[American Moderns] CTS, the ultimate modern Cadillac.

Back in the 60's, Cadillac was certainly the American symbol of luxury and pride, and was recognized as the ultimate luxury car. Times changed a lot, and the luxurious american brand now has difficulty to survive, with hard competition coming from Mercedes, BMW, and more recently, Lexus and Infiniti. With poor models in the 90's, Cadillac certainly lost a bit of this glorious look that made it famous. Nowadays, Cadillac's style is certainly better than it was in the 90's, and its cars are now fully respectable, even if they're as spectacular as what they used to be (at least they're reliable :)). Here's one that almost saved the brand, and that is an important player in its section : the Cadillac CTS.

First generation : 2003 - 2007

Originally showed in 2002 as replacement to the horrible Cadillac Catera (which was a pale copy of the already pale Opel Omega), the CTS has been introduced as a 2003 model. It introduced the new Edge Cadillac style, with a huge contrast on the older Cadillac. The CTS was nominated as the North American Car Of The Year, and being featured in the movie The Matrix Reloaded, it quickly achieved some great sales. Originally introduced with a L6 220 hp engine, it quickly switched for a DOHC V6 offering 255 hp, and has been produced until 2007. An extreme version has been introduced in 2004, called the CTS-V, as a direct competitor to BMW M5. Featuring the same engine as the Corvette Z06 (LS2 V8 engine), it was able to deliver 400 hp.  Unfortunately, no diecast of the first generation has been produced... what a waste of a paragraph! :)

Second generation : 2008-...
CTS Coupe.
CTS Wagon.

Influenced from the 2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept (that will certainly be covered in another post), the second generation CTS was introduced in 2008. Even if the first CTS was a great car, the second one is certainly a reference in its market segment. Bigger and more luxuous than the first one, it received Motor Trend Car Of The Year award in 2008, along with being selected in Car & Driver's 10 best cars list. Car & Driver even wrote "Maybe the best American car ever made" in 2010 about the CTS. Two engines are offered on the basic CTS : a 258 hp V6 engine, and a more powerful 304 hp V6 VVT engine. The CTS has also been declined in a Sport Wagon and a Coupe Version. All the CTS are available as the CTS-V, featuring a monstrous LSA V8 Engine with 556 hp. It is clearly one of the most powerful sedan in the market.

After all this real car introduction, we surely need to talk about diecasts :)
As the first generation, no diecast has been made around the regular CTS. BUT! All special versions have been covered. First, the CTS-V has recently been introduced as a 2010 New Model in Hot Wheels regular line-up. Only offered in the 2010 range for now, it has been produced in black (first version, which i own), red and silver. In my humble opinion, the casting has been awfully reproduced. The rear and side is not that bad, but the front doesn't really looks like a CTS. And of course, as with every Hot Wheels, the wheels are a bit too much generic, and doesn't fit that car so well. Well, what is really killing the casting are three things : the front grill (where's the Cadillac sign?), front light tampos are not accurate, and what's with the blue windows?

Evaluation : Hot Wheels '09 Cadillac CTS-V
  • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 6/10
  • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 6/10
  • Color : 8/10
  • Quality of the fabrication :  7/10
  • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 5/10
  • Total : 32/50

    The other Mattel brand, Matchbox, also recently introduced replicas of the CTS in its current lineup. Let's start with the CTS Wagon, that has been introduced in late 2010, in a red color. The casting is awesomely accurate, and you can really appreciate CTS Wagon's special shape. Even more, the front tampo is outstanding, and all the details make it look really great. I'm quite not a fan of the wheels, but they're somewhat  well accorded with the car. Two shades of red has been produced in 2010, and we're at three recolors so far in 2011. It is certainly one of the most impressive casting in the current Matchbox lineup, and a must for any collection. I must admit that i particularly love the shooting brake style of the CTS... and the tampos are simply incredible. One bad thing : bad paint quality.

    Evaluation : Matchbox Cadillac CTS Wagon
    • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 9/10
    • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 8/10
    • Color : 8/10
    • Quality of the fabrication :  7/10
    • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 9/10
    • Total : 41/50

      Talking about Matchbox, they quickly introduced the CTS Coupe in the 2011 line-up, almost in the same time as the car was hitting the market. In my humble opinion, it is certainly one of the most beautiful car of the actual market. Introduced as the #32 in the VIP serie of the basic lineup, Matchbox's replica of the CTS Coupe is almost perfect. You can really feel the real car, its angular lines, the odd but awesome rear end... certainly one of the best new releases in 2011. Lots of details are included, tampos are simply perfect (front tampo is the same as the Wagon's one). As i said on the Wagon, i'm not a fan of those wheels though. The silver color is a bit dull, but its fits well the car's style. Certainly one of the must of 2011, you need to find one!

