“Stock Car” is a loose definition in the NASCAR world. At one time the term Stock Car had meaning, when most street cars were rear wheel drive and solid axle. The street counterpart to a NASCAR Stock Car became more different to its racing brethren with each generational jump. This post highlights one of the biggest generational jumps.
First lets take a look at one of the last cars to have a relevant link to its NASCAR brethren. The model you see above is the 1:18 1997 Dale Jarrett Thunderbird made by Ertl. Yes, the Thunderbird was independent rear and fuel injected at this time. Yes, NASCAR was using carburetors at this time and still uses solid axles. But at least the Thunderbird street car was a two door V-8 rear wheel drive coupe.
This has to be one of my favorite Stock Cars of all time, right up there with the black #3 Lumina and Petty blue #43 Superbird. The red, white and mostly blue #88 Thunderbird is a fantastic looking Stock Car. Despite the very bold livery, Dale Jarrett was actually a very calm and calculating driver.
Ertl construction is simple but effective. Tractor-like sturdiness, stick on graphics and quality paint. These diecasts are anything but fragile.
No opening trunk on this Ertl, few if any Ertls ever had one.
But plenty of scaffolding inside. Passenger comfort and ease of access is not a priority for NASCAR.
Also, plenty of ventilation as well.
Powering these beasts are very high revving pushrod V-8s. Do not be quick to dismiss a NASCAR V-8 as primitive, anything that can go several hours at 9,000rpm and produce 800hp has quite a bit of engineering behind it. However, this Ertl V-8 engine bay is primitive and lacks quite a bit of detail.
And now we come to a very controversial change for NASCAR. Before you is the 1998 1:18 Jonny Benson Taurus also made by Ertl. Up until this point, a NASCAR Stock Car was at least based on a two door coupe, regardless of powertrain. Ford then forced the Taurus into the NASCAR world, ruining the two door coupe formula that had stood for decades.
The Taurus Stock Car is not terrible looking, at least to me. But the idea behind taking any car, regardless of relevance, and making it into a NASCAR Stock Car bothered me. The Detroit Big 3 probably loved it at the time, thinking “we can promote any stupid econobox we make with NASCAR now!” Little did the Detroit Big 3 know it would pave the way for Toyota to introduce the Camry, which has been quite successful in NASCAR.
But enough about NASCAR politics, back to the model! Usual Ertl quality for the NASCAR Taurus, simple but effective model making techniques. Vivid paint accented by plenty of stickers all on a brick solid body that could put a dent in your 1:1 scale vehicle.
No opening trunk on this guy either, despite the separation in the body. Nice detailing with the fuel filler cap though.
Scaffolding abound in this model too. The dash is now detailed, no longer just a sticker of circles. No vent tubes in this model though. Pardon the dust!
Slight increase in engine bay detail as well. Still not comparable to anything high end.
Underneath both models, you will see more minor differences. Up front on the Taurus is now a large, proud Ertl logo. Just in case you couldn’t guess it was an Ertl from the John Deere tractor build quality.
Biggest difference underneath of the two are suspensions. Where the Thunderbird has a fixed suspension, the Taurus is sprung. Enough technical details though, lets do some fun racing shots.
Do you want more shots of these two? Well, you only get one more. They are busy watching the race.
Hope you enjoyed this review and hope you enjoy watching the rest of the Daytona 500.