This is the RA 302 F1 car by Honda. Built in 1968 under Soichiro Honda's order, it featured numerous technological innovations, including a magnesium-skinned monocoque and an air-cooled 3-litre V8 engine that produced approximately 430 horsepower, equalling its water-cooled counterparts. Despite these advancements, the car was deemed as being too unstable and a "potential deathtrap" by Honda's driver, John Surtees. His replacement, Jo Schlesser, took the wheel, but died after the car crashed at the Rouen-Les-Essarts circuit and rested sideways against a bank, before catching fire. The fuel and flammable magnesium body caught fire instantly, killing Schlesser.
It only raced once, in which the driver died, and the car destroyed. The second RA302 was built with several improvements to the car's stability, but did not participate due to John Surtees' refusal. The model was eventually scrapped for a newer and safer one.
This is a beautiful car, despite having such a dark past. Its sleek and streamlined body is a joy to look at. The low-slung F1 car has merging exhaust pipes at the rear, and a very clean engine bay. It is painted in a slight off-white tone, with a single red classic Honda emblem at the nose, and a red circle at the front, symbolising the national flag of Japan.
Tomica's interpretation of the RA 302 is simple, but well-executed. The four fat tyres around have grooves on them, simulating actual ones. They wrap around 6-spoke rims, which is quite uncommon on Tomica cars. The windshield is essentially a small curved plastic piece.
The chrome pipes are visible at the side. They look absolutely gorgeous, and is swept backwards, following the car's lines. As a result, it is aerodynamic to the highest degree. There are bulges at each side of the cockpit, representing the large air intakes needed to channel the air to the engine. Through this way, it can be cooled without the need for fans.
At the top, there is a separate piece representing another air intake, this time behind the driver's seat. A neat little addition that displays Tomica's attention to detail. The engine intakes are quite visible from this perspective.
At the rear, a separate piece painted grey is attached behind the body. It is a cover and tail-end piece for the engine and other important bits. It is quite detailed, and again, shows Tomica's dedication to creating well-detailed pieces.
In conclusion, this is a wonderful collector's piece to have. If you do not mind its short and unfortunate history, and appreciate its technological advancements, this is a good model for your display shelf. Finding one in good condition is challenging, though. I bought this for only two dollars at a local flea market, and its condition isn't exactly Concourse-quality. But still, it has presence and stands out from the crowd.