If you collect diecast cars these days, unless you scour the Bay of E or live in a big city, you are more or less out of luck. The diecast business isn’t what it used to be. I recall the go-go late ’90s, when everywhere from K-Mart to Kay-Bee Toys to Venture (remember Venture? I miss that place) would have a cornucopia of little model cars for people like me. Today though, the few models you’ll find in stores will tend to be Camaros, Mustangs and ’57 Chevys. But some companies do still recognize diversity, like Johnny Lightning and this pair of T-Birds.
In the early Oughts, they had several lines of 1/64 models: a Muscle Cars line, a ’50s line, Tri-Chevys, and the Thunderbird collection. In addition to the expected 2-seat T-Birds and Squarebirds were these 1967 and 1968 hardtops.
One of the things that endeared these models to me were the Hot Wheels-esque wheels, with redline tires of course. Also interesting is how they actually did separate castings for each year! The grilles are not a decal, but actually stamped into the body. If they were doing different castings, it would have been cool to do a two-door and a four-door, but it wasn’t to be.
While many folks dismiss the Road Birds, these were really nice cars. In an article in Collectible Automobile years back, it was stated that these cars had fine road manners, and the reason most didn’t survive was due to the owners driving them into the ground. The straight lines and jet-scoop nose appeal to me (at least in standard Hardtop form; I really don’t care for the fake Landau irons on the appropriately-named Landau two-door). Don’t forget, this car was also the basis of the classic Mark III, which finally beat Cadillac at its own luxo-coupe game. And JL makes a 1/64 Mark III too, folks–I have one in mint green with a white top.
I got these two about ten years ago, and they had been sitting in a drawer for years, until I was looking for something and ran across them. They are quite detailed. The Ivy Gold ’68 has a matching interior, while the ’67 has a navy interior. Also impressive is their accurate instrument panel, steering wheel and even door panels! These ran about $2.99 at the time, so they were a pretty good deal. And JL is still cranking out interesting cars, with our recently featured Scout II, a mid-’60s IH pickup, an ’80 Monza Spyder, and the upcoming FSJ Grand Wagoneer.
I believe this model is still in the lineup, as I remember seeing a black one on the pegs just a few years ago. But they have less-detailed wheels and plastic bases now, so if you must have one of the originals, I imagine you can get one of your very own online.