’69 Oldsmobile 442 W-30

This is a review of the AMT 1969 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 Kit#8232

Probably my favorite Oldsmobile of all time, the ’69 Cutlass/442 makes for a handsome model. Thankfully AMT has done a better-than-usual job of replicating this beast of a muscle car and I finally got it to where I was completely happy. This also harkens back to my early childhood where I completely botched a Olds Hurst. Mind you, it was displayed proudly and is fond memory, but botched nontheless. I had made another Hurst more recently but seem to like the plain 442 better. Plain is such a silly word for the 442, but oh well.

The above kits are really carbon copies of each other and have little differences. The Hurst Olds has extra parts for the “Hurst” design, and the gold decals, but is otherwise the same kit. Well… almost. Another difference is the engine, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

CAR BACKGROUND :: Why the Hurst Olds needed to be developed when the 442 was already menacing is beyond me. The W-30 had a 360 horsepower, 400ci engine and would easily run high 13s past the lights. But this was more than just a sprinter. The Cutlass was a very opulent, comfortable-riding, cruiser and would be at home with a Sunday drive as a 100ft burn-out. About the only downside to the opulence is that it didn’t have the fancier decal/add-ons that the Mopar guys sported. Tough to argue boldness when you’re wearing a Go-Mango paint job and giant decals. Too bad too when the Olds beats it to the end of the strip!

This Olds is finished in Tamiya Mica Red (not quite the “Crimson” of ’69, but who cares??) and I think it is one of my favorite model paints. You have to be careful of being too heavy-nozzled and getting runs, but it is just a fantastic color. I used just about everything stock except for the side mirror – this one was from another 442 tree that had better chrome.

In true AMT-failing, the interior on ALL 442 kits are just terrible. They have dull finish, lack detail and the fit is usually loose to the body/chassis. I got this one to “stand-to”, but it isn’t the bragging point of this car by a long-shot.

So, I mentioned before that the Hurst had a different engine than the 442. Well it did… and here it is. I snuck the gargantuan 455ci out of the Hurst I was scrapping and plopped it here. That makes this a 380hp 442 with – hang on to your hats – 500lb-ft of torque. I’ve heard Hurst Olds 455s and they are absolutely demonic – even at idle. With that, this REALLY isn’t a W-30, but with the 455 it is faster and more powerful. In actuality, I usually hate cars that have “396” badges and sport a lousy 350, but in this case… I love the bigger engine. This bay is actually halfway decent too. Big radiator wall, well-defined firewall, and nothing really to add. There is a bit too much space around the engine – like in most AMT kits – but otherwise it is pretty nice.

The underside of this car is a mix of good detail and horrible design. The lines and grooves are really great to look at and there are bunch of parts – especially for an AMT kit. The fit, for the most part, isn’t too bad either. The big downside is the exhaust. The fit is already suspect, but the ends fitting into a molded bumper is a really shoddy design. If everything isn’t right, you’ll be adding on exhaust pieces to make it work and it is a headache. After 3 or so builds of this car, I’ve gotten the hang of getting it close, but if it’s your first try, be careful of fitting the exhaust.

There are a few other things as well. The exhaust tips aren’t flared like the a true 442; the chrome is lousy in every other kit I’ve seen; the rear bumper is a gluing catastrophe waiting to happen; and the moldings around the windshield/glass aren’t defined enough for better detail. Some nit-picking to be sure, but I wish it was a better kit all around. That said, I’d build another in a heartbeat. These are everywhere as they were just re-issued (see orange box above), so not the greatest of investments. It is a heck of a car though, so just build it instead.

8.25 – Good

X-RAY: 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS 1/25, Monogram

Today’s X-Ray is for the Monogram Chevrolet Impala SS. This kit includes:

1 sets of whitewall tires, one set of rims, 396, V8; very detailed interior; small decal sheet (no race). There are no street/aftermarket parts. Good: Excellent model kit that has few problems; not a typical build makes it more exclusive; lots of chrome. Bad: Front bumper/grille is touchy fit; side vent glass tricky to glue; somewhat pricey.

Price: ~$25+

X-RAY: 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner Hemi, 1/25, AMT

For this X-Ray have a 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner Hemi, 1/25, AMT. This kit includes:

1 set of tires, two sets of rims; 426 Hemi, V8; spartan interior. No street pieces save for some aftermarket air cleaners. Good: One of the most iconic muscle cars; BIG hemi engine with lots of detail; Bad: Terrible hood fit; not much customization; taillights have poor detail.

