The 1960 Chevrolet in Small Scale

By Graeme Ogg - May 5, 2009

1960 Chevrolet Scale Models


I’ve always liked the look of the ’60 Chevy. Not as dramatic as the ’59 but more subtle, and a more cohesive shape front-to-rear. And unlike most of GM’s toned-down 1960 cars, whose styling looked a little bit blunted, the Chevrolet looked crisper than ever.

I’ve been collecting model cars for a long time now. While American collectors grew up with 1:25 promos and plastic kits, in Britain and Europe the toy cars of our childhood were originally designed as accessories for “O” gauge model railways, or roughly 1:43, so that became the “serious” collecting scale. Unfortunately when I
started collecting seriously there were no small models of the ’60 Chevrolet to be found, apart from a couple of El Caminos, which model producers seemed to find more exciting. Things haven’t improved much since.

Dinky Toys, one of the legendary names in diecast models, did an El Camino but it wasn’t that wonderful, especially around the front end, where some lines are just plain wrong.

Lone Star, a small toy company in North London, produced a series of six American cars that were sold through Woolworths. They were cheap and
Dinky Toys 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
Dinky Toys 1960 El Camino

Dinky Toys 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
Lone Star 1960 El Camino, and my two-door Sport Sedan conversion

cheerful, and one or two were pretty bad, but their El Camino captured the shape rather better than the Dinky. So I took one of those, reshaped the rear end with scrap plastic and car body filler, and grafted on a roof section from a model of a ’57 Plymouth which I had made into a convertible. A fairly crude approach, and not surprisingly the result was pretty basic, with silver paint for the brightwork. But 30 years ago it was the best I could do. While preparing this article I pulled this old model off the shelf, cleaned it up and added somemissing details and brightwork. Given what I had to work with, it is still pretty rough, but maybe a bit prettier than it was. Don’t ask why the roof is yellow and not white. It was white, but has aged badly and a full re-paint wasn’t practical. (The model is smaller than true 1:43 at 4 inches long).

Finally in 1996 Brooklin Models produced a 1960 Impala convertible. Brooklin is a small-scale artisan producer, making handbuilt models in small quantities (usually around 200 of each item) in white metal, which is a low-melting-point mixture of lead and tin that can be cast in rubber moulds rather than in expensive high-pressure diecasting machinery. This is a very accurate and well-detailed model, though it could do with some more chrome trim. It is now long discontinued and will cost $100 or more, if you can find one. Dinky Toys 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
Brooklin Models 1960 Impala Convertible
Dinky Toys 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
My 1960 Impala Sport Sedan, based on the Brooklin Models Convertible

A convertible was better than nothing, but I particularly wanted a “flat-top” Sport Sedan, so I got a second Brooklin and converted it. The roof was cut from  brass, padded out on top with filler. At the front it was glued to the sun visors which form part of the original windshield frame. The rear pillars were formed as a thin brass hoop which was glued to the roof and into slots cut in the lower body. The big rear window was carved in balsa then push-moulded into heated clear plastic. After spraying, Bare Metal Foil was used to for the additional brightwork. At 4½ inches long this is a more accurate 1:43.

Some of the big model companies like Minichamps are now getting around to mass-producing some nice old Yanks in 1:43 diecast, but they haven’t discovered the ’60 Chevy yet, and maybe never will. So the only other item in my collection is yet another El Camino, this one by Motor City Design Studio. White metal again, limited edition, expensive, no longer produced and I’ve just seen one on offer at $195. It might almost be cheaper to buy a full-size wreck and do it up.
Dinky Toys 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
Motor City Design Studio's 1960 El Camino
Dinky Toys 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
Another shot of the Lone Star El Camino and my Impala Sport Coupe Conversion.
Dinky Toys 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
My 1960 Impala Sport Coupe, based on the Lone Star El Camino
Dinky Toys 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
Another shot of my 1960 Impala Sport Coupe

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