Spanning the decades - 1930's to 1990's
1935 Dusenberg SSJ by Racing Champions #21
1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz by Hot Wheels #970ZA
1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda cvt. by Johnny Lightning #785
1987 Porsche 911 Turbo by Majorette #
1993 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport by Matchbox #15-1
|Cream of the Crop|
This month, a new addition to my collection became the new contender
for the crown of 'best 1:64 scale diecast car of all-time. Racing Champions'
'35 Dusenberg SSJ is truly one of the most exquisite miniature cars ever
produced. In order to make such a statement it is only fair to hold this
gem of a toy car up to comparison with the top contenders from the competition.
Five diecast manufacturers have offered deluxe or collector editions in
1:64 scale. In addition to Racing Champions, Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightning,
Majorette and Matchbox have offered specific lines for collectors. Racing
Champions began with 'Mint Edition' cars, now offered in the 'Classified
Classics' series. Hot Wheels calls their high-end series, 'Collectibles
- Limited Edition'. Johnny Lightning has many series, with their 'Hollywood
on Wheels' series selected here. Majorette offered their short-lived 'Premier
Edition' cars. Matchbox was one of the first to move into this arena with
their 'World Class' offerings, later called 'Premier Collection' as well.
To be fair in any review, price must be considered. The following indicates
the original price of the model represented and the present price where
Racing Champions - Classified Classics $2.99
Hot Wheels - Collectibles - Limited Edition $7.99
Johnny Lightning - Hollywood on Wheels $3.99
Majorette - Premier Edition $4.99
Matchbox - World Class Premier Collection $4.99 (now $7.99)
I have selected five cars for comparison, attempting to identify the best
model from each manufacturer, as represented in my collection. While some
may disagree, these are my choices.
The choice for fifth place is the easiest. Matchbox originally offered the
World Class cars as regular models with better paint and wheels. When they
were priced at $2.99, this was a reasonable value for collectors. At $7.99
today, they remain un-purchased on most toy store shelves. The Corvette
Grand Sport was one of the few to attempt correct-look wheels and the paint
was above average in detail. The 1987 model casting is not correct for the
later-bodied Grand Sport but it is reasonably close. It remains the only
small-scale model of this unique Corvette.
Fourth place goes to the Majorette Porsche 911 Turbo. I like this model
very much as i do the entire series. It's too bad Majorette pulled the plug
on these highly detailed cars. The Porsche badge is too large and the opening
doors leave some big gaps but otherwise this model is hard to fault. The
body is actually plastic with the color injected into the casting. Correct
wheels, separate head and tail-lights and an excellent interior compliment
the perfectly shaped body. Unlike others in this series, the Porsche does
not offer engine detail.
Hot Wheels takes third place with their beautiful '57 Eldorado. The correct
color is excellent and it is so nice to see a '50's Cadillac in a color
other than pink. The pale yellow headlights are a curious choice, can we
assume the lights are on? The front grill is especially well done. The tires
are too wide but with nice white walls. The wire wheels are reasonable for
this scale. At $7.99, the price is double what it should be for the level
In second place Johnny Lightning shows how far their models have come. The
'71 Hemi Cuda is a replica of the car used on the Nash Bridges TV show (the
car used on the show has been made to look like the ultra-rare '71 convertible).
The detail on this model is exceptional. The paint, tires, interior and
engine are first-rate. The best part about this car is it look and feels
so solid. To truly appreciate this car, it must be removed from the package.
Here is a toy car I want to get in and drive. For $3.99 it is a bargain.
If you have not already purchased the '35 Dusenberg SSJ by Racing Champions,
don't wait another minute. To begin, the SSJ is one of the greatest cars
of all-time and it had never been done in small-scale. Only two SSJ models
were built, one for Clark Gable and one for Gary Cooper. The detail on this
model is amazing. The wire wheels are the finest I have ever seen with actual
spokes and painted hubs. The tires are the correct size and even the tread
pattern looks right. The covered spare is perfect. The interior includes
a beautiful chromed gear shift with a white knob, just as it should be.
The side-pipes actually appear to extend through holes in the fender. Under
the removable hood is a magnificent Dusenberg straight-eight. The engine
color is the famous Dusenberg green and it includes carburation and an actual
fan for the radiator. The windscreen even has the correct rake. For $2.99,
this is a diamond for the price of glass. This color series is limited to
20,000. I plan to buy several more for long-term storage.
All of these cars are favorites in my collection and I hope you have them
all too. We have never seen quality of this level before and competition
should keep manufacturers honest with their pricing. Mattel will likely
be forced to drop prices on their Matchbox World Class as they are not moving
at all. Even the Hot Wheels are easy to find. While Racing Champions has
done a great job on the Dusey, other Classified Classics are priced just
right at $2.99. Meanwhile, the SSJ is my new standard by which all 1:64
scale cars will be measured. I'll let you know if I find any serious challengers
to the new 'King of Small-Scale Toy Cars'.