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Across the pond, the 'station wagon' does not exist. The estate car is alive and well however and a few old world marques like Aston Martin still call their extended sedans a shooting brake. This wonderfully Victorian name hearkens back to the wagons used to convey the guests off to pot a few pheasant. Germans cal their wagons a caravan.

While the U.S. auto market has forsaken the wagon for the SUV, Europeans find the estate car to be far more practical and useful. Can you imagine owning an SUV in Europe at 10 mpg with fuel at $4 per gallon, not to mention trying to park the thing. European car makers are still selling estate cars and toy car makers like Siku and Majorette are happy to offer fine new examples.

Mercedes-Benz 300TE - Majorette #250

Mercedes-Benz 300TD - Hot Wheels (Corgi)

Mercedes-Benz E290T - Siku #1088

Siku 1963 VW 1200 Beetle

Siku 1963 VW 1200 Beetle


The less-than Fairlady: Nissan's 280ZX

by TalesofToyCars

by Brian Willoughby

For almost ten years, Nissan's original Z car had dominated the American sports car scene, becoming, along the way, the biggest selling sports car ever made by anyone, anywhere. It was little wonder why: it was a first-rate performer that looked great and was reasonably priced and to top it all off it was also both well made and reliable. Yet, after almost a decade, the basic chassis had been developed almost as far as it could go and with a multitude of safety and exhaust emission regulations handed down by the American government each year, it no longer, even with larger engines, held the edge it once did. Obviously, Nissan would have to replace the car with something new (and it was hoped better) to stay ahead of the game. The legend's successor arrived in 1978: named the 280ZX, it would prove to be more of an evolutionary step than a direct replacement for the beloved Z.

The concept behind and the execution of the new ZX was decidedly different from that of the original Z-car platform. Nissan knew that the market had changed dramatically since the 240Z was introduced (after all, the original Z was the car responsible for all the change) and that the competition was readily catching up to its then current 260 and 280 models. Furthermore, as the base price of the Z car increased, the average age of its buyers did likewise; obviously, this logically meant that the pure, uncompromised sports car approach was probably a bit off target for customers who were now married and had children. In the end, Nissan boldly moved the Z's replacement away from its past and into a future that would center around the new ZX being a luxurious gran turismo.

Hot Wheels produces this 1967 Corvette (a 1997 casting) for collectors. The scale is 1:64 and the Collector Edition cars sell for $7.99.

The paint and graphics on this Hot Wheel are excellent. Badges and 'Corvette' script are sharp. Even the interior is detailed. Chromed bumpers and exhaust tips add a nice touch.

Siku's New Releases for 2000

by TalesofToyCars

By Remco Natrop

Siku's first catalogs have finally been released presenting their new models for 2000/2001. This year, in the regular four waves, they will release the following new models! (club = club serie 75mm models, supr = super serie 1:55, farm = farmer serie1:32)

Wave 1 - 1st Quarter 2000
(club) 1680 KFOR Unimog U1500 with boat, army green
(club) 1681 KFOR Scania lowloader with helicopter, army green
(club) 1682 KFOR Front Loader and Bulldozer, army green
(supr) 2019 Mercedes Sprinter wide load escort van, white
(farm) 2563 Magna crop sprayer, yellow
(farm) 2965 Fendt Favorit 716 Vario, green

Wave 2 - 2nd Quarter 2000
(club) 0853 ADAC Helicopter
(supr) 0854 Porsche 911 Cabrio, red
(supr) 1033 Audi TT Roadster, silvergrey
(supr) 1035 Mercedes Benz S 500, silvergrey
(supr) 1037 VW Polo, green
(supr) 1040 Ford Galaxy, red
(supr) 1360 VW Sharan Taxi, bright bone white
(supr) 1361 VW New Beetle police, white/green
(supr) 1362 Mercedes E 230 police, white/green
(supr) 1363 Mercedes E 290 T Taxi, bright bone white
(supr) 1364 Mercedes E 290 T fire command car, red
(supr) 1365 Ford Galaxy police van, white/green
(supr) 1366 Mercedes A 160 driving school, ultramarine blue
(supr) 1367 Mini pizza taxi, white/green/red
(supr) 1368 VW Sharan rescue van, white/red
(supr) 1414 Mercedes ML 320 emergency doctor, white/red
(supr) 1415 Mercedes ML 320 fire command car, red/white
(supr) 1416 Porsche 911 motorway patrol car, white/green
(club) 1620 Mercedes Actros low loader wih combine harvester, red
(club) 1621 Tractor with plough, green
(club) 1622 Mercedes Actros lorry with trailer, kad. yellow
(supr) 2020 Mercedes Sprinter rescue van, red/yellow
(farm) 2966 Three-axled tipping trailer, red

In 1970, Tomy began producing small-scale diecast cars. It was in this same period that Japanese automakers first gained international attention with a selection of sport/GT cars. The big four, Nissan. Toyota, Mazda and Honda each offered cars that enthusiasts then and now, consider quite special. Of course these same manufacturers also offer current sport/GT models that are just as special. Tomica of Japan has done all these cars and I hope you enjoy the comparison.

Last month I featured the Honda 'then and now' pair from Tomica. They are included again to make a complete set. In addition, the Nissan, Toyota and Mazda pairs are presented. This was made possible through the acquisition of the Mazda Cosmo you see below. The Cosmo has been on my 'most wanted' list for a long time and now, the four sets are complete.

Mazda Cosmo and RX7
The Mazda Cosmo of 1970 was the first rotary-engined sport/GT. Tomica is the only one to ever produce a 1:64 scale version. The Cosmo looks a bit like an early Lamborghini and is highly collectible in any scale. The RX7 of 1998 is not offered in the U.S. but remains popular in Japan. Only Tomica and Matchbox have done this car. Still rotary powered, it is very impressive.