As I alluded to in Joe Dennis’s recent Cutlass post, and following on from Eric’s comment, I enjoy building mainstream versions of ‘fancy’ cars. This is a long-standing thing with me: back in my childhood days I preferred ordinary toy cars rather than specialized ones. In hindsight, I think this was probably because it allowed more scope for my imagination. My imagination goes to some strange places….
Just to clarify what we’re talking about here, this isn’t like building the stock version of a 3-in-1 kit; that’s easy, and I do that a lot. But today’s topic is different, this is converting a one-version-only kit to a different, often more basic version. Sometimes it’s easy, other times it takes a lot more work.
The Cutlass above was a 442, but by some judicious cutting and filling, and the addition of a lot more chrome, it became a passable Cutlass Supreme. Since building it I’ve become aware of a few details that could have been done better, but I’m happy with it. Revell has since spun off another version of the kit, but still no Cutlass Supreme.
Another example is this Gran Torino. A typical, common seventies American car, but nobody was going to make a model of one. So when Revell brought out the Starsky and Hutch car, I got the first one I saw.
This time I started by lowering the rear suspension. Being a mid-seventies American car, it just had to have a vinyl roof and opera windows. Cutting the windows was a lot of work, as the plastic was unexpectedly thick here. Then it was just a matter of adding the vinyl to the roof, gluing on the side protection strips, and finding some appropriate-looking wheel covers.
Sometimes the modifications are more drastic. This 1953 Chevy sedan was a drag/street car. I lowered the suspension, found some stock wheels (with caps from a ’51), swapped the 409 for a Blue Flame six, upgraded the side trim from 210 to Bel Air, fitted more accurate bumpers (also from a ’51), and carved the missing hood badge from sheet plastic. It’s not perfect, but it has the look I was after.
This was a hot rod version of a ’40 Ford pickup. Once upon a time, the kit had offered a stock version as well, but that was before I got into building. I reworked the suspension so it sat level, installed a regular Ford flatty and some wheels and bumpers from a ’40 sedan. Oh, and filed the louvres flat on the hood.
A bit more bodywork here. This 1964 Dodge was a 330 Ramcharger two-door, with the 426. I decided a conversion to a local Dodge Phoenix was in order. That meant filling and rescribing door lines, adding side trim, and downgrading the engine from a 426 to a regular 383. And going for a nice period two-tone; I remember them in grey with the red flash.
The one thing I didn’t do was convert it to right-hand drive, though I have done that sometimes.
Sometimes an aftermarket company makes the parts needed for a conversion. This 1964 Fairlane was a Thunderbolt drag car. I reworked the suspension, but the whitewall tyres, wheel covers, un-bulged hood and bench seat are from the Modelhaus.
When I built this, the only kit of this era Chevelle was a flip-front drag car/street machine. But there was a stock ’70 SS454. How about if I did a chassis swap? How hard could it be? Not hard at all, as it turned out. I cut the fenders separate from the flip-front, glued them in place, filled the hole in the hood, and glued on a cut-down set of valve covers to sort of mimic the fancy hood trim Chevy used. Sort of, as this was about 1980, long before the Internet made researching these things easy.
You might be thinking “Then he’ll have done a flip front ’70!”, and you’d be right, but I don’t have pictures of it.
Another Chevelle. The wagon kit is a street machine only, but that’s never stopped me.
Another drag car returned to the street. The colour scheme gives you an indication of when I built this. For this one, I just slapped a flattish manifold on the 429 and carved the un-bulged hood from sheet balsa.
This was a Hemi Cuda. I filled the fender vents, added a vinyl roof and wire wheel caps, and dropped in a 318.
This was a police car kit. I just upped it a few trim levels with the side trim and vinyl roof, and did a repaint. Wheel covers from a ’56 Ford looked about right.
To finish by going off-topic, sometimes the imagination takes off. This was another Hemi Cuda kit. I imagined what Chrysler Australia might have done if they’d been handed the job of selling the Cuda. I fitted a resin Hemi Six in E49 tune, rearranged the graphics, and changed it to right-hand drive. You might wonder at the Olds wheels, but they look just like Chrysler Australia’s styled steel wheels.
And they bring us back to where we started.