[Italian Classics] Countach's legend.

The Lamborghini Countach is certainly one of the most legendary Lamborghini. It has been listed by Sports Car International as the #3 of the Top Sports Cars of the 70s, and as #10 of the Top Sports Cars of the 80s. During its sixteen years of life (from 1974 to 1990), only 2500 cars were produced. It also popularized some sports cars trends still used today, such as the sharply angled look and the cabin-forward design concept. It has also been done many times in all scales of diecasts.

How it started
1971 Concept.

The name Countach is an exclamation of the Piedmontese language, generally used when a man see a beautiful woman. Designed by the legend Marcello Gandini of Bertone (designer of the legendary Miura), the Countach was a wide and not very long car. It is still recognized as the most outrageous Lamborghini designed in the history. Scissors doors were giving an astonishing effect. Main problem of the cas was its reliability... a thing that mainly improved in new Lambos (especially when Audi bought the brand.) The Countach uses a tubular space frame, as in the racing cars. It gave a small weight of only 1400 kg, mainly because of the fiberglass body.
The original LP400 one.

The first prototype of the Countach was the LP500: introduced in 1971 in the Geneva Motor Show. It even had NASA air-ducts on the side! The original Countach was sunflower yellow, but we often see red or silver color. The Countach entered in production with the code-name LP400 in 1974, with a 353 hp engine. It had a narrow front end, easily distinguable from the further series. Lamborghini only produced 158 units from 1974 to 1977.

In 1978, the LP400S was introduced. The most important changes were the common-see front and rear spoilers. Wider tires were also added at the back of the car. The car was renamad as LP500S in 1982, and the engine was upgraded to 4 liters to 5 liters. It's the most "common" Countach encountered. In 1985, the car was finally introduced in America, with a basic price of 100 000$ (that was a lot of money in those years!). The engine had been upgraded to 420 bhp, with the same original weight.
How can you resist to such a beautiful car?

Last Countach produced.
The final Countach was the one introduced in 1988, named the 25th Anniversary Edition. It is recognizable by its way more futuristic style, and its usual color was the flashy silver. Car has only been produced for 2 years, before being replaced by the Diablo in 1990.

Diecast time!

Of course, the best diecasts of Countach has been done by Kyosho or AutoArt, but eh, they're really expensive, and i prefer having less expensives diecasts, but at least have them! The older diecasts of Countach i have are the Majorettes one. Introduced in the 200 line as the number 237, the Majorette has mainly been produced as a racing Countach, but there's also a rarer stock black one. I had this one when i was a kid, but it was so much in bad state that i recently decided to restore it. I added a few details such as the front and back lights. I also tried to keep the original color, even if it's an odd color for a Countach. The green interior is a bit odd too... But it's an overall nice one.

I bought the racing one last year in a big Majorette lot. I'm not a fan of this casting, as it is somekind unrealistic and with bad tampos. The rear spoiler is also horrible. That's more of a "for-kid" casting.

2 Majorettes together.

On the other hand, Matchbox made a LP500S replica in 1985, and it survived in the line until 2000. I have the red 1996 edition, and i must say it's a really well-done casting, even if some of those Tyco years Matchbox were awful. Tampos are missing and the wheels aren't a so-good fit with the car, but the overall feeling of the real one is really well reproduced. I have this one since i'm a kid, and i'll surely keep it.

The latest diecast i have is a replica of the 25th Anniversary edition offered by Hot Wheels in its Speed Wheels line last year. In my opinion, this is the definition of an awesome casting. Wheels, painting, the overall shape... it really looks like the original one. I was reluctant to buy it because i already had 2 Countach at this time, but tentation won when i saw how much it was well-done. Even tampos are high-quality.

Enjoy the pics! :)


[German classics] Opel Speedster : the black sheep

Opel, the german division of General Motors, doesn't have a reputation to produce exiting cars, but with a few exceptions in its history... The Opel GT in 1970 is one of them, but unfortunately i don't have one in diecast... more fortunately, there's a lot more of Opel Speedster's diecasts models, and that will be the subject today.

