’57 Chevrolet Bel Air

This is a review of the Monogram 1957 Chevy Bel Air #2225

I have wanted to build one of these legendary machines since I can remember. I can honestly say that I am only a fan in as much as I loved the flip-nose matchboxes they made back in the 70’s. Other than that, I have never had a love for these cars at all. I do, however, think they are exquisitely beautiful and carry as much hot rod heritage as a Hemi Cuda. I chose the Monogram as I purchased an AMT recently and had the shock of a lifetime. The famous chrome fin in the rear was replaced with a decal… very ugly and fake looking. I didn’t even bother to sell it. That said… I was not overly happy with this one either – though it turned out to look very nice. Of note: this one is completely molded in red!

These two Revell/Monogram models should be duplicate kits of the one I did save for the “wheels” version having better tires. I have only purchased three of these cars in my lifetime (2-AMTs) and really cannot say how any of these other kits would be. From experience I can gather they are close and potentially better. They may be molded in something other than brilliant red “cheap-o plastic” too.

The above AMT kits (and two or three more) are not only prevalent, cheap and easy to find, but are some of the worst kits you’ll build. The fit and finish is BAD; none of them come with whitewall tires (though pictured); and the two I purchased only had decals for the chrome piece in the rear. They are cheap.. and end up looking cheap.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air became the epitome of hot rod/muscle in the blink of an eye and is as coveted as any 4-wheel classic you’ll look for. As lovely as the ’55 and ’56 models were, it is the ’57 that has truly held the motorheads’ hearts in its hands. With a chrome grille made by the automotive gods, a set of fins that stretch on forever, and a fuel-injected 283ci, V8, the car was spectacular. Granted, the Bel Air (or 150, 210) was NOT fast by any stretch of the imagination. A ’57 with the highest carbureted engine (270hp) and a powerglide transmission only massaged a 17.5 second ¼mile for Motor Trend (with the speedo not even hitting 80mph!). To put that into perspective, the 2019 Toyota Prius takes 17.3 seconds through the ¼mile. Not very muscular. The fuel-injected version with the 3-speed manual would probably dip into the mid-to-high 16s, but let’s face the facts – this car is about style and image, not drag strips. That said, many owners have opted for 300-400 horsepower crate motors rather than stick with the 283.

BUILD NOTES : This Monogram model is as hit-and-miss as any model I’ve built. If a model is really bad.. it usually is from front to back.. not just in part. This one is completely nuts on one side and pretty nice on the other. Problems include ZERO firewall detail (more later), lousy undercarriage, questionable engine build, mismatched “street” parts, and missing parts of every kind. The good stuff… well – here we go.

The engine bay in this one is despicable. To start, the firewall not only has two gaping holes in it, but no master cylinder and ZERO detail. I filled the holes with cut pieces from the laughable hood scoop and it looks ok. However, no wires, no wiper motor, no heater box, or hoses of any kind is just awful. I added a full size battery (that I need to add some color to), and a master cylinder (from something much newer than the ’57). The engine shined up real nice, but I didn’t put too much work into this one as Monogram didn’t neither. If I built this one again, I’d swap out a 350ci from a 60’s Chevy or better still, maybe a 409!

With this one molded in red, I decided to not bother going to one of the other half-dozen ’57 colors and chose Tamiya Pure Red to match the ’57’s Matador Red. I have to say there is a dump truck load of trim to do and it had me cross-eyed by the end. I used the 5-spoke rims vs. the originals as this kit did not come with whitewalls and I didn’t have any in my parts bin. The “street” setup is ridiculous as well. There is an insane hood scoop and… that is IT. No slicks, race gauges, crate motor, headers.. NOTHING. Using the scoop would be like putting a spiked collar on a Pomeranian. The biggest gripe I have on the outside is that the bumper was too wide. There is a small gap between the bumper and the quarter panel and after painting, I cannot fix it.

I had quite a bit of fun with this interior. I used another Tamiya red and added the silver inserts. It seems silver and black were used a lot on these, but I liked the silver better. I deleted the powerglide stalk and added the 3-speed manual (the one from the kit is really, really nice!). The only thing missing was the rear-view mirror and I stole one from a early 60’s model kit.

From good to bad again, the underside is terrible. The exhaust is molded and doesn’t allow for exhaust tips past the bumper. I fitted some down-facing tips that look ok from the back, but it’d be nice to have them be more correct. There is hardly any other detail under here and it really could use some. It was kinda helpful as rigorous as the other detailing was, however, I wouldn’t bother with display glass.

I really love the finished product of this car, but I have to say that I will try and never do this one again. The amount of chrome detailing is crazy on this one and about wore me out. I think that the other Revell models may solve some of the above issues (red, missing pieces, etc), but they are also scarce and expensive. The above model is fairly priced (mine was $25), however, and is a relatively easy build. Just don’t expect to be proud of every nuance when you’re done.

