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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Spectacular Model: Johnny Lightning 1973 Pontiac Grand Am/GTO

In real life, this car was never a great car...  Built in '73, the last gasp of the Muscle Car era, a pretty fastback design that looked quick but that was actually overweight, un-nimble, underpowered, emission-choked example of how Detroit had lost its way, and an open invitation to the foreign auto companies to bring on their efficient and trim imports.
But what I like in diecast has very little to do with what I like in 1:1 scale, and this particularly casting is a beauty...
It makes you love this over-done '70s design, looking just as sleek as the real car.  The raised creases and vents on the hood, the B-pillar louvers, the detailed grill and rear lights, even the crease on the doors.  Now imagine how cool this car would have been had it been produced with the 454 from a '69 Chevelle? 

The first thing you notice is the heft (probably like the 1:1 model!), with John Lightning's trademark metal baseplate and all metal casting.  It just feels like quality...
The cars feature opening hoods with detailed engine compartments.  All three of my examples have rubber wheels and excellent fully detailed paint jobs.  In fact, the silver and blue cars have beautiful metallic paint (the white one has a flat paint). 
I only have these 3 examples - I'd love to have others but these were all that I found before the casting was retired.  While the pale white is nice, it pales (pun intended) against the others.  The paint doesn't have the same richness to it and the wheels are boring discs. 
The silver one is a GTO, with a slightly different (more exciting) grill .  It's 5 spoke Cragar wheels are handsome, with a glossy chrome finish to them.  The metallic paint sparkles, the black roof contrasts nicely, and the red interior really pops.
The blue one is nice too.  This time the Cragar wheels are a matte silver finish, but the tires have raised "B F Goodrich" lettering on them vs. the silver car's whitewalls.  The blue paint is beautiful and rich, with the blue contrasting better than the silver against the painted side marker lights.  However the white interior looks less exciting that the red of the other 2 cars. 
While the blue car picks up points for its paint and wheels/tires, I find that the silver/black/red color combination of the silver car still is more eye-catching, and I'm more partial to its firebird style grill.  I declare the silver one my favorite of this favorite casting, with the blue a very close second. 
If you don't have one of these already and see one on EBay for a reasonable price, I'd recommend picking it up.  It's one of my favorite Johnny Lightning castings of the last 20 years...  

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