Model Cars Posts

Diving Deep Into Corvette Mako Shark Models

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy this fish story about the Corvette Mako Shark concept diecast model.


Motormax Chevrolet C2 Mako Shark

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

If you hear the name “Corvette,” what undersea creature immediately jumps to mind? Stingray, right? That name has been used on and off for over half a century on versions of the American sports car legend. The name first showed up on a 1959 race car, the “XP87 Stingray.” Like many one-off racers, it featured futuristic styling, but no one considered that was a clue to an upcoming production car.

But this is a story of another creature, the Mako Shark. In 1961, Chevrolet was considering designs to replace the original generation of Corvette. Many of the sharp, angular lines from the XP87 were carried forward for a new concept called the XP-755, a/k/a, the Mako Shark.

Motormax Chevy Corvette Mako SharkBill Mitchell, the new chief stylist at GM, had a thing for sharks, indicated by the giant stuffed Mako mounted on his office wall. Inspiration for the new car was not limited to the name… the front of the car featured a sharply pointed nose with a severe overbite. The sides had exposed exhaust pipes resembling gills. And the profile of the wraparound windshield could be interpreted as a dorsal fin. Furthering the look, dark blue body paint faded into a silvery white belly. It’s surprising there was no attempt to make tail fins to complete the effect. Equal parts ridiculous and awesome, the basic shape of the Mako Shark predicted the C2 ’Vette, produced from 1963-67.

Motormax Chevrolet Mako SharkRelatively few scale models exist of the first Shark. Motormax made an inexpensive 1/18 version in the mid ’90s. The car comes with the clear double bubble removable top, thoughtfully held in place by the visors to minimize extra tabs and slots. Through that top, you can see the spartan interior, with deepset, but readable gauges.

Motormax Corvette Mako SharkUnder the forward-flipping hood, the most notable detail is the eight exhaust pipes that travel independently out through the fender vents, connecting at the front of the rocker panels. The trunk opens too, revealing minimal detail, accurate for a running, but not entirely functional, concept car. The hood on the real concept was altered at some point to add even more gills to the design. This and most other models show the later version.

Motormax Chevrolet Mako SharkThe exterior captures the “sharkiness” of the concept with a few flaws that might drive a purist nuts. The splash panels under the nose and tail don’t fit very well, but you won’t see that very often. What does stand out is that crazy fading paint job. The original stylists spent quite a bit of time getting the blue and white tones just right. (According to some tales, Mitchell was never convinced that the hues matched his prized trophy fish, so the stylists stole it from his wall one weekend and painted it to match the car.) The transition from one color to the other should fade at an even height from front to back, but on the Motormax model, it looks like the doors were painted separately, and the fade line is significantly higher than on the surrounding door panels. You could try to repaint it, but you’d lose the emblems and other details on the rest of the car. Best solution? Display it with the doors open, and the line isn’t as obvious. Later, more expensive models, such as the one from AUTOart and UT Models do a better job with these details.

Motormax Chevrolet Corvette Mako SharkBy 1965, only three years into the C2’s production, Chevy started working on the Mako Shark II, which sent a strong, accurate signal as the design direction of the next generation of Corvette. We’ll dive into that fish tale sometime in the near future.

Motormax Chevrolet Mako Shark

Diecast Collector bkalland Enjoys Success On hobbyDB and scOOmer

Like many diecast collectors, Charles “Bud” Kalland started collecting a few favorites, mostly Ford high-performance models, and the hobby quickly mushroomed into an obsession. Also like many collectors, trading and selling a few extras became something of a business. And then it became his main business.

“My collecting over the years became a habit by holding on to items from trinket toys to classic cars,” he explained. “As my two sons grew up, there were toys that were cherished and played with and occasionally set aside for the future. At first it was trains. Then it was model diecast metal car kits of fantastic ‘Classic’ cars.”

