Product: The 24 Hours of Le Mans is just behind the Indianapolis 500 in longevity, notoriety and importance in the racing world.
Long a bastion of success for European sports car makers — the likes of Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, Peugeot and Ferrari to name a few — the 1991 race will always be remembered as the year a Japanese make, Mazda, finally won the title. After 13 years of trying, Mazda won with its beautiful rotary-engine powered 787B. The winning drivers were Johnny Herbert, Bertrand Gachot and Volker Weidler, all former Formula 1 drivers.
Although Autoart has created that winning car previously in 1:18 scale, with this new Signature Series model it boasts a Stealth carbon fiber look that accents the car’s lines and high-tech features, not its sponsors. The car also is modeled after the Stealth model that is featured in PlayStation’s Gran Turismo 5 games, so this could be popular with a younger audience.
Performance: As with other Signature Series cars, this rendition of the historic 787B is spectacular and extremely finely detailed, reflected in its $275 price. The racer is made from 480 metal (60 on the exterior) and plastic parts, including many photo-etched plates, along with metal wiring. It looks authentic, no matter how closely you inspect it, nearly on a par with CMC models.
Naturally, the hood and bonnet are removable and the doors open.
Inside you’ll find a finely detailed dash with glass-covered gauges and fuse panel, plus fabric seat belts with photo-etched buckles. Talk about realistic!
But most folks will examine the outside, and engine compartment the most, and these are stellar. The suspension is fully functional, the rear spoiler has metal supports, there are steel cables and metal clips to lock the hood and bonnet down, and there’s wire mesh to protect the front radiators from damage, just like on the real Mazda.
The 787B’s 2.6-liter Wankel rotary engine was what made this car particularly special. It was the only rotary to ever win Le Mans. It used three sequential spark plugs per rotor and created more than 700 horsepower. And it’s beautifully detailed here with a full-oil cooling and fuel system to make this look authentic.
There also are cool Brembo brake calipers, two antenna atop the cockpit’s roof and nicely detailed wheels and Dunlop tires. The fit and finish are stellar.
Marketing: Make sure to display this prior to June as the 80th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans runs June 16–18. This would do well as the focal point of a special Le Mans display, filled with 1:18 and 1:43 diecast models and 1:32 slot cars. That will give buyers a lot of leeway in pricing so they can find a model they can afford.
You could sponsor a Le Mans style race on your shop’s slot track to encourage slot cars purchases and inspire collectors to spring for the fancier, more-detailed 1:18 versions that Autoart and others have created for home displays. Note, too, that the race itself is usually televised on Speed, so you could tune that in at your shop that June weekend, or DVR it and run it for a couple weeks after the race to stir interest in Le Mans racers.
Product: Mazda 787B (Stealth)
Maker: Autoart (Signature Series)
Stock number: 81043
• Historically significant
• Fantastic detail
• Video game tie-in