Category Archives: Reader made or modified

Modifying a Hot Wheels Ford Panel Van

By Luciano J. Pavloski

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Long ago I was looking for a Ford F100 van from the 1950s in 1:43 scale, but there was only one option in this scale: a very expensive 1955 Durham Classics model. If it’s expensive in Europe, here in Brazil: with the current exchange rate and postage costs it is astronomically expensive. Besides, whilst Durham’s miniature is beautiful, it’s not very detailed.

Then one day I noticed photographs on the internet of a Hot Wheels 1955 “hot rod” model that I had never previously paid any attention to. Despite not being a well-known model, looking at the photographs I saw that it is very well modelled with good proportions. It was a shame that it was a hot rod when I collect miniatures of unmodified vehicles.

I found a cheap model on eBay without difficulty and I bought it. Interestingly, it was manufactured in 1999 and came in its original sealed plastic packaging. It was nice to take a brand new model out of the box after 20 years! There were even some yellowish adhesive tapes and elastic that had dissolved over time.

Compared with Yat Ming after completion

The Hot Wheels model reproduces the original vehicle very well and is in the correct scale when placed next to a Yat Ming pick-up and both have the same dimensions. The hood opens showing an all-chrome engine, except for the radiator. The wheels and tires are much larger at the rear, as befits a hot rod. The headlights are clear plastic and the interior (all in beige) has some non-original features. The steering wheel and sports seats are ‘after market’ items. The windshield wipers are moulded into the shell.

An interesting feature of the model is that the front section, including the doors, is moulded separately from the rest of the body and attached to it by rivets. That’s because Hot Wheels also produced models of the F100 pick-up at the same time and used the same front on both models.

Ok so that is the Hot Wheels model in its original state. But I had something else in mind: a red van with the original factory features.

The first step was to disassemble everything to remove the paint. Glass and dashboard are fastened by rivets and this is always the hard part when dismantling diecast models. Once everything was broken down to parts I could remove the original paint from the painted parts with paint stripper, and then paint it with red paint over white primer.

Luckily I already had the parts needed for the transformation in my scrap box. The wheels were replaced by those from a 1951 Ford F1 pickup from Ixo (Part of the Brazilian car collection). Greenlight also produce the pick up from the same mould.

The engine in the original was an uprated one, so I sanded some parts, removed the large carburettor, and replaced it with parts from a Ford BB157 1934 truck from Unique Replicas. I painted the engine block in blue and added two bars made with wire in the engine bay, because that exists in the original van. I hope that this is visible in my photographs.

Inside I replaced the seats and the sports steering wheel with others a closer match with the original ones. I painted the dashboard and interior of doors in red and the bench seat in brown.

Outside the mirror is the original, but I replaced the plastic rod with a metal one. The hood emblem was laser printed on glossy paper. The grille and bumpers were painted white. Before painting I masked the “V8” emblem and the indicator lights with adhesive tape to retain the chrome on these parts.

And that was it! It took some work, but it cost a seventh of the price of a Durham model and it has more details. I am pleased to add this to my collection.

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at

Ford Econoline Club Wagon and Variations

By John F. Quilter

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Ford launched the first generation Econoline van in 1961.  It was modelled after the English Ford Thames 400E which was also a forward control vehicle with the engine under a box between the seats.   The early Econoline was badged as a Falcon and used the original Falcon engine, an OHV inline six of only 144 CID (2.3 litres), this was later supplemented with a 170CID version and some were as large as 240CID.   A manual 3 speed gearbox was standard with an automatic optional.   A V8 engine did not come about until the second generation Econoline circa 1968.    

Whitebox now has launched a version of the window van, known as a Club Wagon,  in two tone,  metallic turquoise and white.  A variant of this casting was previously seen in a Mexican part works series. Relatively inexpensive, these make great opportunities for conversion into other versions such as the pickup and service/delivery van without side windows. 

The pickup conversion required sawing off the rear two thirds of the body above the belt line, removing the two rear bench seats, creating a rounded cab back, with wrap around corner windows (although only the deluxe versions had the corner windows) and affixing a spare tire to the inside of the bed.  The tall “FORD” script on the tail gate was created with thin wire, glued in place then painted white to replicate the raised lettering on the actual truck.  Some door seams had to be filled in and other seams scribed in on the bed sides.    I chose to finishing it in a factory teal colour as seen on a number of examples on Google images.  Interior details include a teal fascia inner door panels, and black rubber floor covering. 

The no-window van was a bit simpler as  it just required removal of the seats and filling of the side windows.  I used printer’s metal glued to the inside and filled the openings with styrene plastic smoothed off with automotive body shop finishing putty.  Care must be taken with much smoothing and sanding to get a good surface before painting.  My only decision was,  do I leave the bumpers chrome (that would have been an optional extra) or painted white as would have been supplied on standard models.

