Car Craft 102

I can honestly say that some of these modeling tips MAY be obvious to some, but the point of this site is to help all types of builders – from novice to advanced. Hope these help!


If you are like me, you don’t spend the extra cash for huge palettes to mix paint and sometimes you just need to make that red a little bit more orange-y. The easiest, and cheapest way to do this is to use the top off of a water/soda bottle. I’m sure someone in the house drinks water/soda and the caps make a GREAT size to mix needed colors. Plus they are disposable, so no need to bother with cleaning. And, yeah…. I’m sure a beer cap would do the trick too…



So, I am writing about a tip that includes something already made for modeling? Yeah. Thanks to my friend Wade Phillips, I’m going to let you in on a really cool trick to help with dried out paint. Huh? Yeah! I have gone to my white paint jar numerous times to paint headlights or back-up lights and found it to be dried up. Screwed. TIL NOW. The cement to the left can produce decent looking headlights (see right). No more waiting til you can get to the hobby store to finish your ride!



Here is a little helper I’ve found works well. If you have a LOT of extra parts, you’ll probably run into this beaut. If you take a wiper from just about any muscle car kit and hack off the end, you can use it for a directional stalk for your car that didn’t come with one. They are the right width and usually the right length. You can also make good use of unwanted antennas this way too. Necessity is the mother of goofy ideas… or something or other.


This is something that MANY kits have a problem with – missing radiator hoses. Whether it is missing from an open kit you purchased or not included with the kit you are building, a proper engine bay has a hose joining the engine to the radiator. A simple trick is to use a piece of old exhaust to make one. Exhaust typically bend all kinds of ways, will be plentiful (as most sports/muscle cars have dual exhaust), are highly bendable, and are almost always the correct circumference for the size of a radiator hose.

Sorry it has been a while since I did my first Car Craft tip page, but here we are nonetheless. I hope you liked these tricks and if you have any of your own, please feel free to submit them. You’ll get credit for whatever glorious help you send my way! Keep modeling!


1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator

This is a review of the AMT ’69 Cougar Eliminator kit#38553

I have made this kit a few times more than I probably ever should have – as it is a terrible kit to try and make correctly. It is a shame as well because this is one of the best Merc muscle cars FordMoCo ever produced. The biggest thing to come away with from this review is to make sure you at least buy a grey or white bodied one to give one thing less that has to be figured out, because the rest… will drive you nuts.

Yeah, AMT is the only maker of this year Cougar and that means that there are 10+ versions of the same LOUSY kit. I can say the REPLICA kit is the same thing in the “store acquired” motif and I think the street machine version has some extra parts, but make no mistake… these are all the same FAIL in different colored hats.

CAR BACKGROUND :: Cute. I’m not sure what is funnier – the fact that the “sports car” is wearing ZERO stripes and base wheel covers, OR that the Cougar was more than just a simple sports car? I think a bit of both, really. See, the Cougar was NOT just a sports car. If it was, the Mustang, Firebird, and even Camaro were better sports car values. The Cougar was a comfortable, well-appointed, sports car and, in that, it was the best OVERALL value. The other thing missing from this AD are the stripes, wings, and rims that a “sports car” would have. It isn’t that the car is lifeless without them, but one can argue that it looks more like a “sleeper” in this garb than a true hungry muscle machine. And the Cougar had many tasty options. This was one of the few muscle cars that could give you equal fun in small-block and big-block flavors. You could get the 302ci – like in the Boss – for a potent 290hp (and better front weight), or you could opt for the 7-liter 428 Cobra Jet with 335hp (and enough torque to kiss your tires goodbye). Either flavor, you had a comfortable car that ran neck-and-neck with any Stang or Camaro on the road… and felt cushy doing so!

Like I said above, I have made this car too many dang times and it all has to do with the lousy moldings that this kit has. I’ve run into bad paint, bad covering (of the molded color), bad glass, useless decals, and overall lousy outcome. I cannot stand to spend extra money on cars that I don’t REALLY care about, but spending a lot on ones I do, still hurts. This one seemed to make it through and I’m glad to be done with it. It is painted Tamiya Brilliant Blue and I opted for the white ELIMINATOR stripes. Note**: The rear wing has a terrible 3-piece setup that can make you pull your hair out, and the side mirrors are about as badly molded as you’ll find.

