Just took delivery of #3174. Having collected 38 McLaren F1 models in 1:18 scale (26 GTRs, 12 road cars), AUTOart's rendition exhibits detail of such realism, especially at this scale, to make all previous models by PMA/UT Minichamps, Mais...to and Guiloy almost toy-like in comparison. In all fairness, the price differences between the aforementioned and AUTOart are reflected in the quality and execution of the models. More impressive is how this model is more accurate in every way, and its execution of the smallest details.
For example, each of the doors and panels have functional struts like the real F1; the wiring harnesses and engine plumbing is more realistic; the replicant gold engine bay lining actually looks like gold foil; the "glass" looks like glass; the screen mesh is actually on the rear fascia is patterned after the real car's (I know--I took close-up photos of the real McLaren F1 #065 while it was on display in the former McLaren showroom on Park Lane in London in Dec 2000, as well as XP5 at the McLaren factory in Woking). The external window frames are accurate, and the tolerances between the doors and panel seams are realistically tight. Photographing this model could easily be mistaken for the real car. It's that good.
The door and panel hinges are even replicated correctly and the frictional resistance when opening and closing each panel is such that one can tell immediately by its feel the quality and craftsmanship put into the engineering and manufacturing of this model. Granted, the unit price is over four times the cost of the equivalent 1:18s by the other model makers, but what you get in return more than justifies the cost. In fact, the detail, accuracy and craftsmanship far exceed the next best model of the McLaren F1: Paul's Model Art (UT) 1:12 scale (of which I bought nine in all available colors by PMA) car. Not only is the AUTOart 37001 better executed with more accuracy, this model also includes replicas of the luggage that came with each car.
The only item missing from the real car is the FACOM titanium tool set/cart. Perhaps AUTOart is planning to include a replica of that with a 1:12 version of this inimitable car. Unlike any other 1:18 AUTOart models I've acquired, this Signature Series is specially packaged. When my model arrived, it was packaged with styro nuts in an outer double-corrugated shipping box that is among the stiffest I've encountered yet. I don't describe that lightly--I've received over 700 boxes since the year 2000 in online transactions--AUTOart's shipping box is stout. The model box itself is wrapped in a protective plastic sheath, open on each end. This indicates AUTOart understands the importance to serious model collectors of keeping the factory boxes in mint condition, and having a protective sheath minimizes any unwanted abrasions and scratches to the model box. The McLaren F1's model box (and perhaps all Signature series boxes?) is in an elegant dark gray color, the textured finish depicting an expensive look and feel the wreaks of quality. The silver lettering on the box looks almost embossed, or silk-screened--very sharp edging with no bleeds. The McLaren F1 logo replicates the factory full-color rendition, and is applied in a sharply-cut decal applied in the upper right corner of each side of the box, tastefully done. The model itself is mounted with four screws to the custom-formed styrofoam base the model is shipped in. Even the high density light-gray colored styrofoam base and cap that encase the McLaren F1 model is of high quality, with a matte finish and smooth surfaces. If this 1:18 McLaren F1 model in AUTOart's Signature series is indicative of the detail and quality to be expected in all Signature models, prepare to be delighted and impressed. The only thing I would suggest to Gateway/AUTOart is that they indicate with each Signature model how many are in the total production run. Serial numbers add value, even more so if collectors know how many of a given model are made. To date, AUTOart's #37001 McLaren F1 is by far the definitive 1:18 replica. If you are a McLaren F1 fan and collector, this is a must-own model.
I neglected to write in my previous posting that AUTOart also included with this model an 7 in x 4.75 in illustrated instruction sheet on how to open/close the panels and luggage stowage; an 8.25 in x 3.5 in 8-page booklet with photos, his...torical and specification highlights about the McLaren F1; and a 6.25 in x 3.75 in certificate of authenticity card certifying the model is a replica authorized by McLaren Group Limited with the model's serial number and full color McLaren F1 logo. Given the uncanny accuracy and detail of every part of this model (including the storage trunks and luggage), it is evidently clear McLaren either gave AUTOart unbridled access to photographing and measuring the F1, and/or viewing manufacturing drawings. Having personally photographed, sat in, and examined the McLaren F1 (#065, XP5) and McLaren F1 LM (XP1LM) at the McLaren factory in Woking in December 2000, I can attest to the accuracy, realism, and quality of craftsmanship of this 1:18 model. A job well done by AUTOart.