Model Review: WCPD 2003 Cadillac Sixteen

West Coast Precision Diecast 2003 Cadillac Sixteen

Reviewed by Peter Brown

I can't remember when a model was so eagerly anticipated as this one. Yes, it was announced almost a year in advance, but still there's no denying the amount of attention it garnered right from the start. The mints are not known for their concept car models, with the exception of FM's Mako Shark, and the 51 LeSabre which were, truthfully, not among FM's best efforts. How long have collectors cried out for a Buick Y-Job, or any number of concept vehicles from GM's Motorama, only to have it fall on deaf ears? I think it's safe to say that nobody was expecting this car to be modeled in 1:24, least of all the diecast faithful. Even when it was a certainty, and well into production, there were still those who attacked Brian Dunning's marketing methods and forecast doom and gloom for this and his other planned projects for WCPD, but here it sits and there's no denying it.

Only in collectors' hands for a week or two, and already there's widespread talk of this being 2008's model of the year. In-fact, I've yet to hear a single substantive complaint from the toughest crowd in the industry-the 1:24 precision diecast collectors themselves. So what makes this model so special? Let's start with the packaging. WCPD created unique Cadillac-branded materials, including a black inner box emblazoned with the Cadillac wreath and crest, and a glossy black brochure describing the 1:1 and the model. They've even included a unique model tool with a tweezers at one end and a small pick at the other, and a black chamois cloth with raised Cadillac script lettering. The cloth doubles as scratch protection for the clear plastic roof of the model while it's stored in its box. Not that it's likely to spend much time there. This is a model you'll definitely want to display, but where? More on that later.

Let's take a tour of this amazing creation. First, we notice it's a four-door hardtop, and it is modeled with closed side windows. The former is uncommon among precision diecasts, while the latter is virtually unheard of in this scale. It is done to great effect, as the tinted "glass" of the closed side windows helps form that long slinky silhouette. To have the rear doors operate, they had to be hinged from half-height B pillars just like the real concept vehicle, and West Coast did a wonderful job of replicating these along with the hinge mechanisms, which operate smoothly, and have a very solid and sturdy feel. The doors are sprung, so they close firmly and in near-perfect alignment. Shut lines are as good as they get in this scale. You have to get a fingernail under the lower door edges to open them due to the closed windows, and the omission of exterior door handles as on the 1:1 car.

I love the "aluminum" doorsill stampings and V-shaped frame members that greet you when you open the doors. Once inside, you'll find a luxuriously appointed interior befitting such a car. High-quality plastics are used to replicate the dash, seats, console and door panels, and great attention has been paid to the texture, look, and feel of these fittings to ensure their authenticity and realism. Liberal amounts of simulated aluminum, wood, chrome and leather are all there in finely scaled representations of the original cabin's fittings, and realistic flocked carpeting covers the floor. All four seats have integrated three-point woven harnesses, complete with tiny metal latches, and for added realism the buckles are in varying positions on each seat. There's even pair of champagne flutes in the rear console, and a Bvlgari clock in the center of the dashboard if your eyes are good enough to pick it out. An operating steering wheel, front-hinged flip-up rear seat armrest, fore-and-aft sliding front seats and reclining passenger seat finish off the interior details—all visible through the crystal clear, distortion-free, smoked "glass" roof panel.

Closing the doors, we again notice how they gently snap shut, and how beautifully the delicate chrome window opening trim lines up. This, and the lower body-side chrome strip are free of any flashing or burrs, and are not simply applied to the body; they are actually inset to achieve a more realistic profile. Be sure to take note of the finely scaled photo-etched grilles that are inset behind the vents at the trailing edge of each front fender. Even the body-colored side mirrors with their chrome mounts accurately and convincingly replicate the originals. The same can be said of the chromed exhaust outlets, the taillights, center-mounted brake light, and license plate enclosure, which decorate the stylish rear deck. These details are executed cleanly and convincingly right down to the Cadillac wreath and crest. The trunk opens smoothly and firmly on realistic hinges, and reveals a luggage compartment floor with raised chrome ribs, and a three-piece set of matched luggage—a nice touch. The trick floor slides rearward for more than half of its depth to permit easier loading and unloading, but you won't be doing much of that since the luggage is glued in place.

