|1/25 1967 Pontiac GTO|
|Kit Number: MPC-710|
|Reviewed by Joe Staudt, IPMS# 39453|
Review sample supplied by Round 2 Models: www.round2models.com
In the 1960's Pontiac had a solid reputation for building stylish, powerful cars. The 1967 GTO was, for many, the epitome of the Pontiac image. Only a few years before, it had defined a new segment of the automobile market: the "muscle car", and it was still setting the pace in that market segment. The styling, slightly updated after a major refresh in 1966, still screams of power, handling, and intense "coolness". As a kid, I can remember seeing these decked out with Keystone Classics, raised rear ends, and "cherry bomb" mufflers. They were the ultimate in cool.
The MPC 1967 GTO kit was an "annual" kit of the period, itself updated from the 1966 kit. It has been through various modifications, then "restored" to its 1967 form. AMT released it this way sometime in the past dozen years or so, and now Round 2 has seen fit to resurrect the tooling once again. Was it worth the effort? Let's take a look.
The kit comes molded in a very soft blue plastic, with a chrome tree, clear windows, and clear red plastic taillights. The tires are vinyl Goodyears, and a metal axle is provided for the rear wheels, with plastic axle stubs for the front. A small decal sheet with license plates and some custom striping is also provided. Everything, including the decals, comes in its own bag, so nothing gets scratched or lost in transit.
The kit can be built stock or custom. Additional parts for the custom version include special exhaust headers and a blower with scoop for the engine, custom "turbine" style wheels, racing bucket seats, a racing gas pedal, a fire extinguisher, and a roll cage for the interior, and riser blocks and springs for the rear suspension. A custom hood and side exhausts complete the custom look. There are no larger rear tires provided to go with the raised rear end.
The instructions are the original line drawings. Part numbers and assembly order are indicated, but parts are not named. Painting guidelines are sporadic and often incorrect; for example, the instructions say to paint the engine red, when it should actually be "Pontiac engine blue". Do your homework. No guidelines are provided for the decals, and the box art does not depict the kit with any of the decals applied, so you are on your own there.
This tooling is old, so flash is the order of the day. Mold parting lines and large, deep injector pin marks are everywhere. Originally, the chassis and body were held together with screws. The screw holes in the chassis have been filled, but their locations are obvious and not easy to clean up. Speaking of cleaning up, the wheel wells on the chassis are particularly ugly, with lots of rough plastic. It appears that this chassis mold may have been used for other kits, and the mounting holes for the tires have been adjusted several times. This is very apparent in the rear, where there are not one, not two, but THREE sets of holes for the axle to pass through, each at a different height as well as at a different fore/aft position. Counting the riser blocks (which have their own axle mounting holes), this makes four possible positions for the rear wheels! More on this later.
On the body, panel lines for the doors and trunk are rather shallow and will need scribing to stand up to layers of paint. Window and wheel opening edges are rough, and will benefit from a good sanding. There are also some particularly nasty seams. The first runs the length of the car near the top of the fenders and doors. It is so heavy that it looks like a piece of chrome trim, but there should not be anything there. Fortunately, it sands off pretty easily except above the door handles, where great care is required. The second, and worse, seam cuts horizontally across the A pillars. It looks like a glob of plastic melted and ran halfway down the pillar, obliterating the engraved window moldings and leaving a heavy ridge of plastic. I did not do anything about this one because it would take a great deal of delicate sanding plus some re-etching to remove it. The window moldings and drip rails are also pretty softly molded. The remainder of the body is pretty good, with correct scripts and molded-in details that can stand up to a few coats of paint
The stock engine is a 19-piece affair, with part of the transmission housing molded separately. Everything goes together okay, but there is no positive mounting point for the fan belt assembly on the front of the engine block. The carburetor, air cleaner, intake manifold, and valve covers are all chromed. My references show the air cleaner and valve covers as stainless, so I gave them a shot of dullcoat. My references also showed the intake manifold as either engine color or silver, so some stripping and painting may be in order. The custom engine increases the parts count by one, with all of the custom parts being chromed. There are no radiator hoses in the kit.
