Minichamps 1998 Ford Focus (1:43)
I finally found a diecast model like our family car, but was it worth the wait?
Welcome to my first attempt at an article in this tribe! Apologies if it's not the best, any feedback or tips for article writing are welcomed! Enough intro, let's get to the article.
A little background info
The family bus is a 1998 Ford Focus 5 door. OK, I know a small, green, 22 year old Ford isn't exactly the most exciting car in the world, so you could be forgiven for not being excited at the thought of one.
We've had the car several years now, after buying it from a neighbour who wanted to downsize to a Fiesta. In our ownership of the car, we've all become quite attached to it (sounds silly and cheesy I know). It's certainly not without it's little issues, as to be expected with a car this age, and nearly 110k miles covered in it's lifetime. Regardless, we'd hate to see it go. It's not too big, it's comfy, and it's quite fun thanks to the 1.8 Zetec engine and sportier suspension. It's certainly no hot hatch, but it's better than you may expect.
The family bus
Why did I want this model?
I've wanted a diecast model of our car for a while now. It's cool to have a mini me of your (or your family's in this case) actual car for photoshoots. Also, it will be a little reminder of what our car was like if/when we ever decide to change cars. Just a cool little piece of memorabilia to keep.
I knew Minichamps made various 1:43 scale models of the first gen Focus, but none of them that I could find matched our car. I found a silver 5dr, a red 3dr and other configs, but none like our car, which is finished in Aqua Frost. It's a strange mix of blue and green which results in a light shade that really pops in sunlight. In all fairness though, it wasn't exactly a common colour, and I wasn't too surprised when I couldn't find a diecast Focus sharing the same paintjob.
However, after not very long, I discovered that they did make Focuses (Foci?) in different colours and styles to the ones I'd previously been looking at. Great! But are any of them what I'm after? As luck would have it, Minichamps did in fact make a 5 door hatch finished in Aqua Frost, almost identical to ours. I knew that I had to find one.
The search begins...
Ebay was my first port of call, as they have the international shipping scheme for buying items from other places. With the model I was searching for being quite old, and probably a bit obscure to most collectors, I wasn't expecting to have much luck. However, to my surprise there were a few available in France and Japan. My friend kindly ordered one for me, as I'd never got around to setting up an eBay account, something which I have now done for future model hunting. Hooray, impulse buying! Anyway, after a few weeks of waiting I now have the model. So, was it worth the wait?
Attention to Detail
The model is much more detailed than I had previously expected. The grille, plastic lower bumper trims and sill protectors are all exactly as they are on the actual car. The wheels are also quite detailed, with a small Ford badge on the centre cap, and convincing looking tyre treads.
As for the paint, I think Minichamps did an excellent job replicating Aqua Frost. It really pops in direct light and looks exactly the same as the real paint colour. There are no imperfections in the paint, so I'm thankful to the previous owner for keeping it in the display case (it went straight back in there after some quick photos lol).
There are also smaller details like the aerial, indicator repeaters, door handles, wipers and mirror caps, which look accurate and give some more realism to the model. The light housings and reflectors are also very true to the real thing. One detail which I found particularly cool was the back box and exhaust tip, which are almost unnoticeable but there. They even bothered to make the cut out for the exhaust tip at the corner of the bumper. An unnecessary, but appreciated piece of attention to detail.
Even the interior has a surprising amount of detail to it. The distinctive 4 spoke steering wheel comes complete with a tiny little blue oval in the centre. Behind this, the instrument cluster has miniscule dials printed on it. In the centre panel, details like a radio and climate control dials can be found. Moving down to the centre console, there is a tiny little gear stick complemented by an equally tiny handbrake. Elsewhere in the cabin, we find details like window controls, door handles and air vents, all of which are just like those on the real car. The seats are well modelled too, as are all of the door cards and parcel shelf.
So, it's well detailed, any negatives?
No, I haven't found anything I really dislike to be honest. Well, if I was to be really picky, this model is based on a LHD Focus as previously mentioned, and there are minor differences between our Focus and this model. The sunroof has a body coloured cover instead of being exposed glass, and our car has front fog lights unlike the model. These are obviously not faults with the model though, just me comparing it to our car.
However, the price I paid for the model is a slight downside. After shipping costs, customs and handling fees, the total was a few pence north of £45. Regardless, I'm still happy as I may not get another chance to buy one of these (honestly have no idea how many were made). The only info I can find on the Minichamps website tells me it's sold out, which is kind of obvious lol: www.minichamps.de/kategorie_neu/modelle/?suchbegriff=430087021
Overall, I'm very happy with this model. It's far more detailed than I expected it to be, and is likely the nearest I will ever get to owning an exact version of our car in miniature diecast form. A nice addition to the collection.
Wow, you made it this far?
You actually read an article of me rambling on about a 22 year old Ford for this long? Wow, thanks! I hope you enjoyed reading and once again, welcome any tips for making my articles more enjoyable to read. Please feel free to share them, or any other feedback you may have below :)
09/09/20: Edit - error correction. I mistakenly said that Minichamps made RHD versions of this model, but they did not.