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20 year old garage diorama renovation


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sometime 20 years ago or so i built a garage diorama out of the Fujimi garage kits, mainly the Fujimi tools and figures, then added some cars i purpose built for the garage: a Tamiya Mini Cooper rally car, a Gunze Sangyo Lotus Elan (basic kit), a Tamiya Lotus Seven, a Gunze Sangyo Triumph TR3 and a resin copy of an old Merit Lotus Eleven. Most were detailed with engine wiring, brake lines, plumbing and all the mid level sort of stuff.



Looked pretty good for several years but then the shortcomings of the Fujimi base started becoming apparent: uneven floor surfaces, "floor" and "wall" textured paper covers warped and separated from their bases, and probably worst of all the fact the glass in front was stationary and one couldnt really see through it very well much less attempt any macro photography through it. and the point from the beginning was to make a self contained environment (more or less, certainly not airtight but more or less dust-tight) so the glass on two sides was necessary to support the top piece of plexiglass.

So after looking at it on the shelf for some years, gradually deterioring, i decided to go visit Tap Plastics and see what i could do to replace the base(es) and at least get a flat floor surface going. One problem i had was deciding how to hold the walls vertical and also the phantom walls formed by the plastic glass i still wanted on the outer periphery. so i basically had them chop up a bunch of clear bar stock and epoxied it to the base to support the walls. turned out pretty good and now at least i can get in there to get some nice photos, some of which follow in the next post, but heres a preview:



i got rid of the TR3 and replaced it with a Vespa from Tamiyas Campus Friends set because even though the now flat floor is more spacious, it was still looking too crowded with five cars in the place.

next post will have some detail photos of the cars involved...

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so first off there is the Gunze Lotus Elan S2. back then, i was puzzled why they would have this kit with a removable hood, er, bonnet, and a fairly detailed shelfed off engine compartment but no motor! of course later i learned they also made a kit that included the motor, but at that time i was puzzled, so i figured this car had to be in the middle of an engine transplant. so i took a BDR twin cam from a ford escort kit and dirtied it up, put it on a stand and called it the old motor, and proceeded to install a more (less, as it turned out) beefy twin cam motor in its place. not sure where i got the motor, mini exotics maybe, but of course it turned out to be a resin copy of the Gunze motor for the deluxe version of the kit! so here we have the Elan having an unlikely motor transplant being undertaken with a figure kind of aimlessly holding on to something because i couldnt really get the guy posed right:


here is a closer look at the two motors with the quasi-Merit Lotus Eleven in the background:


a better shot of the Eleven and the office detail behind it:


you gotta figure this is a kinda place thats got a cappachino machine around somewhere and you dont want grease and oil and yuck staining your spotless white marble (huh?) floor so you will notice some aluminum drip plates under most of the cars for reasons obvious to the owner of any british car but particularly this era Loti.

here is a final pic of the eleven, as i mentioned this was a resin repop (mini exotics again?) of the English Merit kit, with improved wheels but other than that pretty much as it came out of the box. this is a model that i had to build like an airplane, build the interior and axles inside the bottom of the body shell, assemble the shell, remove the seam, mask the interior and wheel wells to paint the body, and then remove the masking to reveal the interior. i had never built a model like that before so it was a bit of a challenge despite its simplicity as far as parts count go. looks pretty good too, but it could use some inked in panel lines, which i have yet to summon the courage to attempt.


couple more photos to come, next post. thanks for looking!

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next up, we got the Tamiya Mini Cooper Monte Carlo version, with the front end torn apart and the hood up with distributor pulled and mr zappa, head mother mechanic, down there removing the skidplate in preparation for some real work. most of that stuff was done out of convenience because once i wired the motor the hood no longer shut and then it hung up on the radiator brace and then the grille didnt fit so hey its a garage!


here is the Tamiya Campus Friends Vespa, which is a pretty kool little scooter; i made an aluminum exhaust pipe and extractor and detailed it up a bit with cables, brake pedal, and some other subtlies that you cant really see in the photo:


heres the Tamiya Lotus Seven, up on two wheels having some oversize shoes put on and generally getting race prepped:


another shot of the Eleven and also the welders bench in the background:


i am glad i finally got around to renovating this piece because now its a lot more stable, easier to handle and just plain better looking. too clean, but i am thinking of doing some dirtying up of the place next!

thanks for looking and any comments appreciated. remember i built this and the cars back in about 1992, when i was first re-discovering models. this actually won best of show at the sacramento autorama back then but i really attribute that more to the size of the display than to its quality, but still it was very flattering and almost embarrassing to be awarded that.

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Beautiful work. I especially like the 11. A local friend was going to do a run of those in 1:1 and wanted to call them The Eastlake 11. East Lake is an area here in Chattanooga, TN. He built one that I know of. It was beautiful, but green of course. I like the yellow!

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