Sunstar’s 1:12 Morris Minor and VW Cabriolet: Cheap Thrills

Jul 02, 2011 No Comments by

In a lot of ways, Sun Star’s 1:12 offerings of late define their very own segment: heavily featured models of historic, humble cars. “Humble” is an understatement. These ain’t Lamborghinis, guys… if you somehow strapped the full-sized versions of this pair together and fed the result a diet of high octane fuel, you’d still be pushing far less than a hundred horses. The Karmann-bodied ’49 VW Beetle Cabriolet made a paltry 30, and the even more anemic ’60 Morris Minor convertible cranked out a washing machine-like 27.5.

But horsepower wasn’t what these cars were about. These little rollers offered wind-in-the-hair driving pleasure with 40 mile-per-gallon thrift in the days before stratified fuel charges and factory-offered fuel injection.

They also boasted hatfuls of pokey character – and every drop has been caught and wrought in this hand-happy scale by Sun Star. Both cars have working fabric tops, working steering and suspension, and good (great, on the VW) chassis detail. Each also features a sweetly done up engine. The VW’s 1100cc flat four is wired and plumbed, and sports a rubber fan belt (a critical element on these air/oil cooled cars), and the Morris’ crisp, apple green 948cc inline four is set into a deep, fully piped engine bay. Side windows work via the door cranks, and the interiors on both have working glove boxes, visors, and seat backs front and rear. Both also feature flip-up directional “trafficators” for when you’re mind-motoring.

Just be gentle – especially on the Bug, which gets the most advanced, and therefore fragile, features, including working door handles and wheels you can change by doffing the hub caps and removing scaled lug nuts. Both cars’ convertible roofs work well enough, but remain rumpled for a while after deployment; we got the fabric boot onto the VW’s stowed chapeau easily, but gave up on the Morris after ten or so minutes of tucking, tabbing, and swearing aloud. Both cars come with faux tools – a nice touch, if panic inducing when dropped into the carpet. These things are tiny. The Volks’ comprehensive chromed set comes in a round hard shell that tucks into the front-mounted spare tire, while the Morris makes do with a proper satchel placed onto a shelf in the trunk.

The verdict? Despite the occasional glitch, and a lean toward the experienced adult collector, either of this pair certainly deserves a place in the sun. Get your summer on.

Gallery > Sun Star 1:12 Convertibles

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About the author

I was always crazy about toy cars and car-themed play sets, but I got hooked on car models when my cousin sent me a pair of built-up AMT kits - a '61 Continental and a '57 Thunderbird. I was six or seven years old when another cousin - Carl - showed me how to build and paint, and by the time I was nine, I had a pretty good collection and a great "spares box" on hand. The original Auto World catalogs were my dream books; my allowance was spent before it was ever earned, and I knew every hobby store and model retailer on Long Island. Then came slot cars, Cox .049-engined Baja Buggies and airplanes, and, ultimately, the real things. I still have some of those old models, and when time allows, I still build or detail scale cars. But it's the ready-to-display replicas and scale racing models that have really had me jazzed for the past fifteen years or so. The "mint" diecasts and the 1:18 American Muscle cars that I cut my serious collecting (and writing) teeth on back then led straight to the current crop of offerings from high-end makers and models in every scale. I also love scale model photography, and shooting, scoring, and producing videos of the models I love. I'm a proud member of the DiecastSpace Diecast Hall of Fame, as well as the Diecast Car Collectors' Club Diecast Scale Model Hall of Fame. I'm also proud to be a part of the Die Cast X Team, and as Editor-in-Chief, I'm looking forward to years of growing the publication and showing new collectors how much fun this hobby can be. And, yeah - I still have that spares box.
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