Where to find inspiration.... how about United Kingdom?
Incisive lines for the original Speedster.

Introduced in 2001, the Opel Speedster has been co-developed with Lotus as a lightweight small roadster with sporty lines. It has also been introduced as the VX220 under the Vauxhall brand (nowadays, all Vauxhalls are Opel copies). The Speedester has been produced until 2005, and hasn't been really popular in these 4 years, mainly because the cars sellers, so used to sedans and wagons, were reluctant to sell this original car.

Vauxhall's version : the VX220.
Initially offered with a central 147 hp engine, it has been modified to offer a 200 hp turbo in 2003. The car was easy to recognize with distinctive lines. A special Scorpions version has been produced in 80 units, and the dealers were giving a special guitar autographied by the musical group. It was an extreme car, with only a few basic options, and not very confortable. It had difficulty to rivalize with more luxuous roadsters such as the BMW Z4 or the Mercedes SLK.

The Speedster will surely become more and more elusive as the years will go, as only 7000 units has been produced on the 4 years.

And the diecasts?

Matchbox first offered the Speedster in the Hero City main range in 2003, with the original silver color. It has been offered in the main lines until 2006, and then until 2009 in the 5 or 10 packs only. I am very fortunate to have the original 2003 one #6. It was a well-made diecast, but tampos were really missing and the wheels were a bit too big. Still, it was one of my favorite as a kid (remember, i was only 13 years old in 2003 :))

I have also one Matchbox blue from the 2009 10-pack. As Matchbox improved the quality of their cars over the years, this one is better with full tampos and wheels more appropriate. It's a nice casting, and such a special car should be present in every collection. Side mirrors would have been appreciated though.

Maisto also produced a Opel Speedster in 2001, with an horrible yellow color. Maisto cars are cheaper, and tampos are clearly missing on this one. It's in plastic, and it does look worse than the Matchbox one. Other Maistos are better made than this one, and the scale is too small. My father gave me this one a long ago so i kept it, but i wouldn't have buy it by myself :)

Enjoy the pics! More infos needed? Leave some comments!


A few rainy pics...

With a brand new Welly Formula 1. This is a generic car, but really well made and with great details. This has been offered in Welly's 20 cars set a few years ago. Unfortunately, information is quite elusive about the Welly cars, but this is more an article for pictures. With the rainy day, it was a great occasion to put the cars and camera outside!

Enjoy the pics :)

Rainy asphalt makes a wonderful pic.

Can you see the car :)

[American Classics] Monte Carlo, the car

Monte Carlo, a name that any American knows.
The original one.

Neo-retro generations
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo has been introduced in 1970, to create a new car segment, called "affordable luxuous cars". In other terms, it was intended to be a mid-class well-equipped car. Even more, the name Monte Carlo was supposed to refer to the "european" cars. Cherry on the sundae : the original ad was a french man playing accordion! Geez, that was some kind of "kitsch"....

Talking of the model, the Monte Carlo was easily findable with his loonngg hood. From 1970 to 1981, three generations of Monte Carlo were produced, and they all had this kind of neo-retro style. Hot Wheels recently introduced the original 70 Monte Carlo in the 2011 casting line. This is obviously the SS version (SS standing for Super Sports) with hs powerful V8 Big Block, offering 360 hp to the lucky driver. Hot Wheels, often recognized to put awful decals on nice castings, did a nice job with this one, adding a real lowrider job to the car. In this case, even the Hot Wheels wheels add a nice touch, it's a well-made car!

After these glorious years...

The classic SS of 1986. What a beast.

Style radically changed with the fourth gen introduced n 1981. As its cousins Pontiac Grand Prix/Oldsmobile Cutlass/Buick Regal, the new Monte Carlo introduced a way more sporty look, with smooth long lines. The hood was still long though. GM also introduced the Monte Carlo in the NASCAR racing serie, and this is where the car really got his legend title, especially with Dale Earnhardt (father).

