Category Archives: Italian Cars

Lamborghini Countach Pace Car

Lamborghini Countach Pace Car (Hot Wheels)

The Lamborghini Countach Pace Car: I really like this recent Hot Wheels casting, I love Lamborghinis. I like that this casting has a light bar, some recent “police cars” have just had the police tampo decoration with no light bar, which looks a bit cheap. The Countach makes an odd police car, it would have the speed to catch the crooks but no rear seats to put them in once caught….it is also a very low car…and maybe too small for your average cop.

When I was 14, I cycled, with my friend Andy Jarvis, to Henley-upon-Thames, where there was a showroom for exotic cars, Maltins Car Concessionnaires, this was over 4o years ago. In the showroom they had a few Porsches and even a Ferrari and out the back there was a Lamborghini Countach, they were fixing for some oil sheikh. It must have been a slow day for sales, as the salesmen were happy to entertain two young teens with no means of buying an exotic car, they even allowed us to sit in the Lamborghini, I remember it was almost like sitting on the floor, it was so low to the ground, its height was just 1.07 metres or 3 feet 6 inches. The Lamborghini Countach was for the late seventies, what the Bugatti Veyron is today, and collecting it in miniature kindles those fond but distant memories.

As a Pace Car, the Lamborghini Countach makes more sense. In motorsports a pace car or safety car, limits the speed of competing cars on a racetrack in the case of a caution period such as an obstruction on the track or bad weather. The pace car will enter the track ahead of the leading car and lead the field at a pre-determined safe speed. The pace car will usually be a prestigious high performance production car, the Lamborghini Countach would be ideal for this.

Lamborghini Countach Pace Car

1:43 Ferrari Collection

A while ago I came across the Eaglemoss Ferrari Collection. This was a series of magazines (in Russian) which came with a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari.

There were 80 scheduled issues of the Ferrari Collection, I purchased one copy of the magazine in 2014 for 25 lari (then equivalent to $14.16, the cover price:399 roubles), the edition with the Ferrari Testarossa (#10). I also picked up a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (cost £6.99) in Modelzone (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) loose without a magazine. To these I added  the 246 GTS Dino. (#7), and a Ferrari 575 GTC.

Ferrari collection
Ferrari Collection #10 Ferrari Testarossa

I wrote about this on my old blog: Eaglemoss (Ferrari Collection)

Recently here in Tbilisi, I have seen the magazine Auto Bild (the Georgian version of the German Magazine) being sold with a 1:43 scale Ferrari. They intend to give out 10 models over the year with the magazine. I can’t find a complete list of those they intend to put out.

The first was in the May 2019 issue  (Ferrari 250 GTO).

June Ferrari F40
July Ferrari F 246
August Enzo Ferrari
September Ferrari Testarossa
October Ferrari F312 B2 (link to magazine but article is in Georgian)
November Ferrari 575M Maranello
December ?
January 2020 Ferrari F2001

This magazine with the car costs just 10 lari ($3.47), this is considerably cheaper than previously, I think the models are from the same series but now they also include Formula 1 Racing Cars.

Ferrari Dino, 575GTC and F312 B2
Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, Ferrari 575 GTC and Ferrari F312 B2 

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Auto Bild Magazine with Ferrari 250GTO

 

I hope they continue after the initial 10 models and I really hope they put out copies with a  250 GT Berlinetta Lusso and a 365BB or 512BB.

Concept Cars

 

concept cars Lamborghini Marzal and Maserati Boomerang
Maserati Boomerang (Norev) and Lamborghini Marzal (Matchbox)

Concept cars are made to showcase new styling or technology and to gauge the public’s reaction. Concept cars never go into production directly. In modern times all would have to undergo many changes before the design is finalized for the sake of practicality, safety, cost etc…

Die-cast companies have included many such cars in their ranges hoping the exciting designs will entice their target market to part with their pocket money.

The Lamborghini Marzal was produced for the Geneva Motor Show of 1967. It was designed by Bertone to provide Lamborghini with a true four seater, the design was a one-off but many of the ideas were later used in the Lamborghini Espada.

Lamborghini_Marzal_1967_schräg
Lamborghini Marzal 1967 (Photo:  Buch-t)

The Marzal design probably found wider recognition as a die-cast model, with both Matchbox and Dinky making scale models, albeit in other colours such as dark red, despite the original show car being painted silver.The Matchbox Lamborghini Marzal was one of the first cars created for the new Superfast wheels introduced at the end of 1969.

Another concept car popular with die-cast manufacturers is the Mercedes C111; Norev, Corgi, Matchbox and Hot Wheels all produced models.