The interior is a standard-for-the era tub with the door panels and rear seats molded in place. The front buckets are two-piece units with separate headrests. A chrome center console with separate shift lever, a dashboard, and a one-piece steering wheel and column complete the interior. Engraving is good and the upholstery pattern is accurate. The dash has good gauge detail, which lends itself to dry-brushing. Two large ejector pin marks in the floor would be a problem if this were a convertible; as it is, they can't be seen. The main problem with the interior is that it appears to be from a convertible: the rear seat area is narrowed and has the wide side sills of the convertible.
The chassis has all the front suspension detail molded in. The drive shaft, differential, and dual exhausts are molded as a single piece, and are almost the only separate pieces to attach to the chassis for the stock version. When using the custom headers and side exhausts, you'll need to remove the exhaust pipes from this piece. The custom version adds elongated rear springs and shocks along with the riser blocks. There is quite a bit of detail molded into the chassis, but there are also serious mold marks and seams on the gas tank, which would be very difficult to remove.
Because of all the sanding and filing needed on the body, I decided not to leave it in its original blue. I opted for a white body with a red interior, similar to a car I found on the internet. I ended up priming and painting everything that was not chrome (and a few things that were). The engine went together with little trouble, although a fair amount of filing was needed to get some of the parts to fit into their assigned holes. (This was to be a recurring theme in this build: whenever there was a pin to go into a hole, either the pin had flash on it, or the pin was barely there, or the hole had to be drilled out.) Because so many parts had no positive locating points, it took several building sessions to finish the engine; I wanted to make sure the glue had set before handling the assembly further.
The interior also went together easily, although the pin-and-hole problem reared its ugly head for both the headrests and the console. The dashboard and center console both have large amounts of wood trim, so I painted the appropriate areas brown. The gauge faces got a coat of gloss black with silver dry-brushed onto the raised markings and trim. I also added a drop of Micro Krystal Klear to each gauge face to make a lens. The steering wheel appears to be the standard plastic-rimmed wheel, but all my references had wood-rimmed steering wheels so I painted the kit's wheel to match. There should have been a band of chrome running all around the edges of the bucket seats, but it was not molded in and I don't freehand-cut BMF very well, so I omitted it.
The stock wheels are the classic Pontiac rally wheels, and they are chromed. Although the proportions of the wheels look a little bit off, I detailed them with black, silver, and gunmetal paints and they worked out pretty well. I also added a slash of red on the center caps to represent the triangular Pontiac emblem found there. The tires had a good raised line detail that was easily painted to make the "red line" tires that were popular at the time. The rally wheels and standard-issue solid wheel backs fit into the tires well, but they barely touch each other; as a result, I ended up gluing them to the tires with white glue instead of to each other, as I normally do. A dab of Vaseline on the plastic spindles for the front wheels allow them to turn easily.
The chassis was the most problematic part of the build, even though it contained the fewest parts. The differential assembly had the usual pin-and-hole problem, but the engine attached fairly easily. The front wheels practically snapped into place (once I drilled out the holes), but the back wheels were another story entirely. Remember the three sets of holes for the rear axle? Well, the instructions show two holes and indicate that you are to use the bottom ones. So I did. These holes are also pretty far forward. The differential hid the axle nicely, but when I put the body on, the wheels rubbed against the front of the wells, and looked totally out of place. The car also sat too high. So I tried the middle set of holes, which are also pretty far rearward. After drilling them out a bit, the axle went through, the ride height was correct, and the left wheel was centered in the opening. The right wheel was a bit too far to the rear, and the axle was now visible behind the differential. I didn't try the upper set of holes because the ride height would have been too low.
