Like many smaller automobile manufacturers, Lotus is is not well represented
in 1:64 scale. Only four of the many Lotus models have been done over the
years. Fortunatly, some of these small-scale models come from the better
diecast producers and provide the Lotus collector with very nice examples
of this famous British marque.
The wonderful Lotus Super 7 starts our review. It was done by Matchbox and
comes in several colors, orange being the most common. The real car is still
in production under the Caterham name after 42 years. The Lotus Europa of
the late 1960's was also done by Matchbox, as well as Impy Lone Star and
Tomica. The blue Matchbox was a childhood favorite and the Tomica is charming
in green with a yellow Lotus stripe. A lesser-known Lotus model, the second-generation
Elite was done by Tomica and Playart
The evergreen Lotus Esprit, now in it's 27th year f production
is the most common model in 1:64. Seven manufacturers have done stock models
including; Hot Wheels, Playart, Tomica, Speed Wheels, Johnny Lightning,
Summer and Corgi. Well, the Corgi is not really stock unless your name is
Bond, James Bond. Corgi did the Esprit submarine that featured in one of
the Bond movies. Johnny Lightning did the pre-submersed model in white and
offered a red Turbo Esprit as well. The black Esprit from Tomica is in Lotus
racing colors and says 'world champion' on the door, celebrating the F1
championship for Lotus in the late '70's. The red Esprit of generic origins
is interesting for it's unique wheels. Can anyone provide better identification?
The most modern Esprit is also the crudest. This silver Summer model offers
an Esprit of the 1990's. To bad no other modern Esprit models have been
done in this scale.
With the edition of the newest Hot Wheel Ford GT40 from 1967, a beautiful matched set of cars can be assembeled. The 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 by Hot Wheels looks just right next to the 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350 from Johnny Lightning. Add the 1967 GT40 and it makes a wonderful trio. These three cars represent America's most successful international racing efforts of the 1960's. Anyone for a little vintage racing on the orange track?
Those of you who know me are likely doing a double-take at the topic of this story. It's true, as a rule I do not collect or write about commercial vehicles or trucks. Ambulances are certainly commercial in nature but up until the 1980's most were simply modified station wagons with lights on top. The modern delivery truck styled ambulance holds little interest for me but the older models often represent the only examples of particular makes and models.
The 1:64 scale models represented here are by no means a complete review of all the small-scale ambulances. The represent a selection of Cadillac, Citroen, Mercedes-Benz and yes, even a Studebaker that have both style and charm. This is why they were added to my collection. While I had not intended doing an article on ambulances, my recent article on station wagons seemed incomplete without a look at these wagons in white.
Interviewed by Doug Breithaupt
TofTC: "Tom, thank you for your willingness to share some e-time with readers of 'Tales of Toy Cars'."
TofTC: "With Johnny Lightning's diecast cars and trucks, Playing Mantis has has set new industry benchmarks for product quality and value. To date, the models represented by Johnny Lightning have focused primarily on American vehicles. With the James Bond series cars and models like the Nissan 280ZX or Aston Martin Lagonda, cars from outside the US are joining your line. Will this trend continue in the near future?"
Lowe: "Johnny Lightning has focused primarily on American-made cars and our commitment to these cars will continue. At the same time, we are doing more European and Japanese cars, with the James Bond series in particular. In future we plan to move deeper and deeper into Japanese and European cars."
TofTC: "Do you plan to offer Johnny Lightning products in new international markets?"
Lowe: "We are currently in the UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany and France, although it may not be easy to find our cars in all these countries as distribution can be difficult. With the Bond and new Austin Powers cars we are anticipating additional growth in these markets. We are also working with Corgi in the UK to market the Bond cars under the Corgi label. They are licensed to sell our castings. We may look at other joint ventures of this nature."
While Americans refuse to embrace saloon car racing, the rest of the world enjoys the idea of racing sedans on road courses. In the U.S. we clearly prefer our NASCAR style sedan racing.
As regular readers know, I cannot resist interesting pairings of toy cars. These two make a great matched set.