Concept Cars Mercedes C111 Lamborghini Marzal and Maserati Boomerang
Mercedes C111 (Corgi)

The C111 had the gull wing doors, a feature of Mercedes sports cars going back to the classic 300SL of the fifties. In the sixties and seventies, Mercedes was experimenting with different types of engine: Wankel rotary engines, diesel engines and turbochargers and they would use the C111 platform as a testbed.

concept cars top trumps
Top Trumps: Concept Cars

Nowadays a lot of research is being made into greener technologies, autonomous vehicles and suchlike. One car that looks interesting is the Toyota FV2 (video clip). The FV2 doesn’t have a steering wheel. Instead, the car is operated by the driver shifting his or her body to move the vehicle forwards, backwards, left or right. It mirrors or responds instantly. It also uses intelligent transport system technology to connect the driver with a variety of local safety information. I hope some company will put it out as a die-cast model.

 

 

 

 

For stopping that speedy getaway…

In Italy, Lamborghini has just donated a second Huracan to the country’s Highway Patrol. Like the first, it will be used for “normal police operations”, as well as the urgent transport of blood and organs. Naturally, it isn’t entirely standard. There’s the same 610bhp N/A V10 and all-wheel drive system, sure, and all the normal stuff you’ll find in any regular police car. Lights, sirens, radios, a video camera and gun rack – it’s all there.

fast police cars gallardos and countach
Matchbox Police Lamborghini Gallardos and Hot Wheels Lamborghini Countach Pace Car

I can see Lamborghinis might be useful for transporting donor organs quickly, although in Grey’s Anatomy they usually employed a helicopter to get organs to the hospital quickly. However, for catching criminals, sure you can catch up with them but where do you put them when they have been arrested?

fast police cars panamera
Porsche Panamera “Polizei” (Hot Wheels)

A Police Porsche Panamera makes more sense to me, you have a very fast police car but it has the extra space to accommodate those arrested.

fast police cars panamera, 991 and 993
Police Porsches

Maserati

Maserati is one of my favourite Car Makes, unfortunately they are not served as well by diecast manufacturers as Lamborghini, Ferrari or Porsche. I have thirteen models in my collection (compared to 76 Porsches and 54 Lamborghinis).

Maserati x 13
Maserati x 13

The Maserati tagline is “Luxury, sports and style cast in exclusive cars“. As a teen my dream supercar was a Maserati Bora, it was fast, but not as fast as a Lamborghini Countach or a Ferrari 512BB, but I preferred its more restrained style. The Bora was a mid-engined two-seat sports car powered by a V8 engine and produced from 1971 to 1978, it had a top speed of 171 miles per hour (275 km/h). The closest I got was a Matchbox model.

Maserati Bora
Maserati Bora (Matchbox)

I bought some Chinese models that were based on the Bora and its smaller engined cousin the Maserati Merak, these are not great quality models (the blue Bora is plastic not diecast) but I love the shape.

Maserati Bora and Merak
Matchbox Maserati Bora with Chinese model of a Bora and two smaller Chinese made Meraks

The Bora was derived from a concept car designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Maserati Boomerang. I found a Norev version of the Boomerang at Dry Bridge Market in Tbilisi.

Maserati Boomerang
Maserati Boomerang (Norev)

I tend to focus on Matchbox sized cars, but I did splash out on a 1:24 scale Maserati Gran Turismo by Bburago, this is the largest model in my collection. I also have a Kinsmart model of the Gran Turismo in 1:38 Scale.

Maserati Gran Turismo and Indy
Maserati Gran Turismo (Kinsmart and Bburago), Maserati Indy (DeAgostini)

In my 1968 Ladybird Book of Motor Cars the fastest car was a Maserati Mistral (155 mph), Hot Wheels made a Mistral but it was only on sale in 1969, I haven’t found the Hot Wheels model but I have found three Soviet made models in 1:43 scale.

Ladybird Book with Aston and Maserati
Ladybird Book of Motor cars (1968) with Aston Martin and Maserati

It would be nice to find some models of other sixties and seventies Maseratis like the Khamsin, Kyalami and Ghibli.

Lamborghini

Ferruccio Lamborghini founded his car company (Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini S.p.A.) in 1963 with the objective of producing a refined grand touring car to compete with offerings from established marques such as Ferrari.

Ferruccio Lamborghini built tractors and he wasn’t happy about the clutch on his Ferrari. As a builder of tractors, Lamborghini knew something about clutches, so he decided to approach Enzo about the problem. But Ferrari, whose distaste for his customers was already legendary, rudely dismissed him.

Lamborghini was not used to being summarily brushed off. After all, he had started out poor and had become a successful, wealthy industrialist, who just coincidentally built a product that also had an engine, clutch and drive-train.

