'58 Thunderbird Convertible 2' N 1
Monogram’s venerable ’58 Thunderbird kit---first released in 1964---has been updated and re-packaged under the “Car Show” banner, meaning it can be built stock or with extra customizing parts in the kit---including a double-bubble clear top of really heroic proportions. Moilded in white plastic, the kit has just a couple of fit issues, but is generally an easy build, and despite its age, can hold its own with today’s releases.
Since I grew up “back in the day” with these classic cars, I opted to build the kit stock. I had some questions with the instructions’ colors for the engine components, so eventually consulted a website for “Squarebird” enthusiasts (www.tbirdranch.com) and though there was a bit of conflicting info there too, I decided to paint mine per the website’s Concours table for ’58 Thunderbirds---Ford light engine blue block with black valve covers. (Great site, by the way.)
Dry-fitting the interior to the body shell, there were pronounced gaps around the back seat area, so I deviated from the instruction sequence by gluing these parts up first and blending them together with putty.
Sorry about the quality of the photo, but you can still see the putty in the seams. The doors are meant to operate, but I elected to glue them closed. To make painting the interior easier, I didn’t install the interior door panels at this time. The photo also shows small reinforcing blocks (red items) I added to secure the doors. The corresponding cutout I made in the door interior to clear the block is also highlighted in red.
The assembly drawings for the front chassis are a little misleading. The little pips on the springs are meant to go on the bottom and fit into the front axle, not into the chassis as shown, and the axle itself has pins meant to fit into holes forward of the spring housing.
The exhaust pipes are moulded into the chassis pan from the rear axle back, and separate exhaust pipes connect these “stubs” up to the engine headers. It took some masking to make this work, but it came out OK. After spraying the chassis Tamiya semi-gloss acrylic black, I sprayed the pipes and mufflers with Testors Metalizer.
The kit calls for the stock version to be painted gloss rose---I decided a light yellow would be better for my purposes, so used a mix of one part Tamiya Lemon Yellow and three parts Gloss White acrylic for the body shell. I sprayed the yellow interior areas the same mix, tinted with a little darker yellow, just to give the model some presence. I used Bare-Metal Foil to trim the interior details, door handles, windshield wipers, and so forth.
The operable hood has a center hinge which is held in place by the radiator, and before attaching the hood, I sprayed its insulation with Tamiya NATO Black to give it some interest. The engine compartment is pretty wide open, and though I know in those days the real cars had lots of space in there, the model really could use some additional underhood detailing to “busy it up”.
There are “webs” on the inside edges of the taillight housings which must be removed or the rear bumper won’t fit in place the older issues of this kit show that step, but the current one eliminates it, along with including typos like “winshield” and “turquois”. Since older kit issues’ instructions are correct, I assume the current issuer has some quality control problems---indicated also by one headlight lens missing in my sample, and not in the sealed poly bag. I robbed an older kit of the missing piece.
The decals include the Thunderbird scripts and emblems as well as license plates---they’re dead-on register, snuggled down with no problem, and look very sharp.
Nice model just built out of the box but I did substitute a hypo-tubing antenna for the way-too-thick one in the kit.
I loved the subject---it takes me back to the days when you could look at a car, tell what it was, and who manufactured it. Each new year’s car releases were highly anticipated events where, to avoid prying eyes, the car carriers put the new models in cocoons on their way to the dealers, and who, in return, would put paper up on their showroom windows until the official “release” dates. Nowadays, the cars either all look the same or have been previewed in magazines for a year already, so there’s no big attraction any more for hanging out at the dealers waiting for the unveilings.
Thanks to Revell, Monogram, and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this kit, and also to Steve Jahnke for his help with my research.