By John Quilter
Del Prado make a 1: 43 scale 1977 Dodge Tradesman van in Stad Menen livery with some special features common on a public utility truck or phone company truck, such as ladders, flood lights and warning lights. I wonder why a Belgian livery was on a US type van unless there was Chrysler production of these in Europe. I was attracted to this van not because of its special features but more because, to my knowledge, there have been no previous models of this very US common commercial van made over a number of years before the introduction of the European designed replacement.
There were multiple versions of the van over the years, some with windows, some with out and some with a sliding side door or hinged side doors and even fancy trimmed ones with rows of seats for family use or shuttle passenger service. Wheelbases and lengths varied depending on the intended use. Engines were a 225CID OHV inline slant six, an iconic Chrysler power plant, or larger V8 engines such as the common 318CID unit but with options of 360CID, 400CID or even a massive 440CID. Gearboxes were usually the Chrysler Torqueflite but manual three speeds and even some four and five speeds were offered during certain years. The cab and chassis were commonly used over the years for motorhome conversions.
Like most of the reasonably priced Del Prado range this model comes in a clear plastic bubble pack on a plastic base. I bought two since I wanted to convert one back to a more stock production configuration. This entailed removing the roof items, and a more involved change, eliminating the roller door in the rear and replacing it with a pair of windowed hinged door which were much, much more commonly seen on the streets. I made these doors from sheet styrene plastic with various hinges, license plate plinth, and handle added.
Final finishing in a very common commercial vehicle white but leaving the interior seats and fascia black as it came. I added a bit of deluxe-ness with chrome bumpers front and rear but left the grill and hubcaps the standard aluminium painted colour. Strangely Del Prado got the D O D G E badging off centre on the bonnet so I was able to correct this with new silver decal letters. Without actually measuring the model all indications are that it is in true 43rd scale.
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