X-RAY: 1968 Chevrolet El Camino SS 1/25, AMT

This X-Ray is for a ’68 Chevy El Camino by AMT. This kit includes:

1 set of tires and custom rims; 396, V8 engine; well-detailed interior; decal sheet. Good: One of AMT’s better kits – with a lot of parts and great detail; Separate bed for easy painting; reasonable price. Bad: Decals sheet is TINY/useless; ZERO custom parts.

Price: $25+

Performance Book-ware!

Well, I’ve been at this a while and I figured it would be a good time to advertise my book. I have been studying cars for the better part of my life, and to that end, I’ve written a book about the best performance cars! It is a great deal on Amazon and I hope you give it a try! Get a copy here :: BOOK



1986 Ferrari 288 GTO

This is a review of the Testors Ferrari GTO kit #221

I was young… really young when I saw a picture of this Ferrari. It was in a book that my brother-in-law gave me for Christmas. I was floored with its look, its speed and its name. This is a kit I’ve done some four times and I can say, that with a few exceptions, this is a heck of a kit.

There are a BUNCH of 288 GTO kits, but only a few in 1/24(5)th scale. These two above I’ve NOT done or even seen in person. The Fujimi was typically more expensive and only recently have I found Italari kits to be good.


CAR BACKGROUND :: Well, here we are. My absolute favorite car ON THE PLANET. I know I might get a lot of flak about that tid-bit of knowledge, but there it is. Looks just like a 308, right. Well.., no. The 308 design was widened, given fender flares, a bank of large headlamps, and a snarl that is every bit as intoxicating as you’ll find. The 2.8 liter V-8 has been twin IHI turbocharged and given a raucous 400 horsepower. In 1984, there was NOTHING on the road faster. With a top speed of 190 miles per hour, the GTO was an amazing leap from the 308/328 regime. R&T (to the left) timed the ΒΌ mile in a lethargic sounding 14 seconds at 113 miles per hour. The shift point is at 112 for this car and I think gearing was the culprit for the loss of time here. A Motor Trend article during the same time span ran the car to 60 in 5.0 seconds, and through the quarter in a blazing 13.2 seconds. Now, I’ll say that there are quite a few cars today that will butcher that, but back in ’84, there wasn’t much that would be quicker… and nothing that would out-last it. The car was more than just specs, however. The design was done by Pinninfarina and it was a masterpiece. It took the best of the 308 and made it more… more everything. More muscular, more squat, and more aggressive. Inside there wasn’t a lot to ogle about, but when the engine climbed to red-line, you wouldn’t have cared if you were sitting in a bucket of piranha fish. Glorious.

This is another re-do model build. I’ve remade many model cars, but this could be the best of them – and not because of the car, but the improvement. I kept a LOT of the other car, but the body’s detail is where I improved – using tape to do the black grove through the middle of the car and took more time throughout.

What remained was a true tribute to the car’s glory. The Tamiya Italian Red came out just fabulously. The original red I used – I believe – was just a Testors “red” and it was NOT a good paint job at all. The paint seemed to not cover the red molded plastic for some reason and it looked very flat. The only “fix” I did with the whole car were the exhaust tips.

I didn’t try to do any photography for the interior as this kit has 360 degrees of glass and trying to make out anything with a photo becomes folly. I can say that the interior looks correct, has most of what you need, and has good ridge detail. The instrumentation is a bit on the light side, but looks very accurate.

The engine is another story altogether. The twin-intercooled V-8 looks like something out of a sci-fi movie and is nicely detailed. There are enough parts to make anyone happy and it all fits very easily to the chassis. The lid is a bit of a mess, however, as you have to cut it out and then add four tabs to hold it in place. It would seem Testors could’ve done a better job getting it in place, but when it’s done, it looks damn good anyways.

I don’t usually do underside pics of newer cars, but the GTO shows off a lot of detail from below. The pieces fit easily and it looks pretty tidy. I added tips off some other exotic kit (as the ones for this car were weak-kneed) and I think it helped the look a lot. One thing of note : the tires look great and are very textured, but over time can split BADLY. I had two from the last one I made split so badly, one was 7/8 ripped and the other had fallen off the rim completely! Not all tires will do this, but these did for some reason, so beware.