He still has still have several Hubley kits from the late 1940s. When his sons wanted toy cars to play with in the 1960s, he bought them Hot Wheels cars because they wanted fast cars. “I still have some of those early redlines,” he said. “Serious diecast car collecting started in the ‘80s when his youngest son suggested he should start looking for special cars as he traveled the country on business.

As his collection grew, he started selling out of necessity to thin out his stash. “If I wanted to continue the hunt for special cars, I needed to sell something to make space for new ones. I’ve also changed the scale of my wants. If I want the highly detailed 1/18 scale casting, I better sell at least 10 1/64 scale cars. Yes, scale really matters.”

bud kalland

When he retired from his job, selling diecast became his new career. “I’m an early riser due to my ranching experience as a child,” Bud said. “If hunting brick and mortar stores in the early mornings is work, then that is my career now.”

He was impressed not only as a seller, but also as a collector. “Of all the internet sites I’m acquainted with, hobbyDB suits my interest best,” he said. “Facebook and social websites are a mess for accuracy, manufacturers are nice but it’s only about their brands. For me the internet isn’t just about entertainment, its mostly about accurate information.”

hot wheels store

Bud has found success selling on scOOmer as well as in his store on hobbyDB.

As for collecting, he is first and foremost a Ford guy. “It has to be Ford related. I would guess that a GT 40 or Shelby Daytona could be considered my favorite models.” He’s willing to look at other marques of course, if the model appeals to him, of course. “I have many Hot Wheels from conventions that are signed by designers, but most importantly by Larry Wood.” His favorite signed item is a Classic series Hot Wheels Firebird Funny car from the only Hot Wheels’ Regional convention ever held in San Antonio.

Bud collects other brands of diecast as besides Hot Wheels. Among the most prized items in his collection are “a pair of M2 Shelby prototypes that were sent me by Sean Taylor with a personal letter of explanation.”

bud kalland

And yes, he enjoys 1/1 scale cars as well. “I’ve owned Shelby cars, Excaliburs, Jaguars and even a Peugeot,” he said. “Over the last 10 years I’ve been enjoying cruising in my highly customized Mustang GT. It was a show car for a few years. Then came a Shelby shop suspension and transmission overhaul… then leaded custom body work, then custom flamed paint job… I’ve  often said, ‘this car talks to me.’”

Next time you’re cruising scOOmer or hobbyDB, stop by his store and say hello!

Ben van Roode, Dutch Diecast Expert, Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Ben van Roode

The vast collection of knowledge available on hobbyDB keeps growing with yet another diecast vehicle expert. Ben van Roode, best known as an author of articles and books about model cars, has joined the Advisory Council.

“I played as a boy of course with cars,” said Ben, who lives in The Netherlands. “Then in my teens model cars disappeared into the background because other interests took over.” The lapse wasn’t for long, however, as he got his first job at the age of 16 and began collecting Dinky toys along with other brands of model cars. “There was one slight problem. Sales girls did not ask whether it was a present, but supposed right away that the guy of 18 or so was not the one that would receive the gift,” he laughed. “So they wrapped it up in nice gift paper that I removed as fast as I could.

“Dutch society is more individual than ever today, though, and people do not judge about the hobbies you have.”

In his twenties, he joined the biggest society of Dutch diecast collectors. “Rather soon, I was asked to become a member of the board,” he said. “I started a club magazine and was responsible for the contents. In the meantime the number of members rose to around 5500. We celebrated the 25th jubilee in 1990.”

For the jubilee, the club organized a large exhibition of models in 80 glass showcases that was on public display for six weeks. The event was sponsored by BMW and opened by a member of the Royal family, it was a big deal.

MAR Model Auto Review

Big Boys don't play with Dinky ToysAs an adult, Ben has written about model cars in Dutch and English. I wrote among others for a Dutch classic car magazine. I wrote for MAR (Model Auto Review), and so on. In 2004 he wrote a book called “Big Boys Do Not Play With Dinky Toys,” a celebration of 40 years NAMAC (Netherlands Association of Model Auto Collectors) in a print run of 8500 copies. “American cars in all scales were a main theme for me,” he said about his collection, “but the club included models of cars from anywhere.” Despite leaving his functions in the club, he was made a honorary member for life.