      Evaluation : Matchbox Cadillac CTS Coupe
      • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 9/10
      • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 8/10
      • Color : 7/10
      • Quality of the fabrication :  8/10
      • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 9/10
      • Total : 41/50

      Enjoy the pics folks, all comments are welcomed! I want to improve :)


      [Japanese Classics] A few Datsun(s).

      This is an article dedicated to Shaz, who asked to see something about Dastun, so here it is :)
      Dastun is a japanese brand known as Nissan's ancestor, and was created in 1931.Originally named Datson, Nissan bought the maker in 1933 and changed the o for a u, because son was meaning "loss" in Japanese. You might think, what's the point of talking of a brand that only lasted two years? Well, Nissan kept the name Datsun a long time. Nissan's cars were under Datsun's name (trucks had the real name) until 1958. Progressively, cars became Nissans, but the brand survived in America. In fact, Nissan was associated with their war vehicles, so they invaded american market with only the name Datsun... and the name disappeared completely in 1986.

      The intriguing one : Datsun 126X Concept

      Since the beginning of my blog, the 126X Concept was certainly the car i had the hardest time to find some information about it. Here's what i managed to find : japanese makers went exotic in the beginning of the 70s, with a variety of strange car concepts. The 126X was a mid-engined car, and featured a really esoteric style. It has been only offered in a fade silver color. The engine was a small 3 litre, and wasn't even guaranteed to be able to move the real car : it was really a pure show car. Awesome feature : on the middle strip in the hood, different lights were working with different colors : if the car was accelerating, green lights were open, if the car was slowing down then red lights lit and if the car was cruising at a stable speed then yellow lights had the spot. It is certainly recognized as one of the most extreme concept cars of those years.

      This kind of delirious styling is certainly appealing to reproduce in diecast, because they will certainly be popular among kids. This is what Lesney tried to apply when creating a replica of the 126X in the Superfast's line in 1973. Although the design is well reproduced, the color are somewhat... flashy. This casting has been only produced three years in the history : '73 (yellow), '79 (yellow with flames) and '85 (blue). As you can see, i own the 1973 one, but mine has a missing rear lid. As i said, i completely dislike the yellow and the horrible orange base, but they make it a really popular casting in these years. The car looks certainly akward, but is well done by Matchbox.

      Evaluation : Lesney Superfast Dastun 126X Concept
      • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 8/10
      • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 7/10
      • Color : 4/10
      • Quality of the fabrication :  8/10
      • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 5/10
      • Total : 32/50

      Japanese BMW : The 510

      Often recognized as the poor man's BMW of those year, the Datsun Bluebird 510 has been initially introduced in 1968 in a variety of body styles : two-door sedan, four-door sedan, five-door wagon and two-door coupe. It quickly gained admiration from car enthusiasts because of its rally successful career outside Japan. It initially came into the US market with a 1.6L 96 hp engine, which was able to reach 100 mph. It has quickly been replaced with a 1.8L engine. One of the main advantages of the Datsun(s) was the pieces compatibility : engine, transmissions, suspension parts were easily interchangeable between cars. The production ceased in 1973, and due to the impressive rally potential of the car, it is hard to find a 510 in really good condition nowadays. Even more, a lot of the remaining Bluebird has been tuned or transformed into race cars.

      The two-door sedan has been accurately reproduced by Hot Wheels, and been recently introduced in the main casting line (2009). It is one of the best current models in the lineup : car lines are admirably reproduced. As you can see within the pics, it is a small tuned version of the car, featuring a body kit and interior roll bars.As usual with HW, the wheels are somehwat average, and there's no side mirrors. On the other side, paint jobs are really accurate and the decals fit the car well. The version i got is the 2009's cooper third color (first was blue and second, black). You can easily imagine the car racing on a small track, alongside a few other japanese classics! Definitly one of my favorite, especially for the colors.

      Evaluation : Hot Wheels Dastun 510 Bluebird
      • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 9/10
      • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 5/10
      • Color : 10/10
      • Quality of the fabrication :  8/10
      • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 7/10
      • Total : 41/50

      The legend : Datsun 260Z

      The 260Z is only one of the many legendaries Z (which will surely be an article soon. Others interesting are the 240Z, 280Z, 300ZX, 350Z and the actual 370Z). Sold in the USA only in 1974, the 260Z has been produced from 74 to 78 in other countries. It is often claimed as the least desirable of all the Z, mainly because of its performance drop, and more "comfortable" approach. It was the first Z to offer a 2+2 option (that is, 2 front seats and two *small* rear seats). The styling didn't have many evolutions over the 240Z, but the interior was redesigned, and the 260Z was also including A/C. It came with a L6 2.6L engine developing 162 hp, able to reach 204 km/h. Comparatively to the older 240Z, it hasn't been produced as a rally car... so it was clearly a "Gran Turismo" car.