They say never to drive your heroes and I can happily say that doesn’t apply for building em. This is a honey of a kit and doesn’t have the typical fit/finish issues that some exotics have. The side mirrors are grey (instead of the red that like the other body pieces); the tires can be explosive; the full glass makes the interior all but useless; and the growing cost will make you think twice. It is still a really good build. With numbers thinning more by the day, it should make an excellent investment too. You know what I’d do.

9.0 Excellent

X-RAY: 2009 Aston Martin DBS 1/25, Tamiya

This X-Ray is for a VERY RARE Aston Martin DBS kit by Tamiya :

1 set of tires and rims; detailed interior; small chrome decal sheet w/etched parts; Good: VERY RARE model kit of a Aston Martin; decent amount of pieces; etched parts. Bad: Engine is mostly cover; molded in an odd black-purple color; EXTRA EXPENSIVE!

Price: $125+

X-RAY: 1978 Ford Mustang II – MEAN STREAK 1/25, MPC

This X-Ray is for a VERY RARE Mean Streak ’78 Ford Mustang II. Kit includes :

1 set of tires and rims – including slicks; racing dual carb engine (likely 302); medium decal sheet (no stock decals); pro-stock type chassis; Good: RARE kit of an infamous (but lousy) Mustang II; LOTS of pro stock add-ons. Bad: Lousy Mustang to have to spruce up; flash/plastic quality issues; CAN’T build stock built without extra parts; EXPENSIVE. **NOTE – There is no date on the box – I am giving a date for saving purposes. This body style was made between 1974 and 1978**.

Price: $55+

’70 AMC Rebel

This is a review of the Jo-Han 1970 AMC Rebel “The Machine” kit #C-2670

Ok, I have said before that I am a AMC fan. To a degree, I like even the most usless of models they made – Matador, Hornet, and Pacer to name just a few. I do like em.. but they are as muscular as a field goal kicker in the NFL. In an effort to get a few AMCs for the collection, I have found a Rebel to add. There is something unique about this kit from all the ones I have posted… there is NO option for this car. There is NO other kit to buy… no better or worse… not even a crazy static kit. This is IT. Unfortunately, like the AMC AMX I reviewed a while ago, this one has a lot of problems and it doesn’t help that you could have to make payments on it just to buy it!

CAR BACKGROUND :: Only AMC would say in their ad that another car company was faster : “..it is not as fast on the getaway as a 427 Corvette or a Hemi..”. Only AMC. Could you imagine nowadays an ad that said – “Yes, BMW is more expensive”, or “Someday the Acura NSX will be fast!” Funny. But then, AMC has always been about quirky, odd names, looks, and styles. The Rebel was still a reasonably fair muscle car. With a 390ci, V8 carrying some 340hp, it would embarrass some other well-named muscle cars at a stoplight if the other driver wasn’t careful. No, it wasn’t as fast as a Hemi or as stylish as a Corvette, but it was cheap… and it would lay enough rubber to make anyone smile!

Like i said earlier, this one has issues. Oh it looks fairly well, but not for the kit’s prowess. Because of the kit’s garbage quality, I didn’t go with “The Machine” plan either. I decided to go with a standard AMC Rebel instead. With that, I painted it Tamiya Lavender and though it is off from AMC’s nearest color for 1970, it is a sharp look. I don’t do many with non-stock colors, but I liked the idea of this one. Outwardly, I used different tires (as the stock ones are two-piece plastic and look AWFUL) and rims, but the rest is out of the box. That is the END of the model kit’s goodness. What follows is a review from hell.

The engine bay is something out of a modeler’s nightmare. The fender wells are undefined and have odd circles atop. The brake boost is low; the radiator wall doesn’t fit solid according to instructions; and the firewall has a bunch of odd shapes… and not much else. Now where the AMX was basically a pro street model kit, this is supposed to be a stock Rebel Machine. The engine bay said otherwise and I had to fix it. It came with a cross-ram intake that you’d see in a drag car and NO stock air cleaner. SO… back to the parts bin. I used a Plymouth intake, a leftover carb, and a 428CJ air cleaner to make it look close to correct. I also had to add a hole for the oil filler tube and had to make a radiator hose – as the one with the kit wouldn’t match up to the new intake. YOU WILL NOT GET ANYTHING CLOSE to this look with what comes with the kit, and using the kit… you’ll have a mock-up drag engine instead of the standard 390.

