Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 Year in Review Part 1

With the home renovations dragging, I am missing my modeling fix and am making up for it by scrolling, dewey-eyed, through photos of past builds. So here is a quick update on where I've been in 2017.

Eleven complete kits and a 3D-printed motor got finished. Apart from the 3D-printed motor, five involved resin or other multi-media materials such as spun-cast white metal, while six were exclusively styrene.

Five kits represented Le Mans cars from the late '50s to early '70s. The Jaguar D-Type from Profil 24 is a well-done multi-media kit of the Le Mans winning car entered by Ecurie Ecosse in 1957. I used this as an opportunity to play around with hinges from Detail Master, for the fuel filler cap in the head rest fin and the hood. Even though Jaguar made well over 50 of them, D-Types still tend to go for tens of millions of dollars at auction, so the cost of this kit is minuscule in comparison.


The Aston Martin DBR1, also from Profil 24, is a multi-media kit of the 1959 winner. One of the drivers was some guy named Shelby who apparently became famous later. Here I made distributors from bits of brass tube, and even got the firing order (almost) right. Note that one of the other two DBR1s sold recently for a record $22.5 million at auction, so I continue to save big bucks.


The Porsche 917K, in Gulf Oil colours, is an icon of the late '60s. Seen posed next to an equally-iconic 956 from Tamiya, this styrene Fujimi kit was augmented by a highly detailed motor, in resin, from Historic Racing Miniatures. Porsche made at least the minimum of 25 cars needed to meet homologation rules, and one sold recently for $14 million. So these three kits alone reproduce 1:1 cars that are worth close to $50 million. The savings continue!


Moving on to less well-known road racing cars, we find the Porsche 907. This kit, marketed variously by Union, Heller and others over the years, has a moderately well-defined 2.2 litre flat 8, to which I added plug wires. (I decided not to bother with injection plumbing, even though the pump is driven off the left-side inlet cam and is thus nice and accessible). The 907 was one of the last Porsches in the giant-killer phase of Porsche's history, when these small, light cars with small-block motors would always take the class win and maybe even finish well up in the overall standings among the big boys. It was a predecessor to the marvelous 908/03, with a raucous 3-litre flat 8. Watch Brian Redman, who co-drove to a win at the Targa Florio in a 908/03, at Laguna Seca recently by clicking here. The noise from the raucous little air-cooled motor as he runs it up through the gears is a joy for any real gearhead. I don't know what these go for at auction but I am guessing a couple of million dollars, easy.


Finally among the Le Mans cars, the Matra MS640 ran once, in testing, and almost killed its driver. The car was destroyed in the accident and Matra quickly moved on to the MS 650, which was a winner. Enthusiasts built a second MS 640 recently. Who knows what it's worth -- it's one of a kind, but fatally flawed. The kit is a resin curb-side from Profil 24; I gather they are about to release an MS 670, with full engine detail, in 1/43 scale. It would have been nice to build up the Matra V12 in 1/24 as it is a fairly unique bit of engineering.


Moving on to the 3D printed motor, this 9-litre V12 (basically one and a half Chevy small blocks) came from Ron Olson at Shapeways, and was intended to get a feel for the material. (You can order a real one here, starting at $35,000 for a long block). Very high levels of detail are possible, but you can still see the tracks of the printer head, and the material is brittle. Finally it seems that actually printing something takes some significant amount of time when compared to injection molding. Still in its infancy, this is a technology that promises big things.


Finally the BRM P83 (known as the H16 for its engine layout) from Model Factory Hiro, in 1/43 scale, was an eye-opener, literally, as I had to build the whole thing under the 4X desk magnifier. The 3-litre H16, consisting of a pair of flat-8 motors stacked one on top of the other and geared together, was infernally complex, and the width had an impact on what the rear suspension designers could do. It wasn't very successful, even with people like Jackie Stewart or Graham Hill at the wheel, but it was a fan favourite. The company name, British Racing Machines, reeks of Empire, and Hill, with his perfectly trimmed mustache and military bearing, would have been a perfect fit for monarchists of a certain age. This one reproduces the car that Jackie Stewart drove to second place at the Belgian GP in 1967.


What a staggering amount of detail! The finished motor is smaller than the pictures of it in the printed instruction sheet. I've got three more MFH kits at this scale on the shelf, including the two other podium finishers for the 1967 Belgian GP, and who knows when I will get around to them.

I'll cover other kits completed in 2017 in Part 2. Ongoing work in progress includes the multi-media Porsche 908/03 which has been ongoing for a couple of years now; styrene BRE Datsun 240Z and multi-media Ferrari 250 GT Lusso; a kitbashed Mitsubishi Delica 4WD van from Aoshima; and the enormous Mosquito fighter bomber in 1/24 scale. Can't wait to get back to the bench!

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