Reviews, pictures, hints, and links 1/24, 1/25 car kits
’70 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
This is a review of the Monogram 1970 Pontiac Trans Am kit #2794
Ok…, so I don’t really get too mad over bad model car decisions, but this one has me a bit vexed. I purchased this car about 3 years ago and paid about $40 for it. Not bad at the time, but failed in making it as the windshield got ruined. Time passed and I decided to give ‘er another try. See, I built this car when I was about 10.. yellow with white stripes (all but the trunk… I ruined that one!) and it was one of the better ones I ever did in that era. Sad to say it is long gone (though it would have looked ROUGH compared to what I do now), but I wanted to make the T/A live again. So, I found a couple of them at around $40-$50. Got one for about $41.55 and it came out.. well, you’ll see. This year, however, the car was reissued… less than $25 now. Ugh.
The kit to the left is almost identical to the one I did save for some extra wheels/pieces for custom. The one to the right is about the same to both except that it is the brand new reissue.
I’m not actually sure weather all of the above kits have the same flaw as the kit I made, but I’d like to point out another of modeling’s car factoid mistakes. So, the box of the model I built says Pontiac Trans Am with no year, so it is anyone’s guess. But here is the side leaf from the box ::
Well, 455ci engine sounds fantastic and things are square, right? Not even close. Firstly, Pontiac didn’t make a 455ci for the Firebird in 1970, it was a 400 Ram Air that produced 345, or 370hp. The 455 didn’t hit the Trans Am until 1971. Secondly, saying you wanted to make this a 1971-2 Trans Am 455, you would be stuck due to the grilles being different. See, this model definitely has the 1970 grille style (below left) and not the honeycomb you see in ’72 (below right). It also doesn’t come with the 455 H.O. decals (which makes sense, even if the box doesn’t).
CAR BACKGROUND :: Like I said above, the Trans Am didn’t come into legend until the ominous 455ci was dropped into it. Now, I have a small grievance with this notion. The T/A’s 400 Ram Air IV boasted 370hp and 445lb-ft of torque. The 455 was rated at a mere 300hp and 415 torque (yes, I get the goofy 71-to-72 rating differences). So, the bigger powerplant with the lesser rating gets the fame, while the identical looking, more powerful 400 gets little acknowledgement. Same thing for the ¼mile times. Both cars have 70’s tests that tout high 13s at over 100 miles per hour, but for some reason, the ’72 gets the nod. Honestly, having the 455 H.O. on the shaker looked amazing, but any of the ’70-’72 Firebirds are a treasure in my book.
This car does NOT photo well and I can’t understand why. It is done in Tamiya French Blue and looks a good bit like the Lucerne Blue of that year. Now, I know what you’re thinking… why a blue stripe on a blue car? Well, as I said before, this was an expensively rare kit and the decals were garbage. I barely got these to work, so blue it was. With that, I went with the flat black shaker as the white would have looked “off” and I didn’t want more blue on the car. This model had a bunch of fitting issues which I take as age and sitting vs. poor design, but I won’t know for sure until I re-do this one… and now that it is reissued… you can bet on it!
This is the interior of the last one I made, and it was so decent, that I just kept it. The interior is pretty Revell-standard detail and looks really nice when done. You can expect a two-tone white interior for my next build of this car. The only thing I needed to do is add a better gear-shift as the one that came with the kit was lame.
Another Vader-esque engine cover that hides most of the good stuff. The 400 is a nice engine to look at and I really like it. It IS incorrectly colored, as it should be the lighter Pontiac blue, but it is mostly hidden anyways. The next iteration will be correct. The bay is difficult as the fenders need to be painted and there is a lot of area to cover. Even still, there is a lot of detail; the firewall looks good; there is a lot of wiring to paint (if needed); and nothing to add.
The bottom of this car is REALLY nice. The exhaust is of the same loop-around that I dislike (both in models and in real life… to me it looks restrictive even if it isn’t in the least), but it fits nicely and looks good out the rear with the T/A tips that are included. They are tough to get straight and usually hang a bit low, but end up looking pretty cool when displayed. I think the tires were missing on this kit, so I used a Revell matched set to fix and used the stock rims.
In the end I can say that being “stiffed” never felt so good. The T/A is easily one of my favorite cars and this kit does it justice. The taillights will most certainly need trimmed; the back fin fits poorly; the shaker is tough to fit AND it has to fit through a hood that also fits horribly; the tires were missing; and the windshield looked as if it were dragged through gravel. I still love it. As far as a collector kit… it is officially a DUD with the reissue. Even the older ones have plummeted in value. The good news is that it is readily available to buy and put together. I will do a major update and revision when I re-do this one, but that is for 2021 (I guess?).