6.5 – Mediocre

Last of the front-engined Corvettes sold. An American icon is dead.

The last front-engined Corvette sold for $2.7 million. The last of the true Corvettes. The next monstrosity will follow in Europe’s mid-engine motif and shows that our icon is no longer good enough to take on the world without following the crowd. The Corvette has had a plethora of fun engines in the front of the car with enough horsepower to make anyone stand at attention. And, as short a time ago as 2010, it was as fast around a track as Ferraris costing FOUR times as much. I’m sad that America’s top minds threw in the towel and have succumb to the automotive peer-pressure. Maybe someday the icon will be re-born. For now, I will enjoy my front-engined ’98.

*** This is a video of the first Corvette assembly line in 1953. Besides noticing the lack of safety and health equipment, it was fun to watch these men crafting this car by HAND. No sound, but interesting to any car fan.

R.I.P. Corvette

’69 Pontiac Firebird 400

This is a review of the AMT 1969 Pontiac Firebird T/A 400 #8583

Unlike some other kits of awesomeness, this one could blip out of existence and I’d be fine. AMT/MPC is the only maker of this car, so I am forced to undertake this abomination. It is missing the rear-view mirror, side mirror, the tires are rubbish, and that’s just the start.

The above kits are slight differences to the Trans Am kit above. I don’t remember which of the above kits have the T/A decals – may just be #2. I have found them to be yellowed and haphazard when I’ve found them. The decal sheet in my kit were respectable. The fit and finish of these kits are ALL crap.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The Firebird was Pontiac’s image of the pony-car taken directly from the Camaro. For 1969, however, the Bird and Camaro went their separate ways. The Camaro was building on it’s superstar legacy while Pontiac was re-imagining the Firebird. Considered by some as a dullard, sales went down instead of up. It did come with a wonderful 400ci, Ram Air V8 with up to 345 horsepower. Mated to a 4-speed, this bird was more a phoenix with 0-100 coming in a brisk 14 seconds. Decent sheet-metal, and glowing performance aside, this iteration lasted just one year (like the AMT model should have).

BUILD NOTES : As I’ve said, the AMT Firebird kits are terrible. I am specific because not ALL AMT kits are atrocious. I just built a 67 Impala that was quite good. This one is not. The fit of the front grille insert is tricky. It wants to push the top of the front-end up so careful trimming is necessary. You also must check the fit before painting or risk trim/bending after a nice paint job. The hood, like other AMT kits (including a ’69 Barracuda I just built) is only a fit in as much as it fits the hole. I wish I could make it fit better, but it just doesn’t. The taillights are an odd fit, the Magnum wheels are mediocre compared to Revell kits, and the flash removal can make you cross-eyed. This is also not a true 2-in-1 car even though there is the T/A and 400 setups. There are decals and hoods to differentiate the two, but little else. There are also no real “street” items to make this unique. It is “stock” or.. it is “stock”.

This is a horrible engine bay all the way round. There is very little detail; the master cylinder is small and molded; there is way too much space; and the wheel wells have no detail. It is barren. I added a 400-4 barrel decal and a caution fan to help brighten things, but this is just crying for add-ons. At least it had a battery.

In all honesty, I have not made this car but twice and the last time was some twenty years ago. I picked Tamiya’s Electric Blue Metallic because the original one I made was also blue. This one came out much nicer, but it would be better if the kit were. I used the “400” hood instead of the T/A as I’m not a fan of the white and blue eyesore. The T/A hood also is molded where the holes are and to paint “holes” that large would look really bad.

For as lackluster as the interior is , this one looks pretty good. The sunk in gauges make them impossible to see from outside and the dash is not very detailed. That said, a brighter color than black will make this one palatable. I had to add a shifter (as the one included was awful), and a rear-view mirror. Door detail is below average as well, but the blue color helps.

Underneath you will find a whirlwind of ho-hum. There is very little detail and even the exhaust looks awful. The fit to the engine is poor, the detail around the axle is bad, and the exhaust end in an ugly stump. I added tips, but there is little you can do to help this aspect of the car.

I’d like to say “run right out and buy one”, but I really can’t. Pontiac model cars are few and far in between, so getting this one may be a necessity for you. It will almost always cost you over $20 as they are getting fewer in number all the time. The kits can be problematic too with bad chrome, poor fit, and scratched glass. They aren’t bad investments as they havn’t been reissued in a long while, but I can’t say they are a good build.

5.5 – Poor

’69 AMC AMX

This is a review of the Testors 1969 AMC AMX Pro Street (Dealer Special)

I really like AMC muscle and I’m kinda bummed about the lack of good car kits out there. This is one of the only AMX/Javelin kits that you can buy and it is not only a lousy kit, but VERY expensive.

There are a few race models made by Revell and a 1/20th kit that is quite easy to find, but there are just too few of these Testors kits out there. Even the un-muscle, uninteresting Marlin kits have become pricey and hard to find. The Jo-Han kit (left) is a facsimile to the above, but I’ve not built it to say better/worse. It is expensive if you find one too, however.

