I always like they way this project turned out. It was my second custom project, after my ’39 Chevy. From what I remember of the original build, I really struggled with the putty work but in the end, blending the front grill together, frenching the tail and head lights along with the rock guards on the rear quarters, turned out very well.
The intention of this rework is to address everything else that wasn’t quite right. I stuffed a 427 from a ’65 vette under the hood but never made an exhaust. I had envisioned a more detailed interior but lost interest and painted it all black. The ’79 Z28 Camaro wheels look okay, but really don’t fit the overall look of the car.
This rework addressed each of those issues and more. Since I still had the parts, I want to use the original inline 6 along with the custom parts that came with it. Originally, I had intended to leave the molded-into-chassis exhaust since I was using the original engine. However, my extreme lowering project changed that plan. More on that shortly. The interior work will be addressed by adding more colors and details. The biggest, most obvious change is the wheel and tire combo. I’m using an old Stock Car style steel wheel and tire combination found on Model Roundup’s website. Along with the wheels, I’m going to lay the car on the ground. When I mocked up the body with the new wheels, I knew it was the right look.
Once I pulled apart the model, I set the body aside and tore into the chassis plate. In order to get extremely low, and make the modifications look believable, I needed to cut out quite a bit of the area around the rear axle. As I started removing material, I realized that most of the original exhaust was going to be removed and I decided to remove all of it. I used a spare kit to repair fill in the area where the exhaust lived. For the rear axle, once I cut away the wheel wells, and the all of the material between the frame rails, I worked on getting the ride height I wanted. In order to maintain continuity through the build, I used three business cards for spacing. Once I marked the chassis, I notched the frame for clearance and moved forward with filling in the removed material. I used sheet styrene to create a pocket for the axle and used various original parts to complete the work. I used the wheel wells from my spare kit to build new, deeper wheels wells on my modified chassis. It is possible that I did more body work to this chassis that I did the body! Finishing the rear axle, I used a multi-link setup from my parts box and built a new drive shaft using aluminum tubing and u-joints from my parts box. The modifications to the front suspension involved using brass strips and metal wire to relocate the wheels. I sprayed the wheels with Alclad chrome.
For the interior, I chose an OEM pattern with my own color choices. I sprayed the dash and door sills body color along with the seat inserts. Once I sprayed Tamiya acrylic gray on the rest of the seats, I sprayed everything with Tamiya semi-gloss clear to dull the gloss inserts. I used a combination of bare metal foil and Molotow chrome to detail the dashboard. I added flocking for the carpet and package shelf. The final detail was adding a rear view mirror for the sole purpose of hanging a set of “fuzzy” dice.
I built the original inline six using the kit’s upgraded header and carb/intake combo. I used a detail masters distributor kit and Alcald chrome for the header and valve cover.
Wrapping up the details, I built a new exhaust using plumbers solder and a parts box muffler. I also found the importance of mocking up “all” of the parts prior to committing to paint. The original exhaust/header was routed below the cross-member. Due to the thickness of the header, it sat lower than the ride height! I was able to modify the header by making relief cuts on the top and bending it over the cross-member. I modified the solder exhaust to meet the header in its new location. I topped off the exhaust with an aluminum tip that just peaks under the rear valance.
I’m blown away by the improvements on this project! Although it was tempting to give this project a new coat of paint, I kept the body original to how it was built in ’99 to preserve my early efforts at custom body work. Even so, the rest of the model now compliments my original efforts.
Originally Completed: 1999
Rework Completed: November 2017
Comparing an unpainted stock version.
You can get an idea of what the “modified” version of the kit looks like compared to stock.
Same for the rear. Different tail lights and a lower valence were included.
You can clearly see where I dropped the ball on the exhaust. Updating the chassis with the V8 would be challenging for me today let alone 16 years ago.
The 427 fits nicely. Repainted and rewired would have been enough. Alas…
I wanted to use the inline 6 to make this more of a classic cruiser than a bruiser.
This look may not be for everyone, but I love it!
I’ve filled smoothed the seam on the engine. It is ready for paint!
I used Testors enamel gloss black as the base for Alclad chrome.
I didn’t want to use the original leaf springs. I carefully cut them off of the axle. I also removed the top of the wheel wells to allow for more clearance.
I starting cutting away parts of the chassis that needed to be removed for clearance. I also started notching the frame.