Big Hand Crafted Models – Standard 10 Pickup

By Robert P. Gunn

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

1:10 Scale 1958 Standard 10 Pickup Truck

My retirement hobby is making large 1:10 scale scratch-built models of 4x4s and pickups. These take a long time to complete, and I aim to complete each in about eighteen months.

After completing my last model, a 107 inch Land Rover Series One pickup, which featured in MAR Online in 2018 and can be seen here, I cast around thinking what to make next. The 107 inch Land Rover came out better than I’d dared hope it would, if I’m allowed to say this {Editor: You are!]. Eventually my choice was a Standard Ten pickup truck of the 1955 to 1962 period. This was chosen because its curvy, car based bodywork would be a challenge to build after the flat panels of my previous models.

Little did I realise just how big a challenge all the curved panels would become!! My first effort to make the side panels used pine softwood and was a total failure. Next I tried MDF fibreboard in several layers – this also didn’t succeed, though it worked for the ‘bulges’ of the front and rear wings.

Not wanting to give up this project, my final try used 2mm thick black polystyrene plastic cut to shape and heated with a hair dryer and then curved to shape with some difficulty. At least it stayed curved and didn’t return to its original shape. At one point it seemed the drier had burnt out through over-use, but a thermal cut-out had simply triggered, and half an hour later it was working again!

To get the final wing shapes I stuck MDF fibreboard on to the plastic and shaped it, but the wings were still not quite ‘right’. Adding a layer of 1 mm thick plastic to all four wings made all the difference. This added less than a scale half-inch to each side, yet it made the wings project by sufficient amounts from the main body to be more convincing.

Much of the work was quite straightforward to complete, such as the engine and interior detailing, and the rear suspension and drive shafts. The front suspension was a little more complex as I wanted both poseable steering front wheels and working coil spring suspension. This was achieved using pieces of Meccano, small coiled springs and many other parts – over 70 in the the front ‘axle train’ alone.

The major problem with this model was the length of the rear overhang. For some reason, during the construction of the model I never noticed the overhang was much too long right up until I was ready to do the final painting.

Leaving the incorrect overhang was not an option so I had to grit my teeth and take a large saw to the model cutting 15 millimetres out across the whole width at the back, just in front of the tailgate! This entailed removing and relocating the fuel tank and then grafting the rear end back on. Eventually it all came out all right, to my relief.

Painting was done with water-based furniture paint from Homebase, tinted by me to the exact shade desired. This paint dries in minutes, can be polished to a moderate shine, and makes brush cleaning a simple job in the kitchen sink using soap and water.

The model took over 325 hours to make over some eight months, and has 970 pieces, not including the gardening themed diorama in which it is displayed.

Front suspension and steering. Red wishbone arms are small interdental toothbrush handles

In primer, wheels can be posed.

Rear suspension and twin hydraulic dampers.

Front Panel, carved from several pieces of hardwood glued together.

Bodywork at an early stage

Details of the rear bed construction. (The brass screws were removed later for re-use)

My brother Chris with his 1957 Standard Eight taken in 1971 in Cornwall when we drove it there on holiday.

Battery – the real thing sits in a hollow built into the front wing – I simply chamferred off the lower edge instead – this can’t be seen on the finished model.

Steering Wheel. Not my best effort of this type.


Top Panel of the dashboard. Speedometer made by colour copying a factory brochure

The radio and heater box

Door panels, with real leather trim. Real Leather not offered on the actual pickup model needless to say.

Seats, shaped hardwood with leather coverings

Interior shots, test-fitting parts

Rear overhang was much too long – AARGH!!

Exterior shots from several angles. Headight rims are silver rings.

This shows the correct, shortened rear overhang.

Detail of the spare wheel behind the cab

Underside shots

Tailgate and retaining chains

Detailed engine under bonnet. Note the screen washer reservoir, brake master cylinder,heater fan unit, coil, the battery and so on.

‘Standard’ badge, which I made from real silver, polished, engraved and enamelled. About 10mm high.

View into the cab from the passenger side.

Front three-quarter views

Factory brochure for the van and pickup models from about 1956. Very nice artwork!

Factory brochure on the van and pickup dated September 1958.

And finally, the completed model posed with a set of gardening tools in a diorama which is how it is displayed. A definite challenge to make but a nice big model of a seldom seen vehicle.

Modelling my Father’s Fairlane

By Luciano J. Pavloski

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

My Dad’s 1955 Fairlane in 1:43 scale

Until the early 1950s Brazil did not make its own cars, buses and trucks. There were already some factories, like VW, Ford and General Motors, but they only assembled imported models in Brazil.

