after the purchase of the Ertl Company by Racing Champions, a new
series of 1:64 scale diecast models were introduced under the Ertl
name. Ertl had produced many small-scale vehicles since the early
1970's. These included the well-known and now re-released 'Dukes
of Hazzard' models. What set this new series apart was the level
of detail and authentic colors. Ertl's successful 1:18 scale 'American
Muscle' series provided the inspiration and name for the junior
scale models. In fact, many of the models offered in 1:64 had previously
been done by Ertl in 1:18 scale.
The new models at first glance appeared to simply be a continuation
of Racing Champion's Mint Edition series, then being concluded.
Closer inspection showed that while some castings like the Mercury
Cougar and Dodge Charger Daytona were re-used by Ertl, they received
new features, detail and opening trunks. None of the RC Mint Edition
models had opening trunks but almost all of the Ertl models included
this feature. Correct factory wheels were also offered on each model.
At $5 each, these models were still an excellent value.
Heat-sealed plastic blisters featured each model with a plastic
display base and card showing an original ad for the car. The blisters
proved a chore to open but once removed, the plastic stand and card
made for a nice display. Some models also appeared in clear boxes
or in multi-car sets. Most recently, RC has introduced a twin pack
of a 'Fast and Furious' tuner model and an 'American Muscle' model
attributed to Ertl. The Ertl model I have seen so far (1969 Pontiac
GTO 'Judge') is in fact a re-release of earlier RC Mint Edition
casting without an opening trunk. As such, one might question if
it is indeed a continuation of the 'American Muscle' series in anything
The models offered in the 'American Muscle' line came primarily
in two color variations although at least one boxed set offers a
third color option for the 'Class of 1969'. The Cougar, Charger
and Mustang models in this set had new colors not used in the single
blisters. As I only found this one 3-car set, I do not know if others
All models were of American cars produced between 1957 and 1971.
The most curious inclusion was of a 1958 Plymouth Belvedere. The
car is clearly identified on the base and plastic display as a Belvedere.
Including the Belvedere as an muscle car might be considered a bit
of a stretch. It appears that Ertl came to the same conclusion as
the exact same casting appeared quite soon badged as a Plymouth
Fury in traditional red and white colors. The Belvedere in blue
and white is especially nice and could become the most interesting
model of the series for future collectors.