Hot Rod Chevette (1/25 scale), Part 1

Hot Rod Chevette with Sign
1/25 scale model, mixed media, 2019

I talk about building the engine and the old JUNK neon sign in PART TWO.



My dear friend, Tony, is turning 50 this year and I wanted to commemorate the event with a personal gift, something that he (and maybe two or three other people in our lives) would understand and appreciate to its fullest. I know him well enough and have known him long enough that I knew I'd think of something from our shared past that I could build as a scale model.


Long story short: as teenagers, from the mid-to-late-'80s, a handful of my friends and I pretended to have a "radio show" and we would record ourselves playing a multitude of characters in ridiculous scenarios (and we improvised 98% of everything). One of those characters (Ed Jones, not played by Tony) had a Chevette that sounded like it had a jet engine...for some reason. The reason it was a Chevette, however, was because Tony had one in real life.

That's why this model had to be a Chevette. And, since it was my spontaneous improvisation to "voice" the car's super engine sound effect, I felt it was my responsibility to bring that beast to life.

Box art.

Finding this particular model kit wasn't easy –or cheap– but it absolutely had to be a Chevette or the project would be meaningless.

I approached this build as though I owned a car customizing speed shop and Ed Jones called me up one day, asking if I would be able to install a Kenworth engine in a stock Chevette. And make it road worthy. And make it look cool. Well, here goes...

Sprue tour.

This model is 1/25 scale, which means it's minutely smaller than a 1/24 scale car (even within the same company there isn't a standard scale, but it's usually one or the other, go figure), and this, in conjunction with the Chevette being a compact car to begin with, made installing the gigantic engine a tricky feat.


Just look at that tiny Chevette engine! So small. So cute. So easy to dispose of into my spare parts box. I'd also be dispensing with the wheels as I would use white walls from another kit for the front, and dragster mag wheels for the back.

Instructions.

None of these instructions indicate how to install a Kenworth engine in the tiny Chevette engine bay.

Very early test-fit.

Just placing the raw-plastic Kenworth engine in the raw-plastic Chevette engine bay was satisfying and exciting; I was on the right track, comedically, if not logically, engineering-wise.

Interior tub.

The dashboard was super narrow once the window got installed that I had to dispense with my usual positioning of the 1986 Perly's Map Book of Toronto and place it on the back seat, instead.

Another element that had to be sacrificed because of the shortness of the dash was a computer that swung out on an arm over the passenger seat (the place where I had glued it on is still visible as a smudge in the pic above). There's a picture of it in place at the end of this post.

Reverse angle.

Other than it being a Chevette, I didn't try to replicate Tony's actual car, but rather what the one in our "radio show" might have looked like...or what Ed Jones might have ordered from my speed shop in the mid-'80s.

Tub from above.

This is before the addition of the "Can-Tel cellular phone" behind the gear shifter.

Chassis.

Like my other car models, I detailed the underside for my own completist's sake. And for fun, because modelling is fun.

Spoiled.

With an engine that powerful (and a propeller up front!) you'll need a spoiler to make sure you stay on the ground.

Options.

The part I used as a spoiler is #2 above, listed as "optional" and was supposed to go under the front bumper...

Looks better back here.

Supportive.

To make room for the massive engine, I had to dispense with some of what I felt gives cars their personality: their "face," that is, the front grille and headlight arrangement. Luckily, I was able to keep the headlights, but I needed to add supports to attach them to the now-chopped-up hood. I wanted to keep as much of the original car as possible.

Greeblies.

Those things on the roof are from a Messerschmitt kit that I bought for parts years ago. I don't remember what they do on that plane, and I'm not sure what they do here, but they look aerodynamic (at least that's what might appear on the speed shop's invoice!).

Test-fit (left).

The engine was completed first because I was sorta dragging my feet on the paint scheme for the car. I wanted a brand new, shiny metallic red paint job, and since clean and fresh isn't my usual modelling preference, I needed to practice clean and fresh on some other kits before getting back to this one.

Test-fit (right).

I know a true hot rodder would keep the engine as spotless as the rest of the car, but I couldn't resist grunging it up. Maybe it's the nature of that retrofit engine that it gets grungy really fast and it's harder to keep clean than the rest of the car. Sure, why not?

Headliner.

I know flourescent colours are the stereotypical colours people think of regarding the '80s, but my recollection is there was still a lot of beige in that decade. Why Ed Jones would want a largely beige interior to a car he's customizing to be very flashy (no pun intended)

Ride-height confusion.

For some reason I did this test-fit without installing the interior tub and it made the rear wheels sit way too high. Just a few shots above this you can see a test-fit with the tub installed and the rear wheels look fine. Since the time between work sessions on this kit can be days (or weeks! or months!) at a time, my memory can be slack, it can play tricks, and this new low-riding situation had me concerned...

Adjustments.

So I decided I had to beef up the rear axle and raise the back end. Above I've added two strips of square styrene rod, a piece of sheet styrene, and a strip of C-channel for the new axle made from tube styrene, a piece of firm wire (inside the rod to mount the wheels) and those grey dragster bits.

Plausible-ish.

I then added kitbashed bits of engine parts to make it look like a plausible rear differential (this model isn't meant to be picked up, but you can still see a bit of the underside from the side).

Conceptually appropriate.

The main conceit of this car is that the engine sounds like a monster truck or even a jet so I added some tail pipes from another kit. I briefly considered beefing these up with some aluminum rods on the ends, but this was enough pipe.

Metallic red.

To avoid any airbrush mishaps, I decided it might be best if I used rattle cans to paint this car. I first used a red metallic then sprayed a few coats of a pearlescent clear coat to give it some extra flare.

Flame-broiled.

Every good hot rod needs flames, and the yellow engine will look great nested among this conflagration. With no real estate on the hood, I had to make every available space count –no matter how short or narrow– so I found a decal sheet with various sizes of flames that suited my needs.

Rat-rod style!

Now, paint the outside of the interior tub that metallic red and even this would look pretty cool, racing down the drag!

This is the last test-fit before the outer body goes on for the last time.

Tiny Spider-man...

...does whatever a tiny spider can. Tony's a big Spider-Man fan so I created these miniature comics to be placed in the back seat. I consulted him on some of his favourite issues.

Completed tub.

Well, everything looks good here: computer riding up on the dashboard (I had high hopes for this, but when the glass was added, nothing would fit on the dash, including that Perly's), the cellular phone is installed and now has a cord, three classic Spider-Man comics carelessly tossed on the rear seat, the Perly's map book alongside them, and a couple of cases of beer in the hatchback (Hamster Beer and Hamster Light are further inside jokes...and that company's conveniently also celebrating a 50th Anniversary).

I was planning on handing this to Tony personally on or very near his birthday at the end of June 2020, but the global pandemic has changed these plans so this blog post will have to suffice until I can personally deliver it (there's no way I'm shipping this in the mail!).











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