Price: ~$20

’66 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

This is a review of the Lindberg 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Kit#72181

This is a bit of a different review as it is a restoration of sorts as well. I have loved this car since owning a metal one when I was really little. Couldn’t get enough of the look and still like the shape today. The built model I have is one I’ve had for many years, but it needed sprucing badly so its been in a closet for some 5+ years. Not anymore!

So, right off the bat, there are VERY few kits of this wonderfully pretty car. These two and the above are all of the same mold and quality, and they are getting more rare by the minute. They also aren’t the greatest of kits, but I’ll be getting to that as well.

I can say that options for the ’66 are rather grim as well. Either a completely non-stock, flip-nosed street car, or a beyond-pathetic station wagon. I don’t care if it has a tri-carb 427, it is a wagon! EGH! Why this car wasn’t reissued more OR made by AMT/Revell, I just don’t know. Suffice to say, however, that between the excellent engine, and handsome looks, it should’ve been.

CAR BACKGROUND :: A complete re-do from the Malibu of ’65, the ’66 Chevelle was a fantastically handsome cruiser. Even with a 283ci, this car was pretty spirited, but mine sports a 350hp, 396 Turbo-Fire. Enough to run it into the low 15s with ease and give burnouts til tire funds are depleted. It was more than that, however, as it was a start of a set of big, beefy cars that would clobber the muscle car scene all the way til 1972. Why Chevy has never re-born the classic is a mystery, but you can’t ignore this one.. not if you try.

Like I said above, this is a bit different in that this is a redo of a kit I did a while ago. This one was painted Tropical Turquoise and is probably closer to the original color than the re-do, but I like the new one’s color – Tamiya Cobalt Blue. I can say this is an easy kit but there is a lot of odd fitting parts and I’ll get to them as I go. Another oddity is that the redline tires that are shown on the box pic are NOT included. Kinda lousy. I added a set myself.

I did not get a good view of the interior, but I can say that it is fairly well detailed. Not quite as good as a typical Revell kit, Lindberg still does a good job and typically better than AMT.

Also better than AMT, Lindberg has really detailed engine bays. This 396 was like this after 5 years on the shelf, so it was staying put. Love the yellow wires and the rest came out splendidly. There is nothing really needed here and the only thing I had to do was replace the air cleaner as the last one was faded badly. Big thing to be careful here is the radiator wall “top” has to be glued on and not only can it be a bit on the long side, but has to fit right or the hood will not close correctly.

The underside of this one is fantastic as well. The exhaust fits well and has pinpoint places for it to be glued for no non-sense hooking up. I went with the cherry bomb red looking mufflers and added better tips, but the detail here is one of Lindberg’s high points throughout their line. They just have a lot to look at. This chassis area also includes one of the low points as well. The tires were garbage (and not the redline ones), and the axle pins are tiny. With these setups I usually re-do the axles completely – replacing the pins with toothpicks that are thicker and hold up better.

On top of some of the annoyances that I mentioned, there are some other fitting issues. The front grille is two pieces and the bumper has very little to adhere to; the rear bumper is a lousy fit; the hood vents don’t show up quite as well as you’d hope, and the worst part is the chrome insert around the rear glass for trim – which I omitted – as it fits poorly and doesn’t match the car’s other trim. However, there is a lot of goodness here – nice rim set, engine bay, interior, chassis, and even the quality of the plastic (low flash/good fit). These kits weren’t too plentiful when released and have gotten SPARCE, so holding on to one will almost guarantee you a good investment. This car should be made though… and I did twice.

7.75 – Good

X-RAY: 1974 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible, 1/25, AMT

For this X-Ray have a CRAZY-RARE 1974 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible, 1/25, AMT. This kit includes:

1 sets of tires with slicks and two sets of rims; 350, V8; reasonable convertible interior; 2 side exhausts, 2 reg exhausts; race decals only. You can make a street/custom ride out of this one too with a supercharger, exhaust, wrap-around windshield, taillights, and front end. Good: Looks like a nice builder with tons of extras; Bad: Most AMT Corvettes have hood-fit issues; no Corvette/Chevy decals, EXTREMELY rare and expensive.

Price: ~$75+

’67 Pontiac GTO

This is a review of the AMT 1967 Pontiac GTO Kit#38058

This kit is actually many years in the making. I had tried a build of this car a long while ago and I had run into so many issues, I just threw it away. This could be the WORST kit AMT ever issued. There is so much wrong that I will be delving ad-nauseum into its horrors. The worst part is – it IS a beautiful car and one that deserves better. Here we go….

