Over the past few years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy our comparison of two Chevelle-based cars from 1965.
The 1964 Chevelle was a pleasant and sporty mid-sized car, but fell just a bit short of being an exciting ride. Chevrolet quickly fixed that for ’65 with a more aggressive front end and some beefier engine options. For some reason, scale models of both years have been scarce compared to other years.
It only took about 40 years until Lane Exact Detail Replicas came out with a ’65 El Camino … No one had offered a model of this year Chevelle, Malibu or El Camino before, and Lane offered versions of all of them. They retailed for over $100, a price that brought not only amazing detail, but limited availability of only 1500 copies.
Around the same time, American Muscle released a 1/18 scale Malibu SS model from their Authentics line. This car retailed for around $65, for which the buyer also got some incredible detail.
The exteriors of both cars show excellent fit and finish, including different levels of shine on the grill as needed. Details like the headlights, marker lamps, and door handles are separate bits, carefully installed for extra realism. The El Camino features separately molded chrome trim on the sides and around the bed and windows. Each car also features a radio antenna that can be raised or lowered. As nice as these look so far, you really have to open them up to appreciate the quality of these models. By the way, the doors a realistically hinged, and the Malibu even has a tiny sprung button that holds them shut.
The interior of the El Camino is astonishing. The vinyl seats have a realistic sheen and feature separate seatbelts with detailed buckles. The passenger seat flips forward to reveal the spare tire. Every texture from the metal dash to the roof liner (a detail found on both cars) is well done. You can even see the texture and logos on the “Body by Fisher” kick plates. American Muscle’s interior is also of much higher quality than their regular, particularly the simulated wood steering wheel, flocked carpets, and readable gauges.
The Elco’s engine detail is full of surprises, with some very finely detailed and fragile parts throughout. The radiator cap, which is multicolored, has a small hose running back to the plastic reservoir, which is painted to look like it’s half full of fluid. There’s even a plate where the hood pin latches to the body. Best bit of all might be the tiny replica of the glass GM washer fluid bottle, complete with labels.
The Malibu isn’t too far behind under the hood, with far more separately molded and colored components than you usually find in a model. One detail that really stands out when the hood is up is the photo etched metal grill insert, which lends an incredibly deep bit of detail to the front end. Another thing you might not have noticed: The hood hinges work like the real car, complete with springs.
Speaking of hinges, the hood hinges on the El Camino are the type you usually find on a 1/18 scale model, but the tailgate is another matter. When you lower the gate, there are very thin folding metal straps that drop into place like a real pickup. The Malibu counters that with a trunk complete with houndstooth floormat, spare tire and printed jack instructions.
Underneath, both cars show some innovative detail. The El Camino has quite a few separately colored components instead of the usual single-piece chassis molded in black. The Malibu has some great working features including separately sprung suspension on each wheel and a driveshaft that turns when rolled. Both cars were pioneers in packaging that didn’t require ugly mounting tabs and screw holes, so they deserve a lot of credit here.
The attention to detail makes it hard to choose one of these ’65 Chevies over the other. Maybe get the Malibu for the lower price and grab the Elco because you can’t get one elsewhere. Then marvel at both.