Category Archives: American Cars

Brand Comparison: Buick Riviera: Johnny Lightning v Hot Wheels

1971 Buick Riviera HW and 1972 Buick Riviera JL
1972 Buick Riviera (Johnny Lightning) and 1971 Buick Riviera (Hot Wheels)

I don’t see many Johnny Lightning models, but this Buick is a little gem with its two tone paintwork, realistic tyres and even an opening bonnet. The Hot Wheels model is longer and lower and less realistic. The Hot Wheels interior is a shiny silver, the Johnny Lightning model a more subdued olive green.

1972 Buick Riviera JL
opening hood

Hot Wheels are designed to be played with. They have a “fun factor” that isn’t so present in detailed replica models. The Hot Wheels model will be faster on the track but the Johnny Lightning model looks better on the shelf.

Both Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning are American brands, the Hot Wheels model is made in Malaysia, the Johnny Lightning model is made in China. New, the Johnny Lightning model would be more expensive but I picked mine up secondhand for just 3 lari ($1.05).
My choice here would be the Johnny Lightning model.

Chevrolet

Chevrolet or “Chevy” is a division of GM. Producers of the fantastic Corvette.

I have a lot of Chevrolets in my collection of diecasts,  Chevrolet is second only numerically to Ford.

Chevrolet 105 3
100+ Chevrolets

I have at least 104 Chevrolets in my collection, I don’t buy into the Ford v Chevy rivalry as I love both brands, the second and third generations of the Chevrolet Corvette look amazing to me.

As an iconic American brand, it is unsurprising that most of my Chevrolets are Hot Wheels (65 of them).

Chevrolet HW x 65
Hot Wheels Chevrolets

Hot Wheels put out several new Chevys each year. Aside from the Corvettes, I love collecting the Wagons and Gassers.

The”Gasser” looks ready for a drag race. The 55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser casting hearkens back to the old school style of Gasser Drag Race cars. With an exposed big block engine, fender well headers, ladder bars, aluminum fuel tank, this 2 lane blacktop brawler can take them all on.

55-chevy-bel-air-gasser-hw-black-orange-blue
55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser (Hot Wheels)

I also like convertibles.

Chevrolet convertibles
Chevrolet Convertibles/Roadsters

I have 40 Corvettes, a car that has been in production since 1953, named after a small manoeuvrable warship, there have been eight generations of Corvette to date, my favourites being the second (1963-1967) and third (1968-1982) generations. Designed to interest returned American servicemen who had fallen under the spell of Jaguars, MGs and Triumphs during their World War II service in Europe, the Chevrolet Corvette was the first proper American sports car.

Chevrolet Corvette x 40
Chevrolet Corvette x 40

For a long time the 1:24 scale Maisto 1970 Chevrolet Corvette was the largest model in my collection, it is still my biggest Chevrolet but now a 1:18 Scale Mercedes 300SL is my biggest model.
Whilst most of my Chevys are standard Hot Wheels (3 inch) size, I do have a few larger models, including two rather beat up Corgi Chevrolet Stingrays.

Chevrolet larger scales
larger scale Chevys 1:43-1:24 scale

Matchbox has put out far fewer Chevrolets than Hot Wheels, but I still have 21 in my collection.

Chevrolet MBX
Matchbox Chevrolets x 21

Other brands include Maisto, Jada, Bburago, Corgi, Lledo, Kinsmart, TootsieToys and Welly.

Chevrolet not MBX or HW
18 Chevrolets from brands other than Hot Wheels or Matchbox

 

American Cars: Cadillac

 

P1730015
14 Cadillacs

They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple
But man I ain’t going for that
I know it was her pink Cadillac
Crushed velvet seats

from “Pink Cadillac” by Bruce Springsteen

Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile brand following fellow GM marque Buick. Cadillac was founded in 1902, I have a nice 1913 Cadillac from the Matchbox Yesteryear range. Cadillac was named after a French explorer who founded Detroit in 1701.