This began to change in 1956, when the newly installed President, Juscelino Kubitscheck , strengthened plans for the manufacture of automobiles and trucks in the country. Earlier that year the first Mercedes-Benz truck was manufactured in the country (a L-312), and the first car, the Romi-Isetta, a version of ISO / BMW Isetta, too.

From 1957 national production grew quickly with the production of the Volkswagen Transporter Bus (Kombi), Ford and General Motors trucks, Willys-Overland Jeeps and FNM trucks (a local brand that produced under license trucks from Isotta Fraschini and cars from Fiat). Since then the range of models and brands produced in Brazil has grown significantly. We have American, European, and Japanese manufacturers based here in addition to the small local manufacturers. But before that happened Brazil imported cars and trucks of various origins, a large part of them American.

My father owned a 1955 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan, which I did not get to know but is present in dozens of old family photos. It is also a car that my father fondly remembers. For those reasons I wanted one as part of my 1:43 model collection. However, there is simply no such model in 1:43 scale. What I found was the 1956 Fairlane made by Ixo, which has almost the same body as the 1955 model, and a Crown Victoria 1955 made by Yat Ming, from which I could take advantage of the grille and other pieces. And so I started my project!

This was my father’s Fairlane. Next to the car, my brother in the late 60’s.

The 1956 from Ixo is the closest to my Father’s car, but the grille, side trim and hood trim differ.

So I used a 1955 Crown Victoria from Yatming (right above) to donate pieces

After a few cuts and some adjustments and the grille was fitted into the Ixo model.

The 1955 model needed new trim on the sides, this involved modifications using a “Dremel”, hobby files and epoxy filler.

I used the Yat Ming instrument panel but it needed some adjustments

The panel after considerable work. Tools used are shown with it on the bench

The original car with extra features added by the Author’s Father.

I decided to model the car at a time when my father had “upgraded” it a little more. I discovered that he used the wheels caps from a Simca Jangada (Brazilian version of Simca Marly). Luckily, this model car exists in the Brazilian car collection (Ixo). So I bought one just to use the wheels!

And there’s my dad’s Fairlane in 1:43! I put his name on the base as a tribute.

Inside the car was a “baby pacifier” (a fashion in the 60s) hanging from the mirror…

… which I reproduced in the model.

The model has the same yellow Brazilian plates, typical of that time

The rear end of the model

And side view of the completed model

Before and after. The Ixo base car and the finished modified one.

It is great to have this special miniature in my collection, but it was also lovely to see the joy on my 87 years old Father’s face when he saw the model.

And what was the end of the real Fairlane?

Well, in the 1970s Brazilian industry had become self-sufficient to the point where the government banned the importation of vehicles. This, added to the greater difficulty of obtaining parts, made imported cars unpopular even though many were superior to those produced in the country. The cars imported up to this point were seen as a “problem”… And so my father traded the beautiful Fairlane 1955 for a small field and acquired a 1974 Ford Corcel, a genuinely Brazilian model. But that’s another story, for the day I reproduce this car too in 1:43…

Editor: Luciano is a 1:43 scale model collector from Brazil and this is his first article for MAR Online. We hope that he writes more articles about model collecting from a Brazilian viewpoint in the future.

Big Hand Crafted Four by Fours – Part Five

By Robert P. Gunn

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Readers of MAR magazine will have been familiar with Robert’s contributions as an expert on pickup trucks. Since retirement he has been making a selection of 4×4 vehicles by hand to 1:10 scale, four of which have already appeared in MAR Online. The fifth is a 1957 Land Rover 107 inch wheelbase described by Robert below.



When the Land Rover appeared in 1948, its all terrain usefulness was much appreciated from the beginning.  But farmers and other users soon found the rear load area to be too small, owing to the very short wheelbase – 80 inches originally, then 86 inches (2.3 Meters and 2.18 meters).

In 1955 Land Rover answered this criticism by introducing the long wheelbase Land Rover, in pickup and station wagon versions. The wheelbase was stretched to 107 inches (2.71 metres), giving much more room in the load area. Oddly, the allowable load was initially exactly the same as the short wheelbase model, but the road limit was soon raised; possibly the springs were strengthened.

The 107 inch was stretched to the more familiar 109 inches later, the extra length being to accommodate a diesel engine which longer.

Making the Model

This model was made in the same way as the other four earlier ones in my ‘1:10 scale 4×4’ series. (use the site search feature and search for ‘big hand crafted’ if you wish to read Robert’s four previous articles). It is of mixed materials, to strict 1:10 scale, using whatever suits a particular part best. Or sometimes simply what I have available!

