Marcus Nicholls examines some esoteric models from Diecasm’s Automodello line
Most of us love the famous and successful marques, but a significant contingent appreciate more unusual vehicles. For a model manufacturer, pursuing this path can be risky as sales will inevitably be smaller. But then it’s unlikely other makers will offer the same subjects, so a solid reputation can be built by providing ‘must-have’ rarities for the discerning collector.
This was in the mind of Jim Cowen when he launched ‘Automodello’ in 2009 to offer scale models of overlooked marques, and the team has created some extraordinary high-end miniatures.
Automodello’s first model was the 1:43-scale 1964 TVR Griffith 200, hand-signed by Jack Griffith. In 2011 Automodello released the 1938 Phantom Corsair in 1:24, the first example in that scale. If you’re looking for a satin-yellow 1954 Kaiser Darrin 161 Cabriolet in 1:24, Automodello has it. How about a 1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport in the same scale? Yours for the sum of $365.95 (about £280), a remarkably good price for a hand-built, high-grade replica with flawless paint, sparkling chromework and a fully detailed interior. Most modellers would struggle to compete with this if commissioned to build something similar from a kit, even if such a kit existed.
Automodello also offers some fabulous hardware in 1:43, the ‘traditional’ scale for model car collectors, including a brace of Boundary Layer Adhesion Technology Gurney Eagle Challengers from the 1981 Indycar season. But new to Automodello’s burgeoning product line is something really special. Due for release in summer 2018 is the Eagle Gurney-Weslake V12 Formula 1 car in which Dan Gurney won the 1967 Belgian GP at Spa, the only post-war US driver to win an F1 Grand Prix in an American car.
Not only is this a wonderful subject, but the model is in 1:12 scale, allowing it to incorporate significantly more detail.
An edition of 150 will be signed by Dan Gurney, while a ‘Pure Edition’ (below) will come without decals or signature, for collectors who want to apply different decals or just display the car without the distraction of markings. Both are priced at $1499.95 and include a display case.
All Automodello models are hand-built, not just hand-assembled as with more mass-produced lines, which means there is always a human element involved in each build. Thus each model may have its own unique character, though all share the staggering quality and accuracy displayed across the range of the company’s model cars.
Parent company Diecasm also sells complementary brands including BBR 1:43, Ignition, Kyosho and Minichamps. International markets are served by Automodello/Diecasm directly (especially for 1:24), plus a few select dealers such as Kyosho Japan and GP Legends UK for 1:43 and Lotus 1:12.