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First model car built

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Strange encounter (for me, anyway) occurred when the 'gang' was invited to bring their 'first build', if they still had it. The group was diverse, but the most verbal guy said he'd started many years before, so I felt comfortable in taking my first build, which was a 1/32 scale Revell 'Highway Pioneers' Center Door Model T sedan. That's where it started...

Inspired by a Hot Rod Magazine article that featured Jack Chrisman's Model A Sedan (the 1954 article was entitled "Torrid '29 Tudor") I began by chopping the top, rounding the flat edges with a fingernail file, cutting 'B' & 'C' pillars, and converting it into a 2-door sedan, using the cowling from the 69 cent Revell 'hot rod', also a 'Highway Pioneer'. The hood, radiator shell, and cowl were removed, and the '32 shell substituted, after grinding it flat and converting it to a '29 A. Flathead V8 was fitted, with the tranny and rear end, shortened driveshaft...

Front suspension also went under, with some cutting of the front spring. Fenders got sanded and reshaped, and the car painted black, with the top patch made from a playing card, painted white.

All the cutting was done with a Vise-gripped hot needle, warmed on Mom's gas stove burner.

The car looked terriffic on the shelf, where it sat for many years...I found it in '96, when unloading Control Line airplane parts stored eons ago...

Took it to show the guys...The verbal guy came out with his '59 Impala, unpainted glue bomb, with every decal, glued-on louvers, lakes pipes, spotlights, and all...He took immediate discourse with my sedan, as it was "1/32, that doesn't count...yatta, yatta, yatta..." Guess I started too soon! I recalled that 6 years after this build, AMT came out with some really BIG 1/25 models!

When I started, 1/32 was what we had. One of the guys said, "Hey, that's Chrisman's car. Saw it at Bakersfield Smokers last year. Looks just like it." (at least someone noticed)

My earlier ones were balsa. (1951?) Ace, Hudson Miniatures...Ace had some hot rods that were 'cute'.

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Well I dont understand was his problem was.

I have in front of me now a copy of Rod & Custom from 1957. The magazine features one of the first model contests and sponsored by R & C magazine and Revell Models.

Revells Bob Hoeppner, chief engineer of the model shop is holding a model by Jim Savage that went on to gain the first prize. The model is clearly a 1/32 custom built from Revells Ford, Mercury and Cadillac kits available then.

On the table there are many more custom models , the vast majority being 1/32 scale. A couple of Monograms BIG Cadillacs and some even smaller models(1/48?). The article states the most popular kit to customise was the small Ford pick up by Revell. I would think this is the kit with the motorcycle and police rider.

So there! Tell Mr verbal that if it was good enough in 1/32 to win back then it is good enough to show for a bit or reminising now.

I did post this magazine feature under the title of, if I remember correctly, 'Oldest Models contest'

So, there we are.

I still have a couple of early builds but not my first, a Tamiya Kubel Wagen painted metalic pink made from mixing red, white and silver enamels. :lol::lol:

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How about a picture? Would love to see it, i guess I started some 20 years ago (i'm 27) and it followed my Lego Technic period. I have no idea what my first build was, but I assume it got trashed with many other models, however my oldest car I still have is a Revell 1/24 928BB (porsche). I just acquired the same kit last year for a too much money, but I want to make a display with the old and new next to each other, just for fun.

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My first car "built" was a dealer demo my Dad got when buying a Pontiac in the early fifties. It was a 1/25 scale AMT 1952 Pointiac 4 door sedan in this absolute horrible looking dark turquoise acetate. Now you guys are going to salivate what mods I made to this car under the supervision of my Uncle Bob, 5 years older than me. I was 5. First, I took some masking tape and cut out skirts for it. Uncle Bob cut out turnpike type skirts for his, going very fancy. Then we pirated some fingernail polish from Grandma, and painted flames to resemble the flame jobs we saw on hot rod 48 Fords at Sunday picnics at the Pymatuning Dam, then took Grandma's hat pins, heated them on the stove, and melted and mounted them right on the frnot fender. Uncle Bob had some blue paint and dobbed blue dots on each set of taillights. We were hot!!!!!

Then we got into Highway Pioneers, then Revell 1/32 kits, Geeshh I miss that 56 Buick.

