Accurate Miniatures 1/24 Corvette Grand Sport GS Build Review
By Phil Cooley, Front Range Auto Modelers (FRAM)
|Date of Review||May 2006||Manufacturer||Accurate Miniatures|
|Subject||Corvette Grand Sport GS||Scale||1/24|
|Kit Number||240001||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etched|
|Pros||Unique subject, beautiful details||Cons||Minor fit and mold challenges|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The five Corvette Grand Sports were a response to the Ford Cobras and “European” racing cars of the early 60s. Although they appeared very similar to production Corvette Stingrays, in reality, there were very few production parts in the Grand Sports. In effect, these were hand-built and purpose-built race cars.
The factory’s goal was to make them as light as possible and they accomplished this in many ways. For instance, the body was lightweight. It used a different construction technique, allowing for a thinner fiberglass body, plus was not gel-coated (to save weight), which resulted in it being translucent.
As another weight-saving measure, most of the production stamped steel, cast iron and steel forgings were replaced with aluminum components. And then there was the chassis. The heavy production model was replaced by a light, mandrel-bent, thin-walled chassis, while the suspension components were special built or lightened with a series of holes. So, what they ended up with was a car that was definitely a Corvette Stingray, but one that was around half a ton lighter than the production model.
Building The Kit
Accurate Miniatures (AM) has done an excellent job engineering their 1/24^th scale Grand Sport Corvette models. However, it is definitely not an easy to build kit. It is a highly detailed model and not for the faint of heart. The instructions are OK, but don’t always give enough information. If you want to build one of these models, I’d recommend you check out the http://www.racingicons.com/gs/ website. It is invaluable, as it has a several articles on restoring the Grand Sports, complete with many pictures. Using those articles and being patient will allow you to build a very nice model of one of the rarest Corvettes, ever.
The guys from our local model club, FRAM (Front Range Auto Modelers), took this kit on as a club challenge. Ken Kitchen built the chassis; Bill MacKirdy did the engine, Jeff Conrad massaged, painted, and decaled the body, while I did the interior and the final installation.
Engine: The engine block is molded in two pieces which requires filling and sanding the oil-pan to get rid of the joint. Once that is done, it builds up rather nicely. It includes four Weber sidedraft carburetors complete with a delicate, but nice looking carburetor linkage. The instructions call for the linkage to be bent slightly for an accurate installation. I was not able to do this without breaking the linkage. However, it was easy to repair. The only other challenge I had with the engine was with the headers. They have mounting pins to facilitate correct installation, however the heads do not have corresponding holes. I corrected this by sanding off the mounting pins. A second challenge with the headers was fitting them around the chassis rails. On this sample, the angle was too shallow—I had to open each one up slightly. Like the carburetor linkage, this was difficult to do without breaking them.
Chassis: The chassis and suspension are probably the most difficult part of the model to build. And, the chassis has the most glaring problem of this model. It is molded with voids in the bottom of the tubing. These must be filled to provide an accurate representation. Another challenge with the chassis is how to mount the suspension components and the radiator hoses. I had difficulty figuring out which radiator hose was which—don’t separate them from the sprue before you install one or you may end up reshaping them both, as I did. My advice is to, once again, check out “Racing Icons” website. There just isn’t enough detail in the instructions to accurately position the various components.
Tires: The instructions call for the tread of the tires to be sanded to look like they are race-worn tires. I did this, but it wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be, as the tires are made in a two piece mold and, in the case of my sample, the mold marks were clearly evident. This was compounded by the tires not being flat across the tread. At any rate, I was able to complete the task and the tires definitely do look better when the tread is not “shiny and new”.
Interior: The interior went together very nicely. It includes a clear instrument panel which I detailed with matte black, silver, and red paint. There is a black decal for the back of the clear panel—once assembled it looks fairly realistic. There were two sticky points in regard to the interior. First was the gas tank; I wasn’t sure how to mount the gas tank, but after looking at it more closely I found an arch which corresponds to the hump for the transmission. The second headache or more accurately “eye straining” part was the photo-etched pieces for the driver’s seat belts. I had a dickens of a time with them as they are very small—too small to be held in your fingers. I was finally able to thread a piece of ribbon through them using a pair of forceps and tweezers. Then I had to figure out how to mount them (the seatbelts). The instructions weren’t any help and I couldn’t find a picture of the seatbelts on the seats. I finally made a command decision--since the Grand Sports were built in the early 60s, I decided to depict a lapbelt only.
Body: The body is nicely proportioned, with fairly clean moldings. I was surprised that the mold seams are so large for a kit that hasn’t been re-released before. The largest seams to deal with are near the rear of the side window and near the rear wheel well arch. The biggest challenge with body prep are the sink holes in the hood. There are 2 holes in the front and some “waves” in the back part of the hood that need to be addressed before painting. Overall it took about 3 hours of body prep on this model.
Photo-etch: You'll need to be careful with the oil cooler cover – the bend lines are scored so deep in the metal that it is very easy to break this piece, especially on the hose side. Once broken it is very hard to fix (I know, it happened to me.) I finally used the plastic piece, thinning it down until it looked more realistic. The P/E scripts are excellent and easy to use (make sure you sand off the Corvette script in the back before painting.) If you’ve used P/E before there won’t be any surprises here. If not – get some experience before attempting the oil cooler cover.
Decals: The decals are very thin, and they respond well to Micro scale products. The white is opaque and the numbers and contingencies are well registered. I used Micro Set and Micro Sol to get the roundels and numbers to conform to the curves of the body. When done the decals look like paint. One downside – there is no Goodyear decal for the doors, so I had to grab one from the spares box to match the car as run in Nassau in 1963.
Paint: I used Nassau Blue Metallic from the Model Master custom lacquer system (#28128) over a coat of Tamiya fine white primer. After getting the paint smooth I applied 3 coats of Model Master Ultra Gloss Clearcoat (again from the custom lacquer system) until I got a nice, medium shiny gloss (not too glassy, as it is a race car.)
Glass: nicely molded, no distortion either. Easily installed without problems.
Final assembly was quite a bit more “fiddly” than the usual kits I assemble, mainly because of the close tolerances it was molded to. The interior is wider than the bottom of the body—as the instructions say, gently spread the sides of the body and slide the interior to the front until the mounting tabs in the back snap into place. I used the photo-etched brake booster bracket (which mounts on the firewall) and this got in the way of one of the carburetors when I installed the chassis. I had to (gently) push the engine to one side as I pushed the chassis into place. Then I glued on the exhaust assemblies and the tires.
One of the last things I did was install the front turn signals. These are tiny and AM wisely provided four of them, even though only two are needed. (I lost one of them during installation). Once I separated them from the sprue, I found they were almost too small to pick up. I got around that by wetting my finger and using “surface tension” to pick them up. I fastened them using “Elmer’s Glue” which gave me time to position them correctly and prevented them from hazing over.
As you can see from the pictures, once everything is assembled, it really looks like the real thing. I think I speak for everyone in our club when I say we highly recommend this kit. Just keep in mind that it is not one for the beginner or even the intermediate builder. It is a challenge to build cleanly, but be patient--your efforts will definitely be rewarded!
My sincere thanks to Accurate Miniatures for the review sample.