      Majorette rarely produced japanese cars (except Toyota), but the Datsun 260Z is a really nice example of what Majorette was doing best. Referenced as #229 in the old 200 casting line, the 260Z has been offered in an exhaustive variety of colors and decals. The casting is awesomely reproduced, with a lot of details. It lacks tampos and side mirrors, but compensate with opening doors. Such as every Majorette of these years, it's a pretty solid car, all made in metal. I am the proud owner of a red exemplary, and quite rare. It's in almost perfect condition, and is certainly a must have for any Majorette collector (which i am :)).

      Evaluation : Majorette Datsun 260Z
      • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 9/10
      • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 7/10
      • Color : 9/10
      • Quality of the fabrication :  10/10
      • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 8/10
      • Total : 43/50

      Enjoy the pics, comment!


      [Diecast] Learning the basics of advanced customizing...

      I have always been a fan of restauration and customization of diecasts. I usually tend to restore the car the closest possible to its original state, and don't change any parts. But sometimes, the car is so wrecked or messed up that doing this is almost impossible. Other times, i simply already have the car in perfect state in my collection, so it would be useless to add a second. Those two criterias are perfect to create a new car from scratch! But it's absolutely harder than it looks...
      The goal here : Starts with a Matchbox Mercury Fire Chief, to become a 1967 Mercury Monterey. Let's roll!

      Starting with a horrible wreck.

      Would you seriously show this ?

      Every restauration needs a starting point : a car that is absolutely impossible to display. There's a good example right here. One of my coworker just brought me this car : an old exemplary of a Matchbox Lesney Mercury Fire Chief... completely wasted. Wheels were twisted, it had that strange black paint everywhere, windows were half covered with paint etc. So it was a perfect candidate for a little customization. I had a hard time stripping the paint, especially because of that hard stuff, that was impossible to remove...
      Even more, then i drilled out the car, one of the windshield pillar just broke!

      That's when the fun begin. After a few tries at stripping down the paint, i decided to leave it like this. There was a hole in the roof, mainly because of the (missing) fire light. I had no choice to buy some putty, and try it (first time i manipulate putty!). This didn't give an overall so good result especially because of my poor sand paper. But i succeeded at at least fulfill the hole. I also modeled side vents, and reworked rear bumpers. I know, those guards are way too high comparing to the real car. I finally cutted out some mirrors from a plastic clothes tag. I also remade the broken pillar out from plastic.

      Remodeled rear bumper.
      Added plastic mirrors
      I also added a piece on the base. Of course, i had to change the wheels, and i took one of a recent Matchbox Volvo P1800S... unfortunately, the axes were not large enough for the car, resulting that i had to change them. Sad point of this is that the car isn't rolling anymore. I added an exhaust on the car, made from a small nail and some plastic.

      Custom base.
      I had to do a little work on the interior too. First, removing the fire officers was a must... this isn't a fire car after all! I had to fulfill the floor holes with some putty, and added some texture on the dashboard. Of course, all of this had to be repainted after. I chose to put the interior's floor and dash black, and white seats.

      Interior with added putty.
      So i chose to put the car as matte tan paint, to make it looks like an old car. I detailed the base lights and calander, added some white on the wheels, and then made an antenna and some wipers from plastic. Of course, i added details with silver paint, especially windows trim, and the side vents i made with putty. The bumper was completely chromed, with a few red for the rear lights. I should have re-done the windows though, they look quite broken on this car...  You can admire a few pics of the finished work below :

      And here's the real car, a Mercury Monterey 1967, for comparison:

      Evaluation of my own work : 6.5/10. It looks good, but a little rough, rear bumper is inaccurate, and windows should have been re-done. I'll surely try to improve next time! I'm actually working on a new one, called Detomaso Longchamp... some news about it to come :)
      I'm perfectly open to constructive criticsm, i just want to improve!


      [German Moderns] Porsche strongest's competitor : Audi R8

      Sorry for the lack of posts folks, work is really taking all my time. Even more, i'm learning to restore with putty, and also working on a computer program to index cars... And of course real life priorities are always more important. But i try to keep on the activity, don't be afraid to leave some comments or suggestions, i'm always open to new ideas to improve my blog :)
      Let's start with the subject of the day : The Audi R8!

