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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1992 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe – Revell

92tbirdsc_boxRevell has made a few “annual” kits in the early nineties with some Ford and Mercury cars, like the Thunderbird and Cougar in specific. From ’89 through ’93, each year they put out a updated version of the model kit. In 1992 they put out the original which this kit was based on, a simple Thunderbird SC with the typical 2-in-1 treatment with a gargantuan body kit, no spoiler and a second set of wheels, oh and some extra decals for good measure.

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Now with the turn of the century, Revell grabbed a bunch of old molds and turned them into “lowriders”. There were some hilariously odd choices for lowriders(a culture I personally can’t stand but hey, more power to turning classics into something… else) like a 1991 Chevrolet S-10 pick up(a rare kit turned into a even rarer kit), a 1981 Chevrolet Citation, 1978 Chevrolet El Camino, the 1992 Ford Mustang Convertible and less silly cars like the ’92 Mercury Cougar, ’93 Chevrolet Impala SS and the ’84 Cadillac Coupe Deville to the logical ones like the ’77 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, ’63 Chevrolet Impala and so on.

Some of these are easily the weirdest choices I’ve ever seen, I mean, who the hell’s bells would take a notchback Citation and turn it into a lowrider!? Speaking of which, that kit’s coming soon!

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Anyway, the kit’s a combination of Lowrider Magazine’s uh, inspired look, together with Revell’s early nineties stable: the whole array of lowrider parts plus the neat bodykit stuff from the original 2-in-1 however, it also comes with extra decals that allows you to make it a much, much better “sporty” Thunderbird. That being said though, holy shit are the wheels fifty shades of ugly.

92tbirdsc (5)I mean, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and all that, but whose brilliant idea was it to give the “sport” version Thunderbird logo dish wheels? On top of that, I wouldn’t say the default OEM T-Bird wheels are by any means pretty and it’s amusing to know that the supposedly sporty T-Bird had a bunch of hideous tear-drop hole wheels, but would it have killed someone to add some five spoke wheels, even a direct steal of the Mercury kit? I won’t go into depth about the lowrider even though the kit’s package shows it so proudly, but I’ll say the kit’s entirely the same besides the decals and color choices for the most part. And of course, the wheels. I wanted to attach some Pegasus wheels, which wouldn’t fit and as a second plan I had the 1994 Impala SS wheels ready and set, but the wheels were too wide to even come close to matching the body.

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But enough about the prettiness of certain aspects, the car other than that is actually crisply molded and quite pretty. I ended up adding a wing to it which I personally think would’ve completed the sportiness of the car. Stole it from the ’84 Cutlass kit I built a while back but used a gurney wing on instead, it’s not quite as fitting as I would’ve liked but it still sits pretty.

92tbirdsc (12)Other than that it shows the shared roots with the Mercury Cougar kit(just like in real life in which the Cougar, T-Bird and the Lincoln Mark VIII shared the MN12 platform), same interior for the most part and same chassis though a key difference on this car’s very evident: it’s got the supercharged and inter cooled 3.8L Essex V6. Normally, I’d be raving on about how V6’s are nice, quick and adaptable but nowhere near as brutal, quick and roaring as a V8… ’til 1992 in which Ford proved that the T-Bird Super Coupe with the 3.8L V6 was 2 seconds faster to the 60MPH mark than both the 5.0L Windsor V8 equipped T-Birds and Cougar XR-7’s.

In kit form, the engine is still largely the same as the 5.0L V8’s found in the ’90 Mustang and Cougar kits, the inter cooler duct was updated to show the respective engine size and such but still 99% the same other than that. That being said though, there’s always something so nicely cluttered about the early nineties Ford kits, especially with the Windsor and Essex engines.

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There’s some pitfalls though that got carried over from either kit, for instance the bumpers are incredibly difficult to attach to the body and the chassis can be a stupidly awkward fit at times and trying to get it to meet up with the body is as always a nightmare. Though unlike the Cougar kit on which the wheels stayed perfectly, on this kit the wheels are attached by little prongs that should normally clip open in the wheels so they don’t de-attach anymore, however this quite clever design… doesn’t work.

92tbirdsc (8)But what the hell, it all came together in the end! Another ever-so-forgotten tried-so-hard-but-got-nowhere early nineties car finished. I do really quite collecting these types of kits of cars that were meant to be so much more than they were and building them gives me a nice glimpse in what Ford had going on at the time. It’s a shame both the Cougar and Thunderbird are now just near forgotten vehicles of a near forgotten time.

Speaking of which, like I said; the 1981 Chevrolet Citation is coming up soon, talk about forgotten. Or wanting to be forgotten.

’92 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe specifications:
Kit: #85-2832
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 137
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25