I used the 302ci engine for this kit, but it honestly looks a ton like the 428ci anyways, so it is a handsome, good-sized motor. I’d like to say that the other aspects of the bay are outstanding, but really they are about C+ level. Everything is there… it’s all just underwhelming.

I have to mention the interior quickly as well. I didn’t take any pics as the flat black and slanted dash make for a very dark pic, but I can say it isn’t too horrible. However, the doors could use more detail; the 2-piece Hurst shifter is garbage; and the tub fits like me wearing one of Shaq’s basketball shoes (floats inside the body). I’d be nice to have an AMT that didn’t have that type of poor-planning finish for once.

The underside is also something I would like to burn and never see again. The bottom texture is very “toy-car-esque”; the exhaust is terribly awkward to line-up, the axles are undefined and have little to assemble, and the tires/wheels belong on the “$10 tires for sale” rack. It is NOT the worst I’ve had to fool with (look at the AMC Rebel for one of the kings of crap), but I’d prefer not to work with it again just the same.

Mercury muscle cars are few and far in between, but Merc muscle car kits are even more rare. This is one that WILL build you are cool looking car AND won’t break the bank to do it. It is replete with problems in assembly, quality, flash, and decals being worth spit, but a lot of the times you CAN get by. They are still a dime a dozen, so they are cheap to acquire. I’d get em now before they become a “Cyclone Spoiler” and charge you a couple hundred for the privilege!

6.75 – Mediocre

X-RAY: 1969 Chevrolet Corvette 429 (427) Coupe 1/25, Revell

This X-Ray is for an ERROR kit of a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette by Revell. This kit includes:

1 set of tires and 1 sets of rims; 427ci, V8 motor; nice interior. Good: Excellent quality; plenty of pieces; reasonably cheap. Bad: Terrible decal sheet; zero speed parts; zero custom parts.

NOTE** – This is an error kit where the front of the box shows a “Corvette 429”. The instructions show the correct size of the engine – 427. There wasn’t a 429ci engine for the Corvette.

Price: $25+

X-RAY: 1966 Ford Fairlane 427 1/25, AMT

This X-Ray is for a 1966 Ford Fairlane 427 by AMT. This kit includes:

1 set of tires and rims; 427ci, V8 (that looks like a dressed up 390 from the GTA kit); hood with hole for larger hood scoop. Good: The most wicked of all Fairlanes; very good build. Bad: Getting very expensive; even with a 427, still not exceptionally fast; laughable decal sheet.

Price: $35+

1970 Oldsmobile 442 (Hardtop)

This is a review of the AMT 1970 Oldsmobile 442 Hardtop Kit#C5070

I have liked this car as well as the ’69 for most of my life. I know Olds cars get the short end of the stick when it comes to muscle cars, but these cars are fantastic. This model, unfortunately, is a terrible piece of work. The greatness of the car DOES win out… but barely. Usually I have a paragraph for other options with this car. There are NONE. This is the only ’70 model kit there is ANYWHERE.

Jo-han, Jo-han, Jo-han. I bark all the time at how shitty these kits typically are, and from the experience of working with almost a dozen kits recently, I can say they ARE inaccurate, overpriced, GARBAGE. This is a 1970 Olds Hardtop (442) kit. So…, tell me why.. there is a picture of a *1969* Olds on the side of the BOX?!? They mass produced a box with the wrong fricken car pictured on the side!! This isn’t a “feature” as they tout, it is a chuckleheaded ERROR. It does at least help me look in the mirror when I realize I made a stupid grammatical mistake in my writings, but this still makes for horrifyingly BAD confidence in the remainder of the kit when the box doesn’t even show the right damn car!!! Shame Jo-han.

