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Holy Grail In the House - GMC Astro 95 Turbine

33 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

Didn't actually get it today, but recently and I haven't posted anything about it. BUT . . .

I scored a holy grail a couple of weeks ago for an outrageously generous bargain price. Out of respect for the usual pricing most people pay, I'm not even going to say how little I paid. But, I digress.

The important thing is ... I've yearned for one of these for decades. The kit was issued once. Once. In 1972. Only. (In this configuration.)

AMT T-510. The GMC Astro 95 TURBINE tractor.

GMC_Astro_95_AMT_T510.jpg

{Image borrowed from IPMS Archives.}

Mine is in mint condition, all parts present in sealed bags. Even the one-time-only decal sheet is perfect and useable.

There's a story behind this kit. If any of the acknowledged experts or historians know differently, please chime in. But from what I understand, it goes like this:

In the early to mid '70s, GM was experimenting with gas turbine engines as motive power for buses and OTR semi tractors, in an effort to develop a more fuel efficient power source for big trucks. They built a fleet of turbine-powered semi-tractors that GM used for new car and parts delivery vehicles, as well as test mules. AMT tooled up the Chevrolet Titan 90 and GMC Astro 95 kits in 1972, and included a replica of the turbine engine in the T-510 GMC kit (It also included the Detroit Diesel, so you could build the truck either way).

It didn't take more than a couple of years for GM to realize the gas turbines were not showing big gains in fuel economy, so they bailed out of the much-ballyhooed program. I believe they immediately cancelled AMT's licensing agreement for the Turbine engine and GM Experimental Truck markings (included on the decal sheet).

So, by the time any subsequent reissues of the kits were marketed, the turbine engines, decals, and references were gone. The one and only time the turbines were marketed was 1972.

When you see this rare kit available, it usually goes for BIG bucks.

I am happy, happy, happy! B)

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Posted · Report post

Now, that's a sweet score!!!! No way I'd have known about it....I was only 4 in 1972.... :rolleyes:

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Posted · Report post

When you see this rare kit available, it usually goes for BIG bucks.

Or the turbine engine is long gone, which is the case whenever I've been able to track down an unbuilt example.

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Posted · Report post

I just gave a factory sealed one to a freind in England. He wanted it as much as you and said it was the only kit he never had.

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Posted · Report post

So where does the "Challenge Mixer" Ready mix truck/tractor figure in this grail list? I have one still sealed.

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Posted · Report post

So where does the "Challenge Mixer" Ready mix truck/tractor figure in this grail list? I have one still sealed

The Kenworth/Challenge mixer is by far the rarest of all 1/25 truck kits. That kit usually fetches a minimum of 300-400 on Ebay. Especially if it's sealed. This Turbine Astro can be found for 100.00 still sealed but it is fairly hard to find.

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Posted · Report post

There are guys out there that resin cast that Turbine engine ,so I can build one much more cheeper .

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Posted · Report post

That is going to be sweet. Look forward to seeing it on the workbench. Great score!

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Posted (edited) · Report post

There are guys out there that resin cast that Turbine engine ,so I can build one much more cheeper .

Congratulations.

But ~

  1. It won't be an original.
  2. And I'll bet no one casting a turbine engine will sell it cheaper than I paid for this kit ... and you'll still have to acquire the basic Astro kit, which will cost you more than I paid for this kit.

B)

Edited by Danno

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Posted · Report post

Congratulations.

But ~

  1. It won't be an original.
  2. And I'll bet no one casting a turbine engine will sell it cheaper than I paid for this kit ... and you'll still have to acquire the basic Astro kit, which will cost you more than I paid for this kit.

B)

I'm sorry if I stepped on any toes ,you did score an awesome kit, all I was stating was if someone wanted an turbine engine

and had the basic kit they could make one .

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Posted · Report post

Hi, a good find, hope you do a great job with this one! Show us how you get on.

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Posted · Report post

I'm sorry if I stepped on any toes ,you did score an awesome kit, all I was stating was if someone wanted an turbine engine

and had the basic kit they could make one .

No problem. I didn't mean to sound mean, either.

Who does the turbine in resin?

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Posted · Report post

No problem. I didn't mean to sound mean, either.

Who does the turbine in resin?

some one does it.I don't know who though.I was on the site and remember that there was all kinds of engines .The turbine was at the bottom of the page in the "other " category .I wish I could remember

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Posted · Report post

Look at this previous thread. This is the most accurate build of this kit I have ever seen. Every detail is covered! Notice the bigger grill intake. http://www.modelcarsmag.com/forums/?showtopic=18837


The real Astro turbine.

post-2928-0-47012600-1383865655_thumb.jp

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Posted · Report post

Sweet find. I had one many years ago. I build it with the reg motor.

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Posted · Report post

What about the other Turbine Specific parts?

Steps, Intake/Exhaust, etc?

I remember my dad complained when he built this, that he wished he had

built it with the Turbine, as it used fewer accessories!

I started resto on it Years ago.

Believe it or not, I still have the assembled Turbine engine too!

