Minichamps “Mullin” 1:18 Hispano-Suiza “Xenia” : Goddess on Wheels

Minichamps “Mullin” 1:18 Hispano-Suiza “Xenia” : Goddess on Wheels

Minichamps 1938 Hispano-Suiza H6C “Dubonnet”

1:18 | $295.00 

Super collectors are a rare and wonderful bunch of folks. They have the money, time, and space to indulge in their passions, be they model cars, their full-sized counterparts, or both. Minichamps understands that, and the proof is this exquisite Hispano-Suiza “Xenia” in 1:18 resin, the debut large-scale piece from their “Mullin Automotive Collection” series of high-end, limited-edition hand builts. We’d seen the 1:43 model of the bittersweet beauty a while back, when it debuted the smaller scale Mullin lineup. But where that first car echoed the real Xenia’s fantastical shape and presence, this model practically sings it out at the top of its lungs.

It’s a sad song. The Xenia was a one-of-a-kind machine built in 1938 for heir to the Dubonnet spirits fortune, Andre Dubonnet, as an homage to his late wife. With a body built by Jacques Saoutchik after a design by Jean Andreau, the car’s chassis had started out as an Hispano-Suiza H6C of 1932 vintage, which Dubonnet revised with a few enhancements of his own design – most notably, a “hyperflex” four wheel independent suspension that gave the giant car amazing handling. No wonder everyone from GM to Alfa Romeo licensed the engineering for their own cars. That suspension didn’t see much action during the war; Dubonnet hid the car for the duration. Peter Mullin bought the one-off rolling sculpture in 2003, and added it to his “French Curves” collection at his museum in Oxnard, California.

It’s also up for grabs, in scale, in an edition of 1,002 individually numbered pieces to be made by Minichamps. To the car’s confounding beauty, this replica adds the intrigue of details rendered in scale, starting with the excellent lines and grandiose sweep of the casting. This isn’t some bedazzled ’30s design – Andreau was known for aerodynamic streamlining, not adding bling – and the engraved lines for the hood, doors, fender skirts, and rear hatch are perfectly straight and even. The few chromed bits that do adorn the car are jewel-like, including the door handles, the twin fuel fills, and the tiny releases for the rear wheel skirts. Larger pieces, like the grille (which resembles that of the “coffin-nosed” Cord ) are also cast in hi-res resin, then chromed; even the headlights, with their yellow lenses, are made of the stuff, and fitted perfectly.

Carefully formed and laid-in butyrate makes up the windows, and that provides an undistorted 360-degree portal through which to see the Xenia’s cabin, with a detailed dash, readable gauges, and a wood-grained steering wheel. The texture-finished seats look real; so do the dark blue door panels, and the luggage fitted beneath the hatch. The free-standing rear exhaust, and some nice front suspension and chassis detailing, add to the car’s profile on skinny tires and beautiful stepped full wheel covers.

The final note – tiny, photo-etched “Saoutchik” badges on each rocker – made an already wonderful model even more enchanting. More large scale Mullins are on deck. Bring on those super collectors.   – DCX

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  1. Beautiful car, but $300 for a curbside? Cost is one of the reasons I went back to building model airplanes after collecting over 1000 die casts. Good stuff is not cheap, but now it’s ridiculous. You have to be rich to collect, and I ain’t rich. I am thinking back to the Highway 61’s which were well under $100 and had a wealth of features. Even an Exoto is a bargain compared to this car, because they are very detailed and have a lot of features. You feel you get what you pay for. Not so with this model as far as I can see. Sorry, but no cigar here.

    1. Lots of collectors have had that reaction to the current crop of resincasts, most of which have no opening features. But the attraction for those who do like this kind of model is rarity, because these off-the-beaten-path replicas are usually made in lower numbers. BBR, for instance, or MR Collection, will do only a few in any particular run – and the price can be double, or more, what Minichamps asks for cars in this series.

      This Xenia will see 1,002 copies made, then the molds will be pulled. The average Highway 61 (or Ertl, or any of those cool diecast cars we go crazy over) sees (or saw) tens of thousands made. That’s why they’re relatively cheap, even though they cost more to tool up and build. And remember, those old Fords, Chevys, and Mopars came in a rainbow of colors and trims – which makes it all the easier to sell even more models from that same mold set.

      Cars like this Hispano-Suiza were one-of-a-kind. That’s why making this car in diecast, with full opening features, would be a financial disaster. Making it in resin, however, for the few collectors who will want this beauty on their shelves (hopefully, another 1,001, for Minichamps’ sake), makes more sense when it comes to making a profit, and ultimately being around to make more models. And for what it’s worth, the pictures really don’t do it justice. While it’s not for everyone, it’s an incredible piece, on display.

      Thanks for checking it out.

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