The one-off racing car “Eldridge", derived from the old Fiat SB4 chassis, became known as Mephistofele for the infernal noise emitted by its powerful aircraft 6-cylinder in-line engine, giving a capacity over 20,000 cm3, not attenuated by exhaust mufflers kept “free” to provide the most significant performance. On 12th July 1924 in Arpajon, the Mefistofele was able to reach, driven by its pilot and designer Ernest Eldrige, the amazing speed, for the time, of 146.01 miles per hour (over 230 Km/h) and broke the World Land Speed Record achieving an impressive result. The Mefistofele, was characterized by the high back bodywork able to contain the powerful Fiat A-12 liquid-cooled engine and for its structure especially made to achieve the speed record.
This kit is an apparent upgrade and rebox of a 1975 Protar Kit. It has new parts and decals. This kit has 19 sprues along with a nice plastic compartment case that hold the screws, tubing, springs and wire. It has one sheet of decals and one clear plastic sheet that has the “glass” for the instruments, and the template for painting “FIAT” on the radiator screen. Also included are 4 rubber tires.
This first part of the build is the frame and the front suspension. There are a lot of mold lines that need to be removed. The leaf springs are assembled with screws and if you are careful the front wheels will be steerable. In steps 5 and 6, make sure you have the correct pieces, and in the correct order. The assembly and the use of the screw to hold them together require a little bit of dexterity. If you have a miniature nut driver or miniature monkey wrench that will help hold the nut while you are driving the screw into place.
Steps 9, 10, and 11 build the steering gear box. It is straightforward and if done correctly will allow the steering to work.
Steps 12 thru 19 build the rear suspension and the chain guards. It is pretty straightforward, but you will need to paint this section now.
Now come the hard part. Steps 20 thru 27 are the building and mounting of the main cabin area. The only problem is the painting of the hull now and keeping it clear and mar free while handling the model for the rest of the build. I was not successful in this attempt. Perhaps I should have painted the hull and let it dry for about a week then masked it for protection during the rest of the build.
In step 29 you will mount the firewall to the chassis and the hull. There is a 85mm piece of stiff wire you will need to bend a loop into and attach it to the dashboard. However you will need to add a short piece of tubing to mate the pin on the back of the dial to the wire as the dial has a pin instead of a hole.
Steps 30 thru 40 are the building and mounting of the engine. Here you need to build each piece, paint them, add them to the engine, and go back and touch up the paint. Parts 78H -81H are important to do these correctly as the mounts are not symmetrical and the two end holes must be in the correct location. The biggest problem I had with the engine is the piping. The instructions are sometimes vague as to where the line ends up. You have to find it several steps later and the bends are not diagramed very clearly. In step 34 you are asked to build the distributor cap with the spark plug wires. The lengths of the spark plug wire lengths are spelled out, but if you make them to that length, the stick out too far and you can’t get the hood to close. In step 39 it calls for a length of tubing between the engine and the fuel line. The problem is the tubing called out in the instructions is too small and will not fit over either the engine parts or the fuel line. The same problem occurs in step 44 where the tubing is too small between the engine and part 68H.
In steps 45 – 47 you mount the two lower hull pans. The problem here is that these two items are fitted between several pins on the bottom of the frame. These pins are too weak and will break off easily. You may want to glue the bottoms on or use some of the extra screws and attach them that way. In step 50 there is a handle 142E to be attached. There is a pin on the bottom that looks like a knock out pin. Don’t cut this off! You will need it to mount this handle to the part 117G. In step 51 you will mount the steering wheel and shaft. I suggest that you not glue it to the gearbox on the frame as the glue will dissolve the pin mount and break off.
In step 57 and 58 the hood restraining straps are made. You will need to color the backside black as it will show in both modes.
The next few steps mount all the odds and ends on the outside of the frame. Beginning in step 60 you will begin to assemble the drive chain. It does take 40 links to make one chain. In step 62 you build the wheels and mount the tires. Remember to file off the tip of the screw so the tire will slip over it easily. You can display the model either with the hood open or closed.
This makes an eye catching model both for is size and uniqueness. I can recommend this kit to those who have the room to display it and want something that will get attention.
Thanks to Italeri, Hobbico and IPMS for this review kit.