By John F. Quilter
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
In my never ending quest to make something that no model maker makes, at least currently, I have done some work with the diecast Universal Hobbies 1964 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop and the 1964 Dodge sedan which is in the Mexican partworks series and I believe comes from Ixo. Both of these cars, the Belvedere and the Coronet, were the mid-sized cars for Plymouth and Dodge in 1964. Since these two cars were from Chrysler Corporation and were closely related by some styling features as well as overall size I thought I could do some mixing, matching, and modifying.
The Plymouth comes as a Belvedere hardtop and extras of these in my collection became a convertible in red, a four door sedan in light beige, plus a two door sedan in metallic turquoise.
Using the displaced top from the conversion to the four door sedan I transplanted this to the Ixo Dodge making a Coronet hardtop Then with still another four door Dodge I fabricated a rear roof and tailgate and created a station wagon.
This one was the most involved transformation and I used some sheet aluminium to add the roof extension and tailgate. The quarter panels had to be somewhat reshaped from the sedan and multiple layers of aluminium created the raised panel on the tailgate. An option on these wagons was a luggage rack so this was made using silver paperclip wire and some aluminium feet to mount it to the roof. Transverse rubbing strips suitably bare metal foiled were applied to the roof.
The plastic interior section with the seats needed to be modified cutting off the parcel shelf and adding a load floor. Using Google images is vital in getting the shapes and proportions right on these type of conversions and I was lucky to find the all-important 90 degree side photo plus others showing various details such as the fuel filler cap, tail lamps and rear bumper which is different from the sedan. A 13 inch diameter piece of electrical solder served for this purpose with suitable bending and filing for the correct final shape. Solder is ideal for this purpose as it is already very shiny silver in colour and can easily be filed and polished to a high gloss with only a final coating of clear lacquer to preserve the chrome like appearance.
A careful study of the sales brochure for this Dodge on this site http://www.lov2xlr8.no/broch1.html provides specifications for length, a selection of colours for interior and exterior. Colour chips found on Google are also useful. I learned that in the case of this Dodge wagon it was about 5 inches longer than the sedan, all in the rear quarter panel so this was factored into the conversion process. The Ixo sedan comes with blackwall tires which would have been uncommon on a new car in 1964 so I created thin whitewalls using my loop of thin gauge wire technique. A bit too three dimensional but when working in 1:43 and doing custom work one has to be creative and resourceful and until a supplier, such as Tin Wizard, produces some very thin whitewall decals these will have to suffice.
The Plymouth convertible was an easy job, simply cut off the roof of the hardtop using a jeweller’s saw, and fabricate a top boot with sheet lead and paint in a suitable vinyl top colour. It was easy enough to do that I was able to preserve all the paint and tampo printed badging of the Universal Hobbies item. When doing one of my conversions I always preserve one of the factory production models to illustrate what I started with. In the case of the Plymouths the metallic blue hardtop in the photograph is unaltered. In the case of the Dodges the metallic turquoise sedan is the starting point.
The Plymouth light beige sedan was a bit more involved as it required taking the cut off roof from the Dodge and grafting it on to the Plymouth. Of course when mixing and matching these parts one has to sometimes alter the plastic interior and dashboard unit to fit. And an alternative interior colour may be chosen based on internet research. When going from a two door body to a four door body the rear doors have to be engraved in, the front door shortened, and new door handles fabricated and mounted.
So with these Dodge and Plymouth variations I have replicated many of the body styles that were part of the lineup in 1964.
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