Believe it or not, sometimes, this review stuff can be a grind. You get a diecast in the mail, maybe something you don’t normally collect, and you rack your brain trying to find a way of describing how “this one” is different. You try to find anything unique or special about it yet the more you view it, the more it looks like an anonymous lump of painted metal.
Then again some models blow you away with so many special nuances you hope you can describe them all. When this happens, it’s easy to translate the sheer joy of experiencing a model where the pride of ownership will last longer than it takes to open the box and pay the VISA bill. The kind of model that will make a friend gasp and women swoon (or is that make a friend swoon and women gasp?)
Ladies and Gentlemen, with this model, Highway 61 has delivered a stunning achievement. The team at Highway 61 is considering a full line of 1/6 cars, and they wanted to do something special for the very first one. After seeing the popularity of the 1957 Corvette fuelie at auto shows, this model was chosen for the maiden voyage.
Just uncrating this model is an exercise; my preproduction sample arrived bolted down by at least ten huge set screws and was secured with additional padding inside a double boxed Styrofoam coffin. The 28” model weighs 39 lbs shipped, so don’t plan sneaking this model in the cabinet unbeknownst to the wife. Once removed you need to move it around carefully in a large space using two preferably gloved hands.
One of the criticisms of models this size is that they look toy-ish, often ridiculed as “Barbie Cars”. When I took the model to a local church parking lot to do some preliminary test shots, it got a lot of attention. Children stared and adults gawked because of the realistic shape and stance – everyone was thinking this was something more Smithsonian than Toys R Us. The color, red with ivory coves (a $19.40 option back in 1957) is a logical choice and it sets off the gleaming chrome that Harley Earl highlighted on this Corvette’s design. “That is s-o-o-o-o cool!” one of the kids said in amazement. Amen, dude!
I started fiddling around: keys in the ignition, working white-knob chrome shifter, opening console, glove compartment, working spring loaded ashtrays, windows that roll up and down. All of these working accoutrements were well engineered and moved without fret or without a feeling of fragility. Go ahead and play. Additional interior highlights include separate soft rubber floor mats (these come packed in the trunk) that nestle nicely on the flocked carpet. Dials and gauges that are remarkably easy to read. The soft yet firm patterned leather seats are trimmed out with actual stitching and under seat chrome font-to-rear adjustment bars. The model does not come with a top, but I have no idea why you would want one.
The Firestone wide whitewalls with rubber valve stems have detailed treading and manufacturer markings. They are mounted on chrome, color key wheels and ‘vette logo knock off centers. These wheels have not a hint of camber and roll true despite the weight they bear. The trunk comes complete with mat, the full size spare tire assembly, jack and warning/instruction stickers on the cover.
The level of craft applied to this model is demonstrated in several areas that are mundane on most models. For example, take a gander at the articulated headlights. And boy-howdy how about those windsheild wipers! Assembled from of several separate machined metal pieces and rubber, that look ready to dance over the perfectly curved windshield. Another example is under the massive hood where the multi-level construction of the honeycombed air filter catches your eye.
The rest of the 283 power plant is spectacular. I suppose a more true metal engine would be preferable, but a fairy reminds me that if the model was heavier, it would probably outweigh Gary Coleman. The engine is well detailed, wired correctly and accurately colored. In 1/6 scale, details like nine fin allow valve covers are remarkably miniaturized. The model’s version of this legendary small block engine with Ramjet fuel injection (advertised as “one horsepower per square inch”) exceeds your expectations.
With RPO – 684 heavy duty suspension kit with the special Positraction rear end this Corvette was ready to go racing the day it left the showroom. Ads called the 1957 Corvette “Fantastico”! From the photo etched insignia on the front to the perfect bezels for the rear jet taillights, I can’t think of a better description for this H61 model.
Only 240 of the original 1957 Corvette Fuelie were produced, so your chances of affording one (assuming you could find one) aren’t good. This limited production 1/6 should begin hitting North American shores in October and at $799.99 your odds are much better.
Mr. Magneto readers: more photos available in the regular Review section.