CAR BACKGROUND :: So, like the ’69 442, the ’70 sported some potent engines while giving one of the better rides out there. The 400, however, was dropped and the 350 wasn’t as strong of a secondary engine. The 455ci still had the ominous 500lb-ft of torque – the highest in the industry – and would burn any set of tires to the ground with a simple toe-tap. The 442 name would then go steadily downhill til the end – with a wheezing, striped Cutlass in the 80s. This is definitely a car that should have had a reissue when you consider how many times a useless Gremlin has been!

Like EVERY SINGLE JO-HAN KIT I’VE BUILT, this Olds is full of problems and issues. I painted it Tamiya Chrome Yellow and added a LOT to make it work. First, the rims are from a ’69 as the ones included are lousy. The tires were also replaced. The stripes didn’t come with this kit and were used from a Revell ’72 Cutlass kit and they are on a hood with no ram air system. There is more… a bunch more.

Underneath, the car is 100% garbage. The detail is small; there are almost no parts to put together; the holes for the axles were off; the exhaust is molded and doesn’t line up with the engine (AT ALL) or the tips on the bumpers; and like I said earlier, the wheels and tires are trash. The only up-side is that the fit to the body is reasonable – though it does still float under the body.


Unlike the ’69 455, the ’70 is rather un-amazing looking. The blue is plain Jane, and there isn’t a whole lot of other decor to spruce it up. There are no decals; the brake boost is small; the wheel wells leave too big an opening between the bay and body; and there are NO speed options with this kit. Looking at this compared with the ’69 442’s 455 is like night and day. There is also no W-30 option or ram-air option either. In fact, this car plays out more like a Cutlass in multiple areas than that of a 442. Note** – the red wheel wells were a ’70 442 commonplace. Looks weird – especially with the yellow, but is a stock feature.

The inside of this car is a mash-up of good and bad as well. The shifter is unique as it goes up through the bottom of the interior tub – for a very snug fit. The dash also has reasonable detail and the steering wheel does too. Then you look further around and see the doors are VERY bare of detail, the seats don’t have a good gluing base, and the interior floats badly inside the body of the car. At least there are all the parts necessary to make the interior correctly, but it is a small consolation.

The biggest problem with this kit is that is is missing quite a few “442” parts. There’s no hood scoop for the hood (where this would also be a W-30), there are no decals for the engine and body of the car, and the engine bay has no hoses for the ram air system. This could be a ’70 Cutlass 350 easier than a 442. Beyond that, the kit still has shortcomings: the ’69 kits are better, and better equipped; and these kits are VERY pricey ($60+) since they are rare. They are a fantastic investment as this is an awesome car and not expected to be a reissue, but as a builder… you should potentially look elsewhere.

6.75 – Mediocre

X-RAY: 1971 Plymouth GTX Fast & Furious 1/24, AMT

This X-Ray is for a newer released kit of Dominic’s GTX from the Fast and the Furious by AMT. This kit includes:

2 sets of tires and rims (incl stock); 440 magnum engine (no option); full decal sheet with hood side stripes; GTX non-air-grabber hood; Good: VERY cool to be able to build a ’71 GTX without the air-grabber hood; quality AMT kit; still reasonably priced. Bad: 96% AMT’s GTX kit that has been around for decades; least impressive outward look of Fast & Furious cars.

Price: $35

1965 Dodge Coronet 500

This is a review of the 1965 Dodge Coronet Snap-it by AMT – Kit #1176

This is a car that I’ve always wanted to build because of all the drag racing pictures i’ve seen over the years in my books. Like the 330, Polara, and Savoy, the early Coronet was a heck of a drag car and there were enough time strips to back it up in spades. That said, I liked the actual car’s look and wished they made a model to build. Enter the newly reissued Coronet 500 Snap-it…. Snap???

