1977 Ford Mustang II Mach 1 – AMT

77mustangii-1.jpgOh boy, oh boy, I finally got one. A second generation Ford Mustang kit, and not just any of them, the friggin’ AMT release. The Mustang II fascinates me to no end, for all the wrong reasons – lemme just get my sins out of the way. I like it for several reasons, one’s obviously the story behind the absolute US automotive disaster the Mustang II became to symbolize, the second is that I, and fuck me for saying this, kind of dig the way it looked, especially the more European styled Mustang II Ghia and third; where it ended up going. Cause the Mustang is basically the Elvis of the automotive industry, it came in and it essentially changed the whole game there and then in 1964. Then as it became to define success, by 1969, it started packing on some… weight.

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To put it gently, it got fat. Over the span of six years, the Mustang grew wider and longer, it gained more empty space under the hood for some reason, it packed on over 1100 pounds(that’s 506kg, or in automotive terms, that’s nearly a whole Fiat Panda or half a ’64 Mustang extra), the newly appointed Ford president Semon Knudsen greenlit the final of the heavy-weight boxer Mustangs in 1971, where it gained that final tally of weight and grew another 3 inches to accommodate the 429 Cobra Jet engine and then by 1973, as the United States entered the automotive dark ages, the Elvis horse left the building. It was slashed entirely for a revamped model done by legendary car designed Lee Iacocca who was partially responsible in breathing life into the original Mustang project to start with – kind of fitting, isn’t it. Iacocca initially had a Mustang concept based on the Maverick, something that reminds me of the AMC Gremlin concept that was based on a late sixties Javelin. But in the end, the Mustang II was gonna be based on a Pinto. Well then.

77MustangII (5)Obviously, something had to be done and Iacocca definitely nailed it on the head when he noted that the Mustang had to be downsized to ever stand a chance at living on, cause it didn’t just define the muscle car era, it also defined the horrible side of perpetual growth in the muscle car market. James May and his Detroit-oriented interviewees said it best in a episode of James May’s Cars of the People; to paraphrase it some – “Detroit had thirty years of no competition” and “the cars were designed to be replaced by the newer model a few years after, longevity was not on their minds“, and despite everything obviously this mind-set carried on for another twenty years at the least, a solid ten years past the Mustang II was deemed to be around. Granted, the Mustang II wasn’t a bad car, by no means. Hell arguably it was one of the better Mustangs to have been created, the Ghia was an attractive flat-decked coupe that screamed European something fierce, the hatchback wasn’t utterly ugly even though it was yes, just a overweight Pinto but it needed to survive. The economy-car popularity spike did allow the Mustang II to thrive something fierce, the V6 was gutted and produced the power equivalent of a old horse’s fart but its lightweight build did allow it to have some pep, something that was exploited once the economic crisis worries died off a little bit over the following years; they first re-introduced a V8 engine, the semi-legendary 302/5.0L option.

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Then, after that in ’76 they did a special appearance package to sort of re-live the old Mustang/GT500 mania with elaborate air dams, vents and spoilers, called the Cobra II but in reality it did… fuck-all to enhance the power, the anemic 302 still only produced little over 140HP, which to be fair, was somewhat on par with the competitors like the Camaro Z/28 and the Firebird with a 350ci V8 of the time, but still it was kind of clear that the damage was done by 1977 as the last two years of the II began. The Firebird was the most popular muscle car with the Camaro trailing a close second, in ’78 they gave it one last hurrah by chucking out a King Cobra edition which was just a weird, odd little edition meant to mimic the others. But fair enough, I kind of like the crazy revival of the King Cobra, it’s in some ways kind of exactly what muscle cars were all about; making you look their way.

77MustangII (14)In a way, the Mustang II might have been the best thing to have happened to the entire Mustang lineage. I know, hot take there Mr. Grumpyfuck, why don’t you go and worship some more European scrap, you cretin. And I’d say, you’d be right, I am that but still – look at the fox body Mustang that followed it in ’79. It was compact-ish, it was quick, it maintained the awesome hatchback design for most of its models, it was a nippy, lightweight… fox! And by some ways I like to imagine that the Mustang II’s downsizing helped that vision be realized, cause while the Camaro, Firebird and other muscle car survivors maintained their livelihoods, they stayed quite… large. Lengthy, at the least.

