Once in a blue moon: 1:18 Bugatti Veyron by Minichamps
Me happy with just about everything? That's blue moon rare...
I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to 1:18 diecast models, I can be very hard to please. I am picky about everything and have very high expectations that only get higher as the price point rises. Me being "five-star/few complaints happy" is about as rare as a...well, you read the headline so you know.
So when I decided to take a look at a diecast from 1:18 underdog German manufacturer Minichamps, I wasn't quite sure exactly what to expect. Minichamps is best-known for 1:43s and has been overshadowed in the 1:18 diecast segment by AUTOart and Norev. However, Minichamps is a go-to brand in one category and I set my sights on that: high quality Bugattis, especially Veyrons.
I’ve heard quite a few things about Minichamps’ Veyrons, and as a Bugatti fan was eager to finally get one as I seem to have a drought on French supercars in my collection. The more research I did, the more I learned that Minichamps has actually made quite a few of these hyper-GTs, including the SuperSport, Grand Sport, L’Edition Centenaire, and the standard 2009 Veyron that I’ll be reviewing today.
But before I could review the Minichamps Veyron, I had to find one that fit into my financial window as the $220 regular price was out of my range. Luckily, Diecast Models Wholesale came to the rescue offering the Veyron on sale for $150. That is still a very pretty penny - fifteen thousand pretty pennies at that. But my "financial backers" agreed with me that it was a good deal and four days later the model arrived on my doorstep. Can Minichamps compete against the big boys in the 1:18 market? Let’s find out.
When I'm paying $150 for a model, my expectations are high as I also take into consideration the original $200+ price. I was hoping for quality on par with AUTOart Signatures or higher end Kyosho models. I soon found out that Minichamps did quite a nice job in meeting these expectations and in some areas going beyond them.
Upon arrival, I quickly noted that the Veyron packaging is a large step up from Minichamps’ sealed models, as the boxing shows many photos of the car, including the side profile.
The grille and surrounding vents are perforated, as are the side vents and roof intakes. The rear wing activates at the push of a pin found under the car, and can be positioned as an air brake.
Minichamps also gives access to the interior and front trunk. Interestingly, while the engine is visible, the cover doesn’t detach like it does on the AUTOart rendition.
It isn't the ideal grocery getter, is it?
The exterior recreation is nothing short of fabulous. Perforation for every vent, perfectly recreated badging, as well as a very tasteful specification. The light blue/darker blue two tone paint compliments the quintessential 2000’s styling. Bugatti’s signature chromed Veyron rims tie everything together. Minichamps also did a really nice job recreating the *massive* ceramic composite brakes.
The brake calipers have the Bugatti script written across them and are very detailed overall. Perhaps the best feature up front comes on the the Veyron's nose where Minichamps did a wonderful job with the headlights. Each individual light bulb is recreated, and Minichamps did a great job avoiding the all-too-common plastic-y look on the lights.
I was amazed that the level of attention Minichamps paid to the rear of this Bugatti. The “EB” logo is very crisp and tacked on nicely, the tail lights highly realistic, and the four exhaust pipes (yes four: two making up the large center pipe, one on either side of the large pipe) have good depth to them.
The rear vents are perforated as well, and the pin to activate the rear wing is very discreet. The more I looked, the more I found that Minichamps was doing a spectacular job with this 1:18.
Inside the cabin
Interiors are a sensitive spot for me and can often make or break my review of a new diecast model. I have to say that I was disappointed in the way Minichamps recreated the interior in my Porsche 911 GT3 Touring but have no problem highlighting that Minichamps did a phenomenal job recreating the interior of the Veyron. Minichamps included carpet and fabric seat belts. The steering wheel is complete with stalks, buttons, and the “EB” Bugatti logo. The gauges are also on par and fortunately don’t look like the inexpensive stickers I have seen from other manufacturers.
The center console is undoubtedly the best portion of the recreated interior. The carbon fiber decal is nicely done glossy recreation instead of the often-used and lower quality molded plastic. The emergency light button is included, painted in red, and so are air conditioning vents and other various buttons including one to start the engine.
Finally, the door panels are very highly detailed, with chrome door handles and window controls among other things.
Under the hood
The Veyron has a monstrous 8.0L quad turbocharged W16 that was actually made in part by Volkswagen. While Minichamps doesn’t give you full access to the massive power plant, the Veyron's engine bay is still visible. Minichamps provides detailed cylinder rows, with “EB” and “16.4” (for the 16 cylinders and four turbos) written across them. There isn’t a lot to show from the engine perspective as the compartment isn't fully open. If you are looking for more engine access, you may want to spend some extra cash and get the AUTOart Veyron with a removable engine cover.
Devil’s in the details
I love the model but there’s a few small things that Minichamps could have focused on to make this Veyron perfect.
Camber: As I’ve said a million times, just about every single model gets camber sometime in its lifetime but to have this one cambering less than a week out of its box is a major disappointment. It's especially bad given that I only have the styrofoam base plate that comes in the box to display this model and who wants to look at styrofoam?
Interior “EB” logo: Companies such as Bugatti go to great lengths to develop a logo that catches the eye and represents the brand. Bugatti has a nice one with it's "EB" and displays it in various places on the Veyron including bold one in the cabin. Given how much effort had to go into creating the logo, I found it incredibly odd that Minichamps could screw it up so badly by placing it upside down in between the driver and passenger seat. And it isn’t a small logo, no no no, Minichamps had to screw up on one of the most noticeable logos on the entire car.
Engine cover: As mentioned a few other times in this article, the engine cover is fixed on this model. No doubt I would have preferred otherwise.
In the big picture
Well...I have to say, there just isn't a lot to hate on this Minichamps' Bugatti Veyron and coming from me that about says it all. Sure, there is the annoying lack of a removable engine cover but that is overcome through the inclusion of perforated vents, excellent shut lines, a carpeted interior, and a seamlessly working spoiler all at nearly half off the retail price. Diecast Models Wholesale still has it on sale for $150, a steal knowing that it can fetch upwards of $300 elsewhere.
I definitely recommend this model for those who don’t want to pay $300 for AUTOart's Veyron, and are happy to spend a lot less and still get quite a bit.
1:18 Bugatti Veyron by Minichamps