This is the ONLY other ’65 model car I’ve seen – besides metal, pre-painted versions… and it’s over $200. Looks like it can be built stock, but after building this new kit… I can say that it isn’t worth it by a LONG shot unless you want it for an investment.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The 1965 Coronet was a altogether new model that happened to retain a good bit of the 330’s look. Sporting a new grille and a decorative off-trunk rear light set-up, the car had a further distinctive look. It happened to carry the same engine devilry that the 330 did and the car performed at the drag like few others could. On the street, the Coronet sported the 426 street wedge and some 365hp. This was NOT your grandma’s grocery cart… not by a long shot. Mid-15s in the quarter were easy enough on garbage tires from the dealer, but more so, the torque would snap your neck in half when you got on the throttle. Not quite like the 500hp, 10second cars of the strip. but then again, they weren’t going to get a loaf of bread either!

YES… I said SNAP kit. No, I haven’t lost my good senses. This is NOT a normal, ho-hum snap-together kit. Yeah, you won’t have to use much glue (I did out of habit and need, but I think you could get away without ANY), but that isn’t the only point to a snap-kit. This snap kit has an opening hood. It has an engine.. a really nice 426 Wedge to be precise. It has a full interior, a dozen-piece chassis, a reasonable set of rims, AND a large decal sheet. This is 99% a regular kit and will look like one on ANY shelf – no shit. I did this car in Tamiya Pearl Green – not quite a ’65 color – but was one I thought would look the part of a 60’s Dodge. Also stunning for a snap kit – I had to add almost NOTHING.

Yup.. a 426 wedge. Complete with all the fixin’s, this engine bay has just about everything you could need – save a well appointed firewall. Most Revell Mopar kits are weak in the firewall detail and this AMT is no different. Wiper motor, a set of wires.. anything would help. The remainder is just modeling goodness. Big battery; well-defined radiator; and a radiator hose. Fantastic… and not very snap-together-y.


The interior looks like a regular kit as well. There is good ridge detail, lots of items to add chrome and color, and has a rear view mirror included. The stuff that isn’t included, and should be there, are the roll-bars and the like if you wanted to make a drag-ster out of this kit. In fact, besides the cross-ram intake and scoop, there is almost nothing “speed” about this kit. Sorry rev-heads, if ya want a 10 second car, you’ll need to use your parts bin.

The underside of this car is also perfectly non-snap. There is a full exhaust; front and rear suspensions to assemble; excellent wheels/tires; and really good fit and finish. About the only downside about this goodness is the fit to the body of the car. I could not figure out why there was such a gap between the lower body and the chassis. I looked everywhere and couldn’t figure it out. Just sitting, you’d never notice, but it is either a mold flaw or I missed something (wouldn’t be the first time for me, but the snap-kit gremlins may be responsible too).

The kit is molded in a horrible blue color (not worth clear coating), still could use a few more pieces, and has too few speed parts for one of the best drag cars of the 60’s, but it is STILL one of the better kits to build that you will find. There is almost NO flash; the pieces fit EASILY since it IS still a snap kit; there is very little glass to install and potentially ruin; AND since it is a newer issue, has little chance of having glass problems, decal issues, and chrome deterioration. It has very little investment potential right now, but it is also reasonably priced and a FUN build. Go buy this SNAP kit!… UGH.

9.25 Excellent

1970 Dodge Coronet Super Bee Pro Street (Custom)

This is a review of the ’70 Super Bee Pro Street by AMT – Kit #6140

I have only built this one twice (the first time was the stock model) and I can say without too much pause, that I will most likely never build it again. The kit, overall, is one of the worst I’ve ever had to work with. There is a lot of flash; the hood fits as poorly as any kit EVER; the overall fit/finish is 5th rate; and it has gotten so pricey, that only a Coronet owner would need to fool with it. My original thought for this build was to do a tribute to David Freiburger’s ’70 Super Bee (from the famous series Roadkill, on Motor Trend TV), but I just couldn’t get all the correct parts for the build, so this became a one-of-a-kind build – in MY image.

There are a few other versions of this pro street Coronet and they all rank about the same in modeling goodness. I don’t have any idea what type of decals the “Dirty Donny’s” version has, but I assume the rest of the car is the same (message if you’d like to fill me in otherwise!). Revell doesn’t make a ’70 Coronet and I don’t know of any others kits besides AMT’s stock kit… which has multiple iterations.

