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AMT 1958 Impala - Biography of a Box Art Model

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Some of you regulars know that I used to build box art models for AMT back during the Ertl days. I built display models ranging from mostly cars to even Star Wars from 1990 to 1995. The last three cars I did were for the Chevrolet Classics set shown below.


Once they were built, as always I would hand them over to the Ertl Company and I might occasionally see them on the box, in the catalogs, or in the Blueprinter. When Ertl was finished with them, they would raffle or auction them off at model car events, then donate the proceeds to the Model Car Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I have no idea where most of them went after their box art days, but one day, while perusing Spotlight Hobby's predecessor, the Hobby Heaven Message Board, I saw a post by the late "Viper" Dave McGaughey showing the 1958 Chevy Impala I built for the box.

I contacted Dave a few times over the years, inquiring about purchasing it, but his reply was always "it's in a good home". Sadly, David McGaughey passed away in 2018.

I reached out to one of his sons asking about the model, but never got a reply. Then I reached out to mutual friend Ted "Chopper" Lear, who informed me that Dave had sold much of his collection to Richard Geis. So I messaged Richard in 2018 and asked if he knew of the model in question.

Two years later, I got a Facebook message from Richard, apologizing for the delayed response, as he had recently just got back on Facebook. He had the model all along, having won a raffle for it, and that he would be happy to sell it back to me for what he had in it, plus shipping. Needless to say, the deal was consummated, and I am happy to report that one of my very favorite builds has returned, and Richard had indeed given it a very good home over these past two decades.

And so here it is!


You are probably wondering where the glass is. Most box art builds for Ertl were done sans glass, as it induced glare and distortion. Instead, the retouchers airbrushed (and later Photoshopped) the glass in.



Box art models can lead rather rough lives during their travels. A sharp eye will reveal that during Ertl's ownership, it had been damaged, and the front hood and grille trim rather crudely glued back on. (It didn't leave my house with those big glue smudges on the hood!) Fortunately that old Krylon Teal paint is pretty robust, and I was able to polish a lot of that out after this photo was taken. At some point I'll be fixing the trim, along with the now glued solid steering. And the missing wind splits will be replaced on the fenders.


The radiator hose and oil filler were there when it was delivered to Ertl. They will be replaced.


Given the tight time constraints, these were no contest models. I built all three in about a week. So things that didn't show, like drive shafts, shocks, and on this one, even the exhaust were left off. In retrospect, I probably should have added the exhaust. And who knows, that could still happen. I've got a few extra 58 Impalas in the stash.


it was a very different world a quarter of a century ago in 1995 when I built this model. My oldest two kids, now in their mid 30s were 8 and 9 years old, my mom and dad were both still alive, and I was a long haired guy going to college for an Engineering degree. Looking at this 58 Impala brings me right back to those days...


I want to thank Tom Carter for the creating Hobby Heaven, and now Spotlight Hobbies Message Board for making this reunion possible, Ted Lear for hooking me up with Richard Geis, and especially Richard, for not only taking such great care of it, but being kind enough to reunite me with this bit of my history, one that I will be able to pass on to my son. And I want to thank anyone who took the time to let me share this story with them.



Edited by Dave Darby
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10 hours ago, Tom Geiger said:

I love this story! 

Thanks Tom,

The really cool part of this story is that this model was one of Richard's prized possessions. So for him to sell it back to me - at cost, no less, was truly generous of him. 

Edited by Dave Darby
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Beautiful looking Impala. Perfect back ground story as to it's life. You could of always built another, but it just wouldn't have the same significance as this.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great story. Really enjoyed it. I built a 58 Impala for the second time this past January that I got in a secret Santa draw. It brought back memories of the first one I built soon after getting back into the hobby 256 years ago.

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  • 2 months later...
On 6/21/2020 at 10:41 PM, gseeds said:

Nice story Dave , Super cool build I dig ‘58 impalas, but I think you left something out of your story , how in the world did you locate the original box ??  ? ?

I was going to add that part of the story not long after after I had posted it, but the original post is no longer editable. Here is where the story gets even more interesting. back in January, I met an amazing model builder/painter named Gary Seeds. He was packing up his swap meet haul, which included the Chevrolet Classics three car set. I mentioned as an aside to Gary that that I had built the box art cars for that set, and that it was one of the few boxes I didn't have. Gary instantly dumped the contents of the box into another box, and gave me the box art I was lacking. Little did I know that a few months later I would be reunited with my favorite car of the set. Thanks a million for the box, Gary and it was great to make your acquaintance! Sorry it took so long to see your comment. Just spotted it today.

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20 hours ago, realgone58 said:

Very cool story! Were they intentionally built without the glass for photography reasons?

Yes. per what I said in the post, Most box art builds for Ertl were done sans glass, as it induced glare and distortion. Instead, the retouchers airbrushed (and later Photoshopped) the glass in. If you look at the Revell 48 Ford Coupe kit, it appears that Revell did the same thing on that kit. Thank you for the kind words. I'm still just thrilled to have one of my box art cars back.

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