Long form: Turismo Carretera in miniature

What do you think the oldest auto racing series is? Formula 1? Nope. WRC? Not even close. NASCAR? Nah. For the longest running series going you have to look to South America, to Argentina to be precise, and to the Turismo Carretera championship which has been running (give or take a few gaps) since 1937.

A stock car series, Turismo Carretera was initially held on temporarily closed public roads on a combination of asphalt and dirt and kept this format until the 1960s. During the late 1960s and early 1970s the series began to attract the attention of the big car brands that were present in Argentina at the time, specifically Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet. Racers were already using the brands’ Falcon, GTX and SS Coupe (Malibu) cars respectively, and the prestige of winning titles drew bigger direct investment. Renault’s merger with local automotive giants IKA added another contender in the shape of the legendary Torino model.

And since the 1970s the same 4 brands and indeed the same 4 models have been competing. And yes you did read that correctly: the same 4 models. The GTX, Falcon, Chevy Coupe and the Torino are still battling on albeit in the form of spaceframed silhouette racers. The series welcomed Toyota in 2022 with the Camry and from 2024 the series will make perhaps the biggest shift ever with a shift to “Pony Cars”: the Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro will arrive along with a restyled Camry contender. And for the legendary IKA Torino? Well the Asociación Corredores de Turismo Carretera (the governing body behind the series) have called for designers to submit their visions of what a new Torino race car would look like with the hope a workable design can be found. Here’s hoping….

The series is massive in it’s native Argentina and indeed popular across South America. But to the rest of the world it is relatively unknown and there are certainly not many diecast models of TCR cars out there, especially in 1:64/3-inch. Thanks to a bit of luck here and there though, I managed to secure this group.

A selection of TCR cars from across the ages from some of Argentina’s best and most unique diecast manufacturers, starting with Galgo and the Ford Falcon in the livery of Eduardo Marcos.

Industrias Galgo was one of the most important toy manufacturers in Argentina and were most active between the 1970s and 1980s. They produced diecasts in 1:32, 1:43 and 1:55/64 scale as well as a very popular line of model trucks in 1:90 scale. Despite selling their products in many countries across the globe they appear to have all but disappeared after 1985, though a line of 1:32 scale cars was being sold under the “Galgo Max” brand in the 2000s. During the company heyday they made a large selection of racing car models from different series including F1 but for me their best diecast are the TCR replicas. This Falcon was my first Galgo and I adore it.

The other Galgo in my collection is this Chevrolet SS Coupe in a fictional company livery. The hood scoop is missing but I’ve fashioned a replacement from styrene that looks the part, I just need to fit it. Regardless it looks incredible in my opinion. It’s obviously been very well loved. In terms of scale both the Galgo Falcon and this Chevrolet are around 1:55.

Also in my hoard is this 1:32 scale Dodge GTX of Juan Antonio de Benedictis complete with Ford F-150 tow truck and trailer.

Next up is the mystery model in my TCR collection. This Ford Falcon has no manufacturer listed on the base, only “INDUSTRIA ARGENTINA – FORD”. And I love the obscurity of it. It’s been well played with and at some point in it’s life an Argentine child has stuck random stickers on it, but I’ve simply left them on. My good friend Dario Coffaro of Coffaro Wheels thinks it’s likely a product of the Gillette company (yes, they of Gillette razors!), who produced toys in Argentina under the “Jet” brand. Jet models were on par with contemporary Matchbox and were produced from 1974 until around 1978. This Falcon is rather crude compared to other Jet cars so I’m really unsure of the origin. If any Lamley readers know, please get in touch!

Last but by no means least is the extraordinary Chevrolet Chevy of an incredible brand called Claseslot.

I discovered this totally by accident on Ebay earlier this year and jumped at the chance to add it to my collection. Claseslot are very much a small operation bordering on a cottage industry, but still capable of producing some very cool miniatures. Based in the Argentine Capital Buenos Aires, the company grew from founder Sergio Blanco’s hobby crafting models from wood. They produce primarily 1:32 scale TCR replicas utilising thermo-molded acetate bodies similar to RC car body shells. The company branched into smaller scale with the Claseslot Mini line which looks to me to be around 1:55 scale. The overall finish is less polished than the 1:32 lines and the construction is quite basic: plastic is the primary material and stickers are utilised throughout, even the interior is a sticker! But considering these things aren’t mass produced, how unique the subjects are and how rare they are outside of their home nation, I’m really chuffed to have this. It’s a replica of the car used by legendary driver Agustin Canapino who now competes in the IndyCar series for Juncos Hollinger racing. Canapino is a 4 time TCR Champion who still competes in the series.

A very cool an unique way to draw this long form to a close but if you know me by now you’ll know I’m constantly on the hunt and I’m really hoping I can bring you more TCR cars in this scale in the future.

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