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But I digress… a lot. Both AMT and MPC made Mustang models through the seventies, MPC made several versions of the II, among a few being the Cobra II and King Cobra editions, some IMSA-ish looking beast and the bog-standard ’74 V6 hatchback. AMT sort of kept up, offering the Cobra II kind of(somekind of Matchbox edition) and the annuals from ’74 through ’77 with similar features everytime; opening hatch, same wheels, same engine and interior. And uh, yeah I wish I had a MPC ’77 Ford Mustang to compare it to, this kit isn’t especially great all in all but I just wish I could compare it and see how well it fares opposed to other seventies releases. Like, the kit’s glaring issues already start right away with the giant mold lines and the absolutely gargantuan tires. I mean, they are fucking massive. Stupidly, absurdly, to a degree of just damn silly large.

77MustangII (15)The body has fitting issues, there’s a sunken part on the tailgate right where the Ford lettering is, the mold lines are obscene, the hood nor the hatch will fit at all, the clear pieces slot in from the bottom, giving the illusion that the damn windows sit deep as hell and looks like someone glued plastic sheets in from the inside to cover the fact that the car came with no windows. The rims inside the stupidly huge wheels are also too damn big, the tail lights are unfortunately just chrome pieces, the whole chassis is just a flat plate and the suspension is absolutely huge and so weirdly shaped compared to the flat chassis, the interior is smooshed flat in a odd manner and just looks… wrong. The engine is a nice one though, goes together smoothly and the underappreciated 250ci/4.0L V6 is nicely detailed and it is one of the few quite well cast V6’s too.

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But again, it’s… from 1977. It’s old, it’s AMT, their Camaro offering opposed to the MPC Camaro offering wasn’t exactly great in comparison either, but y’know, letting it slide due to the sheer friggin’ rarity of the kits in question. It quickly becomes a matter of “it’s fine, it’s old” with these kits. Generally speaking, these kits are what I’d call “adequate”. It mimics the real body quite well, much better than the ’75 Camaro for sure. It’s just, at least from a purely looking-outside-in perspective arguably a worse model than the MPC kit(from other builds and box-content pictures at least), but it’s still nothing to scoff at. Though, there’s one other glaring omission, something MPC might’ve done overkill on during the same period – decals. There were none with this kit, or at least none that I got, at all. Yeah, my axles were also missing so for all I know they too weren’t put in but I believe there’s no decals based on the fact that the instruction sheet makes absolutely no call-outs for them, nor does the box. So, I made my own sheet for it, like I seemingly keep doing for every kit now.

77MustangII (19)And y’know what, in the end, who the hell cares right, with some effort and part sourcing, something I definitely didn’t get around to, you could quite handily turn this into a much better model than the box initially offers. Smaller tires aren’t otherworldly to come across, some wing mirrors aren’t too difficult to find spares of, the decals I’ve got for sale now so there’s those and you could do some chisel-work to the hood and tailgate to get ’em to shut properly. I love, absolutely love these misery cars from the seventies, for the lessons that were learned, for the slowly-growing appreciation for the Mustang II, for the overall perspective one gains looking into these things, from both the modeler’s side of things as well as the actual car, and how it held up opposed to other competitors at the time, now that we live in a facts-found-in-seconds world… Speaking of competitors, the next build I’m currently actively messing about with is the ’77 Toyota Celica LB-2000GT – Basically its Japanese cousin. Oh yes, oh yes indeed.