The interior is thankfully better than the AMX, but it isn’t detailed THAT much more. The dash looks good and matches the actual car, but the doors are an afterthought. There are no inside door handles and there is nothing on the panels in the rear at all. The steering wheel also doesn’t have the trim (I had to manage without the trim line) and didn’t have the directional stalk. I can say that this is a lousy interior – more along the lines with a cheap AMT kit. SAD.

The underside is easily the worst part about this fiasco kit. The exhaust is not only fitted, but is a single exhaust that is supposed to be connected to a cross-ram, race engine! Even IF you wanted just the standard V8 setup, you’d still have to have a single pipe out the rear. I trimmed off the cross pipe and added a full second pipe down the passenger side. I then added dual exhausts from a Monogram ’69 GTO kit and I think it looks really good. In fact, the muffler only had one pipe exiting, it stopped against the frame, and didn’t exit the back of the car at all. Like I said earlier, I also had to replace the rims and tires and they were still attached to one of the worst front axle setups ANY model car ever had. I can’t even explain how odd the setup is and hope I never see one again!

NOT recommended at all. Not even something I’d give to an enemy. This is an outrageously BAD kit in almost every way. Add to that a price range in the $125-$160 range… YES… $125+ for this garbage of a kit and you’d want to pull your hair out. And by the way, it is a kit that also had suspect decals (for it’s age); a terrible front windshield (that I had to replace – including making custom window vents); and needed a dozen pieces to make correct. It is DEFINITELY an investor kit – as it is rare – and could eventually be worth 10X what it is currently going for. Better that than having to trudge through the build.. UGH.

3.5 – Terrible

X-RAY: 1967 Dodge Coronet FOOSE 1/25, Revell

This X-Ray is for a Foose edition of a 1967 Dodge Coronet R/T. This kit includes:

2 set of tires and rims – including FOOSE edition; 426 Hemi engine (no option); medium decal sheet. Good: Revell kit at its best; lots of parts; no flash. Bad: VERY little FOOSE items in the kit; flat hood on box doesn’t match vented one in kit; not one of the famous Mopars.

Price: $30+

X-RAY: Lotus Esprit Turbo – Exotic Car Series 1/24, Monogram

This X-Ray is for a Lotus Esprit Turbo – Exotic Car Series by Monogram. This kit includes:

1 set of tires and rims; inline-4 turbocharged engine; very small decal sheet. Good: Lots of parts; Esprit is 80’s exotic need for collectors; nice tires/rims. Bad: Glass can be a gluing problem; 4-banger is “meh” for viewing; pitiful decals.

Price: $30+

’69 Pontiac GTO Judge

This is a review of the Revell 1969 GTO Judge kit #85-2072

My cursed kit…. The one I’ve wanted to build but never had. I’ve had this kit numerous times in the past and have had ZERO fortune in completing it. Not even very close. It is a kit that is possibly one of Revell’s worst made. It is one that hasn’t been remade in a few years and I hope it never is remade again. But.. after much coinage and perseverance, it has been done… but at a cost!

These are the only 2 of the 69 GTOs you’ll find. The one on the left is more expensive/rare and the other is molded in a hideous orange. I don’t think it quite the one from ’69, but it is over everything. It is so awful, that some of the chrome is blemished with it. UGH. The kit I did has a secret bonus set of parts. It contains the front and rear bumpers for the 1968 GTO – with decals included! It was a surprise – though I wanted the ’69 to be sure. IF you want the ’68, this is a cheaper way to go as the actual ’68 is getting stupid-expensive.

** REVISED:: Well, I have mentioned in my “About” that I am NOT the “all-knowing” guru when it comes to model cars. I’ve studied both cars and models for over 30 years, but I still get good info from modelers all the time. This time it is from Eric Kopa. He pointed out to me that the above Monogram kits do NOT come with the Ram Air air cleaner pictured here to the right. I NEVER even thought of it when I made the one you’ll see in this review because it wasn’t a necessity for me. It IS the correct way to go with a Ram Air GOAT, but the dual-snorkel one in the other kits will be period correct and look good as well. That said, if you want it to look exact – like mine does – you’d need the Revell Muscle version that I bought and not the others. Thanks again ERIC!

