The Hemi Years, 1984 - 1996
Last month I shared the story of how my life was forever changed by the discovery of 1/25 scale plastic model kits as a 10-year-old kid in 1974. Sensing a potential threat to his non-automotive plans for my future, Dad sternly told me “No cars until you’re out of college.” He was an optical physicist, and imagined I’d maybe follow in his footsteps. Heck, I can barely add, so plastic model kits served as my only link between the vicarious experience of reading about Mopars in magazine articles and finally getting my hands dirty on the real thing – a ’68 Hemi Charger I bought in 1987, a year after college graduation. Dad wanted to kill me but I had my diploma so he graciously kept quiet.
As we saw last month, my earliest Mopar model-building efforts were hit and miss, mostly miss. Sure, I was proud of them at the time, but now I look back and see the sloppy, undisciplined work of a kid…which is what I was (and still am, according to many). This month, I’ve gathered up the Mopar models I’ve built between 1984 and 1996. These models reflect the massive influence of Scale Auto Enthusiast (SAE) magazine. If you’re not aware, SAE pretty much single handedly revived the domestic plastic kit industry by picking up where the defunct Car Model and Model Car Science magazines left off in the early Seventies.
SAE wisely targeted adult modelers, not pre-adolescent Nintendo players. Each issue of SAE taught me new painting and building techniques as well as an appreciation for detail and accuracy. Best of all, SAE reinvigorated the domestic model industry and its success triggered the big kit makers (Revell-Monogram, Lindberg and AMT-Ertl) to crank out a string of excellent new releases, many of which are the basis of the models shown here. So check out this batch of Mopar models and get started on a kit today. You’ll be glad you did.
Altered Wheelbase Petty Superbird
I built this one as a college sophomore and remember other students in the dorm complaining about the Testors spray paint fumes coming from my room. Funny, I didn’t smell a thing. The goal with this one was to create a what-if model that assumed a world without the 1966 advent of flip-top funny cars. In other words, if Richard Petty were still match racing a doorslammer in 1970 – and the 1965 altered wheelbase treatment were still valid - this is what his car might have looked like. By this time I had switched from Testors tube cement to cyanoacrylate super glue. SAE taught me that super glue doesn’t degrade over time so the model doesn’t fall apart, though that didn’t prevent the JoHan Superbird’s horizontal stabilizer from getting lost at some point. To my eye, the altered wheelbase treatment adds a missing element of grace to the Superbird’s low and long form.