Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cheetah! and other brutal, sexy little monstrosities

Historic Racing Miniatures (HRM)  is a one-man show that makes some spectacular resin kits, mainly upgrades for other kits, but also full-detail kits. Being a one-man-show, delivery can be slow. A stack of bits ordered as far back as April from Strada Sports (here) turned up in the mail today.

The cream of the crop has to be the Cheetah. Chevrolet gave Bill Thomas, famous for his work on Corvette injection systems, some money to build a Cobra-beater; the result was the Cheetah, which was brutally fast in a straight line, and was also an exceptionally striking road racer in a period when there were a lot of striking road racers being made.

What a stunning, brutal little design! The various small block Corvette engines were exactly mid-chassis, with the driver jammed up against the back axle, and essentially no rear deck: the bodywork was stretched over the mechanicals like Lycra over an athlete, the epitome of the long hood, short deck design concept.

It had its flaws, however. Headers curved up, over the top and down the outside of the footwells, making them suitable for broiling frozen turkeys as well as driver's feet. And the chassis, although state of the art on paper, wasn't really able to take advantage of Thomas's fuel injection mods, as going around corners proved to be a significant challenge. Some drivers were spooked and refused to drive it ... in the end, Chevy didn't give Thomas anywhere near as much money as Ford gave Shelby, so there was no real competition and Thomas struggled to build a dozen cars while Shelby went off to beat Ferrari on his own.

Which leads me to the HRM kit for an upgraded motor for the Ferrari 250 GTO by Fujimi. It is a gorgeous little package of resin bits, and doing it justice will require getting plug wires, fuel lines, carburettor linkages and fan belts just right. Not that the Fujimi kit is poorly detailed to start with; in fact there are lots of highly-detailed Japanese kits that never really made it over here but that are available on eBay or Hobby 1999 (here).

Finally I got some upgraded bits (headers that fit around the frame tubes, for one) for the Accurate Miniatures model of the Corvette Grand Sport. The '60s road race stuff is coming together: Corvette GS, 250 GTO, Cheetah, plus I recently splurged on a 427 Cobra roadster (Fujimi) to go with the Daytona Coupe (Model Factory Hiro).

These are all 'mid-engine' cars, in the sense that the centre of the engine block sits well behind the front axle, but the Cheetah takes it to the extreme, with the entire engine block, and then some, entirely between the axles.

It is all high quality stuff and I will need to loosen up with some basic Tamiya kits, like the Honda S800, in preparation. In fact I should probably bite the bullet and just finish the dozen or so kits that are sitting on the shelf, incomplete.

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