CC In Scale: A Look Inside, Part 2 – European And Japanese Cars

Time for another look at my display fleet. The back rows of car lots were always the most interesting when I was a kid. They probably were for you too. At my childhood Barkly Street yard, oddities like the Hillman Californian (plenty of Minxes, but I only ever saw one of these), and the Goggomobil TS coupe (just my size!) stood out in my memory from all the tired Holdens, small Prefects and the surviving Renault Dauphines. They were much more memorable than a worn out though still colourful EJ wagon. Early Falcons never seemed to make it to the local used car yard. Dad’s ’62 showed why.

So, what’s in my display back row? Here’s half of it; we’ll look at the other half another time. Many of these will have been discussed previously by those more erudite than I, so this will be more of a light-hearted personal look -as you may have gathered already.

I mentioned this last time in response to a comment. It’s the Airfix 1/32 scale kit of Richard Trevithick’s 1804 Penydarren locomotive.

I love old machinery, as I can look at it and see what it does. Usually. I love wandering through the machinery shed in the Geelong Showgrounds, and seeing the engines in steam. This, though, is a bit of a puzzler. So much is different from, say, Stephenson’s Rocket (1827), which looks much more like the steam locos I’m familiar with. But it’s fascinating. I’ve built it, but I still don’t understand it.

Next up is this old cable tram. It’s a 1960s kit from the long defunct Hawk company, and is actually a San Francisco cable car. I built this back in the seventies, thinking to represent a Melbourne cable tram. But upon later investigation, I found it’s different from ours. Dad remembered them, but couldn’t tell me much.

At one time we had one of the largest cable networks in the world, with 47 miles of track, 15 routes, and 1200 cars and trailers. Electrification set in, and the last cable tram ran in 1940. The story of individual tramway companies having such different rolling stock and then gradually being subsumed into the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board is (to me) a fascinating one. I rode the trams a lot in my early working years, roamed all over the system, and became familiar with all the classes that were still operational in the seventies. But the earlier cable system was an enigma, a part of our transport heritage that wasn’t appreciated until later years. As so often happens.

Okay, I’ll shut up about the trams! Moving on…

We’re on more familiar ground with this Jaguar XK120. What can I say? This is an old Monogram kit that was first issued in the late seventies with a metal body. I waited until they released the cheaper, all-plastic version. Full engine and chassis detail, as with most American kits.

Now we turn Japanese. In one model group, I’m infamous for building Japanese four door sedans. None of those here though. Not today.

The Nissan Mid4 is a concept car from the 1985 Frankfurt show. This would have been quite startling at the time, coming from a Japanese manufacturer. It showcased the new VG30DE engine…

… rear-biased AWD and rear wheel steering. So much new tech from the conservative Japanese – quite unexpected. Originally intended for production, Wikipedia says it was axed due to cost, and it was Honda who would produce a mid-engined Japanese supercar. Nissan showed a restyled version in 1987 with a twin-turbo engine, but the Mid4 remained a concept. Some of its technology was to surface in the Skyline range, and the twin-turbo engine in the 300ZX. Speaking of Skylines…

We’ve seen this one before, in my Skyline series. It’s an R32 GTR. Just a quick look, and we’ll pass on.

Sometimes a new car seems underwhelming. You admire it for its abilities, but the style just seems to lack something. That’s how I felt about the 350Z. Along came the guys at Nismo to make it just right. New front end, very subtle spoiler, barely-detectable wheel arch extensions, oh-so-subtle ground effects…

… then they go all wild at the rear.

I’ve never owned a Subaru, but always admired them. If I hadn’t bought a Mazda 3, I think I would have got an Impreza. Not a WRX though. But it might have been a wagon, I was quite smitten by the quirky style of these. This is a Hasegawa kit; not one of their recent range of classic Japanese cars but still quite good. I was messing around with colours here and somehow came up with this violent hi-vis green. I’m not sure what you would call this…

Often when I build a model, I make subtle changes. It might just be a matter of a colour scheme never offered, or a wheel swap, or omission of the sometimes-childish factory graphics so prevalent in the seventies and eighties. Sometimes all three. This old Fujimi kit was a race car that I returned to a street configuration. That’s why it’s on slicks.

I love, love, love the Cosmo. I think I remember seeing one at the Melbourne Motor Show back in ‘67 or ‘68, but I may be mistaken. I certainly saw it in magazines back then. Like the prewar MG Midgets, it’s incredibly small and dainty, just what you need for darting through traffic and nothing more.

I built this back in 2021 for the annual online 24-hour buildoff, and I actually got it done in that time, something I have never managed since. This is the basic Hasegawa kit, not the Collector’s HI-Grade series one with the full metal engine which, even if I’d seen it, is way too expensive.

We’ll finish with this Renault 4CV. This is an old kit from the French company Heller. It seems incredibly accurate, even down to the tiny engine in the rear. As I was building it, I was struck by the fuel filler in the engine compartment.

Okay, an under-seat tank would be safer than the Beetle’s front tank, but what would it do for the weight distribution? And you’d have to be careful filling up, with that hot engine so close.

Here’s another one I built thirty years earlier.

Hino in Japan built these under license. A Japanese friend altered the Heller kit to represent the Hino. The one difference I remember was in the front ‘grille’, but these are both Renaults, as I remember them.

That’s it for today. Next time we’ll see what’s at the other end of the front row – a medley of Italian, British, German and American subjects. See you then!