’77 Ford Mustang II Mach 1 specifications:
Kit: #T487
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 90
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

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1977 AMC Pacer X – MPC

1977PacerX (1)The fishbowl! The aquarium! The girthy-midget! The pregnant guppy! The Ass-tastrophy! The terrarium! The monstrosity! The Mirth-Mobile! The Malaise Egg! The nicknames for the AMC Pacer just go on and on and on… The Pacer was introduced in 1974 as a companion to the supremely successful AMC Gremlin but the designing of the thing already started in 1971 with the first-time-for-everything approach of: designing the car from the inside out. I mean, that’s clever but it also has a weird by effect that it made the car’s ass freaking enormous. I mean, Jesus wept, that thing got a wide, wide ass. But that giant bubble glass butt allows for giant storage compartments in the trunk. It also has wide as sin passenger and drivers compartments, leg room so big that Delta Airlines spontaneously detonates at the sheer concept of it and weird but neat little things like the rain gutters being removed for a sleeker design(which did allow for some wet front seats when it rains but… well, that’s kinda our norm now), the passenger door being around four inches longer for easier entry and a built in B-pillar roll-over bar – all quite awesome features.

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And while it had the width of a full size 1970 Chevrolet Impala SS, it had the mileage of a Datsun. And that right there, for a 1974 car that was designed just before the fuel crisis ground the United States to a damn halt, was one excellent choice of theirs. What was also one excellent choice was the styling. It’s… quite something, ain’t it. I mean, it’s on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to utterly cool and absolutely Goddamn hideous. Christ on a bike, the thing had more ugly on it than a Rolling Stones album cover but at the same time, it was just as awesome as a Rolling Stones album.

1977PacerX (14)So… yeah, it’s a Pacer. Made by MPC, first in 1976 and onwards until 1978 where they made yet another Pacer X model but totally forgot that the X version was scrapped by the end of ’77 in favor of a ehem, “Sport” model which by the end of ’78 was also axed. Hell, the whole thing was axed by 1979 for various reasons, not before turning the grille into something heinous but… y’know, swings and roundabouts. The legit MPC release from ’77 featured a 1976 Pacer X with some new parts. Yeah I also don’t know what the hell the new parts are but the legacy pieces are there; the odd off-road tires of the ’76 and the fog lights and some new decals that will never ever get used, so yep. But one thing that was stupidly awesome at the time and in utter contrast to other MPC kits of the same year; the detail on it is friggin’ crisp as hell. I mean, holy friggin’ shit it’s something special – the Pacer X script on the side is so well done that you really wouldn’t need any decals to get the script looking like it’s legit. Same goes for the AMC/Pacer badges on the trunk and hood and everything else. I don’t say this quickly, hell I hardly ever say it it at all but… Good job, MPC!

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I should say though, this kit was brand spanking new from 1977 all the way until now but it still carries the non-separate baggie curse of ye olde modeling days. All the parts were crammed into a single bag(but the tires were separate, thank God) and it squished the body outward for, well, for years at the least. So it’s horribly warped and the hood never, ever is gonna sit flush like it should, the front bumper and front lip were so warped it now has this weird uplift to it(can’t bend it any way without snapping it) and the tire rubber had gone rock solid but not before shrinking so the rims wouldn’t fit any longer. Oh and the chassis warped inwards giving the front tires a lovely wobbly looking inwards stance… but I am perfectly content with it. I was so stoked that I made a decal sheet for it in anticipation of it and wanted to make a bog standard, nothing special about it Pacer X in metallic silver with a boring gray interior. I also flocked in a carpet…-ish, which I’ll get back to later and I also wired up the whole damn engine. Every last bit of it that I could.

1977PacerX (12)Like I said, the whole thing got warped something fierce, as you’ve been able to see in the pictures. But lemme just go down the list of parts that ended up warping; the front bumper, the front valance, the front grille(snapped in two), the fenders on the body, the chassis frame, the glass and the interior bucket. So on a kit of roughly fifty pieces with well over half being “custom”, that’s damn near all the parts having a defect one way or the other. But to hell with it, I built it and I like it. It’s such a weird little model just like the car, it’s got a strange blend of high quality parts and low quality parts, the body and such being crisp as all hell but the glass and most of the interior being low quality as hell. I mean, the seats are nice and they got the denim pattern on there nailed down but the rest like the doors and the dash… Not so much. The engine bay is quite detailed for a MPC kit, especially the engine block which gets half hidden under the firewall/dashboard regardless and there’s no place for the hood to connect to other than just lying awkwardly on the glass which is connected to the dashboard. It’s odd to see such a high quality/low quality mix.

