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1977 Firebird Esprit


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#1 CorvairJim

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 05:28 PM

A friend from a 1:1 car website PM'ed me asking if I'd sell her a model of a '77 Esprit that I'd built several years ago as a birthday present for her father, who had owned one back when he and her mom were dating and first married. He sold his pride and joy when their first child was on the way, but he often talks about "The one that got away". Well, I was pretty attached to that ol' Firebird model but I offered to build another one, in the correct colors (or at least as close as I could get in off-the-rack spray cans!) Of course, nobody ever kitted a 1977 Firebird Esprit. The closest thing available was a Trans Am... with the requisite hole in the hood for the shaker scoop, fender vents, and T-tops! I hoped to find the same AMT model that I'd used for my first Esprit conversion, but couldn't find one. I settled for the Revell version. I should have looked harder. The Revell version has the wheelwell spats and decklid spoiler molded into the body, obstacles that the AMT didn't throw in my way. I detailed everything I went through to fix these problems in an "On The Workbench" thread. The first one I did was meant to be a replica of the car from the old "Rockford Files" TV show, right down to the correct colors (copper with a tan interior) and California license plates. This one is Firethorn Red inside and out. Other changes and additions I had to make besides filling the hood scoop hole and T-tops, reworking the fenderwells, shaving the decklid spoiler, and shaving and filling the fender vents were converting it from a 4-speed to an automatic, hanging pedals from under the dash, adding sun visors and a dome light (and a sheet styrene headliner cut to fit to cover up the remains of the T-top framing), scratchbuilding a correct base Firebird steering wheel, finding correct Rally II wheels (and getting them to work with the kit-supplied wheel backs). Also, the Trans Am-style exhaust outlets were a non-starter for a non Trans Am, so I had to come up with some sort of street exhaust dumps. I decided to go with straight pipes from the muffler out the back beneathg the bumper - it was just a lot easier than routing a bunch of bent-up plastic rod around the rear leaf springs. Besides, it looks cooler. I had no rear photo of the car to work from, so I had to play that aspect of the build by ear. Angle-cut 2 1/2" pipes do the job just fine for me! Anyhow, take a look at what's been filling too much of my free time over the past couple of months...

Posing with the model that inspired this one:
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Now for the beauty shots!

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#2 kruleworld

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:21 AM

it came out quite nicely. i'm sure they liked it. did you do the trim with a brush? looks like that would have been hard to do.

#3 charlie8575

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:36 AM

Very nice work with that, Jim.

I'm sure its new owner will be very happy with it.

Charlie Larkin

#4 montelsc

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:33 AM

They both look great nice work :D

#5 skmodelcars

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:34 AM

Nice looking Firebird! I had a Monogram Turbochief Firebird done up in your color scheme YEARS ago.....

#6 hotrod59f100

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:24 PM

That's cool . I never heard of one of these.

#7 MyBradKeselowski

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 05:55 PM

That come out looking great...

#8 CorvairJim

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:37 PM

Thanks for the compliments, guys! To answer your questions/statements:

Walter, I did the aftermarket-style bodyside moulding with a brush after masking it out. I went carefully along the sides to keep the silver off of the vinyl insert section. The rest of the trim was done with a silver Testor's paint marker. Those things make window trim, drip rails, wheel lip mouldings, etc. very easy! I didn't use Bare Metal foil on this one because I didn't have any on hand that I feel confident would stand up to being handled. The last three sheets of the stuff I've bought have had major adhesion issues, and I'm very close to giving up on it entirely.

Charlie, I sure hope so! That was my thought all through the build. It's one thing to build to please myself, but something else entirely to build for someone else.

Michael, I appreciate your comment, but the "Rockford Files" car definitely has it's issues. I messed up a bunch of details on it due to bad research. It has the Trans Am style steering wheel and engine-turned dash applique. Finally, I used 1:24 rims and tires on the 1:25 model, so they look too big for it.

Shane: The Esprit was the luxury model of the Firebird in the 1970's. The Trans Am was the full-dress performance model, the Formula was the "Performance-on-a-budget" model, and the base model was aimed more at buyers who wanted a sporty looking car without all that actual performance nonsense! I call those cars "Secretary Specials".