By on May 19, 2011

Once the word gets out that a 24 Hours of LeMons judge has a thing for oddball toy cars, racers will scour the earth to find increasingly obscure and/or terrible examples. What goes with a Leyland P76 and a Nissan Prairie?

Well, a 1:24 scale ’74 Gremlin, for starters. The employees of the Chinese factory making these things must be wondering what the hell kind of crazy country not only builds a car like this but feels nostalgic enough about it to buy toy versions. To go with it, I have this lovely red Pinto.

Completing the Terrible Malaise Era Compact Cars set is this Chevy Vega, in the bilious metallic green color that GM sprayed damn near all these things. All three cars came to me courtesy of the Team-ing With Bad Ideas turbocharged Beetle team, which managed to get an amazing 207 laps out of their VW at last weekend’s race.

This 1:43 scale ZAZ-968 came to me courtesy of the Communists-Я-Us BMW 320i team. I’m a huge fan of the Soviet Corvair, so this car gets a prime parking spot on my desk.

The Moskvitch 408 rally car will park right next to the Zaphorozhets.

As an A100 owner, I’ve always got room for another diecast Dodge van. Supposedly there’s a large-scale A100 piggy bank out there…

Here’s a toy car that doesn’t require a sense of irony or love of Warsaw Pact machinery to appreciate: a 1936 Tatra 77, straight from a toy store in Prague.

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6 Comments on “More Weird Diecast Cars To Clog Up My Desk: Malaise Detroit, Warsaw Pact...”

  • avatar

    I have all three of the US compacts. Same set, same colors. Also a Volga from the same source in 1/24.

    The company also offered a 74 Comet and 78 LeBaron wagon with the wood sides. I think the place was called National Motor Mint or something.

    I also have a very well-detailed 1960 Falcon Tudor from the Franklin Mint in about the same size.

    Love the Russian offerings. Feel the envy,Murilee.

  • avatar

    I enjoy all of your writing on the LeMons races and the side stuff like this but I would like to see a bit more detail on stuff like the worst offenders at tech that the entrants that got the most BS laps did to earn them and more on the black flag events you pass out.

  • avatar

    That ’74 Gremlin is incredible. The slightly askew bumper, the huge panel gaps – it’s just like the real thing! The roof rack was a real-world rarity in ’74. To be really authentic, it should have rust around the bolts holding it to the roof. That’s what my cousin got, less than a year after he bought his Gremlin.

  • avatar

    “what…kind of crazy country not only builds a car like this but feels nostalgic enough about it to buy toy versions.”

    You have to have owned a Gremlin to appreciate them. I had a 1976 model and my wife and I loved it and got a kick out of driving it and AMC sold lots of them. If you weren’t around or too young back in those days, you have no understanding of what was going on in America and the world.

    All the OEM’s were trying to downsize and economize in every way they could – some efforts were successful, others not so much, but for all those efforts, the U.S. still had the nicest-looking cars in the world. So there!

    As for the comment about the model versus the real thing, I have a beautiful turquoise 1/24 scale 1957 Chevy Bel-Air convertible displayed under glass in my home office that is very accurate – right down to the slightly forward-sagging front bumper!

  • avatar

    That Tatra model is beautiful. More pics sometime?

  • avatar

    Are any of those HO scale? Because that’s just the right size for Das Motorsportspiel, and it would be super sweet to race the Moskvitch et al against the A4 and 911 models the game came with.

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