CAR BACKGROUND :: AMC was in its prime this year and offered the AMX, Javelin, Rebel Machine, and the SC Rambler. I will be reviewing the SC Rambler later, but I like the AMX best of the lot. Any of the above had a lot of oomph. The high-performance versions carried the 390ci, V8 that easily had more than 300hp. They were no match for some of the the other muscle in ’69, but still could manage 14 second E.T.s and would easily get to 100mph.

BUILD NOTES : I really dislike this kit and from stem to stern. The wheels that come with it are awful and the special “metal” ones are heavy and look odd next to any other model cars. It comes with a otherworldly hood scoop and typically has a lot of flash to remove. Add to that the need for a dozen pieces from other kits, and you are stuck with a AMC jigsaw puzzle. The “pro stock” setup is rather good if that is your kick, but with so few AMC car kits out there, you should persevere and make it stock.

The 390 that comes with this kit isn’t bad, but it is only setup for “street”. I therefore had to dip.. rather dive into the parts bin to help her out. The air cleaner is out of another kit, but I used one of the included carbs. I also had to swipe a stock intake from a ford kit as I did not want the cross-ram included. Because of the above, I also had to fashion a radiator hose as the one included was race-orientated. I decided on a green wire motif this time and had to add a proper brake boost and battery (as the kit didn’t include one). It all turned out ok, but do NOT expect this stock look from the package. I also made the 390 air cleaner decal to go with it as there are none with the kit – and frankly, none to buy either.

For paint I had to steel from the Mopar collection and use Sublime Green. They made Big Bad Blue for model cars, but not green. I sure wasn’t going to buy the real thing either.. I spend too much as it is and I was not buying a $20 spray bomb to do this car. Anyways, the color is very close and looks great on the AMC. I also stole proper magnum wheels from another kit and the tires to match. Besides that, I had to produce a rear view mirror, and a side mirror as well.

The interior is lackluster and has very little detail. There is no back seat (which the real thing didn’t have) and no center console either. Rather sparse for a mild muscle car. I used a different shifter and added a stalk to the column, but otherwise the interior was ok.

The chassis is going to give fits more than any other problem with the car. The kit is set up for big headers and deleted exhaust. NOT on my menu. I used most of the exhaust off of a 67 Charger, including the straight “ends” with nice tips. There isn’t a whole lot of other detail to see here. Both axles are molded and devoid of add-ons. No shocks, springs, joints etc. It came out ok, but is not the selling point of this kit.

If anyone knows of good AMC kits I would be VERY thankful. I have no need of Gremlins, Matadors (why the he## did someone think a Matador was needed???), or Pacers, so anything with a big V8, AND looks, will work for me. This one is NOT for the faint of heart and requires a lot of skill to make stock. It is also missing so much that unless you are a veteran builder with a parts bin, you’ll be out of luck in every area of the car. These kits are rare as heck and cost upward of $80 when you find em. It’s a necessity if you want a AMX… but an expensive one.

4.5 – Bad

’69 Ford Mustang Boss 302

This is a review of the Revell 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 – ala John Wick

So, I’m going to do this review a tad bit different. I want to quickly explain the car before explaining the model. I have wanted to build this type of Mustang for a while, but ended up with problems along the way. Then… John Wick arrived on the scene. His whole life wrapped partially around a 1969 Mustang Boss 429. Well… that’s all well and good, but the car was not a 429… or a Boss for that matter. The car was a ’69 Mustang Mach 1 – with something under the hood that was NOT a 429. Granted – it is much more impressive mentioning a $120,000 car vs. a $50k car, but it was a bit too obvious. There is also a real good reason why I chose the 302 kit instead of a Mach 1 – more later.

On to the Boss. I really like this kit. There are a few things to watch for, but all-in-all, it is great. There is a bit of flash to have to trim. The back panel is tricky to place too. Make sure to hold the bumper up to make sure it is in the right spot. Besides the fixes to make this Wick’s beauty, there is little reason for the parts bin. Worst bit: the rear view mirror goes in the middle of the windshield. There is a peg where the mirror rests. Problem lies with any error resulting in glue problems. Solution – use a dab of Super Glue GEL (or generic). It doesn’t run at all and holds just as solid. Much less chance of a big glass fiasco.

The big problem with 1969 Mach 1 kits is that – except #3 (which is rare and expensive) – they all are TERRIBLE kits. They fit poorly, have small, shriveled engines, poor chrome, and missing pieces everywhere. I don’t believe they have the ram air scoop that is needed either.

Revell does make a ’69 Mach 1 (above), but it is also rare and expensive. The other Boss/Mach cars from Revell are ’70s models and are VERY different – as you can see.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The Mustang was in full stride by the time it hit 1969. There was no shortages of trims, colors, engines, and excitement. The Boss 302 was a handling marvel and sported an underrated 290hp, V8. It wasn’t the fastest in the stable, but round a track, it was the prime horse to ride. It was not slow, however, as the ¼mile was gone in under 15 seconds with the speedo pointing at almost 95 mph. Minus the cool Boss decals and the regular black-stripped hood, this is a Boss 302 from front to back.

