Car show season is heating up, with one of our favorite events taking place this Sunday: the annual Queen’s English All-British Car Show in Van Nuys, California. An incredible variety of English iron from across Southern California will congregate on Woodley Park’s expansive lawn for this free admission, family-friendly show which will feature almost every British car one can imagine, from the most humble MGs to the most outrageous McLarens, plus Austin-Healeys, Morgans, Bentleys, and of course, Jaaaaags as far as the eye can see.
Of course, for Carriage House Models, it’s all about scale, and we’ll have plenty of it at the Queen’s English. We’re bringing our full range of 1:18 and 1:43-scale model cars for your shopping pleasure, with special show pricing on many popular favorites. In response to overwhelming demand, we’ll also have a great selection of classic and current 1:64 cars from Matchbox and Hot Wheels.
The Queen’s English takes place on April 26th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Woodley Park, 6350 Woodley Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91436. Abundant free parking is available, but get there early to get the best selection of models from the Carriage House booth. Hope to see you there!
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.
Even as a young kid, I approached life from the perspective of a car collector, and die cast models were my stand-in for the fleet of desirable automobiles I hoped to own when I was all grown up. Like many junior gearheads, I started out with a stable full of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, moving quickly to Corgi’s venerable 1:36-scale pieces by age six. However, I don’t consider myself to have been a “true” die cast collector until 1984, when at age nine I acquired my first 1:18-scale car, Bburago’s classic Ferrari 250GTO. My appetite for adult-level model cars had been fueled for years by Road and Track magazine’s “Cars in Scale” series, as well as by the glossy ads in that same publication for these Italian-made marvels. At $30, 1:18-scale Bburagos were not items to be purchased casually by kids; I saved for months to afford my GTO, and when I finally bought it I treated it with every ounce of care I could muster.
By my side during these first steps toward die-cast fanaticism was my father, a casual car enthusiast himself, who saw the pride-of-ownership I felt in my beloved GTO. The following Christmas, he gave me my second Bburago, a 1934 Bugatti Type 59 grand prix racer (no small feat in El Paso, Texas, where upscale model cars were nearly impossible to find in those pre-internet days.) Thus was born a family tradition: Christmas meant that the old man would source a big, beautiful Bburago, and my collection would grow. Next came an exotic 512 Testarossa, then a gorgeous silver Gullwing, and finally the best of them all: a 250 Testa Rossa. Soon, my interest shifted toward vintage “redline” Hot Wheels cars, but the tradition of giving continued…Dad found a local collector who could provide these rare classics, and the “car-for Christmas” ritual went on.
My life as a die cast car collector (and now dealer) has been marked by many fascinating experiences and opportunities, but when I really think about it, the thing I have always valued the most was my father’s encouragement and participation. We used to spend hours upon hours at antique festivals, eyes peeled for old models stuck amongst the relics. Many of those models we acquired moved out of my collection long ago, but the memory of the chase, Dad as my partner, will stay with me forever.
1969 was a liminal year in Formula One, with constructors experimenting with a variety of new technologies to gain a competitive edge. As understanding of aerodynamics became more fully matured, one of the major leaps forward in the late ’60s was the addition of wings to F1 cars to develop vital downforce. Starting in 1968 and continuing into early 1969, a number of car constructors mounted wings on large struts that towered over the car, usually bolted directly to the suspension. These “high wings” did indeed generate a huge amount of downforce, but they were also prone to collapse…often with catastrophic results. After only the second race of the 1969 season (the Spanish Grand Prix) the FIA banned wings altogether, though they would return in lower, body-mounted specification later that season.
The winner of that final high-wing race was Jackie Stewart in his Matra MS80, a car which he would later describe as the best-handling F1 car he had ever driven. Powered by the ubiquitous 3-liter Cosworth DFV, the MS80 was quick and reliable, carrying Stewart to a dominant six victories in eleven races en route to his maiden World Championship.
Spark Models recently announced that they will produce Jackie Stewart’s groundbreaking high-wing Matra MS80 in 1:18 scale (pictured above, manufacturer’s photo.) Slated for December release, Carriage House Models will proudly carry this incredibly significant Formula 1 car, one that rewrote the rules for the way race cars would be constructed for decades to come. Please visit http://www.carriagehousemodels.com for availability updates.
A couple of weeks ago, Carriage House Models received our first shipment of Autoart’s 1:18-scale replica of the 2010 FIA GT1 World Championship-winning Maserati MC12. Upon our first inspection, we were more than satisfied with the level of detail and craftsmanship poured into this model. Like the real car, Autoart’s MC12 GT1 is a big, impressive piece, with beautiful paintwork and exquisite internal components. One of the nicest features of the car has to be the shutlines; the MC12 has a removable front clip and engine panel as well as opening doors, and they fit as close to flush as one is likely to find in a 1:18-scale model.
Collectors who have been on the scene for a while may feel a bit of sticker shock when they see models from Autoart now priced at $295, as our MC12 is. Be assured, though, that the level of quality built into this car stacks up very nicely against other premium model companies like Exoto and BBR. Individually numbered and with a certificate of authenticity included, the Autoart MC12 GT1 should become an instant classic among collectors of international GT racing models.
Visit www.carriagehousemodels.com to learn more about the sensational Maserati MC12 GT1 by Autoart.