      Inspiration of the Audi R8

      Although the R8 has been released in 2007, Audi's idea to invade luxuous sports cars market isn't new : the first concept car around this theme was shown in 1991 at the Tokyo Motor Show, and was called the Avus Quattro. For a 1991 concept, its design was awesomely slick and the silver paint made it look like a Mercedes concept. Avus was an acronym for Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungs-Straße GmbH, that is a famous german race circuit. The Avus's engine was a W12 (12 cylinders disposed as a W), and its 509 horsepower were able to drive the car up to 340 km/h, and accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 3 seconds. It was a real beast!

      Hot Wheels introduced the Avus in the 1993 regular casting line, with its original silver color. Car lines are well reproduced... but unfortunately, as almost every Hot Wheels, the wheels are completely off. It has been produced until 2001, and even more unfortunately, in a variety of strange colors, just as the two ones i got. Respectively, the dark/gold one is the 1998 Dash 4 Cash's one, and the black with red dots is the 1998 Tech Tones Series's one. The casting and the car is overall good, but these colors.... where's realism? Anyway, these are children favorites, and they will surely stay in my collection for a long time.

      2002 R8.

      ADT real car skin.
      Another inspiration became from the other R8, as the racing car. Introduced in 2000, it's surely one of the most famous modern racing car, especially because of all its pedigree. The Mans Series were really popular among German and English car makers, and Audi thought it would be a good idea to join in. Unveiled in 2000, the R8 is mounted with a twin-turbo V8 engine offering 610 horsepower. The main chassis of the car has been designed like a LEGO model : any part can be changed, and changed quickly. The car was really strong from the beginning, and won the Le Mans 24 hours in all its years of existence : 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. It also won the American Le Mans Series all those years, the European Le Mans in 2001 and the Le Mans Series in 2004. The car was replaced in 2006, even if it was still competitive.

      The R8 Race Car has been admirably reproduced by the obscure chinese maker New Ray. New Ray is recognized to do quality 1:18 replicas, but its 1:64 diecasts are quite rare... but they worth the search. The replica is the 2005 edition of the R8, and is just fantastic. Everything falls in place, mirrors and decals are well done, the wheels are perfect : it's truly standing out in my collection. I personally prefer the old silver R8s, but the white suits it well. It even comes in a plastic box! It was quite expensive though, around 5$ for the casting... and was found in a small shop in Quebec's Old Quarter.

      Talking about the car now

      Still not tired after this long introduction ? Let's talk about the real deal now : the real and awesome R8. Introduced in 2007, it's the first Audi's sports car, and is intended to compete with famous brands such as Porsche, Ferrari and Aston-Martin. Offering an aggressive design, the LED lights are making a real impact the first time you see it. Not happy with being the first offer in this domain by Audi, the car is also featuring the first mid-engine V8 developed by the brand. It offers 420 hp to its client, making it able to reach 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, while offering a "bestial" sound. It has been claimed as a real reference in the segment, because of its near-perfect handling, while offering a high level of interior confort. It was a real success and forced Audi to produced more than 20 units per day. It has also been declined as a V10 version, because of few fans were saying that the car was not enough "radical".

      The R8 is a car that has been reproduced many times in diecast, in a large variety of scales. In 1:64, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Siku all made a replica. As i'm not a fan of having multiple variations of the same car (i enjoy the variety), i do simply have the Matchbox, in two units. The Matchbox is an awesome replica of the real car, even if the roof is a tad too high. Wheels suits it well, and the tampos are just perfectly made. I have the 2009 black edition, and the 2010 blue 10-pack one. It has been introduced in 2007 (just as the real car), and has been produced in a large variety of colors since.It's hard to tell which colors fits it best... I might go with the blue, because it makes the car lines stand better. It also includes rear tampos. The 2010 white one and the 2011 recently released red are also really really nice.

      Did i say i was a fan of the car ?

      An R8 for girls

      "For girls" is of course not intended to discriminate R8's fan base. But the R8 Spyder is certainly even sexier than the normal one. Only offered in 2010, the Spyder is made with a soft-top roof, and is equipped with the R8 V10's engine. It is certainly, in my humble opinion, one of the most desirable car of the actual market.

      Siku, the german car maker, made a replica of the first R8 Spyder shown, that is with a red colour and silver windshield border. As all the Siku, it is really well detailed, but the scale is off : the car is way bigger than a real 1:64 diecast... And what's wrong with the wheels? I mean, where are the holes? On another side, i must that car lines are just perfect, the interior is so much detailed that it looks real, and the lights are a nice add. The red color makes it real sexy too! Siku are quite rare around here in Quebec, but there's a few in a store called "Le Club Jouet"... at an horrible expensive price : around 8$ for a single casting. But when i saw the R8 Spyder, i had to buy it!

      Scale difference is evident here.

      Enjoy the pics folks!