Earlier this week, after hyping Autoart’s new line of ABS composite-bodied models, we teased an upcoming model certain to satisfy those who still prefer their miniature cars to be hewn from diecast metal. Well, here it is: presenting the 1988 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary Edition in 1:18 scale.
Though the Countach is the unquestioned “poster car” of an entire generation, no one has attempted a premium-quality diecast replica of its final iteration, the 25th Anniversary, until now. Who better than Autoart, the standard bearer for model Lamborghinis, to tackle this important subject?
We anticipate our first shipment of the Autoart Countach 25th Anniversary Edition in black to arrive this Friday, with pricing expected to be around $215.
The annual Nuremberg Toy Fair is where scale model car companies traditionally introduce new products amidst very little fanfare, but this year Autoart dropped a bombshell with the announcement that they would soon release a line of products rendered in ABS-composite plastic. Yes, Autoart, the company that revolutionized mass-market 1:18-scale diecast in the late ’90s with their exquisitely detailed yet (then) sensibly priced models made from good old-fashioned zinc metal, was following the lead of upstarts like TSM and Ignition by moving to plastic-bodied cars. The protests from devoted collectors were as loud as they were predictable. Hell, it seemed, had frozen over.
Then, we actually got a look at the product.
Autoart has pulled off something of a minor miracle. Their ABS models have the same substantial hand feel as their classic metal-bodied cars (as the plastic body panels are hung on a metal skeleton…much the same as many real automobiles parked in the world’s garages) with perhaps even finer exterior detail. Panel gaps and wheel fitment have long been among the toughest challenges facing model car makers, and though Autoart was already among the very best at tackling these problems, the ABS modelling process promises even tighter quality control in these areas. Plus, unlike most other plastic-based miniature cars (typically crafted from resin) Autoart’s models will feature opening parts, as one would expect of the standard-bearer of high-quality scale model automobiles.
The first of Autoart’s new composite cars to grace the halls of Carriage House Models will be the 1:18-scale Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, which we expect to have in stock by mid-April. Though sadly lacking an opening engine compartment, the Aston’s doors open to reveal an interior that’s detailed to perfection. We anticipate pricing around $155, which demonstrates the additional value of composite casting: it’s a cost-effective way to offer premium-level precision. Please visit http://www.carriagehousemodels.com for availability updates.
(Of course, this does not mean that Autoart is planning to abandon zinc metal casting altogether…we’ll introduce an upcoming metal model later this week!)
Over the holidays, I had a few of my old Bburago 1:18-scale models out of storage for photography at my wife’s family’s house. My mother-in-law, who up to that point had never seen one of these cars up close, marveled at the level of detail that went into them. I explained that as charming as these 30-year-old pieces are, they appear rather quaint when compared to the modern precision replicas we sell today at Carriage House Models (such as the 50th-Anniversary Lamborghini Aventador pictured above.) She wondered what set the newer models apart, to which I could only answer “modern manufacturing processes, more precise tolerances, laser-cut parts, etc.” That’s when her eyes started to glaze over, and we both reached for our mimosas.
I could have offered a better explanation by referring her to Autoart Models’ Facebook post of January 6th, in which they laid out the method by which they obtain a flush wheel fit on their racing models. Using what can only be described as an exhaustive process, Autoart manually grinds the zinc metal of their models’ fenders to achieve a thinner “sheet metal” effect that allows wide racing tires to fit under the body, giving a properly scaled clearance. This is the sort of detail that a casual observer might not consider when examining a model car, but I guarantee that they would absolutely notice something “off” about the model if Autoart did not go to all this trouble.
When Autoart first appeared on the diecast scene in the late 1990s, it was apparent that the rest of the model car industry would have to raise its game substantially to compete with this new level of detail. Fifteen years later, Autoart continues to set the standard by which other 1:18-scale model cars are judged, and while other companies can now match the accuracy of their products, Autoart remains at the cutting edge of miniature car craftsmanship.