By John Quilter
All photographs taken by the Author.
Since the diecast Franklin Mint 43rd scale models are affordable on the secondary market I have done many modifications with these. Particularly the 1952 Desoto which allowed me to make a station wagon, a convertible and a club coupe and a Corvair sedan became a Lakewood wagon. Now the latest is the 1963 Rambler Classic 660 sedan into in a station wagon. Rambler were strongly into wagons during most of their years.
In 1963 they were available in multiple trim levels with a 196CID inline overhead valve six cylinder engines or a 287 CID V8s, relatively small for the era. The fancier trimmed Ambassador was available with a 327 CID V8 but not to be confused with the iconic Chevrolet small block 327 of the era. Interesting, the six cylinder engine was optionally available with an aluminum block and head. Being a small auto maker, AMC were very clever in production efficiencies with such things as interchangeable front and rear bumpers and doors that were the same on sedans and wagons.
The Franklin Mint items were made with a number of opening features and this Rambler had all four door and the bonnet with this feature. That makes for a bit more work in some conversions and always in the initial disassembly. To begin this conversion project it was necessary to disassemble which is done with the removal of a few small screws in the detailed base plates. The front doors are hinged with screws that also hold the fascia in place and the rear doors are pivoted on screws under the front seat. Before I began this project I was lucky enough to find a rattle can of Krylon Antique
White paint that was a virtual match for the color that Franklin Mint used. That was a break as I was able to preserve the bulk of the glossy factory paint and more importantly the tampo printed badges. It also meant that it was unnecessary to remove bumpers, lights, etc.
The roof was cut off over the C pillars with a jeweler’s saw and a section of the boot lid removed. The two pillars in the rear corners were saved so that the base plate could still be attached there. The C pillar had to be narrowed to conform to the design of the wagon. Ramblers had for years had a slightly stepped roof over the rear area so this lent my production technique to using a small piece of aluminum sheet rather than my usual method of using a section of thicker aluminum molding from a yacht. The preliminary work was done with a card stock pattern, test fit before cutting the aluminum sheet. The rear of the diecast roof was tapered down with a file and the aluminum sheet was overlaid on this taper with an additional
sheet on the underside for strength. This replicated the characteristic slight dip of the rear section of roof. JB Weld epoxy metal was the glue and it also formed the slightly raised waist line at the rear quarter panels and the remains of the rear of the boot lid.
The challenge here was to create the standard equipment roof rack which I did with a piece of chrome colored paper clip wire and some small strips of aluminum sheet for the rear mounting brackets. The front of the rack is simply inserted into holes drilled in the roof casting at an angle. The rub strips were thin silver wire fitted through holes at the rear and supper glued down. Final attachment was done by the primer and final color coat paint. To regain the
chrome look the “scratch off” method was used to remove the paint on the top surface. This method was also used for the drip rails which were not present on the Franklin Mint.
Other upgrades from the donor car were clear plastic side windows and the rear load area windows and tail gate window. White glue is used for attachment as this dries clear. Detail additions were the door handle for the side opening tailgate. The plastic interior piece had its parcel shelf sawed off and a new full load floor added with textured styrene plastic painted to match.
Rambler wagons were also produced by Dinky Toys many years ago, in fact two versions were made, the 1957 and the 1960.
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