When I went to elementary school, my first grade teacher made a big fuss that I could color so well inside the lines......heck, if she only knew I was painting flames on cars at home, this was chicken feed work.

We moved to Florida in 56, and I didn't pursue model cars, first, because my mentor Uncle Bob was still back in Sharpsville, and second there was nothing to build, and toy and hobby shops were just not stocked, as back in the fifties, even Ft. Lauderdale was crude and primitive before the Building Booms. When AMT came out in 58 with their 3 in 1 kits, I went ballistic, and spent all of my lawn mowing money and allowance and chore money on these $1,49 wonders. I bought the whole line except the Imperial (who customed Imperials back then?), Mostly I built the Pontiac, Chevy, Corvette, Ford and Buick, and if I had the money in my pocket, I would buy whatever else was in stock.

Those were some incredible days. All enthusiasm no paint, no supplies, no magazines, no guidance, no contests and only few friends joined my hobby, then we got competitive and that is when we all improved.

I know with AMT on the skids right now, Johan is gone, Lindberg is dormant, things look bleak which we should look at our hobby now versus 10 years ago, and appreciate what we have and support our hobby. It needs to grow, as the alternative for our youth are video games.

Ken "FloridaBoy" Willaman

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Hey I like Pinto's Mark! :lol:

But I get what you mean-------I guess I was always a car guy, but I didn't start building models until I was 17 and a senior in high school.

Yeah, anyone who was a kid in the '60's got to see some neat iron roaming the road! Although we may not have known exactly what they all were...........by the late '60's there were wide and varied types of cars on the road.

You still had the befinned and totally chromed out beasts of the mid/late '50's-early '60's around, to the oddball foreign car (Renault Dauphine anyone?) up to the latest and greatest muscle cars of that era.

The hobby and toy market reflected this..........how many of us 45-50 were totally enamored by Hot Wheels when they first hit the scene in 1968?? I'm still hooked on 'em as I got a bunch of 'em that are in pristine shape! :lol: Slot car racing also came to be during the '60's if I'm not mistaken.

I wish I still had some of those first models I built during the late '70's...............unfortunately, they were given to younger cousins that immediately crashed and burned them somewhere along the line. :lol:

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Quote: Bluesman Mark

This has continued over the past several years, as times & interests change, the appeal of building a model has waned dramatically for most in the younger age brackets. I know we have several younger builders here, & I think that's great & I certainly hope it continues. They are the future of the hobby & us "old farts" sitting around grousing about video games isn't going to get more people involved in modeling.


I sure don't want to get involved in any flame war, Mark, but I always thought I treated you, your posts, your replies and your work with support, dignity and respect. I sure do not appreciate being referred to as an "old fart" lamenting about kids being obsessed with video games. First, go back and read my post and read your reply. I stated the I preferred model car building to video games. I think you read too far into what I was saying......

I have a 20 year old son and an 18 year old daughter, and I was their Dad, deeply involved in whatever they did. My son and daughter both are well equipped with all of the toys, playstation, xbox, all the hand held stuff, from day one. I was one of those parents at 4am waiting outside WalMart to get a new Playstation 64 years ago, in the cold and rain. I understand the allure that video games have as I spent many waking hour with them trying to conquer a stage or open a door or fight a warrior or monster, with both of them. But I also tried to inspire them to work with their hands, and both are accomplished artists, poets and authors, and my son still builds a model car here and there for himself. My daughter shares her art with me, as that is another interest. I am proud my son was selected by the illustrator of Batman comics to be his assistant for the Summer Art program at the Boca Cartoon Museum. I tried to show them life is more than just video games or model cars or basketball or cheerleading.

But we need to outreach beyond our families. "Hoping it continues" is passive; doing something about it is what is needed. When I came back to the hobby, many people considered me a pioneer or legend, (right....lol) Over the years I tried to use this role to mentor kids at contests, and before my retirement, conducted model car and other modeling seminars on Saturday mornings at Michael's, had open house Saturday mornings at my garage workshop with both trains and cars, display my trophy winning cars at contests, and often give seminars at car shows. Additionally, at some car shows i set up an easel and airbrushed sweatshirts and t shirts with my version of old Roth creations. I would hardly consider myself an "old fart".

