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10.11.2013
I visited a grade school buddy’s house one afternoon and saw his older brother’s collection of models. Though I cranked out a bunch of nice replicas (mostly muscle cars, Super Stocks and altered wheelbase machines), won a hand full of Second and Third place trophies at contests and even got a couple of cars pictured in Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine, that level of effort takes a lot of time.
But I’ve recently had a revelation and have begun to blast my car models together without any paint or body work. Aside from a large stash of spare parts (from which to gather the right axles, wheels, tires, engine parts, etc. Fast forward a mere 10 minutes and the body panels have been trimmed, juggled and secured thanks to super glue followed by a shot of accelerator spray. After trimming the edges square, the fender insert is repositioned forward and nailed down with glue and kicker.
In most situations the chassis pan supplied in the kit can be easily modified to suit the altered body shell. This is the modified rear suspension under a Revell ’62 Impala I whipped together in a frenzy one winter day.
Front suspensions are the most challenging aspect for me since I ran out of straight axle parts long ago and have to improvise most of the time. Seen here during construction, the ’71 Mustang kit’s floor pan has been sliced to provide a resting place for the Boss-Nine and the front wheel house architecture has been sliced away. The AMT Rat Packer ’65 Nova kit replicates an altered wheelbase match racer, so body and chassis surgery is not needed. This low angle shot displays how the Mustang (like all of my Funny Car Folk Art critters) rests naturally on three wheels. My finger points out where the Mustang’s passenger side A-pillar has a blemish from being compressed prior to being placed in the kit box by the folks at AMT.
I have six Funny Car Folk Art contraptions for sale at $200 each (plus a flat rate of $10.00 for shipping and handling). Shot from down low on the deck, the Nova’s sixteen Hilborn injector stacks feed the twin Chevy small blocks. The trio of top-mounted GMC 6-71 blowers gave me an opportunity to display three classic injector hat types (from the front); the 3-hole Hilborn, 4-hole Crower and 4-hole Hilborn.
Chrysler marketed the 300 as “the beautiful brute” so I gutted the grille opening and headlamps for extra brute points. I whipped up a Ford-style transverse front spring and straight axle to support the flat six.
By 1969, the altered wheelbase treatment had been replaced by tube frames and flip-top fiberglass body shells.
I toyed with the idea of stuffing the pancake mill in the trunk – just like a real Corvair – and great for traction.
Underneath, the usual heat-arched left-rear leaf spring treatment ensures that the driver side front tire will “defy gravity” and float. So you don’t get the wrong impression and assume I’m a ham fisted butcher with zero skills, I include this picture of my more serious altered wheelbase efforts. Alan gets a little lonely and ends up being obsessed with building model cars, such as the Scooby Doo mystery wagon. Model cars are built to scale and often require a lot of attention to detail since they are meant to be exact replicas of actual cars. Papa Tom teaches viewers how to build a diorama of a cave, complete with stalagmites and stalactites. Over 2.5 hours of hands on video covering weathering, scratch building, paint polishing and more! Check out more tutorials from our collection to learn scratch building techniques, how to make barn finds, old wooden barns, garages, gas stations, gas pumps and anything else that makes the perfect model car diorama! You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website.
Inside those outrageously decorated kit boxes were faithful recreations of Dana 60 rear axles, deep sump oil pans, Cragar mag wheels, Hilborn fuel injectors, Holley carburetors, Hooker headers, M&H Racemaster slicks, GMC 6-71 superchargers and just about any other item you could imagine on a real car. I found myself getting bogged down and eventually putting un-finished projects away out of frustration, one after another. That’s right, they go together straight from the box – often heavily modified, sometimes box stock. But make sure to choose a subject vehicle with plenty of distance between the wheel opening and door cut line. Alternate cutting options include time consuming cold cuts (make sure you’ve got plenty of sharp X-Acto blades on hand) or a Dremel tool fitted with a rotary cut-off wheel. Super glue comes in various thicknesses, I prefer the thicker viscosity for its ability to fill gaps.


