Way, way, waaay back in the late sixties AMT brought out a celebratory 1969 El Camino kit alongside a regular 3-in-1 El Camino kit, or rather the “Chevelle El Camino ” as it was known back then, with the Soapbox derby for the running theme. Since then, AMT kind of left that thing be, bringing out it’s first and last ’69 El Camino in… well, 1969.
So! Cue the mid nineties, AMT Ertl starts producing a 1968 El Camino and holy hell was it good, it sat somewhat low and it was kind of plagued with mold errors but the idea of it, the way it build together, it was a really good model… And then cue September 2016 when AMT suddenly announces they’re bringing out a retro inspired ’68 El Camino in December of that year. It shares the box and name with the original 1969 release, appropriately naming it Derby Champions Kit II. Key difference of course, it’s a ’68 El Camino and it packs a sheet full of Auto World decals instead of the “Muncie, Indiana” ones.
Also, it’s a vinyl top(which limits freedom without some effort but I like it!), packs a set of AR Torq-Thrust wheels and double sided pad printed tires, one side having a nice red line and the other having Goodyear Polyglas GT white letters. Though this has become par for the course with AMT, every release as of late or rather re-release gets this similar get-up; Goodyear padded tires, Torq-Thrust wheels and a “retro inspired” box. I gotta say right away that this is also a goddamn annoyance, the issue is that these tires and the wheels are added as an afterthought extra and as a result they rarely if ever fit within the tire or the wheel backing. I mean, it’s an awesome extra but you can at least make ’em try fit before shoving ’em in there.
Other than that, it’s a pretty interesting and very, very clever build. For instance, the inner bed is actually separate from the chassis and the body, you’d think you’d be able to see even the slightest hint of this at the end of it all but no, it looks completely natural. Like many of the other El Camino kits, this one’s also build from the frame up, eventually coming up with a interior tub, the interior of the bed and the engine, then merely sliding on the body and hey presto.
Engine wise, it’s the ever so damn awesome 396 cubic inch Chevy V8, as shown on the grille with a SS396 badge. AMT is on par with the best when it comes to making the engines look good, at least for the most part. It also has the A/C system set up, a detail that more often than not goes a-miss.
That being said though, the fit isn’t all as snug as you’d like it to be. The engine block floats on the arms it’s designed to fit on cause the exhaust manifolds actually block it, the air cleaner is just a chrome piece with no real way to be slotted on the carb other than completely guessing and the frame sits too low so it makes the exhaust and outer ends of it visible at the rear, something that I was apparently meant to fix but it would’ve come at the cost of turning this already-low-as-hell El Camino into a lowrider, so figured nah.
Aside from that, I mentioned it has a whole new decal sheet too. It has some really odd omissions from the decals though, take for instance another re-release kit; the AMT ’70 Chevelle kit, it had all the appropriate decals such as dials, air cleaner 396 logo and such. This one has none, just stripes and sponsoring.
But other than what I can only describe as annoyances or oversights, it’s a pretty damn great kit. Hailing from AMT’s finest era, inspired by a just as great era from nearly five decades ago and getting tooled and shipped in the newest one.
To be fair, it’s yet another re-release, something that Round 2 is known to do with their name being Round 2 and all. But that’s fine, for as long as the product is worthwhile and not say, the MPC ’79 Firebird T/A. An afterthought re-release of a kit that was practically a slab of ugliness unless a disgusting amount of effort was put into it. This one’s the opposite, a re-release that’s more than welcome.
’68 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396 specifications:
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: White