The chassis is of pinewood, and most of the body flat panels are in hardboard. The cab roof is aluminium sheet glued to a softwood block, while the bonnet lid was formed from nickel silver sheet – this is more rigid than aluminium but easier to work than steel.

Springs and much of the steering is of brass strips and tubes; some universal joints from radio-controlled cars were adapted to enable the front wheels to turn.

Rubber tyres are correct tread pattern, Dunlop ‘TRAK-GRIP’, a tyre actually fitted by the factory as an option on this model.

Seats are carved from softwood and covered in vinyl, obtained from a cheap handbag bought in a charity shop – with some funny looks from the assistant!

The many galvanised parts presented a problem. Only the cowling above the windscreen is real galvanised steel sheet. This is very realistic stuff of course, but is too hard to work. Instead I bought some bright zinc sheet and made it dull by a special chemical process. Other parts are painted in grey primer, which seems to match quite well.

The number plates and photo-etched Land Rover badges were bought from eBay suppliers, as were the rear lamps.

This model has 1,500 parts and took nearly a year to complete. It’s overall length is 18 inches (455mm).

The Result

Front Steering


The steering assembly test fit.



Details of the Damper


Rear Bodywork


Rear bed made of hardboard with sheet brass floor and plastic rubbing strips.


Tailgate is of aluminium and brass, superglued together.


The Interior

The doors do not hinge open but were made as separate parts. This gave access to build the model, and resulted in realistic gaps around the doors.


Views of the steering column, instrument panel, and gear and other levers.


Seats look as uncomfortable as the they are in the real thing!


More Views of the Cab

Showing the galvanised screen and the wipers.


Doors in place and all the galvanised strips showing clearly.


Doors shown in more detail with hinging shown even though doors do not hinge! But as can be seen a realistic gap can be created if doors are fitted separately.

General Views of the complete model

Model seen from front three quarter view .


Passenger side with exhaust winding its way underneath and mirrors standing high and proud on the front wing.


Drivers side with exhaust box and tail pipe and spare wheel clearly visible.
The Rear End

Cross member built-up of brass sections.


The Engine

The engine is fully-detailed. Bonnet stay is hinged like the real thing and works.


The Tailgate

Tailgate opens on chains, and the spare wheel can be removed from its bracket.


The Underside


The underside is fully detailed with all the transmission shafts, pedal linkages, springs and chassis sections modelled.


The Front End

A general view from the front. Note the strengthened hole in the front bumper to allow a starting handle to be used.


A view of number plate, grille and front lights as well as the Land Rover badges.


A detailed look at the front grille and headlights as well as the neatly made Land Rover badge.


The Wheels and Suspension

The wheels were modified by fitting the nuts and studs, among other changes.


The rear leaf spring and damper are shown above with the rear axle and prop shaft.

Rear Detailing

‘UO’ was a Devon registration. Number Plates include a realistic effect to suggest the raised letters used on 1950s plates. Reflector and rear light flank the plate.

The Completed  Model

All complete and ready for work!

Completed Model On Display

The fisherman, from eBay, sits in the rear of the finished model.


In a natural setting – the Rocky Mountains!


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at


Converted to some Chevy IIs

By John Quilter

Photographs and text by, and copyright of the Author.

The partworks series from Argentina includes a model they call a Chevrolet 400 sedan. This diecast replica is likely made by Ixo a brand name produced by Premium Collectibles Trading Co of Macau, China. Unfortunately, these partworks items are a bit difficult to obtain for collectors outside the partworks subscription area. However, some enterprising individuals apparently get a number of subscriptions and then re-market the models on eBay for other parts of the world. Collecting 43rd models is sometimes all about the chase for some unusual item not already in one’s collection. Perhaps since these items are diecast with the attendant higher tooling costs compared to resin models, they will appear in some other marketing channel in the future.

This Chevrolet 400 was of interest to me as it is a car that was sold in the USA from 1962 to 1965 as the Chevy II. It was a belated entry into the compact car market by Chevrolet who soon realised by mid-1960 that the radically engineered air cooled rear engine Corvair was being handily outsold by Ford’s very conventional Falcon. Both were launched in the fall of 1959 as 1960 models in answer to the ever growing popularity of the European small cars such as the Volkswagen Beetle, Renault Dauphine, Morris Minor, Hlllman Minx and many others including the Ford Consul and Zephyr, Opel Record, and Vauxhall Victor, which were known as captive imports.

