1975 Chevrolet Camaro RS – MPC

1975CamaroRS (1)So, last year I built the ’76 Chevrolet Camaro that was done by AMT back in the seventies. Specifically, it was somekind of one off version done by American Hatch Corporation in 1976 for the 1976 and 1977 model years called the Camaro AHC-100, where they did some… well, there’s no kind way of saying it; half-assed rip off of the more popular and more desirable Pontiac Firebird, the Trans-Am even. It was a truly weird set of choices made by AHC, the odd egg-shell off white paint job, the weird(albeit totally 70s) color choices for the bird on the hood(that they so eloquently called “the Black Bird”), the stripes that didnt follow the curves of the Camaro, the ugly font for the AHC-100 call-outs, it was just a strange, strange thing. Though it was the earliest example of a semi-licensed Camaro with T-tops, so there’s that!

1975CamaroRS (6)

And I now truly regret not having made it the AHC-100, instead I half-assed this 1976 Camaro together with a Z/28 inspired thing going on from 1974… So I effectively doubled down on the weirdness factor. Though, that being said, now that I have the 1975 Camaro done by MPC, I can conclude quite easily that the MPC version is not only twice as good as the AMT version, it’s actually the most accurate mid-seventies Camaro kit out there. I always felt that something was off about the nose of the AMT version and having the MPC one in my hands, I could easily spot it now – the headlights aren’t just misshapen on the AMT kit, they’re nowhere near as deep as they should be.

1975CamaroRS (8)I bought the kit for two reasons, one is that I desperately wanted an accurate Camaro kit to design the decal sheets off, two was that I desperately wanted a damn good Camaro kit. And well over a year later, on eBay I accidentally stumble over a second hand Camaro kit from 1975, the box all ripped and quite frankly, rotten beyond belief. But whoever had this thing sitting around since 1976, did me a big solid. He unpacked it, clearly but he then put the parts(that were all just in one giant soggy bag) in separate baggies and… just left it be. I am 100% certain that the baggies that he put them in were at least 30 years old as even under cardboard they’d turned a nice shade of smokers’ beige. But this prevented the typical 1970s kits woes; the rubber wheels melting into the plastic parts and the clear plastics turning into a misty milky white.1975camarors-9.jpg

However, the decals had gone totally off. But who gives a shit, they’re MPC graphics from the 1970s, they at best had some Hooker Headers and Hurst logos and a few NASCAR inspired door numbers. Shrug! Gotta do a little D.I.Y. with these kits of AMT and MPC from back then, Keith Marks had already made the 1974-1977 sets and I did my own takes on them as well but there were no available decals to turn it into a bit of a call back to the stripes of the first generation, not to mention a hint of Bumble Bee in there. So I figured, fuck it, I’ll do it then. Added all the side-emblems for the ’74 through ’78 years and wham, there we go. Really makes it stand out, though were these damn kits a bit more common I’d have bought another one to turn it into a proper 1975 Rally Sport version. But I’d thought that with the stripes, the emblems, some Firestone Firehawk white letter tire decals and some badges I’d make it look a hell of a lot better than it would’ve been otherwise.

1975CamaroRS (15)Speaking of which, “Rally Sport”, the arguably most sporty Camaro of ’75 truly didn’t deserve the name “sport” in there, did it. I mean, Jesus wept that thing had absolutely the worst and lowest power output of all the Camaros, ever. The 350ci V8 produced 155HP. There are bog standard VW Jettas with that amount of horsepower. Though, yeah, in Chevrolet’s defense, they were trying times. They were the days of unregulated growth and interchangeability. Your ’68 Camaro is starting to show its ripe age of seven years, rusting to the bolts, engine popping about like someone’s firing machine guns in there and interior trim disintegrating upon touching? Well, you’re done paying for the thing so why not get yourself a new one. That was basically how cars worked back then, they were somewhat meant to be replaceable. Bit like the iPhones and Galaxy series phones of today, we are more than willing to lay down the same amount every so often to get the newer version, so it’s not such a unusual practice.

