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Diecast Delights: A Volkswagen Golf MKI Convertible in 1:18 Scale

Chris Haining December 7, 2015 Cars You Should Know, Diecast Delights 10 Comments

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With the grey days growing ever more bloody miserable, the nights drawing in, and a distinct chill in the air, what better moment than to start looking at models of cars without roofs. So put on your thermals, your scarves and your insulated gloves and we’ll head out onto the 1:18 highway in a diddy drop-top.

Over the last couple of weeks Diecast Delights has been a bit of a Maisto love-in so, because a change does you good, this week we’re looking at an early release by Sunstar. The VW Golf GLi Convertible.

Remember exactly where I bought this, but I do know it was over fifteen years ago. I also remember that there was a choice of several versions to choose from on display in this little toy shop whose location escapes me right now. I could have chosen a red one. I could also have chosen a white GTI complete with the full-on uber-80s bodykit that those cars wore.

But I chose this; a silver grey GLi with steel wheels. I’m actually really glad I made that choice.

When cars are preserved it always seems to be the deluxe versions that people keep. Of all the remaining MKII Ford Escorts you can bet your arse that the majority are RS2000s and Mexicos. The 1.1 Popular Plus went the way of all white goods, namely being recycled into more white goods. Same is true with the Golf. Although convertibles probably have the highest survival rate, the Clippers and GTIs are the ones to have.

There have been several 1:18 Golfs over the years, and I believe the Sunstar release was one of the first. Since then Norev (good), Otto (amazing and in either 1:18 or 1:12) and Welly (I don’t like the windscreen pillars) have all released their own interpretations.

To be honest, this model actually looks better than it is, if you get what I mean. If you got your calipers out and started taking measurements, I’m pretty sure that this Golf is bigger than 1:18 scale. Secondly it’s blockier in its proportions than the prototype, but not too badly. The subtle curvature at the waistline has been all but lost, but you’re still aware that you’re looking at a MK1 Golf. There’s nothing repellent about it. It’s not one of those models that’s so wrong you get sick of looking at until it gets consigned to the back of the attic, never to be seen again.

Not to my eyes, anyway.

The casting is pretty good, although there’s a patch of wobbliness adjacent to the left hand rear light, which actually makes it look as if somebody has effected a severely poor DIY bodywork repair. The shut-lines are actually creditably tight, and most impressive is that the rubbing-strip / trim that runs around the upper waist is actually cast in and then separately painted. Nice.

The add-on details are about par for the course for a die-cast of this era, the headlamps have prominent central mounting spigots and such little depth that they look like they have cataracts, it’s a similar story with the rears, although at least they’re moulded in three-colours.

Meanwhile, decals are crisply applied with tampos rather than stickers, and I’d like to suggest we all get up and give the wheels a round of applause.

The doors open on big, clumsy doglegs but once inside everything looks about right, from the mean-looking but correctly proportioned two-spoke steering wheel to the extra dials on the lower console (it’s a quarter past twelve, by the way).

It’s the crisply printed dials which lift this interior into “looks good” territory. If you weren’t feeling charitable you’d accuse everything else of being crude. But I’m feeling kind. It’s more than adequate and at least everything is in its right place.

The underbonnet area gives a terrific first impression, what with wires and pipes draped all over the place, detailed fluid tanks and a four-branch intake manifold, although a trip onto Google for “1982 Golf GLi Engine” revealed just how simplified everything was. However, it also confirmed that everything was in the right place, down to the top-mounted alternator and the air cleaner ducting.

If you were up for it, I could see it responding very well to a bit of additional detailing with some model paints and a steady hand.

But it’s already good enough for me as it stands. In fact, the same is true of the entire model. OK, its a little out of scale, but if you display it away from any of your more delicately scale-sensitive models it’ll blend right in. When I bought this model all those years ago I wanted to add to my collection of ordinary mass-market cars, and for historical recording purposes, it does the job well enough.

I believe that this release is long discontinued now but they appear at random intervals on eBay, often extremely optimistically priced. That’s the VW factor for you.

(All images Chris Haining / Redusernab 2015)

  • Rover 1

    “With the grey days growing ever more bloody miserable, the nights drawing in, and a distinct chill in the air”

    Not on my side of the world.

    But I don’t have one of these so my life is not complete. Off to the bay of E.

    • So, not only have I overlooked the Southern Hemisphere but I’ve also potentially cost you financially!

      My apologies on both counts.

      • Rover 1

        Not a two door but I do have one of these. The real 1:1 versions with the small engines had four wheel drum brakes in NZ. A fact that I found hard to believe at the time.

        • Who needs good brakes? They only slow you down…

        • Alff

          Even my kids’ ’98 Cabrio still has drums on the rear.

          • Rover 1

            But on the front?.I didn’t believe it till we took the wheels off and checked.

  • Kiefmo

    Memories.

    Before I acquired my current unreasonable daily driver/project, before even the CBR250R, there was another, less reasonable daily driver/project.

  • Alff

    This was my first car, in silver no less, albeit with a red interior. The proportions are off here but not so much I wouldn’t like to have it on my desk. Does the shifter knob have dimples resembling a golf ball?

    • Sadly not, but a little deft fettling with a sharp point could cure that issue- or ruin it- depending on skill level.

      • Alff

        Alas, I’m not much of a deft fettler.

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