BUILD NOTES : This IS a really good kit, nonetheless, and you won’t have to do too much soul searching to get it movie ready. If you desire a true Boss 302, you really only need to watch placing the decals. There are over a half dozen to get right and one screw-up will ruin the whole shebang.

The 302 has always been a fun engine to work with and this one is no different. The only thing I’ve had to add here is a Shelby air cleaner for a nice look. These were prevalent – even for non-Shelby cars. This one looks like it has two screws – like for a dual-carb. They actually made these for one carb with a single nut between the two. I decided not to hole the really good air cleaner, so it is missing the middle nut. Aside from that, the engine bay is as bad-ass as the man himself. It has a good size battery; a large brake boost; a hearty radiator group, and engine braces. I am going to add a “caution fan”, but am otherwise happy with this one. I didn’t even bother to “wire” it. Now.. why not throw in a Boss 429?? Well, two reasons. The first is that the car from the movie did NOT have one, so I didn’t see the need to use it. The second is that, even though I have one, I really didn’t want to shoe-horn it into this car just for the sake of mention.

I had to look for a while to find a color that worked well with his car. The Testors Graphite Dust was just perfect. And, thanks to the all-in-one, it needs no primer/gloss/etc. I did have to make some changes, however. First and foremost, the hood scoop is from a 69 Torino Cobra. Not that there isn’t another kit with one, but the size of this one is spot-on. I also had to make the ghost stripes. Mine are a shade too dark, but still came out well. I didn’t see any reason to use the side stripes either. Usually it is one or another, not both. There is another funny delete from the Wick Mustang. The rear valance of these Mach 1/ Boss cars had MUSTANG emblems across the back – above the lights. His were deleted and the stripes were finished on the back valance. I didn’t use the striped there as the decals would not have sat over the lettering very well. Any way you slice it, it looks pretty slick. Oh, and I also fashioned his license plate to finish the look (though I didn’t put one in the front).

The interior is very nice in this car. It is very close to the 69 GT500 that Revell makes and is one of the better ones you’ll build. There is a lot of detail in the dash and the doors/seats don’t suffer either.

There’s not a lot of hatred for the underside as well. The exhaust is OK, but fits good and has decent tips. The shocks are separate, but I just left them black. Wheels are the standard Magnum with Good Year white letter tires (which thankfully came with the car).

Beyond anyone’s need for John Wick’s Mustang, this Boss 302 is a hell of a kit. It is a rather easy build and only has a few flaws. I did say there was a reason for the Boss over the Mach 1. Quite simply… MUCH cheaper. This Boss 302 can be purchased at Hobby Lobby for about $18 (using their 40% off coupon). The only Mach 1 I’d buy typically sells for more than $35.

As far as a John Wick clone? It’s definitely worth a gold coin!

9.0 – Excellent

’69 Ford Torino Cobra

This is a review of the AMT 1969 Ford Torino Cobra – KIT #38415

I don’t think I will be any more at odds about a model car than the ’69 Torino. This was one of the first cars I ever built and it is a beautiful looking car IMO. However, this kit is a bit of Jekyll and Hyde. There are a great bunch of goodness to it, but there is enough “wrong” to both cost you a pretty penny and also make you dip into the parts bin too often.

The above kits are basically the same (I’ve bought all 4 at one time or another) and are getting more and more rare. #1 will most likely be molded in white and the other three are molded in a yucky off-grey/beige color. The Superset is by far the best deal – as you get 2 other kits – but also the most problematic. I’ve had one with broken pieces and two with bad chrome. The big problem with the Supersets has to do with the box… it is as flimsy as paper and protects about as well.

Revell makes a nice version of the Torino Talledega which was built to allow the car entry into racing. The front clip is extended and – to me – ruins the shape of the car. Because of the extention and the 1/24th scale of the model, the Talladega looks like it is 1/20th scale compared to the other models you’ll own. It is BY FAR a better kit (and in most cases cheaper) but I don’t like the finished product.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The Torino was the new Fairlane for 1968 and it was a complete departure from the straight-lined, stacked-lighted, ’67. With a snubbed nose and fast-back, the new car was a shadow of its former self. Some believe it is an abomination comparatively, but I think it is it’s own way of being cool. Engine options didn’t suffer, however, and this one gets the coveted 428 Cobra Jet. With the 335hp, this upstart would run past almost any ’67 out there – to the tune of 14-flat through the ¼mile. It is a car that I’ve liked for some 25+ years… and probably always will.

BUILD NOTES : So, back to this mish-mash of a kit. The model will most assuredly have flash in a lot of areas – especially around the wheelbase. The hood takes some effort to get seated right and the hole is not easy to make either. It is a good thing for those who deleted the ram air option, but not for those needing the hole removed.