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Speaking of engine bays, AMC’s straight six 258ci engine is definitely the highlight, as I mentioned before. MPC has notoriously shitty engine casts, the 305 and 350ci V8s from Chevrolet models are just so damn dull, the 440, 426 and 340 blocks are quite honestly terrible but then there’s some winners here and there like MPC’s late entry Volare Super Six engines aren’t casted too terribly and have the correct air cleaners. Then of course you got their 1980s entries like the Omni, Charger, Daytona and such which pack incredible renditions of their small I4 and I6 blocks. But to get back to the point, it’s such a detailed little engine block in this AMC, it’s… quite staggering.

1977PacerX (7)The decals I made are on the decal sheet page and I made a little addition in the form of the semi-existent 258 engine marking decal. The rest is the stripes, the tail light stripe, the emblems, the Pacer X for the side, so forth, just to make the whole thing a whole lot easier to detail without giving my damn shaky hand a chance at ruining it. I’d say they came out quite well! Not to mention, unlike having accidented my way through the ’84 Oldsmobile Cutlass H/O build, this one actually finished up quite nicely! Just a shame about the warped-ass body.

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Welcome to the collection, you bubble assed beauty, you. This kicked off a whole parade of AMC love on my part, I am already invested in the Gremlin X from ’74 by AMT Ertl which isn’t even close to being half the kit this is but screw it, I’m going for it. And sooner or later, a ’77 Pacer Wagon will join the festival of madness. Oh yeah, y’know what these seventies models could use that MPC just glossed over time and time again? Some Goddamn door mirrors.

’77 AMC Pacer X specifications:
Kit: MPC 1-7701
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 62
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau – Revell

1977montecarlolandau (1)The Monte Carlo is one of those cars that no matter the generation, I always loved. Yes, even that thing from the nineties. And while in 2000, the Monte Carlo got a slight revival with some features returning that the early nineties so desperately seemed to want to shake and had both the support of GM Motorsports and racing teams trying to get some life back into that comatose and savaged horse, it only lasted until 2007 before being killed off all together for good in favor for the back-from-the-dead Camaro. A decision largely made to focus as many potential buyers onto that revival.

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Though honestly, it sprung to life in 1970 – peak muscle car era, as a car that was for the mid-wealth class providing luxury as well as performance. Swivel seats for easier entrance and exit, all the components you’d want for a road cruiser like cruise control and A/C systems, AM-FM radio, trim taken straight from a Beverly Hills mansion bathroom and what was shoved under the hood? Well, it would come standard with the 350ci V8 Turbo Fire small block but… it could be a gargantuan big block Chevy V8; the SS 454. For the most part, the Monte Carlo’s existence is quite possibly all thanks to the revamped Pontiac Grand Prix(What was the fuss? Well, it was a long, long, long sports coupe basically) being a success in 1969 and Chevrolet not having their own version of such a car, the blend of comfort and luxury together with burbling powerhouses and track-capable suspension.

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I mean, it was a gargantuan car… Yes, it was smaller than Cadillac Eldorado’s but, that’s like saying a 45 floor building’s smaller than the Empire State Building; it’s still huge. The Monte Carlos of 1970 through 1972 were 17 and a half feet(5.3m) long, that’s 2 feet longer than a full bore Mercedes Benz S-Klasse! All that empty engine bay real estate, woof man.

But regardless, it just sprouted out of a idea and within two years it was on the market for 1970 with all the possible options available you’d normally expect for a car with an established customer base. Suppose that’s the nice thing of being able to just… inherit all the buyer statistics from your(technically) competitor because you’re both under the same company in the end. And through the seventies, it got several changes. One of them was the one we’re talking about in this article; the 1977 version. The last of the boaty Monte Carlos. In ’78, it got cut shorter by over a foot, lighter by 800 pounds and prepped up some so that it could actually, y’know, make it from the driveway without having downed a gallon of gas. But the ’77 Monte Carlo wasn’t gonna go out on a vapid whiff, oh no. It came equipped with all the stuff that was added over the years since 1973.

