Feature Car of the Month: Mattel Ferrari 288GTO





This is currently one of only two Mattel/Hot Wheels models in my collection. While I like street Ferraris, to date only a few different street models have been produced by mid-range and high-end model manufacturers. Unfortunately, Mattel's Hot Wheels 1:18 models are often too toy-like for my tastes, with mediocre paint, plasticky interiors, and cheap looking wheel-tire combinations. Usually, I stick to UT or Kyosho when it comes to Ferraris.

This model, however, is a notable exception. While not up to Kyosho standards, Mattel really did a great job on this car. The stance is perfect, with all the right angles and proportions, and accurately flared wheel arches with tires that fill the wheel-well and (in the case of the rear) protrude just slightly. Check out the picture on the right, in the first row, and compare that to the photos of Mattel's diecast. They also got the paint color right; it's very close to the red used on the original GTO when it premiered. This is actually a big positive, as many manufacturers have difficulty with Ferrari's reds (Bburago, for example). The engine is very nice to look at, using an aluminum finish that makes the engine look authentic rather than overly plastic. While the interior is not carpeted, and is mostly hard plastic, it's not that shiny cheap plastic that many cars suffer from. It has more of a dull gloss finish, on the seats and the dashboard. The doors open smoothly, though they feature the most basic of hinges. The engine cover actually stays in the up position when opened, as does the cargo compartment up front. I also think the build quality on this particular model is great, far above what you'd get with a Bburago model. It's heavy, and feels solid. No loose parts, and no "creak and groan" caused by flexing plastic. It might not be up to Kyosho standards, but the much-more-expensive UT Ferrari 355's ($55-$200) have nothing on this model ($25!) where build quality is concerned.

If you're building a collection of Ferraris, and would like the 288GTO to be represented, Mattel's GTO will not disappoint. It might be missing many of the more intricate details you'll find on $50-$75 models, but it flat-out looks great and sits right. I consider it a stand-out model within the Mattel line, and a great bargain considering the price point.


Below is the first of the photos of my Mattel 288GTO, with a photo of the real Ferrari GTO next to it....compare for yourself, you'll see just how well Mattel replicated this car. (the only thing that jumps out at me, that's missing, are the wheel center caps. Decide for yourself whether that's enough to detract from the appearance of the car).
Notice the a-pillars painted black, as they should be. The front wheel may look skewed in this photo...that's not a problem with the model, just the way I had the wheel turned when I shot the photo.
I can't stress enough how "right" the car looks, from all angles. There are no mounting posts visible on the front driving and fog lights.
See how the engine cover and cargo compartment hood both stay in the "up" position when opened? I've got some UT models which don't have this same quality. The engine looks great, and features 3 different colors of detail. Notice the spare tire up front...it's actually soft rubber, not just plastic molding.
Another thing I like about this model is that it carries the Ferrari name well...note the Cavallinos on both the left and right front fenders, just below the a-pillar. the letters "GTO" are in silver raised letters, right next to a black raised prancing horse.
I'm very picky about color...I gave away a Burago Ferrari 360 because the red was all wrong...too orange. This GTO has a deep, darker red. While it is reminiscent of paint quality in the $30 range, that's not selling it short at all. It will look great even in a collection of more expensive models.
I wouldn't buy many of the Mattels, just because their accuracy and build quality bugs me much of the time, but this model stands out. Highly recommended. Not that I wouldn't buy a Kyosho version if it came out, but I'm actually proud of this particular Mattel.




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