Complex surface details like the Wildcat’s faux vents and elaborate rocker trim can be sanded away, matched with scrap or simply ignored depending on how high your fever is running during construction. With it’s free-standing leaf spring rear suspension it’s a good match for the Wildcat – after wheelbase juggling.
Packing a Hilborn injected 427 Chevy and TH400, it’s coil spring rear suspension was manipulated to achieve the torqued over look by doubling the length of the driver-side coil.
For this fantasy Buick Wildcat, I skipped the obvious Hilborn injected nail head and went with a chromed AMT Allison V12 aircraft engine. The Allison V12 was immortalized on the ground by the Arfons brothers in a series of gas dragsters during the infamous NHRA nitro ban.
This Revell ’69 Nova got plenty of front suspension ride height to compliment the raised driver-side rear suspension attitude. To my eye, the 1971-’73 Mustang fastback looks especially sleek with both axles moved forward.
A straight axle, transverse leaf spring and trailing arms from the spare parts box replaced the kit-supplied stuff. The passenger side rear spring was heavily arched over a candle – again, to deliver the torqued-over stance. I shave the bottoms of the rear slicks with a hobby knife to replicate the look of real slicks digging into the starting line. This double-altered ’71 Mustang was completed on 5-10-13 and features a bunch of engine setback. The base kit was first introduced by AMT around 1967 and has been re-released several times since.
The most expensive aspect of this offering is the fact I broke up a complete AMT Double Dragster kit (the limited edition version in the metal tin that retails for $46.49) to get the twin engine setup. Though Chicago’s Ron Pellegrini ran the “Super Bird” flip-top Skylark funny car back in ’67, the massive Wildcat was ignored by the Match Bash set. The configuration of the massive front bumper and fender precluded body surgery, which was reserved only for the rear wheel openings. You may notice the use of relatively large front tires on most of my Funny Car Folk Art creations. The red, white and blue Sox & Martin ’64 Plymouth and candy striped Ramchargers ’64 Dodge were built way back in the late Seventies when I was about 14. Watch Papa Tom build a Native American Indian tepee using the Scene-A-Rama Building and Structures Kit. Even though certain voices in society call model building a childish pursuit, don’t believe them for a second. And remember, if you see something you like, each car is for all sale at $200 a piece (complete with a CD with construction pictures and an autograph). The triple GMC blower setup is pure koo-koo, but that’s the joy of model building…anything goes if you have enough super glue.
EJ Potter even stuffed one in a Dodge Dart station wagon and briefly ran the exhibition circuit. Since the front axle is simply along for the ride as the car blasts off the starting line, it gets installed at “full drop”. For this Nova I considered a Chevy 409, 427 Rat and even a Torqueflite-backed 426 Hemi before settling on – a chrome plated Corvair flat six from the AMT Parts Pack.
The transmission is the Lincoln-based automatic from the Revell Fairlane Thunderbolt kit, centered behind the dueling mice.
So if you buy this model and see this, remember it was blemished before I altered the wheelbase. A signed wheel stand picture of my Wilshire Shaker Nova is included with each Funny Car Folk Art offering, as is the original box for the kit.
You can relocate the entire unit and keep the stock body lines, or (as seen here) you can stretch it. Most commonly known as the “Rat Packer” from its 1978 re-release, the Model King offered the re-released kit a few years ago with this groovy “Twister” box art – which is quite similar to the original packaging.
But now that the kit has been raided, the rest of its many neat parts are ripe for plucking for future Funny Car Folk Art contraptions. The double-altered wheelbase combines with the sleek fastback roof line to make it seem like the chassis is trying to lunge forward so fast the body can’t keep up. Non-altered Novas look awkward after you spend enough time staring at the reconfigured version. This Revell ’69 Nova was completed by me on 4-13-13 and bends the laws of reality with its Corvair flat-six engine. The Robie Ford ’66 Fairlane and Palomino ’67 Chevelle were constructed in the Nineties and are some of the last “serious” models I’ve built.


