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Diecast Delights: A Porsche 550 in 1:18 scale.

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I always detested being dragged around Tesco by my parents, but the weekly trip to the supermarket could be rendered bearable if a little competitive shopping-cart Grand Prix activity was introduced. I’d have a small, light, Superleggera kart and my Dad would take the full Gran Turismo, further ballasted by a stack of groceries of ever growing proportions. The extra joy of our elicit aisle to aisle racing exploits would inevitably lead to matrimonial tension between Mum and Dad on the way home, though, so I had to play that particular card wisely.

Another ploy guaranteed to get your kid on-side when it comes to retail drudgery is to promise them a new toy. Big supermarkets always have a bulging toy section but it’s entirely down to luck as to whether it’s stocked with delights for the junior car enthusiast or just lowest-bidder pieces of brightly coloured plastic crap. Occasionally, though, the stars would align and there would be a stack of Maisto 1:18 diecast models to nag mum about.

This one, who’s box bears the legend “Imported by Tesco” gives us a fantastic opportunity to discuss diecasts vis-a-vis Toy or Model. This Maisto Porsche 550 is GOOD. Way too nice for a screaming brat in a supermarket.

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The Carchive On Video: The AD/SZ JDM Honda Vigor

It’s Friday, the Redusernab clock says 13:30 15:00 so it’s time once again to take out our sextants and dividers and chart a course through the turbulent waters of motoring past, in the hope of discovering long lost treasure. Of course, the chances are we’ll probably just find a bunch of old crap and end up throwing it back lest we get the deck all mucky. Welcome to The Carchive.

It’s a Video Edition this time because today’s chosen volume contains barely a word of English. It’s actually no worse for that,  though it does mean sitting through me yammering on about it. Do just that, if you can bear it, after the jump.

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Fighting for Figures: It’s All We Niche.

Chris Haining October 15, 2015 All Things Hoon

Ford of Europe have recently announced that, starting on the 30th February next year all models of Mondeo apart from the forthcoming ST-Xross series (shown above) will be axed. It turns out that rivals with off-road ability, or at least the look of it, were impossible for the company to ignore any further.

Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Europe told Redusernab “It’s really not fair. Our cars are awesome, but some taller, more muscular cars look much cooler when reflected in storefront windows, so people are buying them instead. It’s making me feel sad” or something. So he decided, screw it, we’re only going to sell cars which look a bit like 4x4s from this point onwards.*

All lies, of course, but I honestly can see something like that happening. I’m not saying it ever will, but it’s the kind of crazy product planning manoeuvre that goes on. Sometimes it’s better to grab a narrow niche and exploit it than to just offer a variation of what everybody else sells.

The tricky bit is in identifying the niche.

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Getting Back On Track: Haining’s Competitive Edge

It was both a team-building exercise and a pat on the back for meeting a seemingly impossible target for a particularly difficult September. There had been a vote to decide how we would be celebrating, and fortunately inflatable Sumo Wrestling lost out. We were going Go-Karting.

I look ridiculous in a kart. With my silly long legs and matching arms when I’m sitting down I look like I’m not quite as evolved as some folk, and in a Go-Kart there’s an uncanny resemblance to Donkey-Kong. I’m also quite heavy; heavier than anybody else taking part in this evening’s exploits.

Could I, as a rank amateur, overcome the dual handicaps of weight and ungainliness purely with enthusiasm and determination? Take the jump to find out.

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Philosophical Review: Mondeo is as Mondeo always has been

The Mondeo has been shuttling ordinary folk around the roads of Europe since 1992, and highways far beyond that continent if you count those Contours and Mystiques which spun from it. Perhaps it was nothing more than ease of alliteration that caused lazy media to coin the phrase “Mondeo Man” but the medium/large Ford saloon car almost immediately became synonymous with the average road user. Vectras, Avensises, Primeras, all were sold in what became colloquialized as the “Mondeo Segment”. And it was for good reason.

The Mondeo was excellent. Review teams from glossy magazines used to run out of superlatives and the pages would ooze with hyperbole. From one month to the next Mondeo would be pitched against various newcomers and on every occasion would knock them aside with a lazy sweep of its heavy bat. Autocar exclaimed “Ford’s family car hero barely puts a foot wrong”. It became the accepted convention that Mondeo was on point in pretty well every discipline and became the standard bearer against which all should be judged. Yes, as the years passed and the competition hotted up, its remit became harder to satisfy, especially against aspirational brands which had become newly affordable thanks to “piss it out the door” finance initiatives.

What is more interesting for us, though, is when you look at the various generations of Mondeo and compare them against their then contemporaries. Each one can be read as a kind of barometer for the state of motoring at the time, a guide to vehicular best practice, if you will. And, reliably, the same thing is true with the 2015 car.

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Diecast Delights: The Italdesign Nazca M12 in 1:18 Scale

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So, how important is realism in a model? I’ve said a great many times that rightness is often more important than detail, and quite a lot of you seem to agree. Proportions, stance and a sense of presence make for a great diecast, even if the engine compartment plumbing and some of the dashboard switches are a little indistinct.

There are occasions, though, when a model is still great even if realism is thrown right out the window. Take this twenty year old model of the ItalDesign (Guigiaro) Nazca M12 from 1991, finished in chrome and based on a concept which never saw production and was never finished in chrome. But I don’t think that detracts from this model in the slightest.

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The Carchive: The ’97 Mazda 121

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It’s very nearly the weekend, and high time that we boarded the Ecranoplan of wisdom and took a trip across the Caspian Sea of automotive past, perchance to skim some kind of fascinating historical flotsam from the water’s surface. Welcome once again to The Carchive.

In truth, today’s car really isn’t all that interesting, from a design or a technology perspective. In fact, it was about as derivative as you get. The only noteable thing was that it actually existed in the first place.

It’s the 1997 Mazda 121.

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Turning Point: Do you like your Steering Wheel?

Chris Haining October 8, 2015 All Things Hoon

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We spend virtually 100% of our driving time looking either at it, through it or past it, yet we often go for days on end before we give it any specific thought. I’m talking about our steering wheel.

The round control in my Rover, with its gargantuan size and grotesquely lumpen airbagged centre boss is so awful I don’t even want to think about it. So I’ll talk about the one in my Audi instead, which is truly one of the finest aspects of the entire car.

How about yours? Good? Bad? Or have you never really considered it?

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Review: Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5

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Do you remember the early nineties? Of course you do. Do you remember wearing a Global Hypercolor T-shirt, perhaps one slightly too tight and cut in such a way that it exposed the dolphin tattoo on your shoulder (girls)? Or perhaps you were proudly rocking your Dr Martens, plaid shirt and curtains hairstyle (guys)? Remember rushing out to buy the new Shamen single on cassette before feverishly slotting it into your ghetto blaster?

Do you remember pleading with your parents to let you go to see the late night screening of, say, Reservoir Dogs?

Perhaps you came home in your friends Suzuki Vitara?

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The Carchive Bike Shed: The Honda Express.

Far be it for me to tread on the toes of Tanshanomi, the Redusernab guru of all things bi-wheeled, it occurred to me that quite a lot of the documents lurking in The Carchive relate to vehicles with a different wheel-count.

So, I tentatively unveil The Bike Shed. Here, on a Tuesday every now and again I’ll fill a gap in the Redusernab broadcast schedule with a dusty old bike brochure that we can either meet with giddy enthusiasm or we can condemn noisily. We start with a classic of worthy Japanese engineering; The Honda Express. I think these things are awesome, and judging by the photos in this brochure they held the key to all kinds of fun and games that, frankly, I want to be a part of.

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