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AMT ‘63 Impala Street Freak NNL East build


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So, the web theme for NNL East this year is the AMT 63 Impala kit that was reissued last year:


I did some brainstorming on what to do and was pretty much set on doing some form of drag car with the kit, until I saw this 63 online:


I think it’s a hearse conversion, but it’s retained the low roofline of the stock car, and seems to be a sedan which has had the rear window moved back and the roof lengthened rather than using the more-logical (but rarer, I assume?) station wagon as a basis.  

Then, I fell down a rabbit hole of reading about the interesting world of ‘street freaks’...


...and a plan was born!  I figured a street freak version of that hearse would be a pretty interesting build, and I liked the idea of combining some of those gasser influences into a street car.  

A quick mockup before I started hacking plastic...


I can already tell that this build is going to involve more scratch building than I planned on, not least because the kit chassis has almost everything moulded in, but I’ll start with the fun stuff.

My plan is similar to what the builder of that 1:1 seems to have done - just lengthen the roof and slide that rear window right back.  Used my new Tamiya scriber, mostly, to score some lines like so...


Then removed the rear deck lid from the section I’d removed:


And reattached the rear window portion as far back as it would go:


Those black styrene strips are to keep it aligned whilst the glue dried, and to give me something to attach a new panel to, to extend the roof:


The roof panel itself is pretty flat, but those curved edges seemed like they were going to be tricky to recreate so I built up a little thickness of styrene bar in the gaps so that I can sand them smooth and shape them to match the existing shape:


And that’s about where I’m at so far - I’ll get some sanding and shaping done on the body tomorrow when the glue’s set up, and then we can start figuring out how tricky it’s going to be to make this thing into a jacked up pseudo-Gasser!

More soon, soon as I’ve done more!

Edited by CabDriver
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On 1/25/2020 at 11:30 AM, Tom Geiger said:

Great concept and start!   If you want a more detailed chassis, I believe the Revell kit has a good one!


Thanks Tom, good tip!  In the spirit of using the AMT kit I’d KINDA like to use the kit chassis...but it isn’t very conducive to modifying for the kind of build I’m doing here either ?

A little progress on this - levelled the roof out and have something slightly resembling that hearse in my first post...I’m actually fairly convinced after spending some time looking at it that that 1:1 IS stretched, but there’s just about enough room for a coffin back there if the ‘passenger’ wasn’t over 5 feet tall and the driver had his seat forwards enough ? ⚰️   I’m happy with the look anyway, it matches how I imagined this looking: 


Next job, and I think the biggest, will be the frame...more soon!

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On 1/29/2020 at 7:34 PM, cobraman said:

Oh Boy, I think I'm going to like this.

Thanks buddy!

I didn’t forget about this build...but I DID spend a few days thinking “how am I going to do ANYTHING like I’m trying to do with that kit chassis?!”.

You ever start a project with the intentions of it being relatively simple and before you know it you’re scratchbuilding or modifying EVERYTHING?  Yeah, I think this will be one of those...

Started a frame anyway - I figured I can keep the rails straight when they’re past the firewall seeing as this this will have a crazy-jacked-up rear end, but what I gain in simplicity there I’ll lose in scratchbuilding all the rest of everything but the body and engine ??


More soon!

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On 2/6/2020 at 11:01 AM, Impalow said:

Outstanding work on the chassis!

Check out this link.... I found this doing research for my build... but wowza... the 70s were weird and I love it!




Ohhhh yeah, that’s the look I’m going for!  Love it, thanks buddy!  I was stuck on an idea on how best to do the front suspension, and this gives me a good idea! 

On 2/6/2020 at 12:57 PM, Reuhkapelti2 said:

I will be following this one closely. I've done some stw conversions too, so I'm very interested to see, how it goes for you. Good start so far! 

Thank you! ? 

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A small update, as I’m posting anyway...made some axle mounts and rear ladder bars for this thing so I can start to get it on it’s wheels.  I used a Ford 9” axle (I know, Ford on a Chevy ??) and scratchbuilt the rest with styrene sheet, bar and tube:


I added a couple of mounting tabs to the frame to connect it at the front and left it so it will pivot and move like the real parts would so I can mess with the ride height and make some shocks to get it sitting how I want:


More soon! 

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And a little more progress today - made a front axle, linkages and mounts:


As with the rear end, I left everything so it could pivot and move for now ready to make front shocks so I can set the ride height how I want...it’s going to look pretty wild!



Not totally done on the front yet, but exciting to get it to the mock-up stage at least!  I was excited to see this ridiculous thing on it’s wheels ?

More soon!

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A little more scratch building today - seeing as that front end is REALLY visible I wanted to get the steering setup to look detailed enough that it could (probably kinda) work and be interesting visually.  

Started with the arms and the main linkage:


And then made a steering box, using a 1:1 aftermarket Impala one for somewhat-reference and a couple more little links to make it all look about-right:





A little more detailing with some scale bolt heads and whatnot and then I can figure out where the shocks will mount and then clean it all up for paint.  More soon!

Edited by CabDriver
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On 2/12/2020 at 7:43 PM, Spex84 said:

Awesome scratchbuilding so far--the stance on this hearse is just nuts!I think it would look stunning with 70s-style psychedelic paint.


I think you’re right buddy!  It’s definitely going to be a good candidate for some ridiculous graphics.  I actually did some more work on the body today so I could maybe start work on some airbrushing but it needs some primer so I can see how far out I am.

Little progress today, got the engine in!  Made a couple of simple mounts and got the kit 409 in there - should be just about dangerous enough to drive I’d think ???


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Thanks fellas!  Didn’t forget about this one...was doing some bodywork to get this thing ready for paint - getting closer anyway!


Got a BUNCH of figuring out to do on the graphics and paint job for this thing...it’s taking some thinking about to figure out how to layer all the masks and stuff to get the paint job I’m going for...more soon!

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Did my first little bit of airbrushing this week on this thing...went for a spooky Grim Reaper full-length mural on the roof.

First, a black blob as a base (because it was easier to weed the mask if I was removing all the lighter parts than the darker parts):


Then a super-intricate mask:


And two hours of weeding, two minutes of painting and then another hour of weeding later...



I’ll candy over the top of that whole thing once I do a few little bits on the rear pillars and figure out the best way to spray the new Createx candies I picked up for this build...more soon!

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A little more on this one - laid out the lettering and flames which make up the biggest parts of the graphics:


Then gave them a coat of black in the relevant spots and laid out some extra details:


Then misted all THAT with some gunmetal silver in the relevant spots and pulled the masks off:


Next up will be some candy colors over all this mess - It’s looking as bananas as I hoped it would though so far ?? 

More soon!

Edited by CabDriver
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