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
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
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!