“ Brand: Schabak / Type: Cars „
A few months ago I was browsing around online sites and chatting to several model car collectors online when the subject arose of small miniature BMW models that are quite hard to come by. Matchbox, Corgi and even Majorette in the late 1970's and 1980's all made rally editions of playable small "matchbox" sized vehicles, some even being plain cars with opening doors, perhaps a trailer of somewhat, opening bonnet or boot. Other toy and model companies soon followed suit from Revell, Herpa and Minichamps in the 1990s to the present day. In all cases though, if you wanted a model BMW with better graphics or detail you'd have to press your dealer for one as they didn't have much of a global enterprise until German company Schucco (before being bought over by Chinese Hongwell/Cararama in 2000) brought out bigger models with a bigger family range with other German brands like Volkswagen and Audi also getting a specific line up. German company Schabak are more famous for their model aeroplanes using various livery and international brands, so I was taken aback quite literally wise when I saw a BMW Z1 1:43 scale ratio model available for a mere £6-95 that is usually twice the price online. Brand new and comes in its own paper/plastic presentation box, the BMW Z1 in reality was a production sports car made by BMW that only had a limited production run of 8000 models. It is a very rare sports car with a novel design of automatic front doors that fold into the sides rather like electric windows as opposed to conventionally open doors and as such was never available in the U.S due to safety regulations. As a teenager who often hankered after the Volvo 480 ES, I was amazed and intrigued by the Z1 and couldn't believe my surprise when my Uncle in Germany actually bought one! My summers were therefore spent for a lot of the time in Germany!
Despite the cache of the actual car, the Schabak model is far and away from the actual quality that most if not all BMW road cars exude even if the darker green metallic or blue metallic painted models have a lush cream leather look plastic interior. It is a problem that seems to be the way for many other Schabak car models like the Audi Avant or Ford models that have been abused and passed off on EBAY at cheaper prices. The Z1 however seems to be a rare model because of its recent addition to the collectable model car market - but it's not all a bed of rosies like its default bright red shiny paint. Size wise, the car measures 9cm by 3cm with a height of 2.5cm.
For a start, this car has two free parts that come with the model. An optional open top hard top cover with two rear bumps to cover over the rear headrests of the back seats and turns the car into a hard top or cabriolet depending on your mood. The second implement is a thinly made plastic key, which hooks onto a tiny hook on the underside of the car to lift or push down a lever which pushes or pulls up or down each door to the car. Sadly once the rear top is grafted onto the rear of the car, or if the key is used to raise the doors, the whole car rattles much like a Matchbox Superkings car of the period with opening doors or tailgates, which is a disappointment given the car's otherwise excellent details. Like the real car, the graphics and details are well designed and easy to recognize with the real car, from the bumper design right down to flat jeweled headlights and orange indicators. The bonnet lifts up in reverse revealing a silver painted engine cover and in contrasting black, all other details of the engine. At the back a red stripe acts as the rear lights and Schabak have gone to the bother of inscribing a tiny "Z1" in which lettering to match the same model number of the actual car on the boot as well as set of four non-removable BMW style alloy wheels with real rubber tyres. The key can handily be stored in the back of the BMW's front two seats since the boot opens a bit revealing a designed flat boot but then there's no where for the targa top to go if the only two seats in the car is taken up with the key. The front seats actually have independent same body colour panels that can be taken off the seats and stored in the boot - but again these are clip on items that are made out of metal and aren't suitable for children.
Whilst the dashboard and door designs both inside and out are spot on for the real BMW Z1, the dashboard, steering wheel, gear stick and centre console have good detail but none of it has a different colour stitched in, which would make this car a little more special than just having novel sliding doors, opening boot, bonnet and an optional hard top. The thinly made black plastic barely covers the bottom of the floorpan revealing red paint edges whilst parts of the car's bumpers and windscreen aren't always uniform. The windscreen is the worst with a particularly bad gap between the top red metal frame and the actual concave of the plastic used. At least there the single arm windscreen wiper has been retained whilst all body red paint has been used for the wing mirrors, which are pretty vulnerable, but in metal alongside the rest of the car. The wheels move independently if the car is pushed along a flat surface, but its shoddy build quality and light design work means it isn't really suitable as a toy, even if there is some suspension felt - but more of a display model that mirrors Schabak's design intentions.
In reality, if BMW ever produced the Z1 to the standard that Schabak think they have got away with; the car would never have left the factory! Although the design details from bottom and front apron, side skirts, wheel arches et al are very exact from the real production car, the build quality and panel fitting is one of the worst I've ever seen on a model car. It is worth considering if you are starting out as a model car collector, but its fragility means it isn't a model that will satisfy curious fingers. Worth the price I paid, I feel the Schabak BMW Z1 is a novel model car that at least gives buyers a real chance of owning a very rare miniature model car of a real car that originally cost around £40000-00 before the retro BMW Z3 replaced it. It is however not very well made and taken from a range of model cars by Schabak that include the Audi Coupe, VW Corrado, Mercedes SL, Ford Fiesta and BMW 850i, it is perhaps well worth looking out for! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2011
To see a photo of this you'll find it here: