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2001 Opel Speedster
Manufacturer: Maisto
Release date Around 2002 (not currently in production)
Catalog number: 0144
Date Purchased: March 2007
Date Completed May 2007
Number in collection: 2

The Opel Speedster is a small, mid-engine roadster that was never sold in the USA. It was also the forerunner for the next version of the car that was sold here as the Saturn Sky and the Pontiac Solstice, and as the Opel GT in other markets. I chose it as I like to include cars in my collection that are normally not seen in USA. I also like the actual car. It's the type of car that seldom seems to be successful here. That's a shame, because it sure looks like it would be a blast to drive.

A scale model of the car is made by Maisto, as part of their Power Racer series. Alright, I may be stretching the term 'model' somewhat. They are marketed more as toys, as they all feature a spring-loaded, 'pull-back' type of motor at the rear wheels. The scales range from 1:35 to 1:49. They seem to be scaled to fit the packaging, meaning the larger the actual car is, the smaller the scale will be. Everyone I've ever bought features nice exterior details and opening doors. interior details are usually decent, although the room needed for the motor can encroach on the space behind the front seats. The wheels often are in the style of the actual car. The chassis make it clear that these are intended as toys, as the have no detailing whatsoever.

I started buying Power Racer cars around 2001. I was attracted to the low price (around US$3.00) and became curious as to what one of these would look like when detailed as I would an actual model kit. I was so impressed by the results, that I started buying them more often. Although I had taken a few years off from this hobby several years back, these cars were some of the first I bought after I got back into it in 2007. The only problem is that this car line is much more difficult to find than it used to be. My primary sources were Walgreen's and Wal-Mart. neither store carries them at this time, at least not in my geographical area.

I originally worked on this car long before I started photographing them. The 'before' pictures are not of my car, but ones I found on-line of others that were in original condition. The 'after' pictures were of my car, but taken while I was originally writing this page.

Click to zoom Click to zoom
What I started with. Actual car I used for reference.

Pictures of car before any changes were made (click to enlarge)

Disassembly was started by removing two screws that hold the chassis to the body. The remainder of this process, as well as the resulting parts breakdown, is as follows:
  • The bottom half of the interior, with seats and console moulded to it as a single piece, in black plastic. This just snaps to the base chassis plate.
  • The front axle, with wheels and tires pressed onto the axle. This falls loose once the bottom interior is removed. I didn't see any way to remove the wheels from the axles without damaging them, so I stopped there.
  • The rear tires, wheels, axle and pull-back motor assembly. This snaps free from the chassis plate by carefully flexing the chassis until the motor pops loose. Once again, I didn't see any way to remove the wheels from the axles without damaging them or the motor assembly, so this is as far as I went.
  • A one piece black plastic chassis That has minimal and unrealistic detail cast to the bottom.
  • a steel spring that locates between three pins cast into the underside of the body. The purpose of this part is to allow the doors to spring back closed after being opened, and to hold them in place when closed.
  • The two doors, which are easily removed once the retaining spring is removed. These are painted the same color as the body, and have door panel detail lightly cast into the inside surface.
  • A black plastic dashboard and steering wheel. The steering wheel is glued the dash. This whole assembly was carefully pried from the retaining rivets inside of the body.
  • The clear windshield and rear window. Like the dashboard, These were carefully pried from the retaining rivets inside of the body.
  • The die-cast body, painted Yellow with tampo-printed and adhesive-backed markings. Two clear plastic headlight lenses are attached by heat applied to moulded-in pins. I cut this bond and removed the lenses.

After disassembling the car, only paint and foil were used to detail the car.

The following is a summary of the changes I made:
  • Wheels and tires: Sanded the tread surface with 220 grit sandpaper to simulate wear.
  • Chassis: Painted entire piece Testors acrylic flat black. Highlight the few moulded in details with Tamiya semi-gloss black. I left the pull-back motor attached to the chassis, as there was no need to remove and detail this part.
  • Interior: Painted seats a mixture of Testors acrylic tan and flat white. Painted floor, dash, and steering wheel Testors acrylic flat black. Remaining interior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
  • Windows: The windshield frame was already highlighted silver, so I saw no reason to remove this piece or the rear window from the rivets inside of the body.
  • Body: Painted underside of body Testors acrylic flat black. Added side vents, front grill and enlarged existing printed vents with flat black. Drew in body panel seams with a metal tipped 'quill' pen and black ink. Head and tail lights detailed with flat black paint, Bare-Metal foil, and Tamiya clear red and clear orange for lenses. Remaining exterior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
Disassembled parts, before reassembly To the left is the car prior to re-assembly.

The car was reassembled by reversing the procedure used to disassemble it. No glue was needed.

Pictures of completed car (click to enlarge)

The proportions of the completed car look very close to the actual car. The table below shows how close they are.

Actual car 
(mm / in)
(mm / in)
Dimensions of actual car based on model scale
(mm / in)
Calculated scale based on model to actual car
Length 3786 / 149.1 107 / 4.20 3841 / 151.2 1:36
Wheelbase 2330 / 91.7 65 / 2.54 2326 / 91.4 1:36
Width 1708 / 67.2 48 / 1.91 1829 / 68.8 1:35
Height 1117 / 44.0 32 / 1.24 1134 / 44.6 1:36

My calculations show that this car is a very close to the 1:36 scale moulded onto the chassis plate. The width I measured was a bit larger, but not by enough to really matter.

This is the first time I've really looked at this car in any detail since I bought it over six years ago. I'm still happy with the way it turned out, and didn't feel the need to make any changes. I only wish that Maisto as part of their Power Racer cars were still available in my area. The company's on-line catalogue shows that they are still being produced, but I haven't seen any on sale since 2011. I have found cars from other manufacturers since then that offer comparable features for around the same price, so I guess I'll have to be satisfied with them. I will also watch resale shops in hopes that some will turn up there.

Liked what you saw? More cars can be found HERE .

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