Small Talk Issue 32

with Mike Renaut

Ages back I spotted a model on eBay for £35 or best offer. I offered £25 thinking we’d agree on £30, but the seller suggested £34.95 – that was six years ago and he’s still re-listing it every week for £35 obo…

Brand New Boots and Plastics

Now for my favourite bit of a build: choosing wheels and tyres, then setting the ride height. We’ve likely all got parts boxes of rims and I really enjoy going through lots of wheels, seeing what suits a build. Wheels set the style and era of a car, and I had several ideas for the Falcon. I didn’t want another Sixties gasser straight after the Chevy, and the build after this one will be a Fifties style kustom, so I’ve settled on a Pro-Touring vibe for the Falcon.

The wheels I’ve chosen are from the custom version of the AMT 1941 Ford woody, a set of big and slighter bigger wheels (Halibrands, maybe?) and custom low-ish profile Goodyear tyres. Hopefully I remember they’re directional and check the tiny arrows on the sidewalls…

I ran a scalpel around the inner edge of the tyres, and filed some of the thickness from the inside of each wheel rim to get them sat deeper in the tyres. This also meant taking about 1mm off the back surface of the wheels – I keep a strip of coarse sandpaper glued to the edge of the workbench just for this. Turn each wheel 90-degrees regularly while sanding so it removes plastic evenly. I glued plastic tubing into the centre hole of each wheel to reduce the size of the axle holes.

There are a couple of options for a chassis. The AMT Ranchero kit chassis could be shortened to fit the Falcon, but it lacks detail. The best bet would be a Sixties Mustang chassis since, of course, the full-size Mustang was based on the Falcon floorpan. I did one years ago with a resin Falcon sedan delivery body on an AMT 1967 Mustang; it fitted without much effort and had the benefit of a realistic engine bay.

But I’m building a kerbsider or slammer, meaning that from above it looks fully finished but actually has no detail underneath. I want steerable wheels so let’s scratchbuild a simple base out of plastic sheet. Hopefully it’s pretty obvious from the photos how I made the ‘chassis’ using 1mm plastic sheet – ensure the bumpers and interior are in place so there are no unpleasant surprises with part fitment.

The front steering ‘axle’ is plastic strips and thin brass rod. It’s the same principle as those basic Japanese motorised chassis you used to get in Seventies kits – in fact you could probably even adapt parts from one of them. Allow enough room for the front tyres to clear the lip of the wheelarches. I’ve built mine with a slight negative camber (the tyre tops further inboard than the bottoms). It’s a matter of experimenting and trial and error. The rear 30mm slopes upward to match the bodywork. The rear end is a metal axle pushed through elongated holes in the inner wheelarches so there’s 2mm of crude suspension travel – that way all the tyres always touch the ground. Hopefully that all makes sense; if not drop me an email and I’ll go into further detail next time.