I test fit the rear axle and found that I still needed to removed more material in order to get to my target ride height.
I had carefully drilled a pilot reference using the wheel center. This let me know how deep the relief needed to be.
I used a stack of three business cards as a reference to simplify the modifications.
I finished the clearance work to lower the rear axle. The test fit looks great!
I chose a magnesium color for the engine. I sprayed Alcald chrome on the valve cover and used a Detail Masters distributor kit for the wiring.
Once I had finished the modifications to the chassis, I stripped all of the original paint.
I decided to remove the entire exhaust. I later used parts from a spare kit to fill in the space.
What wasn’t repaired with spare parts was filled in with sheet styrene and putty.
I added sheet styrene to the chassis and created a pocket for the axle.
I used wheel wells from a spare kit to build deeper wells for the lower stance.
I used plenty of JB weld to fill in gaps in the wells.
To help strengthen the new pieces, I applied quite a bit of JB weld to the top of the chassis. This area isn’t very pretty but it won’t be seen.
After many applications of filler, primer and sanding, the rear portion chassis was completed.
I wanted to recreate an OEM looking dashboard. The top portion, which would be metal, was painted body color.
I sprayed the seat inserts body color. I then masked the inserts and sprayed the interior color.
I used Tamiya semi-gloss to dull the gloss seat inserts and seal the the flat gray color.
The glove box and center dash are chromed on the 1:1. I used bare metal foil to recreate it.
I sprayed the instrument cluster flat aluminum and trimmed it with Molotow chrome.
I wrapped up the dash detail by painting the instrument cluster details, painting the Chevrolet lettering and knobs.
The 1:1 wheel is painted both interior colors and the horn ring is chromed with Molotow paint.
Wrapping up the interior tub, I used flocking for carpeting.
I thought about removing and relocating the suspension arms to add realism to the project. In the end, I used brass strips to relocate the pins. Here, the chassis is clamped to a mirror with the business cards so that I could mark where the pins needed to go.
I drilled the brass strips and glued everything in place.
I used multi-link parts from my parts box to build the rear suspension.
I had to shorten the links to make them fit. I used cut square tubing to created a mounting point on the chassis.
I attached additional links to wrap up the suspension. I drilled and added pins to locate the rear shocks.
I cut a pair of springs and glued them to the axle. The axle was now ready.
Originally, I had removed the front portion of the chassis. this was necessary to allow the chassis to fit in the modified body. I extended the frame rails using my spare kit, then drilled and pinned them to add strength. Also notice that I used putty to create an upper arm for the modified suspension.
I wanted to positively and cleanly install the gas tank. In order to accomplish this, I marked the location with a pencil, drilled holes, then transferred that pattern to the tank. With pins in the tank, I can attach it from the top of the chassis.
The new pieces for the chassis were coming together nicely. I made a new exhaust with plumbers solder and a parts box muffler. I built a new driveshaft using aluminum tubing and u-joints from my parts box.
On the bottom is my donor chassis. You can see how much I removed and used on the modified chassis. The difference between the rear part of the chassis is clear.
Now that all modifications and fabrications were complete, it was time to paint everything.
With everything built and painted, it was time to start final assembly.
This picture shows the original routing of the exhaust. It wasn’t until after I attached all of the suspension that I realized the header sat too low!
I didn’t want to modify the header in a way that would require fresh paint. I was determined to finish this project. I made a few relief cuts on the top of the header and bent it up over the cross-member. Problem solved!
Once the exhaust modification was complete, I was able to finish the chassis. Next step: marry the body to the chassis for the last time!
Adding the original length to the frame rails allowed me to solidly glue the body to the frame. Modifications I made in the original build eliminated many attachment points.
I bought a set of Detail Masters turned aluminum air filters. They were an excellent addition to the build!
The inline six looks perfect!
I had to add a rear view mirror to the body so that I could add fuzzy dice. Also, if you’ve made it this far, you can see the difference in the paint color. I had painted the hood later when I originally built this car. This detail is why I thought about repainting the whole project.
Using flat black paint allows me to give the chassis more depth by polishing the high points. Overall, I’m very pleased with the results.
I love how subtle the exhaust is on this project. It just peeks out from under the rear valance.
The spare kit was too hacked to give an honest before and after comparison that would incorporate the original build. You can clearly see much work went into the original work.