1975CamaroRS (14)

But this cemented the ideology that cars weren’t meant to last and they certainly weren’t meant to get smaller and they had no real outside competition to show them other methods. And then the oil crisis came about in 1973, and much like today, the leaders of big corporations just didn’t understand change, even if their lives depended on it – and they fell the fuck down on their knees, tripping over the corpses of abandoned big block V8s that they just couldn’t ferry off to Europe fast enough for a buck or two, cause the U.S. population sure as hell didn’t want them anymore. They had to adapt, and they tried so damn hard. Well, they tried in ways they were familiar with; lets not necessarily change the root of the problem, lets just… adjust it. The American people still wanted American cars and what they represented, just without the hassle of blowing up animals with fumes as they passed, the hassle of not being able to fill up on tuesdays and standing in queues to fill up whenever it wasn’t tuesday.

1975CamaroRS (11)So while Lee Iacocca was fighting off Ford techs and designers to get the Mustang to be downsized to a Maverick(though it became a Pinto platform in the end), GM decided that it was about time to give the Camaro a revitalization with the upcoming changes in the… well, everything climate. Political, economical, world, food, you name it, it was a year of everything must go. The 1970 Camaro Z/28 with a for the 1970s quite ordinary 350ci V8 that did 250HP still did 0 to 60 in 7 seconds, had a fuel mileage of 12.6mpg(5.4km/l), which was uh… not good. Not 426 HEMI bad or 396ci V8 bad, but not great. The 1975 Camaro, fresh from the learning-a-lesson-fucking-hard school of corporate failures, had a similar 350ci V8 in the Rally Sport and it did, after all modifications for emissions and fuel saving was slapped on – 145HP. That’s damn near half. But fine, if it ended up saving fuel and was a hell of a lot less bad for the world, then good! Right? Well… While it did take 11.5 seconds to get to… 60MPH, it had a fuel efficiency 14mpg(5.9km/l). Well fuck it. Now I run up against the wall of idiocy with the excuse of “it’s a 350ci V8 man, for fuel economy you needed the 250ci V6!”. And guess what, even that excuse didn’t go well.. The 250ci V6 did an average 17.9mph(7.6km/l) – which is better! True! For 1975, that wasn’t awful! A semi-equivalent 1975 Ford Capri RS 2.3 V6 from the grand ol’ United Kingdom… did 32-35mpg(13.6-14.8km/l).

1975CamaroRS (13)

Oh well then. Fuck it, it’s called the Malaise Era for a reason. A era of falling down and getting up, falling down while getting up and just appreciating the cooling and stress reducing cold floor in the end. Cause despite the failures of… well, most the big three of Detroit in the day, the mid-seventies Camaro is definitely one of my favorite muscle cars out there. It’s the definition of a somewhat subdued muscle car, reminiscent of the 1969 Camaro Z/28, just aggressive looks and some pep and it could all be doubled down on with the stripe kits and badges but deep down it still looked… somewhat subdued. Albeit, y’know, a Camaro, still.

1975CamaroRS (18)And MPC gave it a fair run for its money, the supposed “full detail” kits, which was early seventies marketing speak for “it’s not a dealer promo” were quite accurate. Even though the engine bay was very typical like all the MPC kits, even of today, barren and sad, the rest of the model like the body and the interior were quite good. Two of the definite improvements over the AMT Camaro kit is the fact that the grille and the bumper are just two separate pieces that are meant to slot into the body, so you don’t ever get that ugly ass drooping nose that AMT’s Camaro kits do get. Two is, the wider wheels that look a thousand times better than any of AMT’s offerings from back then. I was quite surprised by the crispness of the whole ordeal, clear Camaro emblems on the fenders, the tail lights quite clearly showed where the reverse lights would be with subtle patterns, the dashboard is well detailed and nicely raised, it just goes on and on. Stole some wing mirrors from the AMT Ertl ’70 Baldwin Motion kit to complete the look a little more cause they sure as hell didn’t come with the kit, or any kit from that era. The anemic as all hell 350ci V8 is nicely detailed too but it just looks… sad in the barren, empty engine bay. I did use a 5.7L Z/28 air cleaner decal on it to test it out and see if it would fit and, it did! Though of course the ’75 Camaro’s no Z/28, just wanted to test it out.