Driven by anger, he decided to modify his own 1958 Ferrari 250GT into the vehicle that he wanted, but felt Ferrari could not or would not build. The modifications worked so well that it gave Lamborghini the idea that he should start building his own high-performance Grand Touring car.

Lamborghini Aventador SV Roadster
Lamborghini Aventador SV Roadster (Majorette)

A long time ago, when I was 14, I cycled with a friend to Henley on Thames, about 15 miles from Slough, where I was living at the time. There was a car concessionaires that dealt in Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini. The sales staff were friendly, out the back they had a Lamborghini Countach they were fixing for some Arab Sheikh. They let us sit in it, it was so low, it was almost as though we were sitting on the floor.

Countach! An Italian exclamation of astonishment! The hottest supercar of the 1980s.  Designed, like the Miura it replaced, by Marcello Gandini. In the eighties posters of the Countach would adorn the walls of any teen petrolhead. Jay Leno used one as an everyday vehicle in the eighties. It produced a whopping 455 hp, the first American production car to top 400hp was the Dodge Viper introduced in 1992.

Lamborghini Countach x 7
Lamborghini Countach x 7

Not surprisingly many diecast companies have produced the iconic design in miniature. The first Lamborghini supercar was the Lamborghini Miura a car, it a legendary car, it showed Lamborghini truly had arrived to the supercar table. They could compete with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche. There is a tremendous frisson of nostalgia for me with this model. I remember having the Matchbox model as a child and I also remember watching the Italian Job, which has a Lamborghini Miura crash in the classic opening scene. I now have a dozen miniature Miuras.

Lamborghini Miura x 12
Lamborghini Miura x 12

Lamborghini Miura Matchbox
Matchbox Miuras made in England, Thailand and Bulgaria

I have never seen a real Miura, let alone sat in one. Another Lamborghini with that frisson of nostalgia is the Lamborghini Marzal, this was one of the first Matchbox cars with Superfast wheels. Many Matchbox castings in 1969 were adapted from regular wheels to the new Superfast wheels, but the Lamborghini Marzal was introduced with Superfast Wheels from the beginning and it was the car in the artwork of the first Superfast track set.

sf1 lamborghini marzal
SF-1 Superfast Speed Set with Marzal on the artwork

The Lamborghini Marzal was a prototype concept car presented by Lamborghini at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show. The Marzal remained a one-off, though the general shape and many of the ideas would go on to be used in the Espada. The Marzal design probably found wider recognition as a die-cast model, with both Dinky and Matchbox making scale models.

Lamborghini Marzal x 6
Lamborghini Marzal x 5 (all Matchbox except the yellow model which is Zylmex)

This model got a new lease of life as part of the Matchbox  Super GT budget range in the 1980s where the cars have the interior left out, black glass and any opening details removed, the Marzal Super GT also lost it’s lower door windows.

As my collection gets larger, maybe too large, I sometimes think about cutting back and maybe concentrating just on a few themes, one of which would be Lamborghini, I have around 50 Lamborghini models, only Ford (117), Chevrolet (99) and Porsche (69) are more numerous in my collection. The photo below shows 45 of my models, those I was able to find easily without going meticulously through every shelf, box and drawer holding my collection.

Lamborghini x 45
45 of my Lamborghinis

I am still on the lookout for other Lamborghinis to add to my collection, I would particularly like to find a Siku Lamborghini Espada, I also find it hard to resist any Miura.

Lamborghini Miura

Lamborghini Miura x 11
Lamborghini Miura x 11

The Lamborghini Miura is an iconic car, it showed Lamborghini truly had arrived to the supercar table. They could compete with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche. There is a tremendous frisson of nostalgia for me with this model. I remember having the Matchbox model as a child and I also remember watching the Italian Job, which has a Lamborghini Miura crash in the classic opening scene.

Lamborghini Miura Outside
Lamborghini Miura (Matchbox)

Thanks to my Dutch friend I have a Matchbox model from the early seventies, I also have two other Matchbox models one Made in Bulgaria and the other in Thailand.

Lamborghini Miura Matchbox
Matchbox Miuras made in England, Thailand and Bulgaria

When I play Gran Turismo 6 (on Sony Playstation 3), one of my favourite cars to “drive” is a Miura which I have in gold to match the Matchbox model.

Gran Turismo 6
Lamborghini Miura (Gran Turismo 6)

Kinsmart have a Miura in 1/34 scale available in 4 colours, the only one I am missing is red, I have green, yellow and orange.

5390D-KIN-1971-Lamborghini-Miura-P400-134-1
Lamborghini Miura P400 (Kinsmart) Picture: Toy Wonders

The Bertone design was influenced by the Ford GT40, but the Lamborghini was intended as a fast road car and not a race car.