Despite many collector clubs losing membership in recent years, the NAMAC continues to thrive, with over 5000 members. “Every two months there is a large model car fair in the center of the country. With over 500 tables and around 6000 visitors, it’s the largest fair in Europe that’s organized this frequently.” Collectors and traders from Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, the U.K., and further away attend the meetings.

NAMAC meeting

The mulit-annual NAMAC diecast shows are among the largest collector events in Europe.

Having recently moved to a smaller apartment, he decided to sell a large part of his collection (large in number and scale). “I now collect mainly 1/64 scale,” he said. “I love Johnny Lightning and to a certain extent also Matchbox and Hot Wheels. I was positively surprised when JL and Auto World returned with their new lines in 1/64.”

Ben’s interests extend beyond model cars, of course. “In art, I especially love the photorealism but am open to all painters, including the modern ones too. Architecture is another thing that interests me,” he said.

He creates his own art as well. “I draw a little myself, but it is not very good. I love collecting drawn art of cars that are drawn, like the Pontiac ads in the sixties and many other car art people, Ken Eberts, William Motta… the list is endless..” he said. “I made a little book of ads from American cars from American magazines.” As an appropriate soundtrack for enjoying Detroit steel, his Spotify account is populated with Motown and Pennsylvania soul music.

At 70 years old, he is nowhere near slowing down For one thing, he writes for Modelauto Krant, an online diecast blog. He volunteers as a member of the board for some charity organizations and still does personal writing. “I need my diary every day. You have to stay active in your life.”

It’s a joy to know someone who enjoys his hobbies so much. Welcome aboard, Ben!

The Most Expensive Cars Ever are More Affordable in Miniature

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We recently stumbled onto a list of the most expensive cars ever sold at auction, all of which you’ll likely have to valet, name, and put to bed with a few bedtime stories. If you don’t have a few million to spare on one of these beauties but still want to swoon, there are affordable models you can find on hobbyDB of just about every car on the list.

1937 Mercedes 540K Roadster – Sold for £3,900,000 ($4,818,800)

western models 1937 Mercedes 540KOnce owned by Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula 1 Racing, this car was one of only 26 ever built. There are several options to choose from including a 1/43 white metal version from Western Models, which usually sells around $100-125.

1904 Rolls-Royce 10hp – £4,000,000 ($4,942,359)

airfix rolls royce 1905This was the first car ever built by Rolls and Royce together, with a 1.8 liter engine cranking out a whopping 10 hp. (A modern Mini Cooper has an engine about that size and puts out over 10 times that power.) We haven’t found any models of this exact car, but there is a four seat version of the 1905 car that doubled the horses to 20. Airfix made a 1/32 scale model kit of it, available in different packaging for about 30 years.

1929 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK – £4,700,000 ($5,807,272)

bburago Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSKThe SSK is one of sleekest cars of its age, longer and lower than many other roadsters from the time. With very few mods (mostly involving removing unnecessary annoyances like running boards), it was an outstanding race car. While there are several models available, probably the best-known one comes from Bburago in 1/18 scale. There’s even a Mickey Mouse version…

1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM – £4,800,000 ($5,930,831)

looksmart 1962 Ferrari 330The one shown here was driven to victory at LeMans in 1962 by Phil Hill. So yeah, there’s a premium to be paid for pedigree. There are fewer models of this car than you might expect. This one is from Looksmart in 1/18 scale.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB – £6,900,000 ($7,289,980)

Polostil Ferrari 250 GT SWBNothing noteworthy about this particular car aside from the fact that it’s rare and beautiful and fast and once owned by actor James Coburn. There are several models of these available including a nice 1/18 offering from Polistil, who are usually known for their smaller scale cars.