1975CamaroRS (20)

Maybe if we’re truly, truly lucky, someone someday will put the mid-seventies Camaro to a full detail release. Given that at this point it’s literally the only generation(minus the late eighties) Camaro to haven’t gotten that treatment from the boys at AMT Ertl or Revell. Who knows, maybe I’ll be forced to lay down hundred dollar plus every time for the rest of my life. Either way… worth it.

’75 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport specifications:
Kit: MPC7519
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 95
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Hurst/Olds – Revell

83olds_2The Hurst nameplate is one of those you immediately associate with muscle cars, without a doubt. A lesser known fact is that George Hurst’s company invented the jaws of life system in 1961 and gave away the patent for free, but a better known fact is that if your muscle car in the mid to late sixties or early seventies had a steering column shifter or just a plain and rough floor shifter, you were doing it wrong. The Hurst shifter was nothing short of legendary throughout that decade, you needed one to stay with the pack and you know what, that’s fine. And it quickly became a realization within the Pontiac division of GM that slapping the Hurst brand on your car might actually help improve sales!

1984oldshurstolds (1)

By the turn of the 1970s, Hurst Engineering had their name and their iconic logos or gold-white paint and/or stripe set up on well over a dozen types of cars, the ’69 AMC SC/Rambler, ’72 Pontiac SSJ Grand Prix, ’70 Hurst Jeepster and of course the ’68 through the early eighties; Hurst/Olds. AMT Ertl made a kit of the ’69 Hurst/Olds back in the nineties, based on a even older W-30 Cutlass 442 kit and I’ll say, they weren’t half bad. Not superb, but pretty damn good in their own right. Revell still has a 1972 Hurst/Olds pace car kit on the market today, which is nothing short of amazing, I personally made it into a 442 but I wish I had made it the pace car, still. Jo-Han is the only model kit maker to have bridged the gap between 1973 and 1983 by issuing a simple snap kit of the ’75 Cutlass Supreme and a few promo models of that one and a ’73 Cutlass, but nothing truly spectacular. In somewhat sadder news, or well, it was news once, there were plans to revive some Jo-Han kits including the ’75 Cutlass back in 2011 but legal hurdles quickly killed those plans off.

1984oldshurstolds (4)So we’re left with 1969, 1972 and 1983 for the time being. And Revell is a month away from unleashing the ’85 Oldsmobile 442 with a second option in there to turn it into a FE3-X “Darth Vader” show car, they haven’t yet blessed us with a 1984 Cutlass kit. Which is… understandable, it’s just a swapped paint job and decal scheme of the ’83 version and some minor differences in the grille, rear axle and tail lights and I doubt its worth the effort of boxing one for that. I built the ’83 version last year and a ’84 LSX-442 version earlier this year, with a LSX-454 engine designed by Clearly Scale in there to boot and I have to admit, it’s easily one of my favorite model kits. Not necessarily cause it builds like the best, cause believe me, it’s still a 7 outta 10 at best, especially with how the wheels are attached and how you’re meant to manhandle the chassis into the body but.. Still, I love 1980s cars and the last dying wail of one farted into the annals of history in 1984 as the very last proper stripe-ridden specialty version on the market. And no, not counting the ’87-’88 Monte Carlo SS, dammit. Well, I should, but nah.

1984oldshurstolds (7)

You see, the thing of muscle cars is always the sheer un-subtleness of it, and yeah that isn’t a word but bear with me here. Take for instance the 1969 AMC Rebel Machine, also known simply as “The Machine”. It literally had AMC’s colors all over the cars and seriously made some striped vehicles like namely a ’69 Mustang look subtle besides it. Muscle cars are cheap, powerful, uncomfortable powerhouses that do the supercar appeal of “look at me” but got the anger and growl of a rabid dog and the 1984 Hurst/Olds is literally one of the last to have that with the two toned paint job, the bright red stripes, the aggressive stance and red-lined wheels. Underneath, it’s literally the same car, as I said earlier. It has the same LG8 307ci V8(5.0L) under the hood, which given the 1980s standards for power output versus size, actually had a very reasonable amount of horsepower going through it(around the 180HP, to compare it to a similarly equipped car; the ’84 Z/28 with a 305ci V8 block achieved 150) and the interior luxury was… well, Oldsmobile-ey. It had kept a lot of interior options of the Cutlass Supreme that got crossed over that were translated into kit form veeeery nicely and besides the fact that my dumbass once again used a gloss paint for the color; the detail is crisp as sin.

