More Weird Diecast Cars To Clog Up My Desk: Malaise Detroit, Warsaw Pact

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Old Guy Old Guy on May 19, 2011

    That Tatra model is beautiful. More pics sometime?

  • Torgen Torgen on May 20, 2011

    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.

  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.
  • Bd2 Too bad gm didn't make the C8 better looking to begin with...
  • GregLocock Not interested at all. Apparently I've got Apple car play but I've never used it in 3 years. The built in nav is ok.
  • Corey Lewis Probably worth about what they're asking, given its condition. The color combo isn't a desirable one, they look sharper in non-beige shades. Like two-tone green, maroon, navy, or gray. The end of the time when MB built its cars properly. No shame in turning up in a clean W126, they'll always command respect.