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Quad square headlights, segmented grille and of course the tail lights that would stay similar all the way until the last Monte Carlo of 1988. It still had that Coke bottle shape, it still had the disgusting length of a Cadillac and of course, it had luxury. Specifically, in 1977 you could either have it as the “S Coupe”, which basically meant you had the normal hardtop, or you could get the Landau coupe. Boy if there’s ever a country club name for something so basic as a strip of vinyl on the ass end of the roof, it’s this(though of course, the landau option as a “fake convertible” is one of those pretentious things that goes back to the early 1950s). The name comes from those old almost fairy tale carriages where the two cloth tops could fold backwards for and I ain’t kidding; maximum showcasing of the passengers.

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But I digress, Revell’s the sole manufacturer of a 1973-1977 generation Monte Carlo and it comes in the shape of a extremely basic SnapTite kit. Which, I have to admit, not a bad thing at all. I mean, sadly it means it doesn’t come with a lot of parts like for instance a engine. It also means the entire chassis is one solid piece. But does this mean Revell’s lowered the bar for incredible quality all around? Hell no. You could turn this bad boy into just about anything your heart desires, just without a engine sadly. Revell first brought this quite amazing kit to the market way back in 2001 as a lowrider(for some reason, Revell had a giant lowrider craze going on in the late nineties and early 2000s) and didn’t come around to making it a proper Monte Carlo(with the right mag wheels) until 2011. Like I said, the quality is supremely high – the Monte Carlo scripts are very clear, the dash and interior detail is very high and all the little details like the segmented grille, tail lights with the chrome accents, it’s all there.

1977montecarlolandau (12)It’s a mere 36 pieces in total and it’s kind of inflated even cause it counts the movable suspension as unique pieces even though they’re firmly attached to the chassis. Speaking of which, a nice thing this kit has is adjustable ride height! It’s as simple as just forcing it up or down(it’s got a bit with teeth that with some force can be pushed up or down) so you can stance it normally, front/back up or as a lowrider – some variety I can appreciate.

Either way, I got this theme going on for some reason that I love which is to turn any Monte Carlo black. No chrome trim, or at least as little as possible unless it’s a factory option and for the most part just a simple black paint job. I did it on the ’78 El Camino, I’m doing it on the ’78 Monte Carlo kit from Trumpeter and I kind of let it go through in the ’86 and ’87 Monte Carlos as well. So I thought, yep, definitely going it here too. Though of course, it’s a Landau so it has the soft top which I had to accentuate in a different tone so it would look… correct. Though, left the trim of it body color as it is.

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In the end, it’s one of those kits that I’m glad exists even though I would’ve loved it if it got the “Basic Builder” treatment, which is a series that Revell-Monogram once did for a few models like the 1985 Camaro and such which were pretty much snap kits in nature but with a slight bump in the difficulty with requiring glue and having more in depth parts. Also, a waterslide decal sheet instead of sticks would’ve been appreciated… But y’know, this is also one of this kits that serves as an example that even the most basic snap kits can be frickin’ fantastic models. They’re definitely not just entry model kits for children or bored folks, they’re high quality kits that are easy enough for kids or those who just don’t wanna go through the effort of it all yet complicated and detailed enough to warrant a purchase from any serious minded modeler.

Hell, if we could get more models of cars of the seventies like a Pontiac Can Am or such and the only way would be via a SnapTite release? Then bring it on, I will buy friggin’ fifty if need be.

 

’77 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau specifications:
Kit: #85-1962
Skill Level: 1
Parts: 36
Molded in: Red, White and Black
Scale: 1/25

 

1980 Plymouth Volaré Road Runner – MPC

1980plymouthvolareroadrunner (1)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.

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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.

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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.

1980plymouthvolareroadrunner (13)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.

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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.

1980plymouthvolareroadrunner (14)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.