1984oldshurstolds (10)I mean, for the most part I’m gonna be regurgitating information that you could read over in either the ’83 Hurst/Olds article of the ’84 LSX-442(minus engine details, given it’s got a Clearly Scale engine swap in there), but for the sake of it I’ll just go over it one more time. The interior detail as I just mentioned is really, really good. I mean, it could use some slightly more raised details but 99% of it is there and perfectly fine to work with, vents, dials, all of it. The engine bay is really, really pretty but it does have some downsides; the A/C unit is molded into fender and so is the battery and… it can look really, really strange when you look down besides the engine and see that the A/C unit goes all the way to the frame, kind of the same blocky “bleed” from old Monogram kits, it’s just not exactly pretty.

1984oldshurstolds (9)

The body has some significant mold lines along the rear windows and fitting the nose cone can be a right pain in the ass at times given plastic’s nature to very sometimes expand and/or warp, and even with a kit from a year old, the fenders can bend inwards in the package so sometimes the front end just won’t fit without some severe bending and warping with warm water, but y’know what, it’s something we deal with as modelers, ain’t it. The thing that makes this build stand out, or unique rather, is the decal sheet which I crafted up for it. I’d been pining to get all the Hurst/Olds and 442’s done from ’83 through ’87 and y’know, the ’84 Hurst/Olds is part of it. So when I began with the little decal sheet crafting adventure, number two on my list was the ’84 stripes. Which, I am gonna shamelessly plug right here, yeah, right here, it’s a link to eBay. I have some regrets which I am gonna change on the sheet, number one; the color is off. It’s too far away from bright red, it isn’t helped by the fact that it’s not entirely opaque(printing error by Rothko & Frost) and number two; the top fender/door stripe is too thick. Gotta change that up to perfect it, but as it is, it’s perfectly acceptable.

1984oldshurstolds (15)

I mean, if I’m gonna plug shit, whether it’s mine or someone elses, it’s only fair I’m honest. I did a better job on the air cleaner decals and the Syclone decals, undoubtedly and it’s not helped that the red stripes aren’t printed properly so… y’know, swings and roundabouts. I put some Fireball Modelworks Goodyear Eagle GTII tire decals on the wheels to wrap the whole thing up looking spiffy and that was about it, the rest it’s all the same Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds kit underneath. In the end, it’s part of a series and I’m totally happy its among ’em, it’s all a learning experience, right! Now just to await Revell’s unleashing of the FE3-X/442 Cutlass kit!

’84 Oldsmobile Cutlass Hurst/Olds specifications:
Kit: #85-4317
Skill Level: 4
Parts: 93
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25


1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo – MPC

1980montecarlo (1)The very brief third generation of the Monte Carlo, or rather the ’78-’79 front end of most Chevrolet models, is one of my favorite cars of all time. Especially when they’re completely de-chromed. I used to play this game called “Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition” and one of the starter cars was a ’78 Monte Carlo and I just fell in love. In reality, it’s a subdued car with hardly anything left related to it’s incarnation in 1970 besides the idea of having a big engine doesn’t mean you can’t have big luxuries in the car. But despite it being a bit of a shadow of its former self, I loved it. The fact that Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day has a ’79 Monte Carlo only upped my adoration factor for the car.

1980montecarlo (2)

The third generation kicked off right after the 1977 oil crisis, which more or less forced rationality in GM’s business plan that relying on outside oil sources and having cars do a solid 9MpG(3.8km/L) wasn’t quite… smart. So the ’78 Monte Carlo was shortened by fifteen inches, that’s a whole engine block shorter. It also got lighter by 800lbs(362kg), for reference; an adult brown bear weighs 350kg, they basically yanked a zoo out of the trunk worth of weight. But while the luxury boat of the early seventies died with the third generation, this did allow for something else to happen – the fourth generation of Monte Carlos, once more a contender at the NASCAR track and the badass beauties we know as the Monte Carlo SS. The luxurious sunday driver was still there as the Landau version, it just got shortened by a fair bit, and even then, for the days, it was basically a midget Cadillac with a more sporty look about it.

