Small Talk Issue 8

Small Talk

with Mike Renaut

Got a model car question, and no one can help? Chances are we can’t either. But a problem shared is a problem two people have, and emails are free…

So Near And Yet…

Round2 have just re-released AMT’s 1957 Chevy Bel Air, a great old kit dating back to 1962. They’ve slightly refreshed the decals, included optional clear or green tinted glass, the 283ci and 409ci engines, and whitewall tyres. The Pepper Shaker box art looks nice too, so everything’s brilliant? Yes, and no. It’s good having it back, but this must be the 20th reissue and Round2 missed a trick by not including all the ‘Stylized’ parts.

If you’re fortunate enough to own one of the earlier issues, released up to the mid-Seventies – two were also called Pepper Shaker – you’ll know those boxes were crammed full with stock, custom and drag bits. Plus ‘Stylized Advanced Customizing’ pieces including a second full-custom front and rear with canted headlights, a pancaked bonnet surround with square Eldorado Brougham-style bonnet, and bubble fenderskirts. There were extra styling bits for the fins and roof and, best of all, an almost impossible to assemble chopped roof option. You had to cut off the roof then quarter it, glue it to the glass section and use half a tube of filler to make it anywhere near smooth. None of this is included in this new release.

Round2 did the same with the 1957 Fairlane: another great kit, which didn’t include Stylized parts. It’s a real shame they don’t open up the moulds to include them, or reverse master new ones. I wouldn’t mind as much if these kits were cheap, but in the UK they cost as much as £37; which is what I paid last month for a battered – but complete – Stylized issue of the kit from eBay…

Reader’s model

Andrew Ballard from Dorset is constructing what I’m calling his Bentley MindBlower. “Since giving up a workshop where I built full-size cars, I’ve been making this quarter-scale Bentley GT,” explains Andrew. “The centrepiece is a supercharged V8 from Conley Precision in the States. These contain all the working parts of a fullsize engine; this one produces 9.5bhp with its fully functioning blower. It runs on unleaded petrol through twin carbs, has a distributor with leads and tiny spark plugs, a water pump and dry sump oil pump.

“It took three years to construct the engine, then I started fabricating the chassis and suspension. It’s all scratchbuilt; the only bought items are the engine, functional hydraulic disc brakes and coil-over shocks. The body is shaped and carved from a large block of Styrofoam, then sealed, primed and a mould taken. It’s radio controlled, started by a handset switch operating a servo for the electric starter on the V8.

“There’s YouTube footage of its first runs (search ‘Quarter Scale Bentley GT Conley V8’). One’s a bit smoky because the blower butterflies were closed too much, which flooded it, but, after many carb re-settings, it now runs sweet and fast. I even had to fit tiny packed mufflers since it was too loud with straight through pipes.
“I have a few more jobs to do before dismantling it for painting – it’s taking far longer than any full-size car that I’ve done!”