1931 Bugatti Royale Berline – £7,900,000 ($9,761,160)

RIO Bugatti Royale BerlineLong before Bugatti became an ostentatious modern supercar, the name was bestowed on ostentatious luxury coupes. sedans and Phaetons. This particular one was owned by the Bugatti family, so again… pedigree has a price. There have been numerous models other Bugattis, but not many of this style. This similar fixed roof model from Rio is about as close as you can get to the real thing, and at $13.99 it’s a bargain even in 1/43 scale. (Or, if you like a project, you can acquire this one for less and restore it.)

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – £8,000,000 ($9,884,719)

bburago Ferrari 250 Testa RossaUnderneath that sleek, dripping coachwork is a V12 that is often described as the best-sounding Ferrari ever. Bburago brings you several smaller, quieter versions in 1/18 scale.

1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe – £9,200,000 ($11,367,427)

rio Bugatti Royale Kellner CoupeLong, low, and sinister looking, and powered by a 12.7-litre aircraft engine, the Kellner was too expensive for a car launched during the Great Depression. As it turns out, it would have been quite an investment if you could have held on for another 75 years or so. There have been models of similar vintage Bugattis including this 1/43 droptop from Rio.

1963 Ferrari 250 GTO – £12,000,000 ($14,827,079)

pink kar Ferrari 250 GTOOne of the most iconic and recognizable Ferraris ever, there were only 36 of these ever built. But there are lots of models, thank goodness. So how ’bout a version you can actually drive? This slot car from Pink-Kar clocks in at 1:32 scale.

1936 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic – £27,000,000 – $33,360,928

brumm revival Bugatti AtlanticThis is the Bugatti that everyone recognizes from their early days… a low, swoop Art Deco sculpture on wheels. Only three were ever made, so they tend to be expensive. There have been far more models of it, of course, in several scales. Here’s one from Brumm Revival for around $45, which scaled down, is pocket change by comparison.

Do you know of any other record-smashing auction cars that we also have in our database? Or other versions of these models that are even closer to the real ones? Let us know in the comments!

Laudoracing Models Sets Up Shop at hobbyDB

laudoracing panda rallyWhen you first discover Laudoracing-Models, you’re likely to assume the company is from Italy. After all, most of their models are based on Alfa RomeosFiats and other Italian marques, and even their name sounds Italian. Non, monsieur, they are a French company. Either way, we’re proud to announce that Laudoracing has set up a store on hobbyDB and has also added their complete, Official Archive to our database. Since the information comes straight from the source, you know it’ll be accurate and complete.

laudoracing interior

Laudoracing offers a wide range of resin cast 1:18 models, with beautiful finishes and incredibly detailed interiors. Quite a bit of the detail is hand painted, but with such accuracy that it’s hard to spot. On top of that, they then add crisply printed decals for things such as badges and gauges. One point of pride for the company is that they try to make cars that have never been offered in that scale.

laudoracing seat

laudoracing alfa 75In some cases, it might be just a particular, rare version of a real car that is similar to, yet so much rarer or desirable than a more common car in the real world. Many of their models are available decked out for racing with additional equipment mods and special livery. Often you can even tell what specific race the car appeared in based on sponsor decals and other subtle clues. A few of the rally cars are even available spattered in mud like this Fiat Uno. Not everything they do is based on Italian marques, of course… Take this SEAT 850 Especial (although it’s basically a Fiat built for Spain.)

Laudoracing works closely with the original manufacturers, using their photos and original design drawings to generate 3-D computer renderings of the cars. From there, everything is painted and assembled by hand. Or, if you prefer, they also offer a series of resin kits in scales ranging from 1/24 to 1/18, such as this Alfa 75 model.

spare parts

Some spare parts are available separately, such as weather stripping and window trim for certain cars, which is an incredible labor of love. There’s also a series of aftermarket wheel and tire sets that could be used to modify cars from other model companies.

laudoracing abart 1400Production of their is very limited, usually no more than 500 pieces, sometimes as low as 50 copies. Considering the amount of hand assembly and detailing, it would be impossible to make more than that in some cases. Laudoracing likes to listen to customers for suggestions, and will even consider making a model of your own car if it fits their mix.

laudoracing turbodelta