You made some valid points in your post, but back then all wasn't roses with the muscle car generation. Hot rodding, drag racing and other related activities were not as accepted or integrated into society then as they are now. Consider Discovery and Learning Channel's Overhaulin, Pinks, American Chopper, American Hot Rod, MTV's and Speed Channel's hot rod and classic shows, the popularity locally here and on TV of the classic auto auctions, and the exhorbitant prices of cars sold there. I believe today is the heyday of performance autos. NASCAR, Drag Cars, Street Rods, Customs, are at an all time high, and that goes back 10 years. Go to a contest and watch the contestants rip each other's cars or engage in critiques, either in front of the person or behind their back. We have one total idiot in my area who actually criticized Augie Hiscano's work, ripped his Pactra and Salt Lake winners and it got back to Augie. And this guy ran a club for many years, no wonder why morale is so low here. That is how bad it gets internally. If people realized the damage they were doing to the hobby, to further their own ego or self interest, would they act differently if they knew the damage they were causing?

When my favorite car, the Cushenberry 40 Ford Matador was being restored in 94, I asked a bunch of my son's friends up for a day of sanding and applying bondo in West Palm Beach, driving them up and treated them to pizza afterwards. They didn't last long, but they all still to today let me know what a great day that was.

I am a very positive person, and treat the situation by not attacking the person, but attacking the act, and I will let you know that name calling on this forum is not acceptable to me.

I have been through the roughest time in this hobby, when it was at an all time low, and out of sync, in the late sixties and early seventies, and there were few kits on the shelves and those that were didn't appeal to me. Floral box art was the swan song for many years for me. Now, I sort of outreach to inspire interest of the youth partly for selfish purposesy, as I was darn miserable toward the hobby during that period, and missed doing what I do, and was elated in the mid eighties when it came back. I just don't want that to happen again. I am willing to give my energy, brains, or enthusiasm or other any resources I can come up with to inspire young'uns to keep up the hobby line. God knows how much I dread the alternative. Just pick up the very last issue of Model Car Science Magazine and you will see why.

PS I like Pinto's too, check out Johann's Mickey Thompson Titanium Pinto - probably the best funny car kit of its time....or rhw Maverick or Comet with the big honker 427.

Ken "FloridaBoy" Willaman

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Thanks for your apology, and your comments. I appreciate your sense of history and since I don't know you, I took your comments as other than humorous or tongue in cheek.

As I said before, I can see the allure of computers and video games and arcades have over hand created hobbies. Even the model railroading hobby is downdrafter here, and since I have played at both, I think the main allure is that video games offer several "mini-grats" along the way, like recognizing accomplishing for finishing a level, opening a door, or conquering an unconquerable hero. I can remember my son at age 5 struggling with Mario Brothers, recruiting others in the neighborhood, even struggling to read "short cut books" and his moods reflected his success at performing each level. Our hobby really doesn't give a grat until the end, with the result, and possibly another one with the comment from a friend, a ribbon or a trophy, or even lo and behold, recognition in a magazine or forum.

It has takem me plenty of years to realize what I consider the essence I have been trying to achieve in many years, which is the satisfaction achieved by improving the look of an existing car. I could care less about those petty comments I sometimes hear as my cars reflect the old times, etc, I build what I like, and that gives me total satisfaction.

Mark, I also want to let all know I have been struggling with coping with details and aftermarket stuff. My first benchmark car which won 3 Pactra trophies and the contests throughout the City of Hollywood and Ft. Lauderdale was a sectioned 50 Ford Convertible which I detailed with thread, guesses where hoses went, why they existed, but it sure looked good. I am now taking those very cars which have the body work intact, repainting them, and detailing them with current stuff. I am getting there, but if I went completely detailed on every car, my underhood would be nothing but hose, wire, and clamps, and the engine couldn't be seen, so I am carefullyl editing what I do to retain integrity of a car yet keep it looking good.

Again, thanks for your comments, I consider you a friend, and a real gentleman. Yes, getting old is rotten, even my daughter teases me about being a dinosaur sometimes when I struggle with new technology and I am probably too sensitive about it.

I live in a retirement community and have nothing in common with these folks except the community mows my lawn and cares for the exterior of my place.

Ken "FloridaBoy" Willaman

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