Moving around to the business end of this ride, we find a gull-wing hood with an intricate hinge assembly, complete with pivoting arms and telescoping support struts. It's an amazing bit of scale mechanical wizardry, but you must treat it with care, as its intricacy and delicacy make it susceptible to the more ham-fisted among us. I was prepared, having read all the directions beforehand, but many won't bother, so do be careful when exploring under the hood. I'm not much of a motor-head, but even I had to marvel at the miniature V-16 power plant that lends its name to this magnificent automobile. The aluminum firewall, the chromed, ribbed cylinder heads with Cadillac crests, the metallic hoses, the air intake on each side with its prominent Cadillac script, and the copper-colored exhaust manifolds all contribute to the overall effect which is stunning. You can almost imagine the sound of those 16 cylinders humming in unison. Close the hood, and feast your eyes on that grille. It's a masterful casting, with just the right amount of blackwash, and a jewel of a Cadillac wreath and crest set behind a "glass" disc in the center.

Normally I don't pay much attention to the underside of my models, other than to note the remarkable details like emergency brake cables and springs, and similarly amazing suspension details that we have become spoiled by from the likes of DM and WCPD. However, the Cadillac Sixteen's underbelly is worthy of note. Other than a few small Phillips head screws, it's an exact replication of the 1:1 concept vehicle, spectacularly finished in bright polished aluminum, right down to the working suspension. The exhaust pipes have even been discolored to a coppery color with hints of blue, mimicking the discoloration they undergo in real life due to the extreme temperatures they must handle. Kudos to WCPD for that added bit of realism.

If it sounds like I love this model I do, but it is not perfect—nothing ever is. If I have to find faults (and they are extremely minor, even negligible) it is that that stitching on the seats is a little too pronounced, and that the two metallic paint colors have a slightly large metal flake to my eye, especially under flash photography. I believe these things must, out of necessity, be slightly over-scale to look correct when viewed by the naked eye, so it is always a tough judgment call between too much and just enough tweaking. Factor in differing lighting and vision quality among viewers of the model, and finessing these necessarily slightly over-scale items properly gets to be even more of a guessing game. One thing that isn't a gray area is the unidirectional tire tread. On all three models I reviewed, all the tires were rotating in the wrong direction. I'm no expert, but I've owned a car with unidirectional tires for many years, and I'm pretty sure the assembly team in China got their left and right mixed up. If this bothers you, it would be a relatively simple matter to remove them and switch them left to right, as WCPD has gone a step further and made the center caps magnetic and removable, granting access to a screw which permits removal of each of those gorgeous cast wheels in order to view the brake rotors and detailed suspension.

The largest gaps on the model (and on the 1:1 for that matter) can be found between the front fender tops and the front fascia. Here is the only place where the overall tightness of this tooling looses a little of it's sharpness, and the gaps become somewhat of a distraction when viewed under magnification. Under normal viewing conditions this is not too noticeable. I heard reports of an askew rear license plate and a fogged "glass" cover on the front Cadillac crest, but neither assembly issue appears to be present on the three samples I reviewed, so maybe it's an isolated case. Last, and probably least, the "Sixteen" lettering on each front fender is a tampo instead of separate photo-etched metal letters. Depending on your point of view this may actually be an advantage, but in this price class many have come to expect P-E, so some might take a half-point deduction. No matter how you add it up, Brian has done an admirable job, and these gripes are minor enough to be overlooked by even the most discerning collector like me. I will definitely be adding one to my permanent collection. The question is which color? Did I mention that the paint quality on all three is superb?

We all collect what we like. For some it's Corvettes, for others Hot Rods and Customs. Some like cars of the 1930's and 1940's, while others go for 60's muscle cars. So where does the WCPD Cadillac Sixteen fit in? It doesn't, and as such it has single-handedly rewritten all of our ideas about what we collect. Speaking for myself, the latest model car in my collection prior to this was a 1971 Corvette, and now I find my collection suddenly spans a further 30 years of automotive history. So will this be your personal Car of The Year? There were several popular contenders, including the '58 Bonneville Sport Coupe, the '56 Packard Caribbean, and one of my odds-on favorites the '41 Chevrolet Woody from the fine folks at Danbury Mint, so it won't be an easy call that's for sure. What is certain is that WCPD has broken new ground yet again with the introduction of this model, and raised the bar even higher. Unless and until I develop some sort of rating system, I will simply say this: It's a winner, so buy one before they're gone. The black and burgundy cars are limited editions of 1500 each, and the gray version is a limited edition of 2500 pieces. We sincerely hope that this auspicious introduction bodes well for Brian's other projects, including my favorite, the 1957 Oldsmobile. Bravo Mr. Dunning!