All of the above kits come with NASCAR options such as light covers, roll bars, exhaust options, dash options and much more. I really think that this model is not designed well enough for a stock-car motif, but it is all there to make just the same.

Probably the worst place to be in this model is under the bonnet. The 428 looks pretty decent (though a tad small) and with wires, shines up real nice. Unfortunately, the stock engine bay is among the worst you’ll find. I had to add a master cylinder from another kit; a washer motor from (most likely) a Mopar; had to paint a molded washer reservoir that had no real end to it (it ran the length of the inner fender!); used an air cleaner off another Ford because of not using the Ram Air option; and replaced the ridiculous overflow tank with a regular hose. When all was said and done, the bay looks quite respectable, but NOT because of the kit.

The original color I used 20 years ago was Testors Red Metal Flake and I painted it with a .35 cent brush! It was nice but had more dark spots than a leopard. Not awful for a 13 year old, but nonetheless – crap. This one is done in Testors Citrus Yellow to mimic the Ford Lime Gold of that year. I really like the look, but a red or blue would bring out the chrome better. The above blue GT was made by Randy Bodkin and is a wonderfully clean Torino. Check his site in my links! Aside from all the missing parts in the engine area, the car is also missing a side mirror (i used one from the parts bin), a rear-view mirror (same), and the tires are the floppy, flash-ridden ones from AMT.

The interior, however, is NOT a bad place to be. The four-circled cluster in the dash is handsome and the automatic shifter is really nice. Door detail is awful, but is overlooked with the rest of the car.

The bottom of this kit is typical AMT garbage. Low detail, poor fitting exhaust, molded shocks and little other detail. It also uses pins and a rod through the axles for movement, so the rear axle is molded as well. POOP. This car does come with exhaust tips that are top-5 best in the modeling kingdom.

As I mentioned, this kit is a beauty and beast, so caution is needed for buying. The kits have become somewhat rare as well. The 3-pack Supercars set can be bought for $60-$70, making the Torino around $22, but they are a risk to buy. Original kits are in the $30 range and are increasing slowly. The kits are a good investment with dwindling numbers, but a pricey buy for building – especially with the low quality. This one cost me FOUR kits worth to get the pieces right.. too much for someone who’s not a fan.

7.0 – Mediocre

’67 Dodge Charger Hemi

This is a review of the Revell 1967 Dodge Charger Hemi – kit #7669

This Charger kit is one of a group of Revell mopar kits that are a must have. The kit is well made, well accessorized, and decently decaled. The car’s 2-in-1 is about average, but the stock form is about as good as it gets.

The differences in the kits above are minimal. #1 is basically a dupe with slightly better decals. The FOOSE model has most of the stock parts but includes a slew of fancy aftermarket pieces. It also includes a big FOOSE decal sheet with a few of the stock emblems/decals.

The above 2 kits are from MPC (AMT) and I have never purchased either. The Revell kit is such a gold standard, that I never thought to give these a try. What is for certain: MPC kits are lesser in chrome pieces, fit and finish, and overall substance. Buyer beware.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The Charger first arrived in 1966 and sold really well. The sleek fastback and wide range of engines made this a great option vs. Chevy and Ford. Engines ranged from a lowly 318 all the way up to the behemoth 426 hemi – though only a VERY few 67s wore the hemi badge. The 425hp would scoot this rather large muscle car through the ¼mile in under 14 seconds at over 102mph. I really like the full-width front and rear valances and, in fact, this could be my favorite Charger of the namesake.

BUILD NOTES : Like I said earlier, this Revell kit is fantastic. The rear light chrome piece should be scraped on the back side before fitting as it will come loose over time. The grille+bumper piece can be difficult to fit as it is heafty, but it always looks good. The interior is one of the better you’ll find by any manufacturer.

The “street” setup has quite a few pieces to water the palate. There are larger headers, a oversized hood scoop (straight from the drag-strip), and slicks. It is not really a racer the way it is setup as the interior looks more fashionable than drag-worthy.

First – under the hood. The 426 hemi is secured in a very detailed engine bay. The big V8 sits nicely around a detailed radiator, firewall, battery, and has a nice master cylinder. This hemi is black wired – through the valve covers – and includes a ignition coil. Add a open air cleaner and the car is ready to rock!

The first time I made this Charger, I designed it after one my brother’s friend used to own. It was bright yellow with a red velour interior. Completely unoriginal, the car was absolutely beautiful and sounded crazy good. It was powered by a custom, $10k 440 with all the aftermarket trimmings. I decided for this re-do I would do something very different. Medium copper was what I was going for and Testors Gloss Copper seemed to work like a charm. I decided to not use the stock magnum wheels and instead used some Dodge rims off another kit. It also sports slicks in the back vs the standard ones, but they are removable for standard tires if I want to switch. Toughest part of this model is the long trim along the side of the car – it is thin and a focal point

As I said earlier, the interior of this model is HIGHLY detailed. I love working with this one and would die to own a real one. It is a low-gloss red with tons of aluminum trim. The glass is a bit tricky with the side vents – as gluing them can lead to a mess if not careful. I usually use a really small piece of scotch tape to hold them while gluing.