1980montecarlo (4)MPC made several versions of the Monte Carlo, starting with the 1978 release of the car which already came with something extra; a small trailer with a Harley Davidson(or at least, a copy of a H.D.). And it was… surprisingly subdued for the era. It had the typical MPC “custom” version where it has horrendously designed and in some senses, even stupid decals and over the top additions, however while it had the decals, the actual custom parts were wire wheels, luggage rack and landau roof. Go figure, it was sort of subdued! Then in 1979, the same kit was re-released as the “Wheeler Dealer”, just with a updated decal sheet. And I have to say, for a kit of the old days – it’s not awful! The chrome inserts for the bumpers are a brilliant idea to get the trim to really pop.

1980montecarlo (15)

So in 1980 the Monte Carlo received a small face-lift, it got new double headlamps with the indicator underneath and the grille got a larger mesh instead, nothing big but it did require a small adjustment to the tooling of MPC. And boy, did they screw it up fairly badly. The headlamps were simply recast, however they didn’t remove the slant of the ’78/’79 lamps so they look… wrong, they just look wrong. The rest? 100% the same. To be fair, so was the real car but still, it’s a bit of a cheap upgrade. But y’know what, it’s fine, most of the seventies and eighties for MPC were putting out basic kits alongside dealership promo cars.

1980montecarlo (13)

However, the kit I got here is a re-release from 2009. A very traditional Round 2 re-release, with nothing fixed and just a new decal sheet. Though, fair enough to them, they at least used some decent tires instead of the janky ill-fitting ones they force into every kit these days. The kit still has the generic, almost meh-quality 350 cubic inch V8 they put in nearly every single late seventies GM car kit for the sake of ease, the interior on the other hand isn’t awful but y’know, it’s like five pieces in total. The quality is nice and with some effort the interior can shine at least, which I suppose is almost required given that one big selling point of the kit is the optional ability of making it a T-top Monte Carlo without any hassle.

1980montecarlo (8)They give you this H-frame to re-stabilize the roof once you cut the panels out which is something I can really appreciate, I didn’t make mine a T-top but I should say that this kit is one of the few T-top Round 2 kits(MPC and AMT) where it isn’t a mess of no structural strength or a thing where you literally replace the roof panels with glass tops and have nothing there to hold them in place.

1980montecarlo (11)

The rest? The rest is generic MPC schlock. Like I said, none of it is terrible but it is all just one giant afterthought. The whole chassis is one piece, no suspension, no exhaust pipes(besides the exhaust headers and catalytic converter), no axles, all one piece and just a matter of attaching the wheels. The sad thing is, MPC’s notorious for having used one or two chassis plates during the seventies and eighties and once again, this is that one. Problem is though, the damn thing doesn’t fit the car. The tail end of the chassis is half stuck to the body and doesn’t wanna sit in place. Speaking of which, another bad thing of the generic chassis is that the engine block awkwardly floats on the chassis, you’re just meant to glue it stuck to the frame on two points, but no guiding spots, no prongs, no slots, just two flat surfaces for the engine block and where it’s supposed to go on the chassis.

1980montecarlo (16)Door mirrors are the generic type they slap in there that literally do not fit the body style, nor do they actually manage to fit anywhere on the doors without looking awkward. I figured screw it, it looks half assed as it is, I’m just gonna put ’em on there and roll with it. I wanted to do the blacked out theme I got going on with several late seventies GM cars, like the ’77 Monte Carlo, ’79 El Camino and sooner or later the ’78 Monte Carlo by Trumpeter. So instead of chrome, I did the badges and such in gloss black and the rest in slightly dulled out black(learned a thing or two from the ’80 Ramcharger, which was too matte). It came out alright and I have to admit, while the headlamps are awful, the tail lights are great and the body is even better! It’s just a shame that MPC skirted by on such half-assery back then. But, well, y’know, who else would make ordinary cars? AMT maybe, in some cases Revell, but only MPC truly brought most of the normal cars to the model kit market. So… I suppose I’m still thankful that they exist.

