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What are the very best drag racing model kits of all time?


tim boyd
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Two years ago this month, my new book "Collecting Drag Racing Model Kits" went on sale, right in the midst of the initial Covid-19 outbreak.  Great timing, huh?  

Anyway, near the end of the book i included a sidebar in which I attempted to list the very best drag racing kits of all time.  After drafting the list, I ran it by five of the most knowledgeable kit and drag racing experts I knew for additions, deletions, and any obvious failures of logic and consistency.  Once it saw the public domain on printed page, I thought this topic would generate lots of frenetic debate and impassioned comments.  Mostly didn't happen.

Anyway, knowing the participants in this section of the MCM as well as I do now, wanted to offer these up for your comments and feedback.  Did we get the list mostly right?  Mostly wrong?  Obvious omissions?  

Anyway, here's the list that appeared in the book.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.....TIM 


*****

In 1/24th-1/25 scale:

- 1960’s – AMT Double Dragster, Revell Orange Crate, Revell Tony Nancy “22 JR” Dragster/Altered Double Kit, Jo-Han 1964 Fury/Polara 426 Max Wedge Super Stock annual kits, AMT 1965 Coronet 500 annual kit, AMT Don Garlits Wynns Jammer, AMT “Ohio George” Montgomery’s 1933 Willys, MPC 1967 Color Me Gone Charger, Jo-Han 1968-69 Funny Car annual kits, AMT 1969 Gas Ronda Longnose Mustang, MPC Dick Harrell Camaro Funny Car

- 1970’s – Jo-Han Gene Snow Challenger and Mickey Thompson Mustang/Pinto Funny Cars, Jo-Han Sox and Martin ‘cuda Pro Stock, Monogram Don Prudhomme/Tom McEwen Rear Engine Dragsters, Revell Drag Racing Team Scale Funny Cars and Rear Engine Dragsters, MPC Pinto Pro Stocks, and MPC’s Bantam Blast/Wild Wille Borsch Fuel Altereds

- 1980’s – Monogram 1984 Camaro and Thunderbird Pro Stocks; Monogram 1985 Funny Cars, Revell Don Garlits Swamp Rat XXX

- 1990’s – Revell Pro Sportsman kits, Revell Rear Engine Rail Dragster kits, Revell Oldsmobile Cutlass Pro Stocks

- 2000’s – Polar Lights Funny Cars, Revell Chi-Town Hustler and Hawaiian 1969 Mini-Charger Funny Cars

- 2010’s – Moebius Models/Model King 1965 Cyclone and Belvedere A990 A/FX kits

*****

In other scales:

- 1960’s – Monogram 1/22nd scale “Sizzler” Dragster/Altered, Monogram 1/8th scale “Big Drag” Model T

- 1970’s - Aurora 1/16th scale “Racing Scenes” Pinto and Vega Funny Cars (the most detailed drag racing kits ever); Revell’s 1/16th scale “Drag Racing Team” Funny Cars and Rear Engine Dragsters (1973-1976)

- 1980’s - Monogram’s 1/32nd scale Snap-Tite Funny Cars

- 1990’s-present – None 

*****

OK, what sayeth you?  Now it's your turn....TB 

DSC 0098

Edited by tim boyd
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  • tim boyd changed the title to What are the very best drag racing model kits of all time?

I'd second the original Revell Stone, Woods, & Cook Willys.  The only  "error" I can see with that kit is that the decals always included in that kit depict the car after the custom front clip was changed to one with a more stock looking grille opening, with '58 Ford grille mesh instead of the Everflex exhaust tubing custom grille.  The photo of the 1:1 car on the box was doctored to change the grille, the original photo appeared in period coverage of one of the NHRA meets from 1963.  Someone should think about a proper set of earlier decals for that kit, the Stone-Woods & K.S. Pittman version for example.  I'm surprised Revell themselves never did so.

The newer Revell '41 Willys coupe is a good kit too, but that one incorporates features from several cars so that it could be packaged and sold as different cars with no change in parts.  The missing passenger seat (then required for Gas class) knocks it out of the box too.

By "best", you can get different criteria.  My definition of "best" would be which kit is most accurate to its 1:1 counterpart.  The aforementioned Revell Willys, the AMT George Montgomery '33 Willys, the Revell Tommy Ivo Showboat dragster, the Jo-Han Gene Snow Challenger, and both cars in the Revell Tony Nancy double kit would qualify, as they weren't made "generic" in order to be sold as multiple cars. 

Many later funny car and dragsters by AMT, MPC, Revell, and Monogram are very good kits, but don't quite chin the bar as most were deliberately designed and manufactured to be sold in multiple versions, on occasion with some unique/correct parts for some versions but generally only those that showed under casual scrutiny. 