How so many kits could be spawned from such a terrible molding, I cannot imagine. The above kits are all of the same horrifying design and only in minute ways are they worse than each other. Like the XXX version has a goofy-ass hood scoop, and the one on the bottom left is molded in a despicable blue. Each kit comes with some “street” add-ons, but nothing otherworldly. There is a supercharger you can throw on, but it is small and the chrome is lousy. You can jack-up the rear some, add giant headers and side exhaust, roll cage and rims, but in the end, you will still have a model kit from the pit of hell.

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CAR BACKGROUND :: Call it a GOAT or a tiger… just don’t call it a Tempest. The GTO name, now its own model, carried a big stick in 1967 and that could be made into a “club” by the boys at Bobcat. Either way, the new 400ci was a real treat – to the tune of 360hp with the ram air package. In the hand of the Bobcat boys, this car ran some of the quickest quarters of the period. But, low 13s in the quarter were only part of the equation. The car sold like there was no tomorrow and is considered to be the best selling muscle car ever produced. All of the above was beside the point. What you had was one of the sharpest, quickest muscle cars they made, PERIOD. Go tiger!!

Honestly…. the car came out better than I expected, but not for the effort and cost involved. The car stated out Tamiya Mica Blue, but was changed to Testors Diamond Dust for many reasons (more later). It works, but barely. I really wanted to make this one because it is such commonplace at all the car shows. I had wished it a quality fit to the car’s greatness… and it just wasn’t. So what’s wrong? Where to start?…

  • The front bumper/grille combo fits as good as a speedo on a sumo wrestler. The top doesn’t match AT ALL and is only barely acceptable after much bending and trimming. I’m not kidding when I say it is completely flawed. The quality of the chrome is hit and miss as well. The one pictured here is terrible but thankfully I had a spare. And PLEASE tell me why we have to have a “1967” the size of an engine block on the front of this beautiful car??
  • The rear of the car is just disgusting. First off, the light slots are too big. I’ve done some proportion measuring and these slits are nowhere close to the right size. Add to that, they are supposed to be chromed around the insides ONLY. VERY tough to fool with. The PONTIAC writing wasn’t on the GTO’s rear valance either. I’ve scoured the internet and only the Tempest seems to have it AND its letters are smaller. There is also no lip chrome (where I added it) so it is tough to get it right as well. All in all the silver helps, but still a sad facsimile.
  • Thennnn there is the rocker and radiator. The radiator is nothing more than the horrible cross-support that a bunch of AMT kits have. They look FAKE. I cannot believe that AMT’s idea for a radiator support is a smooth piece of plastic. Worse still, there are two huge holes in it where the older screw kits would have inserted. The rocker has a VERY light line where it is supposed to be chrome. You can either use foil… which I hate, or paint it… which looks terrible. There is a LOT of chrome to have to do here and it is an unfortunate setup.

There is more, but I’ll tackle it one at a time…

This IS THE one bright spot to the whole kit. The interior is actually pretty detailed and it has everything needed. The rear-view mirror is crap and the headrests are terribly made, but the rest can actually look proper when done. I used wood accents to spice it up and the dash is a well designed one with a lot of things to paint up. I’ve seen two-tone interiors that look even better, but I really couldn’t put a $10,000 door on a outhouse. Of note, I have since added a date appropriate side mirror too (not included in any of the above kits).

From really good to really awful. The engine bay is EMPTY and had to be helped more than any kit should. After cutting away the stupid plastic piece, I used an extra radiator from another kit and a hose from a 69 GTO – which both look more authentic than the plastic wall that was attached to the body and no hose. From there I used a tri-carb setup even though not available in 1967. So… theoretically this is a 400ci, tri-carb. I could NOT bring myself to put the ugly, stock kit’s 4-barrel setup under this hood. It is bad enough that it is so ill proportioned that you could fit TWO engines here and have room left, I couldn’t have the lame stock setup as well. The battery and firewall are “OK” and I was done at that point.

The bottom of this car isn’t too bad to look at. That is where the “isn’t too bad” stops. The exhaust looks decent, but the axle is a flash-infused mess. There is no attach point where the axle meets the frame and the mold is very poor quality. Then there are the holes for the axle-rod. COMPLETELY off center in front AND back. I had to drill new holes altogether to make this work. I thought AMT gave the wrong chassis in the kit to begin with because when I put it together, the tires were rubbing the wheel wells both in front AND back of the car! And, holy crap the tires/rims! You’d think a blind maniac thought this through. The hubs are lousy (both look and quality) and are supposed to reside inside – what appears to be – Jeep Cherokee tires. I’m serious.. these things look as “1967” as a cell phone. Last bit of “really?” has to be the “spikes” on the chassis that attach to the body. These are useful if it were a screw-bottom chassis, but otherwise just serve as something else to glue. I am not a fan of permanent gluing anyways because I’ve taken kits apart to clean many a-time.