It’s nice to have it added to the whole collection here, but still, like so many MPC kits – it just leaves me wishing that they tried harder and got a better kit out of it.

’80 Chevrolet Monte Carlo specifications:
Kit: MPC-702
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 72
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1980 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – MPC

1980firebirdtransam_box.jpgOkay, imagine this. It’s January 1979, the new Firebird Trans Am just a few months prior was beginning to hit the market with the updated front end and darkened out tail and celebrated its 10th anniversary with style. Two years before, Smokey and the Bandit lit the fire under the Firebird popularity and made it go stratospheric, effectively making the Firebird the “go-to” muscle car of the late seventies. However, in April of ’79 the second energy crisis crippled the United States once more and even stricter regulations had to be made to curb the giant usage of oil they no longer could import.

1980firebirdtransam (4)

So cue 1980 coming around and the Firebird needed to be changed somewhat, all the while the hype train kept rolling. So they decided on the turbocharged 301ci V8 which was a smaller engine option on the previous Firebirds and the 305ci V8, the standard in the Camaro which effectively brought the Camaro and Firebird back to even lines on the performance front. Other than that, the Firebird stayed the same for the most part, some new wheel choices and a couple more color shades were added to the buyers’ folder. Part of the hype train was MPC with their annual kits, which was in the process of making another Firebird release that they had been dutifully doing since 1968. Though every new facelift or so, MPC would get a contract by General Motors or for General Motors, whichever the hell it could’ve been, to make promotional kits. Promo kits basically entailed a detailed body, somewhat detailed chassis and depending on the car; a detailed interior. But most importantly? Rolling wheels, oh yeah. That was a kicker. I mean, who gives a damn? Right, the folks who usually got these kits were the actual car buyers who were given one by the dealership for their kids to build or to “display” that they’re a proud you-name-it owner. Hell 99% of the time, it was pre-built in a little box, this ’80 Firebird T/A being a buildable kit apparently is a super rare occurrence.

1980firebirdtransam (5)Promo kits were pretty damn popular throughout the fifties and sixties but as the seventies rolled around, the divide between promo kits and just, regular kits, was beginning to get really wide. Promo kits by this point were just there to be given to the car buyers, and at most if it weren’t for that, had a mail order at the dealership where you could order one of these kits for two or three bucks.

Here I got the ’79 release for the upcoming 1980 Firebird Trans Am as a promo kit, which means it’s all molded in one color besides a couple of “accenting” bits and has screws that allow the body to be tightly secured to the chassis. It is entirely the same as the 1979 Firebird promo, down to the friggin’ box, but what the hell I can overlook ’em for that one – they’re meant to be flashy dealership pieces after all.

1980firebirdtransam (18)

Now, I should admit – I built the 1979 Pontiac Firebird T/A a year ago and… well, I won’t lie; it was shit. It’s one of those MPC releases that went the other of two ways. You see, MPC kits either go in the way that it’s reasonable by all means, not bad, not great, a kit you can have fun with and improve on to make great. Like the ’76 Dart, or the ’81 Omni 024. Hell, even the ’80 Volaré was pretty good in that way. But then you got the distinctively terrible ones, where the kit went the other way. Where it was meant to be a bland, unoriginal pile of wank that was no fun to build and certainly no fun to expand upon. For instance, the ’73 Cougar or the ’67 GTO. The ’79 Firebird was a kit I tried so damn hard on to get a reasonable result out of and… to no avail. I thought I could mend the situation of it and even with a ton of advice of those who failed with this kit before, I just couldn’t do it. It was becoming half a tube of epoxy and a bunch of sweat, blood and tears and it still looked like crap. So, I abandoned it. It was finished, yeah, but it looked half done. I was quite ashamed of the way it turned out and had hardly a positive word of it, so I didn’t even bother writing an article for it and the only evidence of this mess that exists is the picture on the Collection page.

