Ferrari 250 GTO
In 1962 and 1963, Ferrari produced a small number of cars that were essentially racecars for the street. FIA rules at the time required that at least 100 examples of a car had to be built in order for it to qualify for racing in the GT class, but with a little sleight-of-hand and a few other tricks, Ferrari managed to get by with building only 39 vehicles in a couple of variations. These cars have gone on to become legendary and highly desirable, to the point where collectors today will pay several million dollars to get their hands on one. Over the years, several kits of this vehicle have been produced. I still have a 1/24 scale slot car that I can remember my Dad purchasing and building in the mid-1960's, and I also have a kit (still unbuilt) that I purchased over 20 years ago. Fujimi has recently brought out an all-new tooling of this car in 1/24 scale; let's take a look at it.
Let me start by saying this is not a kit for a beginner modeler. It has 188 parts molded in black, blue, and clear, along with a relatively small tree of chromed parts, soft vinyl (rubber?) tires, and 4 pre-painted plastic wire wheels. Many of the parts are tiny, and while almost everything fits together well, a great deal of patience and experience are required to pull this thing off well. There is also a decal sheet with many tiny (and several huge) decals that require some experience and the right tools to get them to go on properly.
All the parts trees come in their own plastic bags. Being a new tool, flash is non-existent, and the quality of the engraving is high. The wire wheels, while plastic, are incredibly well detailed and look nearly as good as photo-etched. On the body, the panel lines are narrow but deep, and hold up well to multiple coats of paint. My example had no sink marks, and only a couple of light seams on the body that were in easy-to-reach locations. Seams elsewhere are generally light and not too visible. Most parts are attached to the trees in inconspicuous locations; even when they aren't, the attachment points are generally small and hard to find afterwards.
The instructions are your standard line drawings. All parts are numbered clearly, and the drawings do a good job of illustrating how they fit together. This is good, because except for the general instructions on the first page, all of the text is in Japanese. Painting instructions are mostly accurate as far as they go, but the references to the manufacturer's paint numbers are almost useless because the names of the manufacturers are in Japanese. Still, most of the colors are pretty basic and any modeler with enough experience to tackle a kit like this will be able to figure something out. As always, find some reference photos and use your best judgment.
The tubular chassis is molded almost entirely as a single piece, which means there is no problem with getting it square. A large, two-piece gas tank and a few other tubes and boxes finish off the basic chassis. A nice added touch is the separate pieces for the front and rear tow hooks, which attach securely and squarely to the frame despite their tiny size. The detailed front and rear suspension assemblies attach to the frame in a nearly foolproof manner, and getting all four wheels to touch the ground is a no-brainer. The wheel assemblies are quite complex, with brake disks that get wedged between two-piece calipers before being mounted on the spindles. The front wheels are poseable, of course.
The engine is a 28-piece assembly that goes together beautifully. Because of the way the parts are arranged, there is no seam line on the bottom of the oil pan or anywhere else that can be seen. The only problem I had was that part number E28 refused to go in quite the way it should, and ended up sticking way out to the side. It wasn't until the engine was installed in the chassis and the inner fenders were attached that I was able to force it into the correct position. It attaches to a hose that mounts to both firewalls, and with some improvised braces I was able to get it to stay in place long enough for the super glue to take hold.
The interior builds up on a platform. There are decals for all the dashboard gauges and the steering wheel hub. The dash assembly alone is five pieces, plus the steering wheel and column, plus an additional part of the steering column that runs behind the dashboard to the firewall, where it will never be seen. A roll cage, a fire extinguisher, and the fuel filler tube, along with the usual seats, gearshift lever, and parking brake, round out the interior. The separate door panels lack the depth of the real ones, but once the kit is assembled they are hard to see, so it doesn't matter much.
The one-piece body has an opening hood and optional covers for the three openings above the grill. Separate parts are provided for the door and trunk handles, gas cap, and windshield wipers. The grille is a two-piece affair, with a chrome surround and black mesh. Clear scoops cover grilles near the back of the hood to provide cockpit ventilation. There are also hood straps and pins, plus two microscopic chrome pieces that must be the lights for the rear license plate. There may have been a right and wrong way to put these into their slots, but I couldn't see them well enough to tell. They look fine anyway.
