Ahh MPC, how rocky a relationship we have. I talked about how MPC’s model kits have this odd, cheap and unfinished feeling to ’em and how it damn near ruined the hobby for me in the 1974 Plymouth Road Runner article, a kit I can now describe as “similar” to this one. How’s that? Well this kit has a myriad of issues, a MPC staple. It has annual re-release woes, also an MPC staple. But there’s also something that I actually truly adore about MPC model kits; they’ve made kits of nearly every American car you can name that aren’t already covered by other manufacturers.
I mean, while Revell Monogram made a ’81 Chevrolet Citation kit, at least they have the excuse of being part of the hype machine that eventually threw a rod and self destructed in a massive joyful explosion of bad brakes, rust issues and leaking radiator hoses, in some cases, a literal explosion, actually. But I digress, the point that I’m trying to get to is that MPC is the annual model kit release company. AMT kept up until they were taken over by Ertl in 1982 but MPC has released a yearly version of damn near any “mainstay” GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicle.
And I’m on a bit of a spree with Malaise era car kits and holy Christ does the Plymouth Volaré count. Introduced in 1976 to replace the Dodge Dart, it was the start more or less of the “lets slap all our cars on a single platform”, cause that worked out perfectly in the end, didn’t it? Weirdly enough, in that same year, Motor Trend gave it the Car of the Year award… Though they weren’t allowed to include foreign cars and with that logic in mind, yeah, it wasn’t exactly picking from a series of true winners that year, was it.
This kit is based on the dying breath of the Volaré and while they were at it, the final dying breath of the Road Runner – the 1980 Volaré Road Runner. MPC, as per usual MPC modus operandi: a oddly cartooned up car kit with gargantuan list of oversized and in most cases downright ugly parts and a weird eye catching name, suddenly re-released with new extras, which is Round 2’s(MPC’s father company) way of saying “Yeah, that’ll make it a worthwhile kit!”. That being said though, the two things that are new are the Goodyear GT Radial stamped tires and a new, fresh decal sheet and they’re both honestly pretty damn sweet, though it has to be said that it’s the “basic AMT tire” issue, in which I mean that all of their pad printed tires are of the exact same size and in no kit with these that I’ve encountered, the wheels and their backings properly/snugly fit, they always are about to fall out. However, everything else is still the same old MPC schlock as always.
For instance, is it so damn hard to mold some clear headlights instead of making ’em all chrome pieces? Revell, Monogram and AMT have been doing it since the seventies, what the absolute hell is keeping MPC from doing it? Oh right, simplicity and short-cuts.
Anyhow, lets get down to brass tacks in terms of whats a pain in the ass with this kit. First of all, what the hell is the engine? It’s a 318 V8 from the looks of it at least, even down to the mold lines underneath the rocker covers, quickly “turned” into a V6 according to the box, even though the only V6 available on the Volaré was a Slant-6 225. It is very clear the kit is a 1977 Volaré with a new grille and tail lights, even the instruction sheet hasn’t been updated for the changed tail lights. And speaking of which, the tail lights are… off, they don’t look right. Even with the reverse light added in there, there’s something wrong with the proportions still.
None of the bumpers actually fit and holy shit did I wish I’d have known about it before I began building this thing, cause honestly just one or two little plastic lips and it’s a smooth fit all around. No-one at MPC gave this any legitimate thought in terms of a clever construction, hell it’s become less of a puzzle and more of a horrible hassle. The exhaust pipes that lead down from the manifolds are meant to just… hang onto the manifolds with no underneath support. The engine block itself is also just meant to float on two vague engine arms and a flat piece near the bland molded in driveshaft.
I kept the red paint job the box showed for the 2-in-1 option, the car was available in several colors and honestly the black suits it but I figured I’d go with a more subdued red. To make it a little nicer, I used some leftover Road Runner decals from the 1974 kit which I honestly prefer over the giant eighties ones and kept the T-tops “painted” on, the kit does offer separate T-tops and cutting the ones out of the body is very easy but just doesn’t look pretty when they’re out, the removable tops are just as solid as they were in the first place and it just looks janky and it really still shows that its a D.I.Y. job.
But I digress… It is a time piece. Granted, MPC is one of those brands that forever feels like a “we had a quantity quota to reach so to hell with quality” brand, but even then, the body is pretty damn pristine and all things considered, as I said earlier, it is thanks to them going full on annual releases that we have so many forgotten cars still having somesort of legacy through a model kit.
I mean, the Volaré was a truly terrible car(even though the Slant-6 engine lived on to be ultra reliable, though shame the car around it digested itself to dust), it is only thanks to MPC that I can add another Malaise era victim to the line up. And like most of MPC’s kits, it is fully capable of being turned into a neat model with enough effort, I just think it’s such a damn shame that it has to be such a challenge to even get to look on par with a bog standard Revell/Monogram or AMT release of the same era.
’80 Plymouth Volaré Road Runner specifications:
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: Off-White