1980firebirdtransam (2)Then I came across this one on eBay, all wrapped up for damn near nothing. And I couldn’t resist, I thought at first it was a pre-built promo model that I could dismantle and give a proper model kit freshener, but then I held the box and it made the noise of a bunch of sprues sliding about in the box. That was the first pleasant surprise I got from this model kit. The second pleasant surprise lies with the nature of this kit…

It’s a supremely easy kit, it’s 37 parts in total and that’s including the four headlights, tires, wheels and wheel backings. So in reality, it’s somewhere around the 20 if it weren’t for things like the fender flares being on separate sprues. But the surprise lied with the fact that this kit goes together fantastically. And it gave me a weird but positive lesson; MPC should do simple kits like this. The engines that MPC did in the 1970s were pretty damn awful, so awful that most modelers wouldn’t even bother giving it the 100% treatment with engine wires or would even go as far as to epoxy the hood shut. And this engine-less simplistic as sin build… it’s so smooth and goes together so nicely, it gives me nothing but feelings of all those MPC kits could’ve been so much better if it had gone down this road.

1980firebirdtransam (7)

But of course, who would pay full retail price for 30 odd part kits? Not a damn soul, I reckon. Anyway, this kit in particular could come in two color choices for as far as I’m aware. Either in black with the golden bird decals or in “Francisco red” with the same decals as well. The black one is ungodly expensive, while the Francisco red one is balls cheap. So I did what any reasonable soul would do; buy the red one and make Mick Jagger proud by painting it black all around. Granted, the rare red color is nice though and it would take hardly any work to get a nice red Firebird out of it, but I much prefer the all black one.

Another nice thing that this kit has that the normal 1979 full kit doesn’t is the Pontiac snowflake wheels, I love those and their omission in the ’79 kit was such a damn shame! Though of course, speaking of omissions, it’s lacking the frickin’ door mirrors. MPC has been known for the re-use of the same shape of door mirror since ’73 in several kits(most Mopar kits at least), and honestly having those would’ve meant that there was a set at least. So I stole a couple from a old Mercury kit I had lying around in shambles. One piece that was left from the 1979 kit that did turn out to be useful? The whole decal sheet. I made it red on white at the time so thankfully, I had the whole golden bird set left! The Trans Am scripts, the bird, so forth.

1980firebirdtransam (16)

I learned some things from that kit, too. For instance, I attempted to give the headlights some more depth and the tail light which in this kit is a solid black piece instead of a clear piece, I only used a red permanent marker on it and painted the fuel cap piece satin black to keep that subtle blacked out tail light looking dark, while red. So with all that said and done, I didn’t have and couldn’t find a similar color to the original gold-on-black color set up’s interior – anywhere I looked, the satin tan color was sold out. So what did I do? I just stuck with the good ol’ black.

1980firebirdtransam (13)Finished the whole thing up with some BF Goodrich Radial T/A tire decals, which sadly required me to cut off the very embossed Goodyear Polyglas GT tire letters off there to make space for ’em, though then I ran into issue numbero dos; the tires don’t actually fit the rims! So I luckily had some spare tires from a ’70 Mustang kit, a 1/24th scale kit and fitted the rims in there and lo and behold they fit exactly!

I like it this kit a fair bit actually, there’s something to be said about the utter simplicity of this kit also being it’s saving grace.

’80 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am specifications:
Kit: MPC78-8071-250
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 37
Molded in: Francisco Red
Scale: 1/25

1983 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 – AMT Ertl

83camaroz28-11Another one to join the line-up of all yellow Camaros is the third gen ’83 Z/28. One of the first to be utterly decimated by the new standards of the automotive industry of that era. While the late seventies saw a drastic turn already in output v.s. size, with still sizable 305 cubic inch V8 with Crossfire Injection, it only managed to reach a meager 160ish HP. And that was when they were new!

I’ve always been fascinated by the third generation, cause the styling was so utterly different from what came before. Granted, the square nature of the eighties had it going there regardless, but hey. Shame it’s always been such a damn slug of a car. Now way, way back in the early eighties MPC and AMT released a ’82 and ’83 Camaro kit, one based on the ’82 Indy 500 Pace Car and the other on the ’83 Z/28 street model. I happened to get my hands on the shabbily packaged 2002 re-release of it under their very cleverly titled “Muscle Cars” range.