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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:
Kit: M843-200
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 78
Molded in: Off-White
Scale: 1/25

 

1977 GMC Sierra 4×4 – Revell

1977gmcboxI do enjoy a good pick-up truck every once in a while, especially the little utility ones that are either pumped up with a giant V8(or in more recent years, a Vortec V6). This one’s a little different though, while still holding onto the big block V8, it’s a lifted 4×4! That’s a first for me, at least. The 1977 GMC Sierra(or C15, or C/K series, or whatever badge you wanna apply here) has been in the rotation from Revell and Monogram for well over three decades by this point.

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Having seen releases in a very wide variety in both shape and brand; the regular truck in 1980, the lifted 4×4 at in 1981(which this kit is based on), as a wrecker in 1992 and then suddenly in 2011 it came back to life as a snow plow kit along with a re-release of the wrecker truck. The same kit underneath as the “High Roller” ’81 release, just with a functional and supremely detailed snow plow. That being said though, this kit and its real life brother the Chevrolet C/K had various releases as well, also variations upon 4×4’s and even a step-side at one point in 1993.

But I digress, the snow plow kit has everything one need to make a basic GMC Sierra with a lift-kit, transferbox and all. And there’s always something so primal about a pick up truck build, every single one of them has the whole truck in pieces, the bed, the cab, a few metal beams for a frame, so forth. It properly feels like you’re building something from the ground up, all the way down to the beams of the frame.

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AMT did sort of spoil me, for a change! Usually it is the other way around, but thinking back to the Chevrolet S-10 SS kit and the Chevrolet C1500 454 SS, it was a lot more in depth with the detail and in the end looked a heckuvalot better all around, on this kit however, as this is a older Monogram kit – it has a pretty basic interior and engine bay, with little detail to spot. In fact, the interior is now so barren for once that it doesn’t even have a single detail on the doors whatsoever, just shapes for arm-rests but that is it. The engine too is a pretty damn basic piece, unlike most of their 1980s releases, this one’s just… simplistic. That being said though, it’s a semi-modified 350 cubic inch V8 and even though it’s a simple shape, it is a unique variation of it for the truck, something you don’t see every day.

gmcsierra1977 (1)It’s a rarity to see a proper GMC truck as a model kit, after all they’re more often than not just Chevrolets in GMC clothing(such as this bad boy) though every so often there’s a kit of a GMC that really can turn some heads – take the ’91 Syclone for example. Heck, or the GMC Vandura 1500 from the A-Team, an AMT kit I’ve longed to have for two years now, damn you price gougers! And this one did share the stage with its brother for shaping the aggressive square style for pick-ups from the seventies onwards, and it is nice to see Revell Monogram putting out kits of ’em.

In the end, I did make a simple all black Sierra without the light bar, without the snow scoop or even the spare tire/jerrycan, though there’s a somewhat hidden third option in the box; you could make it a gardener’s truck or give it some sporty white stripes on the basic version. Though no dial decals, logos(other than for the spare tire and windshield), but y’know, most of the time Revell adds to the decal sheet for variety on old Monogram re-releases instead of making ’em better for detailing.

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Though the re-release saw some nice improvements; the rubber of the wheels feels so damn good, it’s like those Aoshima wheel sets that just seem like the real thing just for tiny cars. I added some Goodyear Eagle GTII white letters on there, the outline version for a change cause it seemed to fit quite nicely without being over the top and sadly Joseph Osborne of Fireball Modelworks doesn’t do say… BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A, not yet at least.

It does make for a mean, mean looking truck in the end.

’77 GMC Sierra 4×4 specifications:
Kit: #85-7222
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 103
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/24

1976 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 – AMT

76camaroboxAlright, I can hear ya’ thinking right away; “There was no Z/28 in 1975 and 1976, you dolt“, and you’d be perfectly on the mark for this kit is based on the 1976 RS model! But my good grief, the struggle a man has to go through and the sheer wallet emptying a man has to do to merely find a ’74-’77 Camaro to begin with is nothing short of soul destroying.

