By Graeme Ogg
All text and photographs are by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
A few years ago I got hold of a Brooklin Models 1960 Edsel convertible and in one of those moments of rash enthusiasm decided to scratchbuild an estate roof on to it to make a Villager wagon, which would fill a gap in my Edsel collection. This was a rare bird (only 275 built before Ford finally pulled the plug on Edsel production) which essentially shared the 1960 Ford body, and I found the wagon roofline particularly attractive. Unfortunately I ran into problems with the build and chickened out (it’s a long, sad story) and set the whole thing aside. For about 5 years.
Meanwhile, fellow chopper John Quilter took the sensible approach to building his own Villager by making resin castings of the Brooklin bumpers and grille and fitting them into the Ixo body. I could have done the same, but clung to the idea I could make my Brooklin conversion work. Then along came the Ixo 1960 Ford wagon. I bought a couple of them and found that the roof was a remarkable good fit for the half-demolished Brooklin body.
After carefully sawing it off the Ixo body I glued it in place and it only needed a touch of filler here and there to blend it into the lower body. The rear fins on the wagon, curving their way around the tail-lights, differ from both the Edsel sedan and the Ford wagon, so those had to be fabricated. After that it was only (hah!) a matter of tidying and detailing.
I had kept the Brooklin seats but the Ixo seating unit sat better in the “blended” body so I used that, but tarted up the seats a little to make them look more like the Edsel upholstery pattern. I replaced the Ford wheels with the Brooklins.
The Edsel wasn’t exactly lacking in brightwork, so a fair bit of work was needed with the Bare Metal Foil. I was going to foil the grille and bumpers but they looked bright enough to match the BMF so I left them alone, although I did drill out the metal headlamps and front sidelights and fitted plastic lenses, which brightened up the front quite nicely.
I also remembered to add the “gunsights” on the front corners that weren’t originally fitted to the Brooklin.
And that would have been it, really, except that when it came to the knee-trembling stage of final detailing and re-assembly, my nerve went again, and the model just sat there unfinished. However, in the past few weeks I finally got my whatsit back into gear and completed the job.
Of course (as a country barmaid once confessed to me) when you start fooling around with the country squire[*] it can be hard to stop. Pretty soon I was attacking another Ixo wagon. I’ve always admired the styling of the 1960 big Fords but only have a very warped plastic Galaxie (Anguplas) and a Starliner coupé (Motorhead Miniatures) in my collection, so I launched into a sedan conversion. For some reason I found the particular variation of the “Thunderbird” roofline used on the 1960 Galaxie less convincing than on some other Fords of that era, so switched my attention to the Fairlane 500 Town Sedan, with its slimmer rear pillars and huge back window (interesting that in 1960 Ford, GM and Chrysler all featured outsize “bubble” rear windows on some models).
While Ixo kindly provided a suitable lower body and roof structure, the whole back end had to be changed, with a new rear deck and the cropped fins of the wagon extended forwards and inwards, and the boot lid that sits lower than the rear wings, with the centre of the rear window dropping down into the valley. After more than 5 years without laying hands on an X‑Acto blade or a needle file, it was an interesting exercise in reviving old skills. (Skills? Surely you jest.)
I did at least successfully revive the old trick of carving the rear window in balsa and push-moulding it into heated plastic, with only minor charring of some domestic furnishings, although I did have to take the batteries out of the smoke detectors. And the moulding came out pretty well in the end.
The distinctive chevrons on the rear flanks were snipped from small staples. Fairlane 500s had a crest on the nose rather than “Ford” script, so that was done with a tiny colour photocopy. I put “Fairlane” on the boot lid in proper 1:43 lettering and it was pretty much invisible, so I went for over-scale lettering which may have been a bad idea (not helped by the elderly decal sheet having yellowed somewhat) but I wasn’t going to scrape it all off. Since I can’t print badges in chrome or white, I put “Fairlane 500” script on the front wings in black, which sounds like another daft move but if you look at photos of real cars the script is often half in shade and could almost be black …. OK, don’t believe me. At least it gives the impression that there’s a badge there.
The grossly over-scale chrome gunsights used by Ixo were replaced by something a little more delicate.
Building working steering into a model that will just sit on a shelf was a spectacularly pointless exercise and I don’t know what possessed me. (In retrospect, I think it was a bit of displacement activity at a tricky moment in the build.)
The Ford was done at the same time as the Edsel, and sat around unfinished for just as long, so I am just glad to get these models completed at last. It has to be said that doing a decent paint job, applying BMF tidily and putting small pieces of trim back neatly are all things that benefit from regular practice, so after the long lay-off this was not my finest hour in those areas. Close up, there are too many raggedy details, and after spending so long trying to get things right, it’s a little discouraging (said he, apparently calm but inwardly fuming). Of course I don’t plan on letting you get that close. Just stand back and enjoy the general impression. No, a bit further. Further. That’s it. Nice, eh?
And here it is alongside an original Ford brochure photo.
[*] OK, so the Ixo is officially a Ranch Wagon, not a Country Squire. Listen, if you’re going to be difficult ….
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