Words and photos courtesy of Wes Shakirov
In the diecast hobby, the Exoto D-type is king. Boasting a claimed 2600+ parts count, it’s an astounding engineering achievement and I’m extremely grateful that it exists. If you ever bought a CMC and thought “meh, I need a bit more detail”, then any of the Exoto XS models are for you. I chose to begin my XS collection with the Jaguar, because since I watched Alain de Cadenet drive this very car in the Victory by Design’s Jaguar episode, I’ve been in love with the brand. There are many liveries and configurations to choose from, but I couldn’t resist the gorgeous blue of the Ecurie Ecosse team, and the allure of the Le Mans winner status (1956).
Consisting of so many parts, it is with much trepidation that I awaited the arrival of my D-type. However, they’re packed so well, that you’re unlikely to see any damage. There are lots of jelly-like pads protecting the paint work from the plastic shell. You get a giant sheet with assembly instructions, which is the trickiest bit. The problem is, everything is so fragile, but sometimes force is needed to make a part do what it’s supposed to do. As a result, I ended up disconnecting a cable and a steering linkage, which thankfully were easy fixes. So be careful!
You have to attach the rear end, the cockpit section, and all four wheels. The wheels are simple enough, and a tool is provided. I found the cockpit to be the most difficult part. Basically you have to pull on a clamp and insert one side of the cockpit cover, and then pull the clamp on the other side and insert that. One side fit perfectly, but on the other side, the clamp would not slide back in after I pushed the cover down. My advice is – whichever side doesn’t want to go in – you push that side in first and clamp it, and then tend to the other side.
Once the cockpit cover is in place, you slide the rear section into the rear subframe and secure it to the rest of the body using the headrest, which isn’t too difficult. Once everything is done, it is needless to say that you breathe a big sigh of (much deserved) relief. I’m not sure why such complicated assembly process is necessary, but I’m sure the engineers had a reason.
I sat for about 30 minutes and just looked at the model. I love the paint, the sharpness of detail, and how the model manages to be so detailed yet light (kind of like the Chaparral 2, if you have one). I also love the thin plastic rain cover over the passenger compartment. Everywhere you look, the model is suffused with that crisp photo-etched detail. I honestly don’t even know where to start. The pictures better do the talking here, cause I’m struggling.
I’ll start with the cockpit, which on the D-type, is often compared to that of an old airplane. You get lots of flat, large panels with square angles and a functional look. My favourite part of the model is the gauge panel, where you can see the hands on the dials, with the numbers beautifully legible. Nothing is one-dimensional. Look at the toggles and switches and scratch your head at how they managed to make something so small, yet so sharp and then managed to attach it so accurately. No foggy glue residue either. The seats are covered with some sort of soft material, although I can’t tell whether it’s leather or vinyl.
The engine is obviously where the bulk of the parts comes from. It’s just obsessive insanity, and I love it. I’ve never been more impressed. I love the engine on the D-type so it’s a perfect subject for the XS treatment. It’s not so much the sharpness or what the actual material is, but how many little parts each structure is made out of. I’m actually grateful that the belts are held in place by a magnet, so you don’t have to undo them and do them back up every time you want to look under the hood. Simply swing the bilateral locks upwards and pull the clamshell forward. It just sucks that to get a look at the rear subframe, you have to pull the head rest out first. Just make sure you’re holding the rear section, cause once you unclamp the head rest, the rear just slides off.
The trunk houses a nicely secured spare tire, which, according to the instructions, is to be left alone. The little fuel filler cap behind the driver’s door is secured by a leather strap. The underbody is superb, and the brakes are ridiculously impressive. All in all, I can’t find any part in this car where the engineers decided to be lazy.
So if this looks like something you might be interested in (I mean the car, not the model), then you NEED this model in your collection. It’s almost a rite of passage. Criticisms? Umm… I guess I wish the passenger rain cover was thicker. I would have also liked the assembly to be easier. Otherwise , it’s perfection. So, as always, the hardest thing to do is choose which version you want, and which kidney to keep.
PS I’ve also added some comparison photos of the AUTOart replica. See below.