1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 350 – AMT Ertl

1970CamaroZ28_2019 (31)Ahh yes, one of my first model kits that I built when I jumped back into this particular hobby. Heck, in fact, this particular kit might also be one of the first posts I did on this website, copying it like the ham fisted oaf that I am from a crappy Amazon.co.uk review. Well, we’re now a rigorous 300 or so models further into the future, it’s time to give this ol’ boy a re-do. Why? Honestly, there’s no big ‘true‘ reason, part of me was inspired by the anouncement of AMT’s semi-new tool 1970 Camaro with the full bumper and single headlights. Holy shit right? It only took them 30 years to finally do something with this kit. Though one shouldn’t bite the cramped, over-reaching hand that feeds him, this is a truth, it’s not AMT’s fault, it’s… well, it’s Round 2’s fault. A company that quite literally just invests in shoving more liquid plastic through old molds so they can make more AutoWorld 1/18th scale cars and be hugged by Coca-Cola Company for being good boys.

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Any-rant-over-who, while no more than one real new tool kits will come and have come from Round 2 every decade, I’m genuinely excited about the prospect of finally seeing them go for the other Camaro from 1970 through 1973, which AMT back in the seventies actually did do a kit of though I’m uh, I’m informed that it was a total pile of ass. Having the problem of well, looking absolutely nothing like the real deal in an extremely distracting manner. But I digress, back to business. The 1970 Camaro kit I built three years ago, I definitely didn’t do it justice and I’ll be honest, having grown and learned techniques and also having gotten a bad case of not-dumb-anymore-ness, I can’t stand the look of the thing.

1970CamaroZ28_2019 (15)Yet part of that is to blame on the kit itself, but I’ll go further into that in a moment. First, some well deserved history on the car and the kit; you see, this is like one of those cars that you really gotta give credit. Think of the Mustang, back in 1965 when they put out the Fastback alongside the convertible and coupe, that right there was serious concern for magnum opus. How the in the ever living fuck were they gonna triumph that? They essentially had designed the greatest hits album right there and then, and of course Caroll Shelby came along and for ’67 he essentially made the sexiest automobile in the history of mankind, better known as the 1967 Shelby GT500, not even the Eleanor version that added too much square to an all around slab of perfect. What the hell are you gonna do next? 1968 was largely unchanged and 1969 came along and it just went straight into Elvis territory from there, getting fatter and heavier until Ford had to damn near scrap it in 1973.

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The Camaro faced a similar prospect in 1969, they in 1967 had essentially created one of the de-facto muscle machines and they didn’t even know it yet, but it would very rapidly become the most popular muscle car of all time sharing the first place with the Mustang. Every man, woman, child, dog, cat, you name it knows the Mustang and every damn one knows the Camaro just as much, hell to such a degree that specific models became pop culture slang(like Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag with “drives an IROC”). And back then in US car culture, it was the norm of the day to swap out your entire car’s design every three to five years. Like ground up in most cases, even. For the Mustang, this first radical redesign came about in 1971, and for the Camaro it came a wee bit earlier, halfway through 1970. Just like the Mustang, kind of a victim of its own success though nowhere near as bad; it got wider, it got far heavier and it got far less options.

1970CamaroZ28_2019 (6)However, it was fortunately also a car to which GM for once in their lifetime actually listened to the consumers. The Camaro was popular in all configurations, as a two door family car all the way to Trans-Am racer. One of the biggest complaints from the first generation was the ride quality, it was lumpy, it was bumpy and generally it was a blast to drive as long as you went straight on a smooth road. They really took to the mantra of “the driver’s car”; they put on far better suspension, revamped the brakes, soundproofed the car and also did little comforts like longer doors for easier rear bench entry, more powerful steering, you name it. Essentially, while it was chunkier, it was also better. And it was still fast as all hell being a true to itself muscle car, until the 1973 oil crisis you had the base 290ci V6 but most customers chose the revamped 350ci V8 LT-1 engine sourced from the Corvette that would become a staple for the Camaro until deep into the eighties. The power monster 396ci V8 would be available until 1973 before it would get chopped in favor of… well, less.

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Like, in all specs the 1970 Camaro was generally just a good car. It weighed only around a hundred pounds more than the 1969 Camaro Z/28(the ’71 Mustang 429CJ weighed well over two hundred more than the ’70 Camaro RS Z/28), it retained most of the engine choices even while interior luxury would go down but the biggest hurdle the Camaro back then had to deal with was GM itself. The plant workers responsible for the second generation Camaro’s first three years striked for 240 days in total, 67 day company wide in 1971 and another 173 in 1972 and on top of that, literally before the oil market collapsed in the US, the Camaro had to be rapidly redesigned and well over a thousand of ’em had to be tossed into the crusher because of the new government mandated bumper safety standards. So when you think about it, they actually managed to pull of the near impossible and came up with a great successor to what essentially was the best Camaro, and they fell from grace through strikes, company mismanagement, idiotic bumper rules and the Middle-East yanking the carpet out from underneath everyone.

