Exterior Continued ...
Moving along to the middle and rear of the car. The side mirrors have inset clear lenses on the housings and they are excellent reproductions of the real car’s indicator lights. The doors swing on hidden hinges and have a loose feel to them. The rear three-pointed-star badge is made of photo-etch. Exhaust tips are painted silver on the outside and matt black on the inside and are relatively shallow. Both front and back number plates are replicated with stickers stuck straight on the model. The use of a plastic piece in between the sticker and the model to represent the actual number plate would have been preferred.
The best part of the model, and certainly the main reason why people would buy this model over similar offerings from Maisto, is the working hard-top. Minichamps has done an excellent job to replicate the mechanism of the roof as closely as possible. The boot of the model swing on 2 sets of hinges. The scissor-like hinges allow the boot to open in a conventional way. The other hinge is an arm that spans the width of the boot and allows the boot to swing on its rear edge. The roof - made of plastic - folds along the point where the C-pillar meets the roof. On the real car, the rear glass folds independently of the two pillars to permit more free space in the boot when folded. This feature is meticulously reproduced on the model with spring loaded hinges. The entire mechanism on the model is a little fiddly, especially if you have large stubby fingers, and certainly takes more than 16 seconds to complete but you have to commend Minichamps for putting such a complicated feature in a 1:18 model. Very well done.
Wheels, Brakes and Undercarriage
The wheels on the SL500 are of a 7 spokes star design. It is quite well replicated on the model. Details on each wheel include a bump that is suppose to represent the tire valve and a center cap that has a blue ring with a tiny ‘Mercedes Benz’ label that is clearly readable. Tires have no markings but the tread pattern is of a realistic unidirectional design.
The brakes are possibly the worst part of the model. Far from looking realistic, the rotors are silver painted plastic pieces with shallow dimples that are supposed to represent cross drilling. The rotors and callipers are made from the same piece of plastic with the callipers painted black; hence the rotors do not rotate with the wheels at all. This is hardly what you would expect from a model at this price point.