I will NEVER do this car again. And, with that, I can say I DID BUILD IT. I had to add a radiator, radiator hose, intake, tri-carb, valve covers (originals were garbage), side mirror, rear view mirror, rims, tires, axle holes (plastic for drilling), side mirror (didn’t come with), directional stalk, front bumper (one from this kit was weathered/faded), two spray cans of paint (too much detail to work with the blue), exhaust tips… and I still could have changed out the front seats (head-rests suck), and the master cylinder (so small you can’t even see it). The ONLY model I’ve had to work this hard getting right was the AMC I did and that was supposed to be a schmuck because it was a “pro stock” model and didn’t come with stock pieces. I could say that the “good” side of this model is the price (~$17), but you would have to waste so much time and money making it right, you’d be better off getting a ’66 GTO from Revell. It is a TRUE GOAT.

1.5 – R.I.P.

X-RAY: 1970 Oldsmobile 442, 1/25, Jo-han

For this X-Ray we’re looking at the Jo-Han 1970 Oldsmobile 442. This kit includes:

One set of tires/rims; custom grille and rear valance; well detailed interior; stock engine with no upgrades. Good: This rare kit is a good build; nothing extra needed. Bad: Box shows 1969 rear as part of the “features”; very little extras to go with custom front/rear; EXPENSIVE.

Price: ~$50+

X-RAY: 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, 1/25, Revell

For this X-Ray we’re looking at the Revell Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 427. This kit includes:

2 sets of tires/rims – one stock, one street; 427, V8; nice convertible interior; 2 side exhausts; extensive decals (with aftermarket 427 stripe not found in original Revell/Monogram kit. This kit has plenty of aftermarket goodies, including rims, hood, exhaust, and more. Good: Really nice convertible with a lot of parts options; 427 Corvette can’t be bad! Bad: Windshield surround makes for scary windshield installation; wipers are a bit big and bulky; both hoods are problematic fits.

Price: ~$18 (Hobby Lobby w/coupon)

’71 Plymouth GTX

This is a review of the Revell 1971 Plymouth GTX Kit#7608

This car has a story inside a story and it is a doozy. My son Aaron, who was born at just 2 pounds 18 years ago, was in an incubator for 46 days. It was a traumatic experience for my wife and I and is one we hope doctors will find a solution to for others. While there, I gave him a small Johnny Lightning car of a 1971 Plymouth GTX. It wasn’t anything special (as far as the car was concerned), I just wanted to give my new son something as soon as I could… just in case of the unspeakable. Suffice to say, he did very well in the wonderful WVU NICU and came home about the same time as his due date. He has had no real problems since and is now ready for college. I have since wanted to do a homage to the car in the bottle… so to speak… and this is it.

The above Revell kits have very little different and all come with the same decals sets. I think the only thing different is that the Revell Muscle has a few extras in it and the kit to the left is molded in yellow. All of these will give a sweet build though, and all should be around the same price. The two below are kind of evil stepchildren. The GTX is made by MPC – so not as good quality as the Revell kits – AND it is as rare as a rainbow-farting unicorn. The Satellite is a REALLY nice substitute for the GTX and has the sporty molded hood with the slots for engine numbers. It is molded in a horrifyingly cheap, black plastic and it is usually beyond expensive, but a nice kit/car nonetheless.

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CAR BACKGROUND :: The 1971 GTX was an all new body from the very “rectangle” one from 1970 and there is a lot of discussion as to whether it is even remotely attractive. I happen to like the 1971-1974 Satellites and think that they are underrated muscle cars. The 1971 was the last high-power 440 GTX you could get – with the 6-pack thumping to the tune of 385hp. And like the others in the Mopar stable, the color selections were as vivid as a gay pride march. Not that colors mattered on the dragstrip. Punch the accelerator and this beast would rocket to 104 mph in under 14 seconds. Between the heavy growl of the 440 (which I know and love) and the intimidating ram air scoop rising up to inhale gobs of air, you’d be in heaven rocketing down the ┬╝mile everytime!

So.. obviously I had to go with the Hemi Orange that the toy car was. This paint job was more involved than typical, however. I started with a base coat of Flaming Orange and then topped it off with the Hemi Orange after the first coat dried. It made for a super glossy finish. I decided to not use the huge Plymouth decals for the rear quarters (as like the toy) because these GTXs didn’t come with them. I also like to save them for any Mopars that could use some sprucing up.. and this one doesn’t need it.