That's not to dismiss them though.  Drag racing is a niche category, and on occasion some rework and parts swapping is needed to build an exact replica.  Most anyone who are into building drag replicas go in knowing that, and for the most part are happy to see the fundamental aspects of the 1:1 car in the kit box.

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Only flaw with the Montgomery Willys over the years has been tires.  The earliest kits had beautiful slicks and pretty good front tires, but they were plastic.  Kit buyers didn't want plastic tires in a (then) $2.00 retail kit, so AMT quickly switched to so-so hard vinyl slicks and way-too-tall Trophy Series front tires.  Round 2's reissue had MPC funny car front tires, closer to correct size-wise.

Edited by Mark
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Tim, I have several of your books, including the one on Drag Racing Model Kits. Your books, your writing style, and your knowledge on model cars is second to none. And I can’t disagree with any of what you said in post here. 

I’m not the biggest drag racing guy. But, of the kits you mentioned above, my favorite is AMT’s old Double Dragster kit. It’s fun to build. With many fun variations. A classic kit in my view. 

Edited by unclescott58
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The MPC Malco Gasser (1967 mustang)with the wrong front and the 1969 Mr Gasket Mustang both driven by "Ohio" George should be on the list. Although both kits had their shortcomings, they were the only game in town, till Acme did them correctly in 1/18th diecast!

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12 hours ago, Calb56 said:

Tommy Ivo's Showboat, used to be the only kit to get decent Nailheeads in if I remember right, then the tranny from RMoM.

Charles 

I'll second that. It does bear mentioning that Tommy Ivo doesn't like the name "Showboat", but that aside, it is a well detailed kit of a historuc drag car.

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Oh! I forgot. What should have been my all time favorite drag racing model, is AMT’s Cal Drag Combo Falcon Funny Car. With the Tim Boyd Racing and Writing decals used as the sponsor for the car. The only reason it did not make it as my favorite, is because the Tim Boyd Racing and Writing decals, and the Driver: Battlin’ Boyd decal will not show up well with the color I choose to paint my Falcon, Galaxie, and trailer. And that is with Tamiya’s TS-54, Light Metallic Blue. Which is really not a very light blue as you can see below. And too close to the color of the decals I mentioned above. Which you can also see below. Bummer! 

Now, before people start jumping on me. The above is all done tongue in cheek. Giving a fun little poke at Mr. Boyd, whom I have the greatest respect for. I did seriously debate painting the Falcon white, to use the “Boyd” decals. And it is a shame they would not show up on my Falcon in the color I choose paint it in. Not to embarrass Mr. Body, but it would have been fun to use them. 

E95BC697-7B25-4E3C-8F14-08F144D029F0.jpeg

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Edited by unclescott58
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A couple of kits I think that could be considered, are the Revell Thunder Bolt kits for the FX builder. and the Round 2 reissue of the "Lawman" '64 Plymouth Belvidere hard top.  Moebius Models has done some interesting offerings as well. 

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Was about to ring in with the Revell Thunderbolts, some of my favorites ever - but I see that's been covered. :)

And yes, the new-tool Revell Willys was a nice follow-up to the original, very buildable.

Like the Revell 1/16 slingshot dragsters too.  Mayyybee the Lindberg 1/8 "Exterminator"?  Some cute options on that one...

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Different builders might have different criteria for "best".  Early on in the thread, I specified "most accurate to the 1:1 counterpart".  You could go with "best raw material", as in, which kit is the best starting point.  Revell's Anglia and Thames kits might fall under this.  Engine is good, but I've never seen one of the 1:1 cars with an Olds engine.  Chassis isn't great: frame is wrong for a stock unit which would have been required in 1966 when these were first issued.  Frame rails on these cars form part of the door sill and run very close to the outside of the body in the area of the doors.  I never liked the transmission tunnel in these kits, it reminds me of HVAC ducting.

But these are the only kits of these cars in 1/25 scale, and the bodies are about as good as you can get in scale.  You might wish for clear headlamp lenses and plain interior side panel pieces, that's about it.  The powertrain and chassis parts can be used in other things, so there is some value there.

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Please don’t boo me for this one. I know it’s totally inaccurate. But, I love it strictly from a nostalgic point of view. And that is the early 70’s Revell, now Atlantis, Jungle Jim Camaro funny car. After the Mean Maverick, another “drag racing” car I love, it was the second funny car I ever built. And the first one in the common 1/25th scale. Again, is a great kit? Most say no. But, it will always be favorite of mine. And I’m glad I had a chance through Atlantis’ reissue to enjoy the kit again. 

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