So I took the best chance I had, and made myself a ’74 Z/28 inspired ’76 RS. Why? Cause the Z/28 editions fit the scheme of my Camaro line up more, to start with. Another good reason is cause the ’75 and ’76 Type LT had no stripes to speak of and the RS had this odd yet interesting black/stripe/body color get up that really wouldn’t fit whatsoever.

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So, here we are! An impostor Z/28 from the era where Chevrolet nearly killed off the Z/28 package all together, with the wrong trim levels for its year and coming off the kit that has nothing to do with RS nor Z/28 at all. Allow me to elaborate, short history lesson time!

In 1976 the Pontiac Firebird was kicking serious ass in sales, especially the Trans-Am(half of the sales in ’76 were T/A’s) which was beating the Camaro a fair bit, even with the V8 slaughter cause of the 1973 oil crisis. Even though both Pontiac and Chevrolet are under the same corporation name, the rivalry wasn’t any less fiery cause of it, both were competing to be the winner in the sales figures. And even though the ’77 Camaro brought back the Z/28 to give the customer some power to play with, the ’76 and ’77 models had at best a 350 cubic inch V8 while the Firebird T/A had a 400 cubic inch V8 or the 455 cubic inch V8 which easily outdid the Camaro. Difference for most folks? Price. Getting a Camaro with the 350 ci was a good thousand bucks(1976 money; the RS sat at 3927$ and the T/A 455 was 4985$) cheaper than the 455 package from Pontiac. So getting it taped up over at AHC was still cheaper than a Firebird, hell still a few hundred off from the 400ci T/A even.

So cue the American Hatch Company’s effort at finding middle ground, I suppose. AHC made high quality T-top windows, frames, so on. But they also dabbled with vinyl
76camaronew-3kits which were really a hot item in the 1970s, and they figured that the concept of “what if we dress up a Camaro like a Firebird” was worth the effort. It was literally just a package of Firebird ‘inspired’ decals for any Camaro from 1973 through 1977 and all you had to do was ask your local Chevy dealer for more info. I’d say it didn’t pan out for them given no-one can really say they’ve seen this “AHC-100” Camaro drive around, even finding pictures of the real deal is nigh impossible. The most common evidence of it having been legit is that AMT issued this kit, the one I built, in 1977 to join the party and that’s really about it, some Motor Trend ads, the AMT kit and a few posters here and there in Chevy dealers across the USA.

I bought two sets of decals from Keith Marks, one for the ’76 RS, one for the ’74 Z/28 before I was sure on which way to go with the kit; I have some ’69 stripes left that I was going to use but thought, y’know what, screw it, it may be a 1976 Camaro, it may not have an official Z/28 version, but dammit I am building one! So time to talk about the kit, finally eh?

So it’s a 1977 release, based on the mold that AMT’s used since 1974 with their annual releases of Camaro “customizing” kits, and all the seventies goodness that comes with it. No clear headlights, no clear tail lights, ill-fitting parts, hardly a engine bay to speak of, but in a tradition they’ve held since the late sixties: great engine(its got the 350ci V8), great interior and to be fair, the mold quality of whats there is fantastic. Hell, even the decal sheet survived decently and the kit I bought was not new. It was opened in 1981 according to the seller and promptly abandoned for other fun stuff and left on their storage shelf since then and he claims he’s tried to sell it since 2014.

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This did do some damage to the kit, the rear window caught some scratches and smudges some time, the plastic turned a rotten yellow and for the most part the tires were unusable, however it didn’t warp and it still was pretty damn good stuff to work with all things considered. The issues I can mention, despite being spoiled by modern tooling and well thought out kit designs by AMT Ertl, Revell, Tamiya and so on of these days, the bodywork is a ill-fitting nightmare. The bumpers, the chassis and the grille all had to be cut, bend and warped to fit, shortened the chassis by half an inch so the rear bumper could get on, it’s pretty much an AMT kit through and through. Hell both the front bumper and rear bumper stick out a few millimeters on the sides cause they’re just too wide, so that’s also something. And another thing to note of the bumpers is that they got a severe case of being droopy, which is especially noticeable on the front.