Clear plastic taillights and side marker lights are molded with their trim rings; these require careful detailing to pick out the trim. Headlight lenses and covers, as well as fog light lenses are also provided. The headlight lens covers should have chrome surrounds, but these are not provided; I put chrome silver paint into the beveled edge running around the back edge of the covers to represent the missing trim. The windshield and side windows are molded as a single piece, with a separate rear window. All the "glass" fits well, and distortion is minimal.
In addition to the interior decals, there are numerous Ferrari scripts and emblems that can be used to replicate various specific vehicles. Oddly enough, the Italian flag emblems shown on the box art are not provided. Also included is a set of yellow stripes to replicate the paint scheme shown on the box (more on those later). In general, the decals went down nicely, covered well, and responded well to light applications of setting solution.
For my build, I decided to replicate the paint scheme shown on the box, using the supplied decals for the stripes. I found a photograph online of a car wearing that same paint scheme, and found that Testors Bright Blue seemed to be a good match for the car in the photo. (The box art shows a much darker blue car, and plastic the body is molded in is much lighter.) This also served as the color for the seats. All went well with the body until I started applying the decals. I found the yellow stripe decals to be rather difficult to work with because of their size, and the thinner areas around the grill and fog light openings tended to tear as I removed them from the decal sheet. I had a great deal of trouble getting them to lie flat, and some wrinkles from the solvent would not go away. Worst of all, the stripes were not totally opaque, so the blue paint underneath gave them a slightly greenish tint. Still, I kept at it until I destroyed the rear stripe that goes from the bottom of the rear window, over the spoiler, and down the back of the car. There were just too many kinks and bends to get the decal into, and it ended up sticking to my fingers and disintegrating. I had to remove the paint and start from scratch. If I had it to do over again, I would use the decals to make masks and then paint the yellow stripes.
Another disappointment with the decals came in the form of the chrome horse emblem for the grill. This is provided as decal rather than a chrome piece, but there is no flat surface for the decal to attach to. I used a small amount of solvent to get the decal to stick, but it ended up melting into the holes in the grille. Perhaps the horse could be cut out and glued to the grille with its paper backing still applied, and then colored in with a black magic marker to hide the blue paper.
The engine posed no great difficulties beyond the one piece I mentioned earlier. Some of the pieces that were called out as silver in the instructions appeared to be polished steel in my reference photos, so I used Krylon chrome paint on those instead. I also used this on the driver's outside mirror, and should have used it on the windshield wipers as well. I also opted for aluminum in place of silver. Reference photos also showed a red oil filter and a blue top on one of the reservoirs attached to the firewall. All of this added more interest in the engine bay.
Except for the wood steering wheel rim, blue seats and red fire extinguisher, the instructions called for everything else in the interior to be either gloss or flat black. Reference photos showed that some vehicles were indeed almost entirely black inside, while others retained what appears to be bare aluminum on some surfaces. In the end, I opted for aluminum door panels and black elsewhere, with brown on the leather straps in the rear. Here again, the few touches of color liven up the otherwise dark space. Assembly was a breeze, except for that totally hidden portion of the steering column and an equally invisible piece of roll cage in the passenger side foot well.
The instructions called for almost the entire chassis to be painted black, and lacking any reliable photos to tell me otherwise, I followed their recommendations. The few aluminum items in the suspension and drive train add some interest here, as do the red shock absorbers (what little you can see of them). In one of my few departures from the instructions' assembly sequence, I left the chrome exhaust tips off until after the body and chassis had been assembled.
Thankfully, this kit is very well engineered. Despite the myriads of tiny pieces, everything fits together well. Pins fit into holes, pieces fit into locating slots, and everything goes in where it should. Getting the engine into the chassis is a bit tricky due to the tight fit of the exhaust headers through the frame, but once in, it snuggles down well. Locating pins provide solid anchor points for the interior platform. Even the body has definite attachment points on the chassis - a rarity in this hobby. The trickiest part for me was getting the body onto the chassis. It was a very tight fit, but by putting the front end in first and wedging the body into the locating slots on the chassis, the rear of the body can be stretched just far enough to fit over the locating pins on the back of the chassis.
Overall, this kit builds up pretty well. Fujimi has captured the shape of the car quite well, and everything fits together nicely. The stance of the finished model looks right, although I think the tires are a little far forward in the wheel wells. Altogether, it's a very nice kit, and will provide a pleasant challenge for most modelers. I thank Fujimi and the IPMS for the opportunity to build it.