Seeing the Corvair was not matching the Falcon in sales GM hurriedly designed an launched the Chevy II as a 1962 model and it came in two door and four door sedans, a four door wagon, a convertible and pillarless hardtop. Engines ranged from a 153 cubic inch four cylinder to a 230 cubic inch six cylinder. Later cars had larger V8s up to the ubiquitous Chevrolet 283 and even the 327. Gearboxes were usually three speed column shifted manuals or the two speed Powerglide. The basic first generation body design lasted until 1965 when it got a re-skin for the next two years. Along the way it was renamed the Nova. This name had a bad translation into Spanish as “no go” hence the Argentine version being called the Chevrolet 400. This was as small car by American standards but was probably considered a mid to large car in many other markets. Like Ford and the Falcon based Mustang, GM took the Chevy II and used it as a base for their pony car, the Camaro in 1967.

The partworks version is a white four door sedan, probably the most common of all body types. It is quite accurate and in all respects replicates the US version closely. I was able to acquire three of these partworks items so I could create different versions. I chose to make a station wagon and a convertible.

The convertible was the easiest being that I only had to use my jeweller’s saw to cut off the roof, change the length of the door from a four door car to a two door car and create a top boot using a piece of sheet lead. The door edges can be made with a saw cut groove and the lead material lends itself easily to bending and shaping for a top boot.

I added the detail of period accessory wheel trim rings and thin white walls to the existing black walls using some white painted wire rings. Decals for whitewall this thin are not yet produced to my knowledge but this might be a good offering for one of the decal suppliers such as Interdecal marketed by Tin Wizard.

For greater accuracy I added a graphic artists tape chrome moulding down the flanks to replicate the factory moulding. The Ixo model has this in tampo print along with various badges. After repaint in red, I was able to touch in the badges approximately using my newly discovered Molotow 1mm chrome paint pen. Both the convertible and wagon got a bare metal foil sill moulding as per the actual cars.

The work to create the station wagon was a bit more complex in that I had to create a roof extension and side windows. Careful research on Wikipedia showed that the station wagon had a slightly longer length than the sedan, all in the rear quarter.

This meant that to get the correct proportions I was necessary to cut off the tail panel and extend it rearwards and fill the resulting gap with epoxy metal. Being a four door car the door joints were retained from the sedan.

I appreciated adding these variations of American compacts to my collection as model makers such as NEO, Premium X (another PCT brand) and Goldvarg* seem to be concentrating of the larger, flashier American cars in their products but if one is going to replicate what was on the streets this era, compacts from all of the big three American makers certainly played an important part at the time. I welcome models of some of the other GM compacts of the time such as the Pontiac Tempest, Olds F-85 and Buick Special or Ford’s Mercury Comet or the intermediate Mercury Meteor or Ford Fairlane. There are no shortages of body style to pick from as all had a full range of versions.

*Editors Note: John sent his article to MAR Online the day before Goldvarg announced that the Chevy II will form part of their forward programme. If Goldvarg do a Chevy II two door hardtop it will allow John to complete his collection without the need to convert another partwork model!

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at

Modelling a Silent Movie Star’s car

By Richard Nosker

Text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author except where otherwise acknowledged.

Copyright acknowledged

The model with modelled Fatty on running board

The 1:1 car

A young Harley Earl (1893-1969, and later the head of GM’s Design Division for over 30 years) worked for his father’s company, Earl Automobile Works, in Hollywood, California, designing automobiles.  Young Harley showed good aptitude for this work.  He also mastered the art of presentation and the selling of a design early on. He produced not only full-sized drawings of the proposal for a client, but also built clay models of them, a skill he first learned as a child. The utilisation of both enabled him to promote his concept to a prospect wanting something exclusive and who could well afford the luxury.

Earl was able to get established with the Hollywood crowd by re-modelling a car for the cowboy movie star Tom Mix, but his ‘piece de resistance’ was the next car that he designed and built for Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Arbuckle (1887-1933) was one of the most popular silent stars of the 1910s, and soon became one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, signing a contract in 1920 with Paramount Pictures for $1 million US Dollars. His career was derailed after he was accused (and eventually acquitted) of the rape and manslaughter of a young, aspiring actress in 1921. Was Hollywood ever thus? Talking films, by the way, didn’t take over until the early 1930s. Colour photography was about 1935.

And here is a picture of Fatty’s house in 1919, in the West Adams district of Los Angeles.  The 1:43 scale model and Fatty have been “placed” in the picture.

But back to the important part. Earl used what was perhaps the largest automobile chassis in production at the time, a 1918 Pierce-Arrow Model 66 with a 147.5-inch wheelbase that was powered by an enormous 855 T-head six cylinder engine.

With this impressive platform Harley first started out by designing special hubs and sharply-dished wooden-spoked wheels constructed of Burmese teak that were fitted with nickel-plated rims and light grey tires. For the coachwork, he started with a clean slate and designed a magnificent and totally custom built touring car body, radiator, hood, and fenders. The bright blue creation was trimmed with nickel-plated accents. The interior was finished in fine leather with a spectacular curved wooden vanity on the back of the front seats.