1969 Pontiac GTO The Judge Ad

CAR BACKGROUND :: Be it the hidden headlights, the squatted stance from the fastback, or the stripes/wings you could add, the Judge is THE goat of the goats. I’ve always been a GTO fan. There are few years where I shrug my shoulders, and more often than not, I’d mortgage the house for one. The Judge, however, is the one that just commands viewers’ attention. Not that the engine or burnouts wouldn’t make ya look either. With a 400ci ram-air V8, this goat turned low 14sec numbers through the quarter… and it looked awesome doing it. Something else of note – these Judges were mostly orange. The Matador Red was the most sold color, but I don’t think it looks like a Pontiac color to me. Everytime I see it I think “cool looking Mopar… oh, right… GTO.” I cannot stress how much I like these in the white, blue or green setups. Personal preference, but I think the red-orange is wrong.

Ok, so where do I start? Well, the car is painted Testors Blue Ice. A bit too metallic, but very close to the ’69 color. The red-orange that comes with the other kit is terrible when just “glossing” it. There are too many imperfections and scratches for to be right and as I said earlier, the color is lousy. So, back to the “curse”. I have had everything happen to building this car that probably can. I’ve had broken pillars, bad paint (the spray was defective), runny paint, rear bumper issues, bad chrome, bad glass… it has been a struggle getting this one done. Beyond my bad luck, the kits have been flawed, the build quality is one of Revell’s worst, and I am whining a bit too much for this article! Anyways.. the rims are stock, and I used the flat, un-detailed tires. I should have replaced them, but I stayed with the stock kit’s instead. It does come with a good side mirror and outwardly needs nothing else. BIG note – watch attaching the rear bumper/taillight piece. It attaches with a small area and can ruin the paint on the sides if not careful with how much used. You will need to scrape off the chrome off the back side as well or you may have problems getting it to stick – especially where it is angled downwards.

I can say that I am the turd in the punch bowl when it comes to this interior. I used a REALLY lousy can of flat black and it looks terrible. I have been using semi-gloss lately and have been very happy with the results. However, when Wal-Mart stopped making their cheap flat black, I had to do some experimenting with others … and this was a fail. BUT, this IS a good, quality Revell interior. The seats have deep detail, the dash is nice, and the remainder presents well.

Ok, ok… get past that the fan shroud s/b painted. I missed it. The remainder of the engine bay is one of Revell’s “meh” ones. There isn’t a lot of detail on the wheel wells, the 400ci V8 is far too small, the fan shroud looks like it’s out of a F-350, and the firewall is barren. With wires and a decal or two, it came out good, but this is NOT a favorite of mine…. Maybe the shroud being painted wasn’t a bad thing??

The bottom of this car is fairly good. There is good detail; the exhaust is hearty looking; the tabs for the wheels are big and stout; and there is ample room for slicks. I didn’t have any issues here with the overall build, but I will mention that the curved back bumper likes to encroach on the bottom of the car – further making it tough to get it to adhere well. I also used better looking tips as the stock ones were just “ok”.

I can’t say how much it cost me to make this car because it is embarrassing. At $40+ a kit nowadays, you can add up many failures and get a good idea. The hood is a bad fit (every time); the engine bay is mediocre, and the rear bumper is a gluing nightmare. Add to that poor chrome; tire-stained windshields; unusable decals; and ever-rising prices, and this car is one to skip… if it wasn’t such a damn GOAT.

6.5 – Mediocre

X-RAY: 1960 Chevrolet C10 Street Machine 1/25, AMT

This X-Ray is for a Chevy C10 Street Machine by AMT. This kit includes:

1 set of tires and custom rims; straight-6 engine; custom interior; small decal sheet. Good: Decent looking kit. Bad: Decals are awful looking and too few; basic straight-6 in a “Street Machine”??; ugly rims with “sport” tires; no stock grille; not enough custom parts (engine, exhaust, bumpers, etc..).

Price: $25+