Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Citroen rally action

Ever since one motoring fool dared another similarly minded daredevil to race one another to somewhere far, far away, the French have been at the forefront of car rallying. The first ever car races held anywhere were, essentially, endurance rallies on dusty open roads. 

Since the end of the second world war the French, with their Citroens, Peugeots, Simcas, Renaults, Gordinis, Panhards and various backyard specials have always been competitive in rallying. Most of my diecast rally cars are from the 1950s and 60s, and most of these were very close to being bog-standard French sedans. 

Of course modern rally cars of the last few decades now wear lightweight bodies which conceal the fact that underneath their clothes they're million dollar special vehicles purpose-built for rally racing. They're nothing like their sedate, everyday equivalents, and so I'm not quite so interested in them and have only one modern-era rally car in my diecast cabinets – it's this one: Sebastien Loeb's Citroen C4.

For this latest 'action' diorama, using an IXO 1:43 model of the Loeb Car, I have figured out
how to add 'dust' to trail behind the car, just like the real ones do.

The reason for breaking out into the modern era is simple, folks. Parked outside my house is my own Citroen C4 in 1:1 size, and while I thought it would be a bit naff to have a little silver model of my own sensible and reliable 2009 model Citroen C4, a 1:43 diecast model of the multiple World Rally Championship winner was a very appealing notion indeed. My 1:1 car is never going to win any races, but it's won me. It's a 1.6 litre turbo diesel, and I love it (it's my first diesel). It's probably the best car I have ever owned. I love its incredibly grunty engine that demolishes hills with ease, and I love its unbelievably good fuel economy, which gives me 5 l/100km when doing 110 km/h highway driving, which works out at a touring fuel range of more than 1200km per tankful. It's a lovely, comfy two-person tourer, perfect for my wife and I.
But back to the rally-racing, diecast-collecting topic at hand: Sebastien Loeb and the Citroen C4. Seven World Rally Championships in a row from 2004-2010. Great driver, great team effort by Citroen. 
Of course I'm going to finish off this little posting with a You Tube video of the boy in action. I love in-car footage, and so we're off to Spain for an eight minute section that starts off very fast on the dirt and then plunges downhill, also quite quickly, on the tar.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fiat Abarth 1000 in action

I'm starting to get the hang of working in Photoshop to create dioramas of my models. Here's my latest attempt at a diorama using Photoshop. It's a Fiat Abarth 1000 in action.

The model itself is a Brumm 1:43 of the Fiat Abarth 1000 which Gustav Edelhof drove to a
class win at the 1967 Nurburgring 1000. It really looks like it means business!
The basics of creating an 'action' shot with a blurred background are as simple as finding an existing action shot with a blurred background, and replacing the original car with a photo of my model. My first action shot of the Peugeot 403 at Phillip Island is still the one I like the most, as the background is accurate – it is Phillip Island – and much more atmospheric, with the tell-tale whitecaps of Bass Strait in the background telling you immediately where you are. I don't have a clue where my little Abarth is hurtling around.

However, this little action dio has a 'first' to its name. I've just figured out how to blur the wheels in Photoshop, to enhance the action feeling. I only started on using Photoshop last December, and the learning curve since then has been both interesting, sometimes exciting, and always steep.

I won't pretend that I know a lot about all the Abarths, beyond saying Carlo Abarth is to Italian tuning as Amedee Gordini is to French tuning, and both gentlemen are legends. I have half a dozen Gordinis in my diecast cabinets so far, I'm catching up with four Abarths now, and so the race is on!

Friday, April 22, 2011

In love with Karmann Ghias

Our photographer was on holidays with his girlfriend at the Gasthof Adler in Germany when he did a double-take as he recognised two celebrity guests arrive in a sleek 1960s Karmann Ghia. Could that be Angela Merkel and Michael Schumacher, away for a discreet, um... weekend together? No, apparently they're just Karman Ghia enthusiasts off to a gathering of the Karmann Ghia Fan Club, where Michael is a guest speaker. Michael had promised the Chancellor a quick drive down the country lanes with him would be the perfect way to get there.

Well, that's their story, but you can tell from the expressions on their faces that Michael
and Angela have been having a lot of fun in a beautiful old classic car.
What a wonderful looking car they are, too. I have to confess though that my real love of Karmann Ghias is to see them parked somewhere. Somehow when the engine starts and you hear that too-familiar flat-four Vee-Dub sound, some of the magic disappears. Nevertheless, they are a beautiful car. This model is a 1:43 by Minichamps. When I saw it, at first I thought "no, not olive-green, I want a yellow one" (not sure why). And now I really like the olive green, because it's a bit unusual, and it's the only olive-green car in all of my diecast cabinets. It's a soft colour that complements the soft, rounded lines nicely.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Duesenberg SSJ at the Roxy Theatre

What lucky chaps some of those films stars are. Lots of money, stacks of girls and nice, fast cars. Back in the 1930s two leading men in particular lucked out with the cars (I just presume they did well with the money and the gals), as each was the proud owner of this car, the Duesenberg SSJ, built in 1933. Given that only two of these cars were ever made, they were lucky boys indeed.

For my little diorama where else but a 1930s movie theatre. Now, don't trust this shot for
historical accuracy. Not sure where the theatre is exactly, it just looks right. And I know for
a fact that the movie posters are from different years, too. But if you're not fussy about
years and only give points for decades, then I'll get away with it. The model car is a 1:43
production by IXO, who have a lovely series of cars from this era in their range.
This is the 1930s version of a car which looked like it was going fast, when standing still. When underway, it lived up to its looks and went fast. It had a hell of an engine for its time. It was a twin cam 6.9 litre straight eight, with four valves per cylinder, and a supercharger bolted on as well. It made 400hp at 5000rpm and was reputedly good for 135-140mph, a brave adventure on the skinny cross-ply tyres of the era. As this SSJ is also the 'short wheelbase' version of an even larger car, you'd wonder about its stability at peak speeds. I suspect our very valuable movie-star owners never bothered to find out.

It was a supercar of its time, for sure, and like the supercars of today it was horribly expensive and only owned by squillionaires and movie stars. I love the way it looks and have models of several ridiculously expensive cars from this era, purely because I love the way they look. So, to finish off this little celebration of what fun it is to be a movie star, here's a little video from You Tube about Duesenbergs.