Big things with little cars

Introduced in 2005 as a 2006 model, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage quickly became a darling of the automotive world. It was voted by readers of Car Design News as the best current production car design in 2006, was named one of Automobile magazine's "All Stars" in 2007, and is one of only 2 cars in Top Gear's DB9 section, so named because the DB9 was too cool for sub zero. It was also popular with the general public, with 10,000 models produced within 3 years of its introduction, which is significant volume to a small manufacturer such as Aston Martin. (source: Wikipedia)

For my inagural LaLD battle, I present the V8 Vantage as produced by Hot Wheels (HW) and AUTOart (Aa). Now I've participated in a few 1:18 forums through the years, and nothing brings out the popcorn like a budget vs. premium discussion. I'll save you the agony of reading this post and declare the AUTOart the victor. But that is to be expected. The real question is which one is the better value. Since that is an individual determination, I'll just point out the differences and let you decide.

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Fit and Finish:

The HW features an opening hood and doors, but the trunk is sealed, which is not too uncommon on a budget model. The main issue for me is that the panel line for the trunk is too shallow and doesn't continue to the rear of the car. The doors open on doglegs which is borderline unacceptable given the relative newness of this mold. The Aa adds an opening hatch into the mix, and the doors open on realistic hinges that even replicate the "butterfly" doors of the 1:1. Advantage Aa

Both models feature nice glossy paint, but the HW has a fair bit of orange peel. The Aa by comparison is near mirror-like, but this is to be expected. Advantage Aa

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Wheels, tires and brakes:

The 7-spoke design of the 1:1 wheel has a slight concave design across the face of the spoke. Neither model gets this exactly right with the HW being too exaggerated and the Aa being too subtle. Both cars have the proper slotted brake disks and both rotate within fixed calipers, but the Aa's are metal to the HW's plastic and the disk and are set closer to the wheel. The Aa also features the parking brake caliper at the rear. Advantage: Aa

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Body details:

The main grille of the HW is perforated, but all other grilles are simulated in some form. The headlights are flat-ish chrome pieces that are set too low in the body and the taillights are just red colored plastic in front of the yellow paint of the body. Side turn signal repeaters and rear fogs are painted on. On the Aa, all grilles are perforated and the hood grilles are glued flush compared to the visually obtrusive riveted attachements on the HW. The Aa's taillights have a chromed reflector behind the fluted lenses. Turn signal repeaters and rear fogs are separate pieces. Advantage: Aa

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Underhood:

The engine of the HW is primarily just a one-piece casting, but it is fairly deep and looks good with just a casual inspection. I don't think the engine of the Aa is fully replicated, but it certainly looks it and features some different colors and textures to enhance the effect. Advantage: Aa

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Interior

Hot Wheels did a pretty good job on the inside and it only lacks in a few areas. The steering wheel and shifter could use some slimming and the console could use some detail paint. Add carpet and you're set. And that basically the difference between it and the Aa. AUTOart is often criticized for their hard plastic seats compared to the softer materials used by their competitors, but it never matter to me. On this car though, something about the seats is lacking, but I can't describe it. Advantage: ??? I'm not sure how to call it.

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Now that whole thing about value and letting you decide? I lied. In the years since these models were introduced, Hot Wheels has apparently stopped production and AUTOart has done the same, but in favor of the equally lust-worthy V12 Vantage. Although one did recently sell for a reasonable $35, current ebay listings for the Hot Wheels all start over $100. On the Aa side, a blue one sold for $150, with black and silver versions selling for at least that. So unless you can get one for close to original retail (or your wallet is phat like that), I recommend the Welly Vanquish. Maybe I'll even feature one here myself...

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