On top of that, it uses two metal rods to attach the wheels to, which would’ve worked if the rod wasn’t twice the size of the wheels, so I manhandled some toothpicks and it’s now got good ol’ fashioned wooden axles. Though now the wheels sit a tad too far to the inside, but with some work that is… fixable. I haven’t bothered cause every slight touch to the76camaro-5 toothpicks will make the wheels fall off unless they sit exactly as they do in the pictures, so… Yup. At least it looks sort of decent in the Polyglas GT tires I took from another AMT kit to replace the thoroughly rotten ones.

Also, like many of that era kits: no rear-view mirror and no door mirrors, sadly. Still looking to find the ones I didn’t put on the ’69 Olds Cutlass, that might make it look a bit more complete.

Though, I should say, those are just the downsides of the kit. It has a fair amount of pluses to balance it all out! It’s still considered a “customizing kit” on all fronts, with ’71/’72 Camaro split bumpers for both the front and rear, front airdam, sportier rally wheels, RS rear wing, the olden-goldie CB radio set, so on. They’re all nice extras to have!

But despite it looking a bit haggard, it’s a T-top Camaro from the mid-seventies. That in itself is rare, it’s even rarer given it’s also a fake on my part by pasting Z/28 decals on a RS model, but there have been one or two moments where I felt like I should’ve just built it as the AHC-100 Camaro cause honestly… It’s just that rare. A slower and thinner wolf in… well, wolves clothing. Maybe one day I’ll shell out another 70 to 100 dollar just to make the Firemaro/Camobird/Trans-28/etc AHC-100 properly.

’76 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28(AHC-100 RS Camaro) specifications:
Kit: #2213
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 80
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1977 Pontiac Firebird 400 – Revell

1977firebird (1)To start off this one, this kit’s not a Trans Am. Bandit’s Firebird was a T/A 6.6 and oddly enough the kit based on the movie’s star vehicle isn’t actually the same vehicle. Granted, it’s still the Special Edition and still has largely the same engine, it’s just not a Trans Am. Though it does have the detailed bits of a T/A 6.6 like the chrome valve covers and the A/C set up.

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But enough about how it isn’t a Trans Am.What it is, is a beautiful kit. I mean, holy crap it’s a beautiful kit. Excellently detailed interior is just the start, which helps with it being a T-top and all. Figured I wouldn’t make yet another black muscle car and change it up a bit. I once saw a ’78 Firebird T/A near where I lived and just fell in love with the color.

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It also saved me the hassle of having to paint the chrome bits gold and the insides of the wheels gold as well, also saved me from having to do all the Special Edition decals, which 1977firebird (5)there are a lot of! I did decide I’d try and do as much detailed work as possible, like wiring up the engine, painting the interior with a bit of a personal touch.

The quality of the whole thing is superb, it feels like a Special Edition release. It has a fantastic little thing that I wish more kits would use; screws. Screws connect and firmly secure the chassis and the body together. No clunky and weird squeezing with the chassis, it just… fits. Man, how I wish more kits would use this.

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The engine detail and quality is pretty good though, though not as complicated as other kits. For instance the cylinder heads and the intake manifold are one piece, some of the fluid containers, A/C components and the battery are already molded into the engine bay, that sorta stuff. Still though, it looks fantastic and crowded once it’s all put together.

1977firebird (14)The interior is pretty detailed too, nice touches with extra parts for the gauges and of course, a CB radio build into the dash. And of course the T-top, which I didn’t glue in place so I can remove ’em at will. It’s a snug fit so they don’t just fall off on their own all the time.

All in all, it’s just a beautiful kit. One of the few Pontiacs that Revell has license to build(fairly sure MPC/Round 2 has pretty much all the Pontiac licenses under their belt). The 1/24 scale ’78 Pontiac is on the list someday, I just don’t like the scale all that much and the kit itself is ancient. This one though… Just gorgeous.

Also: new phone, so better quality pictures! The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge makes some nifty quality pictures, oh man.

’77 Pontiac Firebird 400 specifications:
Kit: #85-4027
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 86
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25