The bottom of this wonderful kit is also very nice. There is a really sweet exhaust that has one of the best tips you’ll find. They are hollow and turned down like the stock car would have. I painted the shocks a blue/silver combo.

I really liked the detail in the body of the car as well. There are 426 hemi emblems, but there are also chrome door handles, taillight lettering to paint, a chrome gas cap insert, chrome wipers, and chrome strips along the wheelbase. It becomes a bit of work to do stock, but it is worth it as the car shines out pretty well.

This IS a must-have kit. Even if you are not a fan of this Charger, the kit is superb and the car looks sensational when your done. I truly cannot vouch for the MPC kits, but this one is perfect every time!

9.5 – Excellent

’74 Dodge Charger

This is a review of the MPC 1974 Dodge Charger “Super Charger” kit.

For the record, this is an AWFUL kit in almost every way. It IS, however, the only kit for this design of Charger. The 1971 Charger is well represented by AMT, but the ’74 has NO other kit to find. I have not even found good resin kits out there. With that, you will have to expect to wait for one to surface and then pay anywhere from $30-$100 for the kit… it is THAT rare. NOTE:: This car ONLY comes molded in red and I’ve seen a few of these kits with a tinted glass. It is the WORST. I would have sold it on the spot had this one had it. It looked like something from a cheap toy car you’d see at the store. I’d try to get an open one if you care as much as I did… better safe than sorry. This MPC model, like most of the MPC/AMT kits of yore, is missing key pieces; has bad flash and fit, and desperately needs better decals. It is really a nightmare of a kit, but it WILL WORK if you need this year Charger… which I did.

CAR BACKGROUND :: 1974 was the Charger muscle car’s swan song. 1975 (see pic) made the charger wear long flannel in a horribly designed hunk of a vehicle. Sure the ’75 was comfy, but there wasn’t a sub-7 second to 60 Charger until the GLHS on the mid-80s. The ’74, however, wears the 245hp, 440 4-barrel. It was good enough for low-to-mid 15s in the ¼mile but nothing compared to its earlier brethren. It is, perhaps, one of the most underrated Chargers of the era, but for me, I just love the lines.

The engine bay is absolutely atrocious. With a little bit of self-fixing, it came out respectable, but by itself… it is just bad. I used a wiper motor off of another kit for some extra detail on a firewall that is one of the worst fitting in the model kingdom. This kit, the MPC/AMT ’69 Charger (Dukes of Hazzard included), the ’74 GTX and some other mopar kits ALL have the same exact garbage firewall. I also deleted a water reservoir as there isn’t one like it in the real thing. The engine is grey wired and the 440 decal was home made. The air cleaner is off of another mopar kit and the “caution fan” is as well (anything to make the bland better!).

The “street” setup is prominent since this is really a “street machine” kit. It comes with a giant hood scoop, a dual carb cross ram intake manifold, beefy exhaust headers, and a tach. It also included a wide set of tires that you’d see in a 80’s Camaro kit… wide and almost truck-like.

When I was a young boy, my family took a trip to Virginia Beach and for the couple days we were there, there was a ’73-74 Dodge Charger SE. Like the above car, it was red. I fell in love and cared nothing about any other part of the trip. I painted mine Tamiya Italian Red and the shine is splendid. I cannot emphasize the horrible finish of this model car, but I seemed to get it about right. The hood stripe is from a ’74 GTX, but fits rather nicely. Since I didn’t want to use a wing (which doesn’t come with this kit) or a hood scoop (which this one has – but in too large of size for stock purposes), I decided a hood stripe was a good add-on. I also have to note that this model uses side mirrors that are used in a half-dozen other kits.. AND they do NOT look right for this car. I used a ’70 Roadrunner side mirror and it looks pretty tight.

Interior is black and fully detailed with wood grain and wood steering wheel. The interior design is better than the rest of the car, but still “cheap” looking. I used a steering wheel off another mopar as the one that came with the car was ugly. I added a directional stalk too as it didn’t come with one.

The underside is lousy as well. No extra detail at all (shocks, springs, sway bars, etc) and a bland exhaust setup. I fashioned 2 exhaust tips as well as the standard “ends” are really awful. I also borrowed the wheels and tires from another kit altogether. I used Goodyear GTs from a Hemi Cuda and the Magnum rims to go along with them. I also could have used ones from a ’71 Duster or the like, but I thought the fancier mags would help this poor kit. The rims that come with the kit are the standard “street racer” type (see pic) that came with a great many kits. That – mated with the fat, truck tires – would have been vomitous. I also printed the license plate as this car does not come with one. The decals are garbage too. A salmon-maroon-black stripe doesn’t work with many car colors and is not a stock stripe kit.