I gotta admit, they’re selling the kit short with the ’02 release cause the proudly displayed model on the box is made with I’d wager 3 cents of enthusiasm and a whole lotta “ugh”. 83camaroz28-4Cause it’s actually a really good kit! Cleverly designed at the very least, although that’s also the kit’s giant downfall but I’ll get back to that later.

This one’s another one of those AMT kits that just has some supreme love and dedication put into figuring out the pieces and molding it, cause every detail’s there lovingly crafted ala Chevy S10, that kit contained lots of extras to make it the regular LS version or a bit toughened up SS. This one packs even more, it has the entire IMSA Camaro bodykit and interior(that’s bodykit, air intake front bumper, wing, rims, rollcage, race interior, race carbs, etc.) in this box minus decals and tires. Which is… just insane. I’m assuming it was all just cast on the same racks and they added the neccessary tires and decals at the end, but still it’s nuts to see all that in there.


The issue I mentioned earlier, the downfall of the kit so to speak is that for it’s clever design, the problem is that if one piece doesn’t fit, nothing will. To be fair, that’s how a real car works too, can’t just cram the firewall up against the engine and have it shake against it and basically destroy itself, that don’t work, but the benefit of real cars is that they don’t warp over time. In all fairness to the kit itself, I doubt the warping came from the plastic bags, but more so that this was a pre-owned kit from eBay that had a previous owner manhandle the thing before I got my hands on it.

The whole chassis is warped outwards so it refuses to sit within the body shell as it should and the firewall was just a struggle I gave up on quickly cause if it doesn’t fit, neither the engine, the chassis nor the body will fit either. It was warped, broken and epoxied to the chassis, I had to cut and break it loose so the chassis and the body would be able to meet around the engine bay.


But I digress, I keep whining about kits being in shabby state but I also keep buying second hand. It’s the compromise of being a Dutch person and having to buy kits Stateside. Regardless, the kit has all the detail you can think of besides one thing, oddly enough. A rear view mirror. Strange oversight! Then again, the S10 kit also lacked a rear view mirror, so I guess it’s a theme. Decals is a bit of a bare showing too, though of course Revell is just83camaroz28-7 spoiling us these days so I can’t hold it against AMT, it’s two grey-to-white Z/28 stripes, tail lights that you’re meant to put under the clear lights instead of paint(I painted them) and a set of license plates to cover up the iconic Chevy “USA1” plate if you desire.

All across the board the kit just screams detail, the not-so-beefy 305ci V8 is fully realized and looks wonderful. The interior is really nicely detailed thanks to a good mold, although the doors miss some finer details like window winders and so on but the dash is completely there. The chassis got plenty of love too, with a rather intricate and detailed suspension and axle set-up. A little downside of the wheels is as usual, the damn things don’t ever stay on and I always end up slapping the wheels full of epoxy so they stay on once and for all.


When it comes to my errors, I’ve made plenty. Apparently I didn’t stir the transparent orange enough and I’m used to it being quite solid, this time it apparently ended up running under the tape and into the reverse lights on both sides, put plenty of fingerprints on the damn thing cause I spend lots of time half asleep on this thing, but on the other hand this was a bit of a inspired build. The reason why the Crossfire Injection aircleaner has a red color and handwritten “Z28” on it is cause a friend of mine had a ’82 Camaro in 83camaroz28-3white(with matte black detailing), he ended up restoring the entire engine and had the cover sprayed in red and the detailer apparently wrote Z28 on there in the white paint stuff that you can wipe off with some soapy water, so he was to be able to find it back after putting it among other parts. Ah well I think it adds personality.

In the end it’s a really, really nice addition to the line-up. And it may just be the last yellow Camaro I’ll be making for a long time, unless the ’74 Camaro ever gets re-released. Next up with the Camaros is the line of 25th, 30th, and 35th anniversary edition Camaros.

’83 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 specifications:
Kit: AMT6561
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 77
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25