March 15, 2020 – by Doug Breithaupt
You have allowed me to post two chapters of the Road Champs story here on the Lamley Group, and I have posted three more on the Tales of Toy Cars Facebook blog. There is one more needed to complete my review.
Road Champs has offered a variety of contemporary and classic American cars over the years, and I want to share those as well as a few other models that were not included in the earlier stories. Let’s begin with some cars from General Motors. Road Champs showed considerable interest in producing models of the Chevrolet Corvette.
One of the stories I mentioned on Tales of Toy Cars Facebook blog featured these Corvette models, but an image of each casting is included here as well. All generations of C1 to C5 were produced. The final C5 model was offered in the Shock Racers series after the company was sold to Jakks Pacific.
Road Champs also offered examples of the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. Two generations of Firebird were produced as was the ‘82 Camaro Z28.
The Pontiac Fiero was also a popular model done by Road Champs. In addition to its opening doors, it featured an opening engine cover/trunk. Both stock and racing versions were offered. Road Champs also included the Fiero in their color changers series.
There were some interesting classic cars in the Road Champs line. These included models from both GM and Ford. Opening features and removable convertible tops gave these castings extra play value. They also produced popular cars like the ‘57 Chevy and ‘56 Ford Thunderbird. Less common were examples like the ‘48 Buick Roadmaster and one of the first ‘59 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz models.
The 1957 Chevy Bel Air came as either a convertible or hard-top coupe. This is the only coupe or convertible pair from Road Champs and required two separate castings. The convertible was available with a removable top or top cover.
The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was also produced with a top or top cover. Producing this car as a 3-inch model reduced the scale compared to some other Road Champs castings. This became the first small-scale ‘59 Cadillac in my collection. At the time, I owned a ‘59 Coupe de Ville and was very pleased to have an example of this finned rocket ship.
The most unique classic model from Road Champs may be the 1948 Buick Roadmaster. At the time this was produced, very few American cars from the 1940’s were offered in small-scale. The big Buick with its dollar grin became a favorite for many kids and collectors. It was painted with hot rod flames in black or white and with some colorful blue shades and ‘Roadmaster’ graphics.
Reaching back even further, Road Champs decided to do a ‘30’s era Ford Model A. It included both opening doors and an opening dickey or rumble seat. The usual mag style wheels were replaced with chromed spoke wheels. It came in red or yellow.
Road Champs made two Ford Thunderbird models. The first is the classic ‘56 T-Bird with the hard top and famous porthole offered that year. The second is the ‘84 Aero-Bird that had a significant impact on American automotive design. It was also a success on NASCAR circuits.
Cars from Chrysler Corporation or American Motors did not receive as much attention from Road Champs. They did offer a Jeep CJ-5 with an opening hood. I have a well-loved example missing a few bits.
Road Champs did produce a Dodge Caravan model that saw some interesting use. It was included in the regular line but also appeared as a Rippin’ Racer with a pull cord that wound up and then released the rear wheels. Even more interesting was an example packaged as a promotion for Zinc, offered as a promotional item for the Interzinc Corporation.
Another Chrysler Corp. model was included in the Rag Tops series by Road Champs. The Chrysler LeBaron convertible was combined with a Ford Mustang and Buick Riviera in this three car series. Once again, you could choose to have the top up or an open car with the top cover in place. A mix of colors were offered for each model.
Road Champs produced many other vehicles. They did an extensive series of semi-trucks which I do not collect. I did, however, end up with an example of one for Richard Petty’s STP stock car team. I also have a Mercedes-Benz limousine with both front and rear opening doors as well as a sliding sun roof. I have a full set of Road Champs Car and Driver Shock Racers which were offered by Jakks Pacific after they bought the company. In addition, I have a complete playset of tiny Road Champs produced to compete with Micro Machines — but those will have to wait for a future story.
This has been an extended story to highlight some of the models to come from Road Champs over the years. If you have read this far, thank you for letting me give this interesting toy car brand some of the recognition it deserves. I hope you have found this review of value and perhaps it will give us all a little more respect for Road Champs.