The quadfecta’s complete. Or at least, for the time being until I manage to shrink down the ’11 40th Anniversary decals I’m cooking up in Photoshop lately. But what we got here is arguably the first proper anniversary edition Camaro. Back in ’97, car manufacturers were quite desperately clinging onto brand names and former glory cause give or take ten years before they more or less placed the gun barrel against the muscle car and gently pulled the trigger.
So in 1992, the “Heritage” edition Camaro came through, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Camaro which first began hitting the market in June 1966 for the ’67 model year. While I’m quite fond of the third generation of Camaro, there’s absolutely no arguing that the generation was tainted beyond repair. The cars were sluggish, the Z/28 package was a nice chipper boost but even then it was meager as to what you paid for and while the IROC-Z was popular, it also quickly grew a bad reputation for various reasons, from reliability to the attitude of the Camaro driver itself. The third generation was put to sleep with that celebratory model, one I actually liked due to the nice contrast of the red on white(or black, which was also a choice) but generally it came down to just that. Some badges, spicy colored interior and unique color stripes for that year and MPC’s tooling felt very much like the equal amount of effort was given.
Now the fourth generation wasn’t particularly popular, I mean the cars still sold and they were actually quite reliable and decent on the speed department too, but a lot of people argue its the ugliest generation of the Camaro legacy, with elongated Neo Storm/Ford Probe like looks(inspired by the Pontiac Banshee concept, which is both a pro and a con at once) but before it got its facelift, 35th anniversary edition and the inevitable shelving of the Camaro until 2008, it got a 30th anniversary edition and this time you got something that made the car unique.
And with that, this was the first time the anniversary edition made you think of the first Camaros back then, with the same arctic white paintjob and the hugger orange stripes, exact same color combination of the ’69 Camaro SS Pace Car. In fact, the ’97 Camaro did do the Brickyard 400 pace car job and the paint job was directly taken and slapped onto regular Z/28 models as a option for that year only. You got 30th Anniversary badges on every seat, one on the dashboard, the arctic white coat with the hugger orange stripes, white-out 5 spoke Camaro wheels and of course a LT1 350 cubic inch V8. Hell, at the time if you truly were mad and had a lot of money to spare, SLT Engineering took these Camaros in and took a SS LT4 V8 from the ’96 Corvette Grand Sport and hand-modified the whole car to accommodate the giant engine, which in turn would make it the fastest Camaro on the road for nearly two decades to come.
And serious points to AMT Ertl for nailing those details in this kit, honestly! The 1990s were great for AMT for as long as they used their own tooling and not MPC’s, you get kits like the ’95 Chevy S-10, the ’83 GMC Vandura, so forth. Really, really high quality, well fitting and amazingly good model kits of cars that are now quite forgotten. From the bottom up, this kit is wonderful and so are the kits this one’s taking its heritage from. Back in 1993, AMT Ertl along with Monogram released a kit to celebrate the new fourth generation of the Camaro and both are genius and complex builds of their own. AMT Ertl from there on of course like usual went onwards with the annual kit business; giving us a Z/28, SS or convertible version every year until 1997 where they ceased making Camaros until 2006 and left us with a sporty Camaro SS(pre-facelift) and of course, this kit we’re talking about here.
I mean, there’s some legacy parts in here. For instance, something that led me to making a fair bit of a mistake, the tail lights are changed to the European style(with a orange indicator light) in 1997 but the kit still has the 1993-1996 all red ones and I should’ve Googled it better but I mistakenly made them to look like a pre-facelift pair. Ah well, but carrying on, some other legacy bits are the CB radio that was lets be honest, D.O.A in the nineties as it was. But other than that? Everything is crisp and proper to the ’97 Camaro.
For instance, the LT1 350ci V8 is beautifully re-created, I’d argue its even better than the Monogram version given the amount of extra detail that went into it. As well as the interior which has a ton of detail, and unlike MPC’s tooling; proper headlights!
But despite all the greatness, it ain’t all rainbows and sunshine. There’s four distinct issues with this kit, though I reckon three of ’em are found in every one of the ’93-’97 Camaro(specifically the convertible) kits from AMT. First, the problem that may be unique to this kit, the wheels and backings do not fit the tires. The tires are too narrow, by a fair bit and you either have to adjust the entire suspension accordingly or trim the wheel backings to get them to fit within the wells. And even then, the tires just won’t stay on the backings cause they are just simply too small. The reason I think this is a kit specific issue is that the instruction sheet claims very specifically the wheels are a set of Goodyear Eagle GS-C’s but the tires with the kit are Goodyear Comp T/A’s, could be there’s a distinct difference in measurements for the tires, afterall I got the re-release of the kit from 2002, not the original 1997 release.
So I scrapped the entire rear and front suspension to make room for the wheels cause they otherwise stick out a good fifth of a inch, which is… just not right. I used some tooth picks and epoxy(did a similar thing on the ’76 Camaro and learned a thing or two from that) and created a little dingy suspension that makes the ride and the wheel depth look a bit more like the real thing.
Problems two and three are that, similarly to the issues with the fitting on the Monogram Camaro, it’s one giant intricate puzzle on the body-to-chassis relationship and if one piece doesn’t fit, none of them will. And the fit can get downright infuriating at times, so much so that I was thinking of buying another AMT Camaro kit just to get the hardtop version and spare me that specific part of misery, but alas. And the fourth problem is the suspension set up is… nothing short of clunky. While it’s supremely detailed and super fancy, it’s a damn hassle.
In the end, the only thing that matters is that the kit exists and that despite the issues, it is still a freakin’ great one.
’97 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 30th Anniversary Edition specifications:
Skill Level: 2
Molded in: Gray