With the tires in the "correct" position, I discovered that they now also rubbed against the exhaust pipes, which angle out toward the sides of the car just behind the differential. I also realized that not only were the exhaust pipes too short by at least 6 scale inches, but they were also hanging too low to be "correct". With some foresight, the tire interference and the low-hanging problems could be fixed by fashioning a pin of plastic or metal and drilling holes in both the tailpipe and the chassis in such a way that it would pull the tailpipes closer to the center of the car and up against the chassis. The only way to fix the length problem, however, would be to scrap the tailpipes and fashion a new set, perhaps out of solder.
It was also at this point that I discovered that the front wheels were slightly too far to the rear, and rubbed against the backs of their wheel openings. Here again, with a little foresight, the mounting holes could be widened slightly (about 1/8 inch) towards the front of the car, and the wheels mounted to the front of the widened holes.
Compared to the chassis, final assembly was a breeze. The openings for the taillights had to be filed out a bit to allow the lenses to fit into them properly (go figure!); a bit of BMF on the backs of the lenses lets them reflect light properly, so they don't look like black holes. Plastic straps connect the windshield and rear window, but the straps were just a tad too short to allow both windows to fit snugly into their openings. Removing the straps and attaching each window individually solved that problem. With the windows in place, the interior slid in nicely. The firewall attaches to the front of the interior tub, but it has so much detail engraved on the back that gluing surfaces are hard to come by; there is also no positive way to locate it. Rather than attach it beforehand, I waited until the interior was installed, and then glued the firewall in place. The chassis then mated up to the body without too much drama. Because this kit originally used screws, gluing surfaces are hard to come by here. The hood is a tight fit; I would recommend filing the opening in the body a bit to improve the fit. The hood "hinges" also required a bit of work, as they were a bit wider than the rest of the hood. The rear bumper mounted in place quite nicely, but the front bumper/grill/headlight assembly required some filing on the mating body surfaces to get a reasonable fit. Mine still isn't quite right; I just didn't have the patience at that point to work it any longer.
Speaking of the front grill, it has an interesting feature. The grill texture is molded into the chromed piece and looks fine as is, but there are also two separate grill inserts made of non-plated plastic that fit into the grill areas. I believe this is intended to imitate the "floating" look of the 1967 grill. Using these inserts (appropriately detailed) helps achieve that look, but at the expense of the turn signals, which should stand farther out from the grill surface than they do with the inserts installed. One solution for this would be to thin the grill inserts by filing down their backs. Or you could just not use them at all. I used them, but the model on the box art doesn't.
As with any car of this era, detailing the body requires copious amounts of Bare Metal Foil. I opted to use two different foils on this build. For most of the trim, I used the "new and improved" chrome foil. But for the wide chrome trim strips along the rocker panels I used the "ultra-bright" chrome foil. I felt that the ultra-bright foil provided a better chrome look on these large panels than the normal foil, which tends to look a bit more like stainless steel than chrome when used on large expanses.
I dry-brushed silver paint on the "GTO" scripts and trunk lock, then added a bit of black paint in the hood scoop openings and on the center part of the triangular hood ornament, which I had foiled. A black wash in the door and trunk panel lines finished it off nicely. I did not use any of the decals for this build, so I can't vouch for them.
When all is said and done, I'd have to say this kit was a bit of a disappointment. The tooling is old, and it has not held up well. I have a copy from one of AMT's later releases of this kit in my stash, and it appears to be in much better shape, though far from perfect. The plastic was so soft and the flash was so thick that sometimes it was hard to tell where the part ended and the flash began; I'm sure I cut off bits of several parts because of this. On top of this, the engineering problems (wheel positioning, convertible interior, exhaust pipes, etc.) make this kit even more of a challenge. Knowing of the problems ahead of time would have been helpful; when I get around to building the other kit in my stash, I'll use the lessons I learned here and hopefully correct some of the problems. Still, this is the only '67 GTO available in kit form. I would not recommend this for any but experienced modelers and they should expect to do a lot of work to get it to competition standards.
My thanks to IPMS and to Round 2 for the opportunity to review this kit.