I can say without hesitation that you should avoid this kit like the plague unless you need it like I did. It really – even at its best – still exudes cheap, unauthentic, crap (even the side gas cap – which I left body-color – is something from NASCAR and was never on the side of a ’74 Charger). Add to that a price tag in the $50 range and this kit is an easy by-pass.

5.5 – Poor

’70 Dodge Challenger T/A

This is a review of Revell’s 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A. Kit #2596.

This is a pretty slick Revell kit. There usually is flash on the wheel wells and bottom, but not enough to gripe over. I really like the fiberglass hood that comes with it. Being careful when fixing the front piece to the body is necessary as the sides that match to the front fenders sometimes need bending to be flush. This kit is a 2-in-1 as well but doesn’t include a whole lot of “street” goodies.

Most of these will get you the same results with the exception of #1. The “metal glow” kit has the T/A molded in a horrifying maroon that is as close to an original color as plaid. What’s worse is the entirety of the kit is maroon throw-up. #3 is also molded in red, though not “sparkly”. #2 is almost identical save the decals and instructions may be a bit different. #4 is a rarity and an expensive buy, but it is one that has a coveted feature. This 2-in-1 allows you to built a Challenger R/T with the standard hood. It is the only Revell kit that allows this Challenger to be made so. You can buy a resin hood on top of the other kits, but I’ve found resin to be often mediocre and a lot of work to make right.

AMT makes a few different kits for the Challenger, however, the Revell kits are a truck-load better. The pieces fit better, the flash is less, and the “finish” is better. These kits ARE very build-able, but I stay clear of AMT’s when I can.. they are just not built as well.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The 1970 Challenger was Dodge’s answer to the Chevelle and Torino. The car did so in many iterations. Hemi, 440, and T/A versions were as hot as any muscle car of the time period. Challenger 426s would easily run high 13s in the ¼mile and 440s were right behind by a whisper. This T/A was pretty lively for a small block as well. With 290 underrated horsepower, it would trip the lights at over 95mph in roughly 14.5 seconds. The car was sleek and stylish too, with a huge set of taillights on the rear panel and a blackened front valance that looked like it meant business. It also came in a plethora of tasty colors that sounded like something out of a cartoon: Go Mango, Plum Crazy, and Banana.

1970 Dodge Challenger T/A model car by Revell

BUILD NOTES : Like I mentioned earlier, you have to be careful when putting the front clip on to the car so the fenders match up (see pic). The rear “wing” should be left off for painting and attached after since it will be a different color than the body. The hood should be semi-gloss black, but I like the flat black better. The “street” setup is lacking with this kit. The extra hood allows for a massive high-rise intake or a blower. There is zero else (not even headers) to make this a street rod besides what you add from other kits. There are custom rims, but no slicks. As a 2-in-1, this one is lame.

The engine bay is really good with an ounce of yuck. The 340 six-pack is one of the coolest model car engines you’ll find, but it is surrounded by mediocrity. The battery is molded into the fender and is low-detail. The firewall is BLANK. I added a wiper motor from another kit to help, but it is completely devoid of detail. I know pristine Mopar muscle usually has a color-coded, clean look, but this is a bit much.

1970 Dodge Challenger T/A model car by Revell

This T/A was painted Testors Bug Yellow – a very bright yellow that looks a lot like the Banana of that year. The hood is flat black and so is the rear wing. I don’t usually paint the white letters on the tires, but I took the extra time to do these. The stripes are great, but care needs to be taken as there is a small bit that goes under the side mirror. The other decals are amongst the best in model-dom and there is a lot to place. One gaffe that should be of note is the rear taillight piece. The clear piece is often not the right size for the chrome insert and needs a bit of trimming. Make sure to fit before using glue or you may have a mess.

1970 Dodge Challenger T/A model car by Revell

Interior is black and fully detailed with wood grain and wood steering wheel. It comes with a pistol grip 4-speed and has reasonable detail on the doors. It does come with a rear view mirror as well.

1970 Dodge Challenger T/A model car by Revell

I have to say that I love the side exhaust of the T/As. They look nasty and are well detailed. Helps not having to fool with the axle as with a full exhaust too. Never had an issue with this one matching the engine as well. The other details are a bit lacking as there are no springs, shocks or extras of any kind. One final drawback with this underside is that you cannot opt for a standard dual exhaust. The Challenger R/T had cool exhaust tips and they would look great on this kit. Using them from another kit would work, but it would be extra cost.

Aside from the engine bay being a bit barren and there being almost nothing 2-in-1 about this kit, it is great otherwise. The parts fit well, the glass is easy and manageable, and the decals work to an.. R/”T”. The T/A kits are still fairly obtainable and the price hasn’t skyrocketed yet. The rare R/T Streetburner kit is starting to climb over the $40 range, but the others can still be gotten reasonably (This one was $22.50). This kit is an easy “thumbs up” but not for the serious gear-head. As stock Challengers go, however, this is a beaut!

