2001 Opel Astra V8 DTM Opel Team Phoenix – Tamiya

2001OpelAstraDTMTeamPhoenix (4)So we all have our favorite motorsports. Okay shouldn’t call them “sports” per se, more “the type of crashes or lack thereof that interest me“. For some folks it’s NASCAR, other folks its JGTC and its new Super GT buddy, Formula 1, so on. For me, it’s DTM and its distant cousin WTCC. The thing that interests me the most about either is the… somewhat vague intention that it’s still cars being driven by racers, not plastic husks that are all the same shape. I know, technically this is called a “silhouette” for motorsports, complicated racing gear underneath the shell of a heavily modified car, but at least unlike NASCAR, DTM still attempts to keep it unique! Not a bunch of colored slabs that are tailgating fiercely that you have to identify by their damn headlight or taillight stickers to spot the friggin’ make.

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… Yeah that’s probably gonna draw some ire. Basically, I just like how they look in DTM, WTCC and the Super GT. Also I just noticed how many frickin’ acronyms were just tossed around in like six sentences, thats motorsports for you! But DTM in particular has been one interesting motorsport for me, especially the cars – and I had built a fair amount of models of it before, though this way before I even thought of doing this website. Revell has a whole series of the more recent BMW’s, Mercedes’ & Audi’s, of which I did Bruno Spengler’s BMW M3 and Mercedes C-class and Tom Kristensen’s Audi A4. I was(and still am) amateur extraordinaire when I made those models but holy Jesus they were a blast to build. The interior is simplistic, as it kind of is in real life, though the roll cage and such is nice and complicated, the real fun comes on the body shell itself.

2001OpelAstraDTMTeamPhoenix (9)To be fair, it isn’t as complicated as the Revell DTM kits, but that’s thanks to two parts; one being it having no engine and not needing a whole removable front lid and two being that most of the complicated parts and aerodynamic bits are already attached to the body. For instance, the Audi A4 kit by Revell has you manually attach around eight canards to a side, bit by bit. I personally prefer the somewhat less complicated manner, but I can see how folks would prefer the “everything needs to be done by hand” method. One thing that Tamiya has done a friggin’ good job of is the attempts at helping the builder out on trying to nail the two tone paint job, it’s still somewhat of a guess-job as it tells you to cut out shapes of the decal instruction sheet for little spray paint masks, which is nice and all but its just one of those things that is more effort than its worth, given you can also just tape off a similar body line and just do it the slightly harder way.

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But man, this is one interesting subject matter, the Opel Astra or its British counterpart, the Vauxhall Astra, always has been the de facto boring-ass-car, even being the more sporty coupe variant of the Opels. Its basically the European Toyota Camry. There’s arguably no more boring car on the European market than the Opel Astra, well its bigger brother the Vectra though its just a elongated version of it, but for some reason, it made for one decent performance vehicle. The Astra G did quite alright in rallycross, made some appearances back in the nineties in the Super Tourenwagen Cup among BMW M3s and such. But its biggest claim to racing fame is its 2000 through 2004, where it took 2nd place on it’s first go-through(this particular car even, driven by Manuel Reuter) and then… it just fell the fuck apart. I mean, Jesus they tried and they just… failed. Opel had one more team victory on the Nürburgring and then it just wouldn’t go their way anymore. Hell, Opel pulled from the racing scene as a factory sponsored team in 2006.

2001OpelAstraDTMTeamPhoenix (10)So as a whole, Opel racing cars from the nineties onwards are rarities in general, there’s a handful of different types out there and even less are available in model kit shape. Tamiya has taken on two of them as model car kits, one being the Calibra from the mid-nineties which was in theme kind of similar with the white and yellow mix and then of course there’s this one. Though Tamiya is no stranger to Opels as a whole, though unfortunately they’re limited to a bunch of 1/10th scale R/C bodies. One unique thing about this kit is the gullwing doors, which are beautifully thought out save for one, tiny thing. They become damn near non-functional cause the bracing struts is attached to the weakest point of the door and its expected to be glued onto the door frame by you. Now on paper, this works. In practice, this means the next time you flip the gullwings open, it’ll just snap the little heads off.

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All it would’ve taken for it to ensure to work perfectly and maintain some strength is if the little heads for the strut arms that you have to connect together with screws were molded onto the door frame before hand, in stead of little separate pieces. However, there’s many very, very good sides to this kit. Other than it having no engine, which is pretty standard for Japanese model kits and the gullwing doors having their own issues, there’s like four things I wished other model kit companies would steal and turn into a standard of sorts. One is, the tail-lights. The fact that the indicators and reverse lights are slotted into the main red tail light makes it look… so much more realistic. It’s just so damn good looking, there’s hardly anything we can do to make it look better than it already does, it’s that damn good. Two is, when your kit has a giant wing, allow for its little legs to be slotted into the body rather than to connect it via two tiny-tiny holes and a bunch of glue; this actual gives it some structural strength and won’t have it snap off when someone decides to walk in the mere vicinity of it. It’s one of those little Tamiya touches that just make the whole thing a lot more solid.

2001OpelAstraDTMTeamPhoenix (16)Three? Little chrome stickers you transfer onto the kit. I absolutely love them. When they work, they work. The Opel emblem in the grille looks a thousand times better with an embossed sticker than a decal, and that’s coming from a guy who spend the last three months peddling his own decal sheets. And lastly, four; mold the most complicated parts as one piece. I love silhouette racing cars for the most part because they’re so damn complicated and I just enjoy going balls-to-the-wall sometimes, however when you got like eight little canards across the body, either make them supremely easy to slot in(like in the same manner the wing is slotted into the tail rather than just glued to it), or mold them into the body before hand. It’s just no fun half-assedly trying to put tiny, tiny canards on there that refuse to stick, specifically looking at you Revell with the Audi A4 DTM car.

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As a whole, the Opel kit is one of those legacy kits from Tamiya that works incredibly well, minus one or two things. Age ruined the little sticky wheel transfers(hence the lack of Dunlop tire decals), the glue had just ceased to be glue so they literally were worthless. I kind of hoped Tamiya would cease to use those but… well, they’re not going to. The door system could’ve been better but other than that, it’s just again one of those excellent kits that requires a fair amount of work to detail but Tamiya has helped as much as it could to make detailing this thing and building it complicated yet fun and smooth, not painful and annoying. And that’s why I friggin’ adore Japanese kits in between sometimes. Cause you know it’s always gonna contain a quality kit, with a quality result without a brain melting amount of hassle.

Now back to being a decal designing slave, and finish the ’96 Impala SS Grand Sport.

’01 Opel Astra V8 DTM “Opel Team Phoenix” specifications:
Kit: “The Sports Car” series, No.243
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 107
Molded in: White, Gray and Black
Scale: 1/24

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