In 1983, the SS was reintroduced, with a big blog V8 pushed to 180 hp (don't forget, USA just went out of the petrol crisis, it wasn't the crazy power of the 70's). The SS is often known as black with red trim and sporty tires. The Monte Carlo will be produced till 1988, and then sales were so atrocious that GM stopped the Monte Carlo (noticed the Grand Prix, Cutlass and Regal continued).

Two diecasts represent this era. First, Hot Wheels introduced in the 2010 casting line the classic '86 Monte Carlo SS, black with red trim. This casting is awesome, but missing rear tampo. The bulk hood is a nice add though, and really make the car looks like a killer. The wheels could have been better though... Maisto also introduced a 1986 Monte Carlo in its All Star line, but this one is customized to a lowrider. Nice casting overall, but the car is a bit too thin compared to the Hot Wheels one, and missing side mirrors. Tampos are a nice add, and personally, i'm a fan of the colors, it looks like it just got out of Pimp My Ride.

The yellow one is a Hot Wheels generic car called the "MonteZooma", which is a clear rip-off of a 1979 T-Top Monte Carlo. I think it's a nice one for kids, and it clearly shows the "fun" potential of the Monte Carlo, how it could be a cool car.

1995: Surprise!
The boring 1995 one.

The Monte Carlo wasn't dead! Chevrolet reintroduced the car along with the 4-door Lumina in 1995... but it was certainly not as good as the 70-80's ones. In fact, the design was trivial and ordinary, and it was only available with a V6 engine. Fans didn't like it, and it hasn't been really popular. Only purpose was to have a car to put in  NASCAR, since the rules tell that the NASCAR cars need to have their production equivalent.

In 1999, Chevrolet made a nice concept car about the Monte Carlo, with a flashy red color and big skirts and bumpers. This concept has been really nicely reproduced by Hot Wheels in the 1999 casting line. Tampos are missing, but it's made of metal all the way (a thing i like a lit, it makes the car look solid and more realist). As a children, it was one of my favorite little car, and i still have the one i had 12 years ago. Of course, there's a few playwear, but i still love it :)

A 2005 Monte Carlo with its strange curbs...

From 2000 to 2007, the Monte Carlo has been a coupe version of the 4-door Chevrolet Impala, and even been introduced with a good old V8 in 2006, but it hasn't really be popular, and has been replaced by the Impala in NASCAR in 2008. Johnny Lightning made the 2000 model in diecast, and i have the black one issued in the Modern Muscle line. It's nice overall, but i always thought that the lights were off... the real car got strange forms though and it's somekind of hard to reproduce it exactly i suppose. Still a nice add to any collection!

The Monte Carlo disappeared after 2007, but who knows, it might reappear soon, just like in 1995...

But hey, there's another Monte Carlo!
Flawless italian design for the Lancia Monte Carlo.

Let's fly away from America to Italy. In 1975, the biggest italian car maker, Fiat, just bought Lancia and was searching a way to boost the sales of this brand. After a study driven by the famous bodybuilder Pininfarina, the Lancia Monte Carlo has been introduced to the market. It was a street car , but with a structure defined for the race, with a central engine. It often been written has "super efficient at high speeds and perfect handling". The racing department of Fiat made a few racing versions, especially the infamous Lancia Rally 037 in rally. The car has been produced till 1981, for a total count of about 7600 cars produced.

Majorette introduced the model in its 200 line in 1983, it was the number 285. I recently acquired one, with rally colors. It has the ugly phat wheels, but hey, it's a rare diecast. I love those old school Majorettes :). The opened sunroof is really nice, and the model overall is well reproduced. It has been produced until 1987, when Majorette started to fade out a bit (financial problems). It was definitly the kind of special models Majorette was doing so well.

Enjoy the pics, leave some comments! How about some suggestions for my next topics :)