As a kid, I built countless model cars. I remember starting with the small snap together kits, then moving on to bigger glue-together kits as I got older, and finally on to a 1/12th scale 1967 427/435 Corvette coupe which I still have (somewhere) today. Once completed, I’d display them proudly around my room. Instead of reading material, my bookshelf was loaded with small plastic cars. That glorious smell of glue mixed with Testors spray paint will always make me smile.
Now I’ve moved on to real cars and haven’t built a model car in probably 30 years. Thanks to COVID-19 I suddenly have some extra time my hands. Back at the 2018 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN), show organizers passed out free model car kits to kids while we waited for the awards ceremony to begin. Luckily, both of our Detroit Bureau unpaid interns scored a car. One kit was a 1979 Trans Am and the other was a 1970 Corvette LT-1. I’ve often stated that MCACN is the most kid-friendly car show out there and this is just another example of why I share that sentiment. Since this is a Corvette site you can guess which kit you’re going to hear about.
The model kit is AMT’s 1970 Corvette. It can be built in standard LT-1 form or the rarer ZR1 configuration. There are also multiple decal selections so you finish it off any way you please. As a past LT-1 owner, I convinced our intern that this was the route we should take. First up we opened the box to check out all the parts and picked out a color scheme. When your intern is a unicorn and rainbow obsessed 7-year-old girl you naturally end up with a purple car sporting a custom two-tone pink and teal interior. With the color scheme selected we now had to procure our supplies. We sourced our paints, glue, hobby knife and such from Hobbylinc out of Atlanta since basically everything in Michigan was closed at the time (and still is).
Once the supplies arrived, began our build. First, we laid out all the parts according to the color we wanted them to be. We used 2 coats of spray paint on the body and interior bits and then hand-painted the smaller chassis and engine pieces. Overall the build process is a lot like putting together a real car. We began by assembling the engine, moved on the rear suspension followed by the front suspension.
With the chassis done it was time to install the radiator, core support, and completed engine. From there it was time for the body drop.
Next we added the chrome bumpers and installed the wheels and tires. The final step was adding the decals including the famous LT-1 hood stripe, license plates, and air cleaner label. The whole build process took just under a week from start to finish.
AMT’s 1970 Corvette kit was very straightforward to assemble. The directions are easy to follow and clearly show which piece goes where and the all-important order of assembly. Most all the parts fit together well together on the first try. The pieces that didn’t fit on the first try often just needed a quick trim or shave with a hobby knife to get them in. I recommend reading ahead so you can plan your build efficiently. There are several other things you can assemble like the interior, for example, while you wait for the engine to dry.
I really enjoyed this project with our interns. It was a fun flashback to my childhood and a much-welcomed break from phones, laptop, and TV screens. So next time you’re looking for something to do while quarantined, considered grabbing a model car and assembling a mini car of your dreams.
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