The 1990 F-1 Grand Prix series turned out to be one of the most exciting and controversial in history. After driving for McLaren, Alain Prost was hired by the Ferrari team to drive their new F-1 car powered by a 3.5 liter V12 packing 685 horsepower and mated to a seven speed transmission. In 1990 he would drive this car to one race win and five podium finishes. But it was the end of the season that made it memorable. For the second season in a row, Alain and his arch rival Ayrton Senna would decide the championship with a crash. In 1989, it was Prost who came out on top. At the second to last race of the 1990 season in Japan, Senna made contact (some think intentionally) with the rear wing of Prosts' car as they raced for position into the first turn from a side by side start. The crash took them both out of the race but Senna would win the championship based on points. The Ferrari involved in that famous incident is the subject of this build. Interestingly, this car was recently sold at auction in Maranello Italy for $435,000.
I should say up front I'm not a car builder normally. In fact I've only built one other F-1 model, the 2004 Ferrari from Revell. That kit needed body work on compound curves that drove me nuts. That's not the case here. Upon opening the box I was immediately impressed with how full of goodies it was. You get 164 parts molded in red, black, chrome and clear. But wait, that's not all! There's a beautiful sheet of PE parts along with some turned aluminum intake barrels. A few foil parts for mirrors and bolts and a piece of brass wire to mount the rear wing. Cap this off with a well printed decal sheet, some really sticky rubber tires and separate instructions for the injected and PE parts assembly. Everything is so well molded the thought occurred to me you could build this kit without paint (if you were careful) and it would still look great. Then I came to my senses and painted everything. The recent auction of the real car means you can download some great photos of it for your project. In looking them over I realized the joint lines on the model mirror those on the real car. Everything else with the exception of the headrest shape appears to be spot on as well.
The first thing I did contrary to my normal process is read the directions several times through. Because the PE parts are on a separate instruction sheet, I marked up the standard instructions so I would not forget anything. I did not use the all of the PE parts as the mould quality was so good in places it seemed a shame to remove it and glue on a metal part. The first eight steps involve the engine transmission and rear suspension assemblies. When this is built up and painted it looks really impressive. Caution, test fit everything before you touch glue to it. The parts fit very tight, especially the suspension. I slotted those parts in place and glued latter to make sure everything would line up. Of interest is the way the brake rotors are built up. There are PE disks to represent the rotor faces and a drilled out strip that wraps around the edge to duplicate the cooling holes. If I did it again, I would just add the disk faces and leave the molded edges as they look more realistic to my eye.
Next is the cockpit and front suspension. Full of parts you won't see when the model is done but its all there. You will have to paint body panels early on as the suspension arms trap them and they can't be painted after. I primed all body panels with Tamiya grey primer and finished with Tamiya Italian Red spray cans. In fact, I used Tamiya sprays where ever I could as I love the finish and the fast drying time. The radiators also have PE screens and frames. The screens look great but the frames blocked the receiving slots for the coolant pipes so I did not install them. Next, the engine and cockpit assemblies are put together with the radiator piping. That's what supposed to happen. I glued down the cockpit first, pinned down the side body panels, then put in the engine with cooling pipes attached. The engineering on this kit is simply amazing. Everything slotted right into where it was supposed to be. The trickiest assembly for me was the headers. These are eight parts per side and it took me a bit to wrap my brain around the configuration. I airbrushed the headers with pale burnt metal Alclad for effect. The rear wing side panels and uprights are done in PE. I assembled those PE parts but elected to use the injected parts for the carbon fiber pattern on them. I also elected not to use the PE replacements for any of the suspension joints as I did not want to alter the locations or fit of them. I used the PE parts for the steering linkage (part A37) but later cut them off and used the molded parts, which thankfully I had saved, because the upper body would not fit over them.
The decals for this project are very few. They are well printed, in register and the color density is good. The only decals missing are the Marlboro cigarette markings which for reasons known only to Fujumi are represented as white patches. Word of warning, MicroSet worked well but solvent distorted two of them which I had to fix with paint. The "Goodyear," tire decals are water slide but you won't know that by reading the directions because they are in Japanese. I was not completely satisfied with the results. The backing paper blocks your view of the decal and once it is on the tire, it does not move easily. I like the dry transfer type better because you can see through the paper and place it exactly where you want it before you rub it on. Also, the "Good Year" decals radius did not match the tires. For the more adventurous out there, the PE fret has paint masks for the tire markings. Another nice touch is the self adhering foil rear view mirrors. There is also a helmet and a trophy to enhance your display.
This kit is in a word, Awesome! I thought my previous F1 car model was nice until I built this one. The level of detail and quality of the engineering means anyone with moderate to advanced skills can produce a nice model. Again, fit twice and glue once! This is a precise model kit. I have over 20 years of modeling under my belt and this kit challenged me. Heaven only knows what some of those super detailers out there could do with it. I did not wire or plumb it but all the connection points are there. For what you get, this kit is worth the price even without the PE parts. I found it listed on Internethobbies.com for $46.38. If you like F1 cars don't miss this one.
Many thanks to Dragon Models USA for providing the sample, and of course to the IPMS review team for allowing me to build this fine kit.
- Wikipedia.com: Alain Prost history
- Topspeed.com: Nice color photos of the real car