Two amazing things happened yesterday. Story time!

Late Thursday night, as I was killing pirates on the computer and telling myself I should go to bed, my wife came up from the basement asking if I knew why there was water on the floor. I did not, so I went down to investigate and discovered that the water heater was leaking. So I closed the appropriate valves, drained it, etc. Turns out the old water heater was at least 20 years old (couldn’t find an indication of installation date, but the yellow energy use sticker was using 1994 data), so it didn’t really owe us anything.

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Yesterday, I investigated everything carefully and made a trip to Menards to get a new water heater and everything else I needed. When I came back, I discovered a package from vdubyajohn waiting for me. I knew it contained multitudes of Corvettes, but I told myself that opening it would be my reward for getting the job done.

Despite not having replaced a water heater before, the job went smoothly and the first amazing thing happened: I didn’t have to make a second trip to Menards!

Finally, after supper and getting the kids in bed, I returned to the basement to open my box o’ goodies. vdubyajohn had made me a heck of a deal on his trove of yard sale find Corvettes. Here’s the box:

Each of the bundles is 2 cars. There are 3 layers.

I knew I was getting cars in a range of conditions. Some are display worthy, some have more than a little patina, and some are destined for the stripper.

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I was not expecting anything particularly earth-shaking. VWJ had sent me pics of everything and the only new-to-me casting I was expecting was a Zee C4, which is not gonna get me all jazzed up. However, I was wrong. There were a couple HW/McDonald’s C5's, which are similar, but not identical to the regular HW C5 (black windows, no interior piece, and some subtle differences in the casting). Kinda cool from a completionist perspective, but inferior to the regular HW casting.

Now there were plenty of good things, lots of nice solid MBX castings and I was quite pleased to have some of the ‘58 Corvette opening hood versions (the casting comes with either an opening hood or a giant blown engine, and I only had the blown engine). The great thing about this box is that it skewed toward the ‘90's so there were a number of castings that were under-represented in my collection because they’ve kind of fallen out of rotation at Mattel.

But then, as I was getting towards the end, the 2nd amazing thing happened: I discovered a Mattel Corvette casting that I did not have!

Picture taken on top of the new water heater because thanks to my trouble light that’s where the best light was at that point.

It says HW on the bottom, but it’s not the ‘80's Corvette (and yes, the hood actually does fit better than it looks like there). As I was unwrapping it, I immediately noticed the side mirrors, which are not present on the ‘80's Corvette, and then noticed lots of other differences.

Here it is with the ‘80's Corvette. The proportions all around are slightly different (and more accurate to my eye).

It’s slightly wider. They both have weird-colored taillights because of using the interior piece (can’t really tell on the black car, but the taillights are grey).

The front hood line is noticeably different too, and this is where the ‘80's Corvette has a slight advantage.

Engine bay detail is better and more accurate, and the hood stays up by itself on the mystery car. The ‘80's Corvette has the luggage in the back, which I always thought was cool.

So what’s going on here? I dimly recalled reading something about a Corgi Corvette that HW had manufactured after acquiring Corgi. A quick visit to the HW wiki confirmed that that was what I had in hand.

It was only released in 1996 and 1997 and then disappeared again, probably due to complexity. It appears to have 2 separate interior pieces (in this case blue seats and cabin interior, black engine and dash) and the opening hood make it significantly more complex than the ‘80's Corvette, which was retooled in 1996 to remove the opening hood. At that point, the C5 would have been the new hotness anyway, so having 2 very similar C4's, the obvious choice for Mattel would have been to drop the Corgi casting from the lineup.

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Thanks, vdubyajohn! This was an unexpected and (at least to me) very cool find in a great box.