Analysis of individual cars
The Wild Willy (58035)
The Wild Willy was kit number 35 from Tamiya. A 1/10 scale 2WD off-road car, it was a very popular wheelie car.
- 1/10 scale off-road vehicle
- 2 wheel drive
- Plastic chassis
- Front swing arm and rear trailing arm suspension with coil springs
- RS-540 Mabuchi motor
- Off-road "paddle" style tires front and rear
- ABS plastic body
If you're a Tamiya collector, this is a car that's either in your collection or you're trying to get one. The Wild Willy was an extremely popular vehicle from Tamiya. From it's outrageous proportions, the Willys Jeep body, the handling and even Wild Willy himself, everything came together perfectly. It looked right and performed as expected.
With the humpback battery strapped over the rear axle the car had a high center of gravity which hovered over the rear wheels. As you can imagine, it made the car pop a wheelie at the slightest provocation of the speed control. And its size proportions only made this more fun. The car is wider that a 1/10 pan car but with a wheelbase almost 3 inches shorter than a M-chassis Tamiya! If you've never seen one in person, it's the funniest looking thing.
When the Wild Willy was new, Tamiya use to host "Wild Willy only" races for them. They were a lot of fun to watch, but the contestants that were driving the cars were having a hard time with the handling. There would always be one or two guys that would strap a 540 motor behind the front bumper to weigh down the front end so that the car wouldn't pop a wheelie all the time!
Tamiya built the Wild Willy to be tough. Radio gear and speed controller were encased in a water resistant box with a rubber grommet over the on/off switch. The suspension bits are oversized and mostly metal. Even the front bumper was made from heavy gauge metal springs. The car also shipped with factory brass bushings instead of plastic bushings. So long as the car wasn't abused, there wasn't a lot that would go wrong with it.
But unfortunately despite its initial popularity, hobbyist lost interest in the car during the late eighties and it was discontinued. Fans of the Wild Willy though continue on and in 1999 Tamiya announced production of the Wild Willy 2. A car that would utilize the same body and fun handling architecture but use newer components. It will be interesting to see how popular this new model is.
The Wild Willy marks a great success story for Tamiya. Every company chugs along with good products and every once in a while a great product comes out. The Wild Willy is such a product for Tamiya. It carries a lot of historical significance because it marks a high point in their product line.
The car is extremely popular with collectors and non-collectors. This automatically makes the car more desirable on the collector market. Prior to Tamiya's announcement of Wild Willy 2, I would have placed a new in box value of the kit at over $1000. Now that the Wild Willy 2 is available, the value of the original will actually decrease. Recent sales on EBay pegs the value at around the $400 mark.
Those that drive the price of these old cars up because they liked the "look" of Wild Willy will simply purchase a new kit. Let's face it, if you're going to run it, wouldn't it be better to run something that can be purchased and replaced easily? Only true collectors will be left in the market for the old Wild Willy and this lowers the price. My estimates are about $700 for a new in box now.
Parts are nearly impossible to obtain. Everything from tires to suspension bits to chassis parts have all been discontinued for over 10 years. If the car you're buying is not complete, be sure you can live with it in this state for some time to come. The upside is that the car is almost bullet proof and beyond shedding body parts (driving lamps and front winch) is very durable.
When purchasing a Wild Willy be sure that the seller has not substituted a new Wild Willy 2 body to replace for the old one. The new body does not share the same mounting holes as the old one and so should be easy to determine. Beyond the body bits, there's nothing else that's interchangeable between version 1 and version 2. Version 2 of Wild Willy is based on the TL-01 chassis which is - in my opinion - significantly flimsier.
- Collectibility – 9 out of 10
- Fun to drive – 8 out of 10
- Parts availability – 2 out of 10