CAR BACKGROUND :: Here it is folks. THE ugliest Mopar muscle car EVER MADE. The jowls on this car are hideous; it’s too long; doesn’t have interesting lines; and has a bland rear fascia. Sorry Dave.

It IS one of the most interesting looking Mopars of the era and is one, with the right engine choices, that could walk away from even the most violent beasts on the road. Problem with the last statement is that only THIRTEEN of these opted for the Hemi (making them astronomically priced now), and only some 200+ got the 440 six-pack. Now, the plain Jane 440 was STILL a great motor, but there was no beating the other two for bragging rights! Now me, like Mr Freiburger, think this car does make a pretty sweet drag/street car. In his show, he takes his reasonably good Super Bee and makes it a violent piece of machinery. With quarter times in the 11s, his 3800+lb orange moves like nobody’s business and, because it IS so fast, doesn’t need to look like a Challenger doing so.

Don’t ask why, but I am a true fan of hot pink colors for hopped up muscle. To me it screams as loud as the car should. This one is painted Electric Pink and I think it definitely looks the part. I added a gnarly hood scoop from a Chevelle and chrome exhaust, but this was only the start of the mods.

So here is the meat of this bad-boy. A big, evil, hemi. A 484ci hemi to be precise. I used the size from Dave’s Coronet as it is a REAL engine and as good a number as any. The bay is very good for an AMT and the engine fits snugly under the massive scoop. The original kit has the high rise intake sitting outside the hood, but I like the giant scoop on the car much better.


The next thing I wanted to do was add some writing to the story. I added custom “484 HEMI” and “Killer Bee” decals to the front and rear. I know the killer bee thing has been done, but it works for an unholy drag car IMHO and it looks the part too.

As you can see, the home-made license plate finishes off the craziness and I think, IRL, it all makes the car look like something I definitely wouldn’t mess with! I mentioned fit and finish as a complaint, and you can see that while the bumper fits neatly in the pre-made holes in the body, it still is molded to be crooked!

The underside of this car is ALL speed. The mufflers are stock to the kit and I fashioned some chrome exit pipes to go out the sides. I get that drag-ers don’t care much about exhaust getting in the car, and they sure didn’t give much care back when, but I wanted the exhaust to exit out the sides. The pro stock chassis works well and fits seemingly better than the stock AMT Coronet’s chassis did. The wheels are just the cherry on the look and I wish I had more cars this way… it is just bad-a$$.

I know the car looks like there would be nothing wrong with putting this together, but it really is a problem child with getting everything right. It isn’t a floater or missing a bunch of pieces, but it just exudes cheap and annoying. The hood is NEVER quite right (the stock fitting, not the scoop), you’ve seen the rear bumper fail, and the front grill/valance fit is loose and irritating. That said, this is a GREAT kit for making something grumpy and fast looking! It IS a good investment as these are getting SUPER rare and can cost upward of $40. I cannot say it is worth the price to build as there are far cheaper and far more attractive muscle cars… but, I built it… so…

7.0 Mediocre

X-RAY: 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 1/25, AMT

This X-Ray is for a ’69 Firebird Trans Am by AMT. This kit includes:

1 set of tires and 2 sets of rims; 400ci, V8 (6cyl opt); hoods for the Firebird 400 AND Trans Am; smaller decal sheet w/ T/A stripes. Good: One of the few model kits with a 6-cyl engine and single exhaust included. Bad: Engine is small for bay; hood fit is lousy; terrible overall quality; getting expensive; who wants a 6-cyl & single exhaust in a Firebird!?!?.

Price: $35+

*** WANTED! :: 1968 Ford Galaxie – AMT ***

So, I have a problem here and I’m issuing a reward for finding a un-used AMT 1968 Galaxie by AMT. I am not interested in any other scale besides 1/24 or 1/25 and I do not want anything besides the AMT version. I am willing to pay either a $15 finder’s fee OR pay handsomely for the model car if you have one Contact me with any info please. You have one to sell… here’s the chance! –Kev