Our DTM cup runneth over! It’s only a couple of months since I was writing about the new Mercedes-Benz AMG C-Class Racer (click here for the article), the fabulous new casting that made its debut recently in the 2022 Car Culture Deutschland Design set. Hot on its heels comes this Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI, a period rival that will be racing into Walmarts imminently as part of the next 2022 Boulevard mix – appropriately as #55.
Hot Wheels designer Mark Jones is responsible for both new DTM castings and he kindly loaned me the final engineering prototype (FEP) Alfa you see here to photograph for the blog. It’s a pleasure to be able to showcase another new model from Mark, who has great taste in classic race cars! Check out the new De Tomaso Pantera he recently sneaked on his Instagram @designspeed744.
First, some history. The 155 was an angular, Fiat-based Alfa executive sedan sold in Europe in the 1990s. In one of the finest examples of a marque using racing to inject a car with desirability, Alfa raced the 155 both in the more stock-based, Super Touring championships and as a wild, highly modified FIA Class 1 in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft – German Touring Car Championship, later ITC) of the time. The Q4 4WD system was adapted from the Lancia Delta Integrale and a 2.5-litre, naturally aspirated V6 screamed its way to 400+ horsepower at 11,500rpm. I can say from experience that it sounded amazing!
With F1 drivers Nicola Larini and Alessandro Nannini at the wheel, the Alfa Corse-prepared 155s won the championship in 1993 but were later well matched by the C-Class and Opel Calibra competition. By the end of ’96, costs had killed the series and the Class 1 monsters were consigned to folklore.
Two years ago, I wrote a feature for Lamley about the Matchbox DTM cars from the late-1990s. You can read that again here. The Alfa is my pick of that trio and the real 155 is one of my all-time top-five race cars, so naturally I’m excited to see another one appear as part of a Hot Wheels DTM mini-revival, 25 years later!
“After we did the C-Class Racer then it seemed necessary to do the Alfa,” says Mark. “Both were a challenge for me working at home, without a lot of other cars around and a couple extra sets of eyes. It meant that getting the sizes correct was a challenge.”
As you can see from the picture, the Alfa is noticeably shorter and narrower than the Mercedes.
One detail from the Merc that didn’t make it to the Alfa were the cutouts ahead of the front wheels. “I had to make do with recessed deco on the front of the Alfa,” he says. “The areas were too small for shut-offs – maintaining them would be difficult.” Minichamps took a similar approach for their beautiful 1:64 155. Matchbox got the cutouts back in the day by making that section part of the base!
On the Hot Wheels, the black print to pick out those front vents is perfectly applied. The side skirts look great in contrasting black as part of the base. My favourite detail is at the rear of the car, however, where the tailpipes have been cleverly incorporated into the grey plastic roll-cage part.
The new Alfa model also has that lovely, all-metal heft that we appreciate on a Hot Wheels Premium casting!
The real 155 was widened for racing but was still proportionally a long, thin car in its earliest incarnation. Looking at the Hot Wheels in side view, the profile is unmistakably 155, but the section behind the rear axle is a little shorter than it might have been. It doesn’t look squashed though, unlike the old Matchbox 155, and the flared arches give it an appropriately Hot Wheels stance.
My unscientific scale comparison was well received in that recent C-Class article, so let’s do another one here. The real ’93 155 V6 TI measured 4,576mm long x 1,750mm wide x 1,410mm high. As with the Merc, I’ve measured three Alfa models and divided through to get the scale, to reveal the following stats:
Hot Wheels: 74mm x 30mm x 22mm (1:62 x 1:58 x 1:58)
Matchbox: 78mm x 33mm x 24mm (1:59 x 1:53 x 1:59)
Minichamps: 72mm x 28mm x 22mm (1:64 x 1:63 x 1:64 – now that’s accurate!)
(all measurements in the order L x W x H, approximate scales in brackets)
The Hot Wheels doesn’t quite have the length to match its width and height, as detailed above, and the Matchbox’s caricatured proportions are clear to see. Meanwhile the Minichamps is almost perfectly to scale, but then, unlike the others, it’s supposed to be!
As I said in the Mercedes piece, the colourful decos on the cars of the 1990s DTM look great in any scale. On the new Hot Wheels Alfa, the deco design by Steve Vandervate represents the championship-winning #8 car of Larini from ’93 – specifically, one of its later appearances at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, because you can see the small silver ‘155’ entry number on the side! The choice of a clean, red Alfa factory car is the right one for this first edition but I can’t wait to see it in some different schemes as well, there are loads to choose from.
The shade of red employed on these cars is very tough to get right. Matchbox went too light back in the day and the Minichamps is too dark. In the case of the Hot Wheels, at least on this preproduction model, it’s a little paler than I would have liked. The miniature 155 I have that does it best is an old Onyx 1:43 of Giancarlo Fisichella’s 1996 car; here it is with the Hot Wheels so you can see the difference.
You can never have enough Alfas so let’s finish with a group shot of some 155 V6 TIs in different scales, and another of the new Hot Wheels alongside its C-Class buddy.
I’m still amazed that in recent years, Hot Wheels has chosen to model classic European race cars like the recent DTM and Group C machines. Long may it continue. Thanks again to Hot Wheels and to Mark for sharing the prototype with us, I’m sorry to send it back!
(follow me on Instagram @diecast215)