This is one I’ve had sitting around since November 2016 and consistently backed away from the project, despite having a giant soft spot for it. You see, normally I just build model kits for fun, for the history of the car or just cause I like what I’m working on, I haven’t yet found a model kit I went in with the mentality of recreating something for someone or cause of someone. This one, however, is one of those. I wanted to make this one for my father, recreate the car he owned and loved for so many years. And the reason why I kept backing away from it is cause the Fujimi kit is… dogshit. I honestly can’t find any kind words for it, it just isn’t a good kit. I mean, were it produced as a pre-built model car I’m sure it would’ve been amazing cause the cast quality is immense, it’s just the horribly over complicated nothing-fits-anywhere mess of a build that ruins this one start to finish.
Instantly, it struck me that I bought yet another Fujimi ’81 Camaro kit. A kit that once was destined or was actually a radio controlled car shell, hastily adjusted so it would make for a kit on the model kit market, with an awkward construction and adjustment made around where once the motor and the batteries were in the chassis. And it might have heritage from yet another company called Ceji, I honestly don’t know quite who to blame for this mess.
So at some point, I stumbled upon a Dutch seller on eBay who had the Revell version of the 190E for sale, a kit hailing back to 1986, and I immediately bought it. Like, zero hesitation, thinking I may finally be able to patch this piece of crap up with. Then, it hit me… I saw a Revell AMG 190E kit for sale with open box pictures and spotted the exact same terrible chassis with the absurdly crappy fix for the once-it-was-a-RC-car problem – So I panicked and asked the Dutch seller for some pictures of the kit and promised I wouldn’t back down regardless, just satisfy my curiosity. And what a relief, man, Jesus I can’t tell you how happy I was to find out Revell actually improved on the turd it once was.
But I’ll get back to the details in a moment, first I’ll actually finish the story about why this is a passion project seeped in “I’m just happy it’s done“. My dad has owned a variety of cars in his lifetime, especially through the 1980s while American muscle cars and luxury cars were being shipped overseas to happy exotic buyers for a dime on the dollar when it came to the price. He’s owned a ’71 Chrysler New Yorker he bought for just two hundred guilders(the good ol’ fashioned currency of the Netherlands before the Euro), Firebirds from ’72, ’75 and ’79, Mercury Cougars, Ford Mustangs, Buick Rivera’s. One of the AMC Javelins from Karmann(a ’68 79-K, one he regrets selling given how rare they have become) in Germany.
And the list just goes on, from wild Americans to European luxury cars that he always bought on the cheap from someone who mistreated it, couldn’t be bothered to fix it or both, like a BMW 750il, the gargantuan V12 powered almost-limo. But his prize purchases were actually more simple, more performance oriented saloons like a 1989 Ford Scorpio Cosworth which is basically a Ford Sierra turned into a limousine and beefed up with a Cosworth V6, but his most prized possession remained to be, despite all of the cars he’s owned: a 1990 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.3-16v in smoke silver(which always looked champagne colored) with these giant 19 inch O.Z. Legerra wheels. Sadly, its saw its demise by a towtruck that was meant to take it in for a routine fix on a slight engine rumble – the tow cable snapped off the lift-truck and it rolled off backwards as it was being tied down and the metal hook slammed through the windshield, slamming the mostly brittle plastic dashboard to bits as a bonus.
And the man loved this car until its fateful killshot by towing vehicle, it was dependable as hell, it always started in the cold and it had enough luxury to be cold in the summers. It had the gloriously ugly interior stitching and faux wooden panels all over, it looked like a Canadian lumberjack exploded in there and put plaid and wood everywhere, even the gear stick. Oh! Speaking of which, a fun little fact about 190E 2.3’s and 2.5’s: dogleg first gear gearbox. What the hell is that, you ask? Well, first let me show you what the hell happens if you haven’t driven one with a dogleg gearbox for decades and then suddenly do;
So effectively a dog-leg gearbox is one meant for racing convenience. Simply put, it puts reverse left-up and 1st left-down, so shifting through 2nd and 5th is a simple H pattern which improves shift times significantly. However, this means that something so burned in as left-up suddenly means wrecking your rear bumper on something, or someone. But y’know what, that made it unique. And denty, very denty.
But anyhow, I bought some aftermarket Fujimi wheels in hopes that they would also fit the Fujimi kit and sadly I couldn’t find the O.Z. Legerra’s my father had so I substituted them with Yokohama AVS Model 5’s, which he kind of liked the most out of the series of wheels I showed him. On top of that, bought some appropriate smoke silver spraypaint to emulate the car entirely. And then I opened the box and attempted to put it together and… boy I got discouraged hard. Not a fiber in my body after five minutes wanted to ever carry on again on this terrible excuse of a kit and like I said earlier, the sad part is that it’s cast so unbelievably well. The details on the body for example are stellar!
So I shelved it until a week ago when I got the Revell kit, which gave me the inspiration to kick it back up again. I concluded that the Fujimi body with the Revell chassis and interior would actually allow me to actually build it and look semi decent. The Fujimi kit has the better body, head and tail lights, better small details like the door handles and wipers for the headlamps and windshield while the Revell version has… better everything else. Unfortunately, the Fujimi kit doesn’t allow for the hood to be opened and even the Revell version has you manhandling the body to cut the hood out, the only difference is that the grille isn’t molded on so cutting it open is a lot easier. So the hood won’t open and it’s hiding a very well molded 2.3L 16v inline four, which I wish you could see cause credit to Revell – it’s wonderful!
The only shame is that the rest of the engine bay is empty. No battery, no detail, just the engine. But y’know, given it’s a desperate improvement on something as terrible as it could be, I’ll take it. The original doesn’t even have a engine, so! And the suspension set-up is amazingly complicated but in a good way, it gives it all some proper structural integrity in the end. I gave the ’16 and ’17 Camaro kits some high praise for the detailed suspension set up but Revell did it back in 1986 with this kit!
Inside of the kit, it gets rather basic again. The seats are blocky, the dashboard is flatly detailed and the doors are literal slabs of plastic that are meant to give structural strength. Fujimi did improve here, sadly they’re not of the same size as the Revell’s upgrade so I unfortunately had to go with those instead after having already used the dashboard decals on the Fujimi dash.
In the end, it cost me over a hundred euro to get this kit bashed together. Was it worth it? Oh yes, yes it was. I got plenty of bodies and spare parts left to do the supremely shitty Fujimi-origins Revell AMG 190E kit, twice. So I am definitely content with what I got here, especially since my old man seems to like it. Despite the off-kilter wheels, despite the window sitting a solid quarter of a inch too deep, despite the paint having chipped off the mirrors, despite it all – he likes it, and if he likes it, I like it too.
’90 Mercedes Benz 190E(W201) 2.3-16v specifications: (Fujimi’s in brackets)
Kit: Revell 7266-0389(No 3, Group A)
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: White, Black and Gray