I’ve said it many times – my photography skills are GARBAGE! Trust me when I say that the black interior looks really nice with the wood moldings. This Revell is another quality one and comes with everything you’d need.

This engine bay looks like most of the Revell Mopars and that is a very positive thing. This was one I was going to potentially swap in a Hemi, but I decided to throw that into the Superbird instead and keep this one a 440-6. Can’t say that I’m regretting it either. Only thing I added here is a wiper motor to help the barren firewall, otherwise it is nice as is. Seems I forgot to paint the cowl drains in front of the windshield, but I’ll get it later.

I had fun with the bottom of this one and it helps that it is easy to work with . Everything fits well and there is little to have to add/fix. Only thing I did was add some GTX-style red-lined chrome tips at the back. These were prevalent on them and I love the look – especially with a red/orange car. I used the stock sport rims and gave it a turbo muffler look, but otherwise left the rest as is.

I can say that for all the reissues there were for these kits, they’ve still gotten super scarce. That, and the good build quality of this kit makes for an expensive purchase – usually upwards of $30+. It is also a good investment as the prices are just going upward day by day. Beyond that, however, this is a heck of a kit and a sweet car to display. Forget the shelf and put her to good use!

9.25 Excellent

’72 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

This is a review of the AMT 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 1/25 Kit#

I have to be honest. Most muscle car buffs like the ’70 Chevelle the best of the namesake. I don’t. I like the ’71-’72. It isn’t the quickest (by a long shot), and not the most coveted, but I cannot get past the rear bumper on it. It is just sharp to me. Kind of a cross between a Corvette and Camaro, I find it far more attractive than the ’70. Past that, I also hadn’t made this car once, so it was time for a go.

Now.., it looks like there is a lot to choose from with this car. There isn’t. These kits, like the one I bought, are ridiculously rare. Because of that, the only one I’ve seen in person is the one I’ve done. I assume that the above kits have similar parts, but I can tell you there are differences simply because the one I made didn’t come with the giganto hood scoop pictured in the yellow kit above. Unfortunately, there is no Revell kit, and this one hasn’t been redone in ages.

CAR BACKGROUND :: Heavy Chevy indeed. The Chevelle muscle reign was over and the remaining LS-5 454 was down to a mild 270hp. And don’t bother looking up how tepid the 307 is! It was also one of the only years with the odd-numbered 402ci, V8 (labeled 400). Yes, the Chevelle was not the barnstormer of just 2 years previous, but the look was still there. Say what you like, but it is a very true muscle looking car. Broad haunches; cowl hood; dual exhaust; and an aggressive grille. Tight.

I hate this model with a PASSION. The front end is typically warped, the chrome can be suspect, and it needs a bunch of accessories. That said, like a mobile home with a Jacuzzi, it can be nice with some help. Painted in Testors De Ja Blue one coat, I am happy with the overall outcome. I had to add the side mirror since it is omitted from the kit and I would have loved to have a set of Heavy Chevy decals for the rear, but otherwise it works.

OH how I wish this had a Revell interior. It just wouldn’t fit. The AMT is lackluster and really has a shoddy mold, but you do what you can. I forget whether I had to add a rear-view mirror, but it does have everything else.

And, again, typical AMT yuck. I had to do a lot of helping here and still more could be done. I cut the sadly molded brake boost from the firewall and attached a Revell part from a similar year. I also tossed the LS-6 looking air cleaner for a Chevrolet “basic”. To me, the LS-5 doesn’t need the pomp and circumstance. And the yuck goes on – goofy straight radiator hose; no fan shroud; mediocre battery; and a pathetic radiator cap. Wires help, but it is still a shame.

This AMT’s underside is actually one of the kit’s high points. The exhaust is an easy fit and there is a good bit of detail. Like the 1970 AMT Chevelle, the only thing in need are better looking exhaust tips. I went with the stock rims/tires and painted the mufflers in a turbo motif, but this is an easy one to work with.

I cannot say that this kit was worth the money. I paid about $50 for it and it isn’t worth a third of that. Prices right now are climbing into the $70+ range and if you can get one for that or less, it is a good investment as there just aren’t many of em left. As a builder, however, there are so many ways that it can be a flop that you just have to breathe in and accept the pain of disappointment when it bites you. The chrome can be bad; the body can be badly warped; there is a lot to add/adjust; and the one I bought doesn’t even come with the stripe kit or Heavy Chevy decals that were found on these. But if you are a BIG fan like I am… you gotta have it.

4.5 Bad