The creation and its design was started at the Earl Automobile Works in 1918 or 1919, but it was finished and delivered to Arbuckle by the Don Lee Coach and Body Works (who had bought Earl’s company). The May 2, 1920 Los Angeles Times reported on the just finished car: “Arbuckle’s Car Is A Genuine Knockout”, and went on to state that “ten-thousand people had filed through the Don Lee showroom in a few days just to see the car that cost $25,000”.

Restored by Lon Kruger of Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2007, this Pierce-Arrow has taken best-in-class awards at Pebble Beach (in 2007) and Amelia Island (in 2009), and in 2015 captured Best in Show at the Pinehurst, and in 2016 in Boca Raton. Once part of the Blackhawk Collection, the seven-foot-tall, 7000 pound touring car (built without windshield wipers or even side curtains, a nod to its Southern California roots) was purchased in 2014 by Robert S. Jepson, Jr. of Savannah, Georgia.

The 1:43 scale car.

There are very few 1:43 cars to choose from when selecting starting points to build a car like this.  A 1926 Solido Hispano Suiza gave its body & chassis to the cause, but those parts had to be sectioned in multiple ways to get the right proportions.  Such an “oversized” car was able to use parts from 1:32 scale models too!

This is a famous, and historically significant, car, and would be worthy of some manufacturer’s effort to make a model of such a spectacular vehicle for model collectors.

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at

Amateur Building #2 – being a reconstruction of GFCC’s Austin 7 of 1930

By David Holcombe

Unless otherwise stated all text and photographs are copyright of the Author.

When Maz reviewed this little fellow in all its 1:43 glory (MAR Online, 31 Dec. ’17), he concluded that it “.. really would benefit from taking the model apart and treating it like a kit.” That’s when I decided it was time to find one for myself.

I acquired mine a couple of weeks ago (the postage from China was far more than I paid for the model); I had only pictures with which to compare, for I have never seen an Austin 7. But surely the staid English motorists of 1930 would not have used this green! So I turned to my long-suffering internet pals on Forum 43 and braced myself. Comments flowed, “Needs window glazing,” “like the postal slot in brass,” and from Master John Roberts, “different colour?”. One collector even posted his hot rod version. Horrors!

First, I made an attempt at just cleaning it up by touching the door handles and hub caps with silver/chrome, and adding a bit of pin striping. It still didn’t work. That green was just too green. So, I started with the conclusions of Maz and implemented the others as best as I could (where I agreed with them, anyhow). The model has two basic parts of die cast metal, being the cabin and the fenders/subframe. The rest, including a well-formed undercarriage, is plastic. The roof is also plastic, somewhat simplified. It appeared that the Austin was held together by two minute screws, but after removing them and the undercarriage, I found a third. Very small tabs, all plastic, tended to break as their glue gave way; but construction was so simple that they went back together rather easily.

The window glazing was relatively easy, working from the inside, as the metal of the cabin is quite nicely finished. That is, until I attempted the windshield (that’s “windscreen” in the UK). Sorry if a smear shows, but even my third attempt was faulty. I applied a light grey on the seats to ease all that black, and even picked out a little of the minimal dashboard. One of the guys who hangs around my models volunteered to drive, and he is still there.

Final touch-up was simple, as that’s the term for the Austin 7. My chosen dark red was advised by John Roberts, even though I found many, many shades of red in restored Austins. Chrome is only a touch here and there, and I had fun adding the pin stripe for a black on red contrast. That’s not paint; it’s a trimmed slice of the plastic striping I applied on my 1:1 PT Cruiser about 15 years ago. Never throw away something that you might need in the future. And, yes, I used a brass/golden tint on the postal slot. (I wonder if that is the correct term. Oh well, I like it and it seems to fit.)

If all this seems a lot of fuss over the very small car, then I suggest one of the several Austin 7 models that have been produced over the years. Oxford, I think, has one still in production. But none of them have just quite the same features as mine. (Big Smile!)

Picture from unknown source.


The 1:1 Austin 7 (sometimes referred to as the Austin Seven)

This is how it arrived, well packed but with no pretty box.

So I attempted a little work, but it still was too green! Time to “do a Maz!”

And so, we took it apart. And then I had fun!

And here it is now, on the streets of London, c. 1930. Okay, this driver found some pavement.


Here is how it looked in comparison to its English kin. That’s a Western Model’s version of the 1926 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 Doctor’s Coupe. And it’s a 2-passenger car. The Austin 7 was designed to handle four.


Sometimes it’s fun to take something apart and put it back together. . . kind of.

Yes these are both to 1:43 scale!

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at

Heat Moulded Model Glazing

By Graeme Ogg

All text, illustrations and photographs by, and copyright of the Author. 

