It was hard for me as a kid. On Christmas morning, while everyone else was gluing together their bitchin’ IROCs and Mustangs, I sat around wondering why Santa never brought me a model of a Delta 88 or Mercury Grand Marquis. Yes, I was that kid.
So imagine, if you will, the excitement I felt when last week I discovered that someone out there had heard my pleas. Thanks to the fine folks at Great Lightning Models, I was able to score this fine automobile, a 1:43 scale 198X Buick Park Avenue.
Now, you may be asking yourself two questions: first, why does he keep referring to it as a 198X Park Avenue? Is he just that poor of a typist? Well, friends, the manufacturer states it’s a 1986 model. However, based on the subtle year-to-year changes in the Park Avenue line, we can say with 100% certainty this is not a 1986, but rather an ‘87 or ‘88. For those of you who don’t have a Park Avenue fetish, the 1985 (first year - no Liddy Light) and 1986 models had four sealed-beam headlamps. On the other end of this bodystyle’s run, you had the 1989 and 1990 models with those beloved GM automatic seatbelts, which this replica doesn’t have. The change from 1987 to 1988 was the replacement of the so-so 3.8L Buick V-6 with the bulletproof 3800; sadly, the hood doesn’t open, so we’ll just have to live with a little ambiguity.
And secondly, why I am I so excited about Park Avenues, of all things? Because it was my very first car. And my second.
Sadly, both the car and my hair are long gone.
So now that we’ve covered more background than you ever cared to know — on with the review!
Exterior — A Exterior — B+
They really nailed it. I’m amazed at the sheer amount of detail from the 16-foot car that made it onto the 4 3/8” model.
All of the badges are correct and in the correct spots. That one on the fender, which was removed in 1990, says “fuel injection,” as was the norm for many GM cars of the era — stand back! The push-button door handles are surprisingly substantial. All of the rub strips, side markers, and chrome are nicely done, and you can’t not mention those wonderful opera lamps.
Hands off, Ray Wert.
The car is nicely painted, aside from a small chip on the roof. I would have rather the model come with the wire wheel hubcaps most of the Park Avenues had. These wheels did appear on Park Avenues from day one, though, so they are period correct.
The only demerit I can give to the exterior is that the tri-shield hood ornament is colored, whereas the real car always came with a non-colored version. (Two different versions, actually.)
As noted by carcrasher88, there’s an issue with the left front corner of the roof. It looks like a dab of glue didn’t quite set right, causing the corner to stand too proud. It’s hidden pretty well from a viewing angle greater than about 30 degrees from above, between that and the paint chip I’ve had to revise my exterior rating downward.
So in other words,
I really have to stretch to find flaws. I must need new glasses.
Interior — A
What a bitch to photograph. The modelers again did a superb job here with the details.
These seats are the most comfortable ever designed; if you’ve never sat in these tufted thrones, you’ve missed something great. To this day I can close my eyes and still smell that soft, grey velour. Seatbelts appear to be missing from all six seats.
And now we come to the reason I can’t give the interior an A+: the steering wheel is installed upside-down. Aside from that, I’m blown away at all the extremely accurate things here. You can clearly see the correct speedometer, flanked by the two “information centers.” The woodgrain looks just as fake as it was in the real car. Additionally (although not shown here), you’ll find decals for the electronic touch climate control panel and the GM corporate two-knob AM/FM/cassette stereo.
Driving Experience — DNF
This isn’t a model with turning wheels or functioning suspension, so it’s on-road prowess will have to stay inside the box. However, the wheels are made of a rubber-type material.
If we could check under the hood, we’d find a 3.8L V-6 of some sort, preferably the 3800 variety. The 3800 in my 1990 Park Avenue was far superior to the original 3.8L Buick V-6 in my ‘85, and I shudder to think of the poor souls who ordered an Electra 300 back in 1985.
There is no chassis detail, just a flat piece of black plastic underneath.
Toys — A
The model is packaged nicely. It’s mounted to a black base, and comes in a rectangular plastic case. The case is removable, but I probably won’t ever take it off again. The nameplate in the foreground was taped to the case, but doesn’t have any adhesive on the back; I’m not sure if I’m going to do anything with that yet.
Apparently these models are somewhat exclusive; the plate in the left corner says I have number 73 of 299. This might explain the somewhat steep price of between $80 and $100 from various sellers, including shipping. Still, with the surprising amount of detail, and the fact that there can’t be that much pent-up demand for a model of an old man’s Buick out of production for 25 years.....I guess we just have to rationalize this one ourselves.
Slightly discount #3 on the plus side in the chart above. The paint chip and roof corner issue are disturbing, but for some strange reason my OCD-self is not clamoring to return it for another. Maybe I’ve just mellowed in my old age.
Now if you will excuse me, Matrix Models has a brown, diesel, 1980 Olds Delta 88 out there I must find!