1970 Dodge Challenger T/A model car by Revell

8.75 – Very Good

’64 Pontiac GTO

This is a review of Revell’s 1964 Pontiac GTO 2-in-1. This is kit #2164.

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The body of the car is fantastic. There is little flash and pieces fit very easily. It comes with stock and street pieces, though the street setup is mild (no slicks, wheelie bars etc.). The glass is easy to work with and the rear side glass is optional. There are many versions of this kit and there are some differences.

#1 is basically the same as the above. #2 is molded in red – and that means ALL of the pieces save the chrome… and even they are red under the silver – which makes trimming more tedious. #3 is not only not “special” but is the same as #2. #4 looks like 2 & 3 but is actually molded in white like #1.

These 2 kits are probably amongst the better snap-fit cars you can buy. They are complete with engines and lots of detail, just are a bit easier than the above. They don’t have the panache of the regular kits and include things I’m not crazy about – like a radio antenna w/hole. If you don’t use antennas (which I don’t) then you either have to patch the hole, or have one car with an antenna. The J.L. is a good collector item and comes with a 1/64th version.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The 64 GTO is considered to be the first of the true muscle cars and is one of the more handsome IMO. I think Revell did a great job with this kit in capturing all of the curves/lines of the original. The car’s 348hp, 389ci V8 was a honey of an engine – though lesser versions of the 389 were stout enough for anyone. The car wasn’t a pretender either. With the 4-speed tranny, the car could easily pull mid-14s in the ¼mile at near 100mph. Many purists took slight at Pontiac’s use of the GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) name that was originally coined by Ferrari. In all fairness, it is hard to compare the Ferrari’s $20,000 racer to the $3k, 6-passenger cruiser. And… even though the “tiger” would outrun the prancing horse through the quarter mile, the cat would be skinned on ANY track and would lose the top speed battle by a good 50mph.

BUILD NOTES :: When going to paint the car, remember to paint the firewall (if you want it same as the car) and the nose insert between the grilles. The underside is very detailed and has a nice exhaust setup. It also has shocks and springs. The GTO comes with stock rims or custom ones. The custom rims are actually among the better looking in the model world and worth keeping/selling. Interior is also nicely detailed with a lot of door/dash items to paint if you wish.

The front grille/bumper setup fits very well and I’ve never had a problem with it. The rear one is a bit trickier, but still matches up well. Rear valance insert is nice and the center can be painted red or left chrome (the GTO came both ways). This model comes with rear view mirror, side mirror, radiator hose and has a master cylinder.

Under the hood is really nice on this car. Plenty of details adorn the fenders and firewall and the 389 tri-power is one of the nicest you’ll see. The model has a nice radiator setup, an attached battery, and a molded brake boost. I’m not crazy about the ones molded to the firewall, but at least this one is bigger and more detailed than most.

The “street” setup, like I said earlier, is mild. There are a few subtle upgrades – dual intake, sport rims, and a second hood with hole for the high-rise intake. The decals are kind of garbage. The stripes are ugly as heck and completely aftermarket. There is NOTHING GTO related. No engine decals, no GTO badges, nothing. Disappointing. License plates are standard too – nothing fun. I made one for mine.

I chose Tamiya Red Metallic spray for this GOAT. It looks pretty similar to the Grenadier Red of 1964 and the metallic isn’t too stunning (not like a bass boat, more of a light dusting). The paint came out just gorgeous and is †††††††††††††† easily one of my best to date.

This car can be a non-pillar car with just a slight bit of trimming. You have to take out the double bar and then shave the extra chrome trim around the roof (see pic). I kept mine as is as I think the extra chrome looks sharp.††

Interior is black and fully detailed. Was debating in a multi-color interior, but decided the black with red was bold enough. Forgot to do a wood steering wheel, but the black still works.

Engine is the typical Pontiac silver-blue and has black wires. I didn’t, however, like the side mirror (one of the only negatives I can give this Revell) so I used an extra GM mirror I had.

Underside is easy to work with as the exhaust matches up with the engine every time. The shocks I painted blue and I left the mufflers flat black for a turbo-muffler look. I kept the standard quad-tips as they look pretty good from the sides.

Honestly, the grievances for this car are small. The parts all fit well. The front grill typically needs trimmed before placement (check before gluing). The rear bumper could better fit against the rear panel – doesn’t fit completely flush against on the top, but it doesn’t ruin the look either. I’ve also had a kit where the chrome is BAD. Not that other kits don’t have the issue, but this one was unusable.

As of 6/2019, these kits are prevalent and not horribly expensive (bought this one for $18). They are a decent investment since out of print, but are more importantly a fantastic build. I recommend the “white” versions so you can paint the pieces easier and not have to worry about the chrome ones, but the “red” kits still work.

9.25 – Excellent