1970CamaroZ28_2019 (8)And the AMT kit also had its fair share of troubles, yes nice segue I know. From the seventies, AMT did the 1970, 1971 and 1972 all in the single headlight SS specs with the 396ci V8 engine. These were uh, well, they weren’t great. But ’twas 1970 and choice was rather limited and so was technology so lets forgive them for that. Then, in 1989 they did the impossible – they somehow fudged together the AMT and MPC kits from 1970 into one ugly abomination of ill-fitting shit that honestly didn’t deserve to see the light of day. It truly was every way a terrible kit, screwballed into a kit and you know it was a crapfest of a kit when not even the re-release kings Ertl, Racing Champions and Round 2 gave this one a second run. Instead, during the Racing Champions era of AMT Ertl, they invested in a ground up new tool of the 1970 Camaro in 1999, specifically the Baldwin Motion 454 Camaro in all new-tool glory. Even at the time specifically designed with the future in mind, the RS Z/28 Camaro hit the shelves in 2001.

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It was a beautiful kit and generally you can’t say many bad things about it, other than the usual mid-90s kits and early-2000s kits problems. However, the big fat however leaps out the bushes to pounce this sucker something fierce. It was clearly a quickly repurposed kit and it shows, the chassis  still has all the colossal holes for the big chunky Baldwin Motion side exhaust, it still has the raised suspension to accommodate the huge rear tires of that car and on top of it all, they really did dick up the injection molding on this thing. You see, while the Baldwin Motion kit is molded cleanly and in a crisp manner with the mold injection leading in from parts you can easily hide after painting, on the Z/28 it’s a whole different story.

1970CamaroZ28_2019 (33)The hood is molded onto the sprue from the left side all the way down and cause the plastic is so thin and flimsy it curves upwards horribly. The entire detail of the suspension and small pieces like the springs and shocks are just blobs. Hell the only thing to look somewhat decent are the A-arms, the rest is chunky and just decked with flash. Like an ungodly amount. And the worst part, I’d argue, is the front end of the body. The headlights are just ruined by flash, you need some surgical skills to reduce it to a reasonable amount and even then the thin, crappy plastic has shown its mark once again. The headlights are arguably the worst casualty of the plastic quality. For the rest however, it isn’t too bad. One can say though that this kit desperately could use more chrome pieces. They only chromed the two bumperettes, the grille, the rear bumper and the stick shift. Thats it. The wheels, for one, really could’ve used the chrome treatment, heck it could’ve used a rear-view mirror too. Maybe some headlight buckets instead of the molded on ones. Here’s hoping the full bumper Z/28 does see some separate headlight buckets. And some wheel support as there, well, isn’t any. They just loosely hang from the axles and eventually they go crooked… again. I kinda gave up on resetting the stance so the rear tires no cave in a tiny bit, I’m thinking “what the hell ever” by this point.

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Now one last paragraph of bitching, then I’ll shut the hell up as requested and get onto the good stuff. The decals in this kit, they’re quite decent however I very rapidly discovered a issue. None of the Z/28 decals have a white backing making them opaque, they’re entirely translucent! Unless you got a bright and vibrant color, they’re gonna vanish the moment you place ’em on the body. Which is a real damn shame. I compensated for this by printing my own decals, though instead of just placing them – I tried a little trick I read done by Maindrian Pace(no, not the Gone in 60 Seconds guy sadly) and cut ’em out from the paper and blackened it out around. Kinda looks halfway decent, I’d say!

1970CamaroZ28_2019 (2)So while I’m at it, I’m giving this decal sheet a do-over purely became it needs one and it lacks a bunch of stuff so, keep an eye out for that one to join the Baldwin Motion decal set I’ve made a while before. And here I am now, approaching the end of this article with one hell of a muscle car to show for it even with all the troubles and problems that plague the kit. Cause that’s really where it stands, despite everything crap, terrible and horrible about this kit, it still is quite… grand. The mold must’ve gone to hell over the years and frankly the build quality isn’t terrible. It’s nowhere near the ’69 Camaro from Revell in terms of how nice it all goes together and the crispness of the detail, but it’s damn well up there.

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And that gives me hope! The full bumper kit will likely have this one as its origin, as it’s alleged that the Round 2 boys are cloning it instead of falling in pits of kit molding past where they irreversibly chop up the original, which likely means they also have taken care of the now legendarily flashy, blubbery mold quality. The next model on the list is the ’70 Baldwin Motion Camaro re-do, another one I did terrible justice back in the day and paired with my decal sheet enhancements, it’ll likely be a neat little re-do. I gave this one all sorts of extra love, even though I didn’t bother plumbing the engine bay, I gave it some seatbelts, my own dash gauges and license plates, some high quality Tamiya paints on and in the model, you name it! And the Baldwin Motion Camaro looks to receive the same attention from me down the line, if only to make a nice pair for when the full bumper Camaro kit gets released.

’70 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 350 specifications:
Kit: AMT635
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 148
Molded in: Orange

Scale: 1/25

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