1978 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car
In 1978, the Corvette was celebrating its 25th anniversary. In recognition of that milestone, it was name the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 race that year. Chevrolet released the car in a striking 2-tone silver and black paint scheme that had every motorhead drooling. I was a teen at the time, and I built MPC’s annual Corvette kit. It didn’t come with any of the striping or pace car decals, but I painted in that color combination anyway: it was that cool.
Revell has recently re-released its kit of that vehicle, and it was my good fortune to get hold of a copy of it to review. With all the proper decals for a true pace car, I could finally build the model the way I wanted to do it all those years ago.
The kit comes in Revell’s standard box, with the various types of parts bagged separately. Most of pieces are molded in white plastic. The engraved details are excellent, but the tooling is starting to allow some flash to come through. The clear parts are crystal clear with very little distortion. The tires look good but the sidewalls are blank; some after-market white lettering would be a good addition to your build.
The large decal sheet includes all the exterior graphics, engine compartment details, dash gauges and steering wheel center, center caps and red strips for the wheels, and 2 sets of license plates. The decals come off the sheet easily and quickly and respond well to setting solution, although they seem a bit thick. The large side body stripes are a bit difficult to handle, but they do fit well. Getting them to conform to all the body curves definitely requires decal solvent. In general, all the decals went on better when the surface they were being applied to was wetted down first.
The instruction sheet is typical Revell fare, with good painting suggestions, detailed decal placement diagrams, and even a full parts list
Assembly begins with the engine, which is fairly simple by modern standards but does an adequate job of representing the real thing. The chromed air cleaner should be stripped and painted a combination of semi-gloss and flat black to be accurate; I also painted the chromed alternator (part number 30) for better accuracy. The distributor cover (part number 91), should actually cover the distributor; the instructions don’t show this very well. The rocker covers (parts 36 and 92) are chromed, but should at least have a black wash applied to look accurate. Also, the instructions show the left rocker cover in the wrong position; the oil filler cap should be towards the back of the engine, not the front. Finally, based on the references I found, the decal (number 21) should be applied only to the right rocker cover, not to both.
The chassis has extremely simplified front and rear suspensions, with no spring or shock absorber details to be seen. The separate, two-piece exhaust system looks good, but the rear suspension forces it to hang down farther from the chassis in the center than it should. The exhaust tips are pre-drilled, which is a welcome touch.
The interior is a simple tub with the console molded in place, but the armrests are separate pieces. This results in easier detailing and a more accurate look to the finished product. The separate dash has excellent engraving detail on all the gauges; when the decals are applied with solvent, they snuggle down nicely over the engraving. I covered each of the small gauges and the entire area around the two main gauges with Micro Kristal Klear to replicate the plastic covers on the original. The steering column includes turn signal and tilt wheel stalks and the ignition switch. Careful attention to detailing throughout the interior will pay off nicely. The seats and vinyl really on the real car really are silver, but the carpeting is more of a light gray, so take that into consideration when painting. I used embossing powder to “flock” the interior, and Testor’s Gull Gray for the carpeting, but I think Tamiya’s gray primer would have been a better choice. For the leather and vinyl, I used Tamiya Silver Leaf with a coat of clear flat to tone it down. The steering wheel was chromed, so I stripped and painted it and then used matte aluminum Bare Metal Foil on the spokes. One note of warning on the interior: the shift pattern decal and the shift pattern engraved into the center console do not match. The decal is correct. Finally, don’t forget to paint the bottom of the interior tub the same color as the chassis, as it shows through in multiple places.
The wheels and tires went together well. Pay close attention to the orientation of the wheel backs; my first inclination was to put them in backwards. The red stripe decals went onto the wheels surprising easily; keeping the wheels wet helped the decals find their correct locations. The same was true for the center cap decals, which I also covered with a drop of Kristal Klear after they were dry. Once assembled, the wheels will snap onto the axles quite nicely without glue.
The body is a complicated bit of work, including an opening hood, separate front and rear bumpers, and separate front and rear spoilers. There are mold lines near the door handles and continuing over the rear fenders that need to be sanded down. I highly recommend gluing the front and rear bumpers to the main body before painting; this will simplify masking for the two-tone paint job and applying the decals. Speaking of that paint job, the dividing line between the two colors follows the crease along the centerline of the body; the flares around the wheel wells are silver. But if your lines aren’t perfect, don’t worry: the side stripe decals cover that area completely. I painted the spoilers separately and installed them at the end of the build, but you could install them before painting. Be aware that neither spoiler follows the lines of the body perfectly, so you may end up with small gaps. I had a great deal of trouble with the side stripes: they are huge and a little thick, and even with solvent I ended up with bubbles and creases. Make sure you apply the stripes to the body before doing any of the other decals, as some of the other decals must go on top of the stripes. Once the decals were on, I covered everything with a coat of Future to protect the decals and to give them a bit of gloss.
Speaking of those other decals, this brings me to the one major mistake that Revell made on this kit. The door decals read “82nd ANNUAL INDIANAPOLIS 500 MILE RACE”. This is wrong: 1978 was the 62nd Indy 500. This same mistake appears in the instructions. Oops! Revell, your proofreader needs some new reading glasses.
A couple more quick notes about the body. The upper part of the dashboard is molded into the body, and it should be painted matte black, not silver like the rest of the dash. The visors and the interior portion of the roof should be silver, and the front window frame and T-top bar are matte black, as described in the instructions. The parking lights are molded into the grill, which should be flat black; I left the parking lights silver. And don’t forget to paint the rubber bumper guard tips black. I saw a couple of vehicles online that had them painted silver, but that’s not the way they came back in the day.
Final assembly goes smoothly. The interior fits the body well. The windshield and rear window mount from the outside of the body, and go on beautifully, although the windshield does prevent the hood from closing that last fraction of a millimeter. The chrome lenses for the side mirrors are much appreciated and look great, as do the chrome rocker panel moldings. The taillights are clear and need to be painted. Keep in mind the two inner taillights included the backup lights. I found that painting the backs of the lights with white and clear red as needed worked very well. When those were dry, I covered the entire back of each light with silver paint. The way the lights are molded, the silver paint shows through between the inner and outer circles of each lens, replicating the chrome trim ring found on the real car. Two clear panels are also provided for the T-tops; I sprayed the inside of these with several coats of Tamiya Smoke to get the necessary tinting.
Inserting the chassis into the body is fairly straightforward, requiring only a little stretching to get the body over the contours of the firewall. Gluing points are hard to come by; I ended up putting glue on the bottom of the interior tub, which butts up tightly against the chassis and is also glued to the body. Large amounts of the inside of the body are visible after the chassis is installed, especially in the rear, so make sure you paint the inside of the body shell as recommended in the instructions.
Overall, I’m very happy with this kit. Assembly is straightforward, there are no major fit issues, the decals go on well and look good, and the final result is satisfying. I would highly recommend this kit to any builder of moderate or better skill; and except for some the decals, even a beginner could successfully assemble this kit. Many thanks to Revell for bringing this kit back and giving me the chance to build the Corvette pace car that I wanted to build 36 years ago!