of the decade)
1964 - Ford Thunderbird coupe and convertible (my favorite T-Bird of them all)
1965 - Corvair Corsa coupe and convertible (stylish, fast with the 180 hp turbo and doomed by the Mustang's success)
1966 - Oldsmobile Toronado (a unique look and front-wheel drive make this one of the best of the 1960's)
1967 - Buick Riviera (Bill Mitchell of GM Design created some of the most beautiful American car designs)
1968 - Cadillac Eldorado (stunning looks, front-wheel drive, 425 hp, 0-60 in 8.2 seconds and from Cadillac!)
1969 - Ford Mustang Mach 1 (everything a muscle car should be, make mine red)

1968 Cadillac Eldorado - Playart

1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 - Ertl

As I look over this list, I am amazed to see that six of these cars have never been done in 1:64 scale diecast. It's true that almost every muscle car, Corvette, Camaro and Mustang have been done. How is it possible that the Studebaker Avanti is missing? The '53 Starliner Coupe has appeared as a Hot Wheels drag racer but the Hawk GT is a slim bet unless Buffy the Vampire Slayer decides to drive one. Only recently have we seen the Chrysler 300 letter series cars from the 1950's. Let's hope the 300F get's it's turn too. Ford's '64-'66 T-Birds have been overlooked far too long. Of these, the '64 is the cleanest design. The '65 Corvair Corsa and all the re-styled Corvair models from 1965-69 are missing except for a rare Monza model from Mego. While the '69 Riviera has been done by Revell, albeit as a low-rider, and the '66 is due from Anson in 1:64, the '67 is unlikely to remembered in diecast. I can be happy with the '66 model.

Even the cars from my list that have been done are rather thinly represented. Only Hot Wheels has done the '61 Lincoln Continental although Matchbox and Racing Champions have later versions of the same body style in hard-top and convertible. How is it possible that so few Oldsmobile Toronado models were done. Only Siku and Tootsietoy did the 1966 Toronado. The 1967-68 Eldorado is the best represented with the '68 model done by Playart. Hot Wheels, Corgi, Johnny Lightning, Tootsietoy and Marx all did the '67 Eldorado. The '69 Mustang Mach 1 has been done by Ertl in one of their beautiful series of American Muscle cars. The '69 Mustang has also been done by Johnny Lightning.

It would be as much fun to look at a list of British, German, Italian or Japanese favorites from the 1960's. With the Triumph TR6, VW Karmann Ghia Convertible, Maserati Ghibli and Datsun 1600 Roadster all missing from 1:64 scale, these lists would easily show the many great cars from which toy car makers could produce new models. It would also be easy to assemble a list of cars from the 1950's or 1970's for each country.

These same toy car makers are always looking for ideas for new models and they often listen to collectors. Perhaps I may be able to show ten images with the list above at some point in the future.