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Posted · Report post

Have you gotten started, on this yet, I have been hoping to luck into one of these trucks, I have some pictures of this model assembled if you would be interested

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Another unique item about this kit: It has the "bus" style mirrors that mount on the front corners of the cab, as shown in the cover art. A knowledgeable friend tells me those mirrors disappeared from the kit with the turbine engine, as the production Astros used more common (and cheaper) conventional mirrors.

I hadn't thought about that, but he's right . . . I have second issue and third issue Chevy Astro 90 kits and they have the conventional mirrors, not the "bus" style mirrors of the 'turbine kit.'

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Posted · Report post

Another unique item about this kit: It has the "bus" style mirrors that mount on the front corners of the cab, as shown in the cover art. A knowledgeable friend tells me those mirrors disappeared from the kit with the turbine engine, as the production Astros used more common (and cheaper) conventional mirrors.

I hadn't thought about that, but he's right . . . I have second issue and third issue Chevy Astro 90 kits and they have the conventional mirrors, not the "bus" style mirrors of the 'turbine kit.'

The Bus style mirrors came on the Chevy Titan 90 first, then the GMC astro 95 (Turbine).

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The Bus style mirrors came on the Chevy Titan 90 first, then the GMC astro 95 (Turbine).

I wasn't aware of that, as I don't think I ever had a first issue Chevy. Thanks for the info.

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Posted · Report post

nice find, yet another kit I didn't know existed.

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Posted · Report post

Here is a good photo.

post-3542-0-71960800-1383966380_thumb.jp

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Posted · Report post

Not a biggie, but I beg to differ regarding the bus mirrors on Chevy vs GMC. I was spec'ing out GMC's for a dealer at that time. Both Chevy and GMC had bus style mirrors available (actually the bus style was standard for the first few years when the
then new" cab style first came out. The so called "west coast" mirrors were an RPO (regular production option). The bus style faded out quickly (obviously) but remained available as an SPO (special production option) for many years. GMC and Chevy used the same "spec book" with the same option codes, etc throughout their runs (all medium and heavy duty models). My OPINION was they used them because they were far cheaper and with GMC/Chevy being so aggressive with IH, Ford, and others in the day, they wanted to have an ultra low cost "base price" model. Loss leaders....and then sock you on upgrades.

It was always comical when we would occasionally get in a GMC brand new from the factory with a Chevy steering wheel or other "bowtie" trim piece put in by mistake. GM truck quality on fit/trim/finish was not much better than their cars during this time....but they did the job quite well and were priced right.

Later on, every once in a while they would throw an oddball out like the Aero Astro (a joke) or the Astro SS (collectors dream), but that was rare and usually priced way out of sight for what it was. These oddballs stood to really mess up up the production sequence and often wound up going to the "modification bays" or even offsite where they would handle goofy options largely as "rework" (hence the big pricetag). Other good examples would be items such as UPS's special cosmetic quirks and Roadway's insistance on air start but if there was enough volume in a huge order, then it was not so bad on price.

Never saw the turbine in person.... I suspect it was handled as a SPO type option with lots of hype for the big dealers/fleets. I honestly had forgotton about it.

Thanks for the trip down amnesia lane!

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Posted · Report post

Not a biggie, but I beg to differ regarding the bus mirrors on Chevy vs GMC. I was spec'ing out GMC's for a dealer at that time. Both Chevy and GMC had bus style mirrors available (actually the bus style was standard for the first few years when the

then new" cab style first came out. The so called "west coast" mirrors were an RPO (regular production option). The bus style faded out quickly (obviously) but remained available as an SPO (special production option) for many years. GMC and Chevy used the same "spec book" with the same option codes, etc throughout their runs (all medium and heavy duty models). My OPINION was they used them because they were far cheaper and with GMC/Chevy being so aggressive with IH, Ford, and others in the day, they wanted to have an ultra low cost "base price" model. Loss leaders....and then sock you on upgrades.

It was always comical when we would occasionally get in a GMC brand new from the factory with a Chevy steering wheel or other "bowtie" trim piece put in by mistake. GM truck quality on fit/trim/finish was not much better than their cars during this time....but they did the job quite well and were priced right.

Later on, every once in a while they would throw an oddball out like the Aero Astro (a joke) or the Astro SS (collectors dream), but that was rare and usually priced way out of sight for what it was. These oddballs stood to really mess up up the production sequence and often wound up going to the "modification bays" or even offsite where they would handle goofy options largely as "rework" (hence the big pricetag). Other good examples would be items such as UPS's special cosmetic quirks and Roadway's insistance on air start but if there was enough volume in a huge order, then it was not so bad on price.

Never saw the turbine in person.... I suspect it was handled as a SPO type option with lots of hype for the big dealers/fleets. I honestly had forgotton about it.

Thanks for the trip down amnesia lane!

Actually, the references to the mirrors had to do with the AMT kits, not the real/1:1 trucks.

The turbine tractors, to the best of my research, were never available to fleets or purchasers, there were only a few built and they were all owned by, operated by, and tested by GM. None were sold, as far as indicated by any written info I've found. It was an experimental program, but GM discovered the turbines could not generate enough fuel economy to be more cost effective than the common diesel engines, so the experiment was shelved.

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