Historically, Cadillac automobiles have always held a place at the top of the luxury field within the United States just as Rolls Royce have in the UK.

One of the few cars I brought with me when I moved to Tbilisi in 2009 was a Dinky Cadillac Eldorado, which I had purchased in an antique store in Worcester (UK) a few years earlier (for £10 if I remember correctly).

Cadillac Eldorado Dinky 008

I have fifteen Cadillacs. In addition to the Eldorado I have a Matchbox 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood, a Majorette Cadillac Limousine, a Hot Wheels Elmiraj, a Hot Wheels’35 Classic Cady, a Hot Wheels Ecto-1 (1984 Cadillac DeVille), a Matchbox 1913 Cadillac (Models of Yesteryear), a Hot Wheels Cadillac Cien, a Hot Wheels Cadillac Eldorado Convertible, a Matchbox Cadillac One, a Matchbox ’69 Cadillac Sedan Deville, a Matchbox Escalade,  2 CTS Wagons and a Matchbox 1963 Cadillac Hearse. 

Cadillac x 9
My 9 Cadillacs

I heard some toy dealers were reluctant to stock a hearse, there is a strong taboo around death in many countries. The same toy dealers, I imagine are happy to stock toy guns, tanks and toy weapons.

Cadillac (1)
Cadillac Hearse

I don’t have a Pink Cadillac, but I do have an impressive looking Cadillac Eldorado Convertible, which is longer than the Cadillac One

Cadillac Eldorado Convertible and one (2)
Cadillac One (Matchbox) and Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (Hot Wheels)

Despite Cadillac being an American car, I have amassed three times as many Matchbox Cadillacs as Hot Wheels. A Custom Eldorado featured in Hot Wheels original “Sweet Sixteen” models, I’d love to find one but it was only made from 1968-1969. Whilst Hot Wheels has had many Corvettes, Mustangs and Camaros, there haven’t been so many Cadillacs. In the current range I just see a Cadillac Elmiraj ( I see a ‘16 Cadillac ATS-V R is lined up as a new model in the 2018 releases).

Eldorado_Magenta
Hot Wheels Custom Eldorado (not my photo)
Cadillac Matchbox (2)
6 Matchbox Cadillacs
Every soul deserves a shot at a Cadillac, but not everyone should be guaranteed a Cadillac.
Ben Stein

American Cars: Buick

Buick is currently the oldest still-active American automotive make, and among the oldest automobile brands in the world, dating back to 1899. It is one of many General Motors brands. For much of its existence in the North American market, Buick has been marketed as a premium automobile brand, selling luxury vehicles positioned above GM‘s mainstream brands

I have nine Buicks: a Maisto Buick Bengal Concept, a Hot Wheels Buick GSX, a Hot Wheels 1971 Buick Riviera, two’64 Rivieras, two Corgi Juniors Buick Regals   and two Matchbox 1956 Buick Century Police cars. 

P1660100
9 Buicks

Maisto is not usually my preferred choice in the 1:64 scale but they do produce some interesting cars ignored by other manufacturers. The Buick Bengal is a concept car unveiled to the public at the 2001 Detroit Motor Show with the aim of rejuvenating the brand and appealing to younger customers.

Buick
’56 Buick Century Police Car (Matchbox) and Buick Bengal Concept (Maisto)

In my 1968 Ladybird Book of Motor Cars, the last two cars were a Buick Riviera and a Cadillac Eldorado. Large cars even by American standards. I have a Dinky Eldorado, I’d love to find a Corgi Riviera.

P1660101
Ladybird Book of Motor Cars (1968) and Hot Wheels Buick Rivieras

In the TV Series Kojak used a red, magnetically mounted Federal Signal Fireball rotating emergency light atop his unmarked police vehicle (a bronze 1973 Buick Century Regal 455), a model reproduced by Corgi.