NOTE: This may look like a long, complicated story, but rather than giving a very basic set of instructions (“1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – all done, easy peasy!”) and leaving people to struggle with unexpected little problems, I thought I should spell things out in more detail and mention various points to look out for. If you’re still interested, read on …]

I’ve done my share of trying to make new model windows from bits of thin, flat scrap plastic, which works fine if the curvature is slight, but if you get into restorations or conversions involving more heavily-curved glazing (including wraparound front or rear screens) that method can be inadequate. Trying to force flat plastic into a 3-dimensional shape can be a nightmare, and next morning you find the springiness in the plastic has gradually popped it loose from the adhesive. Some people resort to cutting suitably-curved sections from old plastic soft drink bottles, but if the rest of your model is looking pretty good, chances are that those makeshift windows will spoil the overall effect.

So eventually I bit the bullet and had a go at heat-moulding. Contrary to what serious modelling handbooks may tell you, a fancy vacuum-forming rig complete with hinges and clamps and an air pump isn’t really required for this kind of job. Just a hot-air blower, some balsa, scraps of old plywood and some suitable clear plastic. However it does take a bit of time, and trial and error, and in early attempts there were a lot of scraps of warped, over-cooked plastic in the waste bin before I got a decent result. So it’s not something that everyone would want to bother with. But for any enterprising soul who wants to give it a try, the following instructions may be useful. And if your eyes start glazing over (so to speak) just take a short break.

(Fig.1) Rough-cut a piece of balsa slightly too big to fit inside the model body. A useful first move is to cut the front face to roughly the angle the window makes with the car body (use one of those cheap see-through plastic protractors). It also helps if you trace the top and bottom edges of the screen opening on to tracing paper, cut out the tracings and mark them on to the top/bottom of the balsa block as a rough guide to shaping.

(Fig. 2) File and sand the balsa, test-fitting regularly, until it can be slipped up into the body and makes good contact all round the edges of the screen opening. (My rough sketch shows the top and sides of the balsa as flat, but of course you may need to curve the top surface, or round off the corners, or slope the sides inwards towards the top, to fit the inner body contour). Go very slowly in the final stages, continually checking the fit all round, because when the mould is “almost fitting in but not quite”, it is very easy to misjudge where it is binding and to sand away a little too much in the wrong place.. If that happens, and you end up with a visible a gap at along one edge or at a corner, cellulose stopping putty (knifing putty) is a useful remedy. Apply it where you’ve removed too much material. When hard, blend it to shape with 400/800 grade wet-and-dry. And if you have a particularly coarse-grained piece of balsa with cracks you think might show up in the moulding, thin down some cellulose putty with cellulose thinners to the consistency of thick primer and paint it over the entire face of your carved window.. When dry it will sand to a very fine smooth finish, and incidentally it can also reduce the problem of stray bits of balsa dust producing dimples on your cast screen.

(Fig.3) When you’re happy with the shape, hold it firmly in place inside the model and trace the window opening onto it with a fine-tip pigment marker pen, otherwise at a later stage it can sometimes be hard to see exactly where the actual window area is on the balsa. Take care not to dent the balsa by pressing too hard with a sharp pen point.

(Fig. 4) Slice off the back of the balsa roughly parallel with the front face of the screen. This helps to ensure you will be pushing the face of the screen flat into the heated plastic, rather than at an angle which could lead to one edge being forced too deep and maybe breaking through.

(Fig. 5). Glue the balsa block to a backing piece of plywood (half an inch or so bigger all round than the balsa) and add a block of wood or a piece of dowel for a handle

(Fig. 6) Use a scrap of plywood or similar for the female mould. In theory the opening should be the shape of the front face of your balsa moulding plus the thickness of the plastic all round. In practice you need to leave a little bit more clearance to avoid scuff marks or stress marks on the plastic. But if you are doing a fairly deep wrap-around shape, too big an opening may mean the sides don’t get wrapped round tight enough, so start with the minimum opening and increase the clearance a bit more if you find the heated plastic is getting scuffed as it is pushed in. It’s easiest to use some kind of coping saw to cut the opening, but failing that you can drill holes all round the outline, “join the dots” with a blade, remove the shape and sand the edges of the opening. At the hot-moulding stage there needs to be enough spare plastic around the opening to be drawn in smoothly during the push, so make your plywood big enough to allow you to pin down a piece of plastic with a border of about an inch all round the opening. Sand the top edges of the opening to a smooth curve to prevent marking the plastic on a sharp edge. When moulding, you can either hold the female mould in a vice, or make a couple of feet from scrap material, as illustrated, so it will sit on the workbench.