Also, learn how to bring Revell’s ’57 Chevy Black Widow to the next level, adding more realistic details such as dents or weathering, modifying the chassis to match the real stock car and more!
Few other activities are as effective at nurturing the problem solving and task-completion facets of the human brain as model building.
At best, their one-piece chassis pans might suggest a rear axle, dual mufflers and a deep oil pan, but I needed more. In those days before the Carter administration’s sweeping crackdown on the toy industry, model kit manufacturers were free to decorate kit boxes with exciting full color illustrations of the built model spitting flames, burning out and pulling wheelies (often all at the same time). In the old days (before 1980 or so) model builders were forced to use slow-setting bonding agents like Testors or Pactra model cement which literally melted the parts together. Like many Sixties vintage AMT kits, the ’66 Wildcat comes with this lame, promo-style chassis.
Up front, I replaced the stock A-arm suspension with a Dodge A100 beam axle robbed from Lindberg’s 1990 re-release of the IMC Little Red Wagon kit from 1966. To accentuate the crazy airplane engine, I mounted it high to look like its busting loose from its mounts and heading back to the sky. All of my Funny Car Folk Art creations feature a Moon fuel tank and empty headlamp openings in the grille for a nasty vibe. The downside to making this model was how it depleted my stash of Hilborn extra-long ram tubes. If the ride height is increased enough, the tire doesn’t interfere with the bumper and a brutal gasser look results.
With plenty of surface area to work with, I relocated the front and rear wheel openings forward a bunch.
The single row of Hilborn injection stacks and sextet of header tubes over the front tire are a tip off there’s a Slant Six under the hood.
A review of mid-Sixties vintage drag racing magazines will reveal that smaller front tires were mostly used on lightweight flip-top funny cars. Up front, there isn’t enough real estate to nudge the wheel openings in the fender skins for meaningful results.
The chromed mill comes from the re-released AMT engine parts pack kit (which also includes a Chevy 283, Pontiac 421, Chrysler 392, Allison V12 and a Model T body shell).
As their floating front tires attest, I’ve been toying with the “launch mode” stance for decades.  The New Funny Cars magazine was published in 1967 and has been in my collection since about 1980, when I bought it at a tag sale.
In my case when I’m not working the Barrett-Jackson auction block for Speed TV, cranking out stories for car magazines or wrenching on my trio of real-life altered wheelbase Match Bash cars, I’m building model cars.
All through the Eighties and Nineties my car models had to be as close to perfect as my skill set allowed or I wasn’t happy.
Sold in paste or liquid form, this stuff could take up to 10 hours to cure, during which time you were forced to do something else.
In this shot the grunge on my hands is from replacing the water pump on the 512 Max Wedge in my Rampage altered wheelbase ’63 Dart.
Speaking of stretched wheel openings, that’s the configuration I chose for the Wilshire Shaker Nova. I add a Moon tank and hog out the headlamp openings on every Funny Car Folk Art critter for a gutted, all business vibe. Sourced from the Dodge Deora kit, the engine depicts the aluminum block version of the famed six popper. By contrast, the steel-shell door slammers used medium sized skins so that’s what I go with.
Instead, I pushed the axle ahead a smidge and made sure the ride height was high enough for tire clearance – gasser style.
Though a turbocharged version is included, I went for the base 2×1 carbureted induction so I could feed them with ultra-long ram tubes. After 1976, model makers like Revell, MPC, AMT, JoHan, Lindberg, Monogram and others were penalized for sins committed by other segments of the toy market. Amazingly, these models sit on three wheels and hover on their own without the need to add ballast to the right rear corner of the chassis. A perfect set was found in my parts box and were originally on a JoHan Haulin’ Hearse model I got when I was about 11 years old. The wild artwork gave way to uninspired photographs of the actual built model kit – for better or for worse.
If that isn’t fast enough, a quick spritz of chemical accelerator “kicks” the glue immediately.



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