(Fig. 7) Test the two halves of the mould together. The male mould only needs to go in just far enough to ensure the shape is properly formed. To avoid the risk of pushing too far (which could over-stretch the glazing) you might need to fit spacers of scrap material to the underside of the backing piece as shown. That then allows you to push firmly down “on to the bump stops”, which helps to avoid any wobbling before the plastic has hardened, which could distort the screen.

You can use various types of clear plastic, but some clear packaging material has a ”scoured” finish which can look bad in close-up on a small windscreen. And some kinds of plastic sheet that looks quite promising will crinkle and curl at the merest touch of heat. (Hard to tell the good from the bad till you experiment!) Too thin and you can easily break though when pushing a deep shape. Too thick and the result can look clumsy, and sharp curves may come out somewhat blunted. I use 20 thou clear polystyrene sheet and simply fix it to the female mould with 4 drawing pins at the corners. You may need a pliers or small hammer to get them into the wood the first time. For repeat attempts just push them into the same holes each time.

Having once burned out a domestic hair drier I now use a hot air stripper on its low setting at a distance of 5-6 inches. Don’t go too close or the plastic can “fry” or bubble. Play the heat back and forth over the whole piece of plastic, not just the central area. That way the surrounding material will also be softened and will pull in smoothly. After maybe 20-30 seconds it will sag, then start to bulge up again. Press the male mould in gently. If there is too much resistance, don’t force it or you’ll get scuffing or stretch marks. Apply a bit more heat and try again. When the mould sinks in nicely, hold it steady for 20-30 seconds to let it cool. Prise up the drawing pins with a small screwdriver and remove the glazing piece. If there are scuff marks/stress marks in the plastic, ease the female mould a bit more before trying again. A smear of mould release (liquid vaseline) over everything can also help avoid this problem. If the casting looks OK, slip it back onto the male mould and trace the window outline from the balsa to the glazing so that you can see exactly where the window starts and ends on the plastic “blister”. Also mark any tabs or borders required for concealed gluing inside the body shell. Remove the pigment ink with methylated spirits. Trim carefully. A small craft scissors is recommended. NIbble carefully around any sharp corners to prevent the thinned plastic tearing or stressing.

Fig. 8) For a relatively simple curved screen (or for curved side glazing on flush-glazed vehicles) just shape a single piece of balsa to the required curve, fix one end of a strip of glazing to it using double-sided sticky tape, apply heat (keeping it away from the sticky tape as far as possible) and use a scrap of smooth wood to press the glazing down on to the curve and hold till it cools. Use white spirit on a cotton bud to remove the sticky tape afterwards. NOTE: If you don’t apply the heat for long enough, the glazing will soften enough to bend but won’t be heated right through, so the residual elasticity will tend to unbend it a little as it cools. Give it a bit longer. If you keep getting an inadequate bend, try exaggerating the curve of the mould just a little to compensate for this.

(Fig. 9) You can also use the heat-and-press technique to form tail-light or headlamp units with a more severe wraparound. Once again, if you don’t get the heat right through the plastic, it will tend to uncurl. Give it another dose of heat and press it down again (decent plastic can be re-heated and re-bent a few times before it starts to permanently distort).

Even if you aren’t into making your own models or doing conversions,, you can also use this technique to replace cracked or discoloured glazing on precious older models, or add it to models which didn’t have any in the first place but would look the better for it. You are bound to have quite a few experiments that don’t turn out quite right, but eventually (with any luck) you should get a decent result.

Male and female moulds for a couple of models. In the left-hand one the balsa was left “raw”. The one on the right got a thin smoothing coat of cellulose putty, hence the dark appearance.

A selection of successful attempts at window moulding are show below


Wrap-round/wrap-over front screen of ’59 Edsel (conversion from Brooklin ’58)

Replacement for disintegrated front screen of Kager Edsel kit

Rear screen for ’60 Ford Galaxie Starliner (modified Brooklin convertible)

Panoramic rear screen for 1960 Chevrolet (modified Brooklin convertible)

Side glazing panels for Pontiac Type K ( conversion from Yat Ming Firebird)

Compound-curvature rear window for 1960 Edsel (modified Brooklin ’60 Ford)

Or maybe something a little more outrageous

Rolls Silver Seraph glass-top Ceremonial limo (fictitious)

Compound-curved side and rear glasses for Bentley K2 SUV (fictitious)

 We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at

Suddenly it’s 1960 (A little later then planned)

By Graeme Ogg

All text and photographs are by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Upper Photograph is from an Anonymous source on the Internet. Lower is the Author’s Handiwork

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.

Upper Photograph from period Ford Brochure, lower the Authors Handiwork.

[*] OK, so the Ixo is officially a Ranch Wagon, not a Country Squire. Listen, if you’re going to be difficult ….

 We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at