Jump to content

Tamiya 1/20 McLaren MP4/8 - Detailing and Correcting

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

This will be my first car model since I was a kid. I'll be building McLaren's 1993 Formula 1 challenger, the MP4/8 as driven by Ayrton Senna, Michael Andretti, and Mika Hakkinen. I'll be building Hakkinen's car, as he is my all-time favorite F1 driver. Hakkinen only drove the final three races of the season - Portugal, Japan, and Australian and they were the first races for Hakkinen at McLaren. However, this will mean correcting some aspects of the car. The car had 5 different rear wing configurations and ran with or without bargeboards. The kit version of the car has bargeboards and a high downforce wing that was used at Donington Park and Monaco. I'm also planning on sprucing up the engine bay with wiring and hoses, and I also want to scratch build the front bulkhead with the brake master cylinders. I plan on finishing the car with the engine cover and nose/front wing off.


The kit is supposed to be built with bargeboards, but Hakkinen never drove the car in this configuration. I cut off the mounts from the floor (original floor shape shown in the instructions) and sanded it smooth. I will also have to fill in a pair of mounting holes each side of the monocoque.


The monocoque is very nice. I'll be closing off the front of the monocoque and scratchbuilding the bulkhead and master cylinders, plus adding hosing and detailing the suspension mounts.


The radiator ducting is a bit underwhelming and somewhat inaccurate. I'll be adding to the electrical boxes already molded and a load of wiring.


This is what I'm most dreading/worried about. This rear wing is a high downforce specification with 5 elements and deep endplates. The Hakkinen car for all 3 races used a lower downforce spec. The wing elements are the same (Thank heavens!) but the endplates were much smaller. I'll have to take a saw to them, which is shame because it's a beautifully molded wing.


Here's Senna driving with the same wing as the spec Hakkinen drove. Note how much closer the forward edge of the endplate is to the main element of the rear wing assembly.


Some good news here! Senna and Andretti's steering wheels were round, while Hakkinen used a unique wheel with a flat top. Tamiya has supplied both wheels - a nice touch.

Not a whole lot done so far, but it's a build I'm very excited about. I've 2 requests for anyone watching this: I'd love any reference pictures, especially of the car without bodywork. Also, how do y'all (my Texan language showing there) paint carbon fiber effect? Thanks a million.

That's all for now - Jake

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some more progress during the rain delayed IndyCar race tonight.


As noted before, I have to cut down the endplates of the rear wing to make it appear as the slightly lower downforce spec wing Hakkinen ran in his last 3 races. Here is a great render of that wing.


Here it is taped off for sawing - what a scary feeling!


And cut. Note the difference between the new endplate (bottom) and the old (top).


And with both endplates sliced and sanded. I am thrilled with it and pleasantly surprised.


As the version I'm making is without the ugly-as-sin bargeboards, I have to fill in the mounting holes (arrowed). I filled with some styrene tube and a load of Tamiya thin cement, then...


Sanded it smooth on the other side and primered to make sure it was smooth.


Finally I airbrushed Tamiya semi-gloss black over the suspension arms and wheels. They look good, but the finish is a little uneven so I'll go over it all with semi-gloss clear for more uniformity.

That's all for now, Jake.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jake, will be keeping a close eye on this thread with much interest, it's one of my favourite cars, so sleek with one of the best liveries ever.

I have had this kit for over a year and have been gradually adding the after market parts, PE, cockpit, drive shaft, sponsors decals, zero paints and photo guide, I don't usually go to this level but as I said I love this car and wanted to give the after market parts a try.

Only waiting to get carbon fibre decals and windscreen before I make a start on some homework but it looks like you've done a lot for me already, like you I was going to do Hakkinen but want the barge boards on so Senna it is.

Good luck with the build, with your level of attention it's going to look great.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Some slow progress on the McLaren.

The wheels were painted Tamiya semi-gloss black and tires sanded to get rid of those nasty seams. I used 400 grit sandpaper to get them down, then 600 and 800 grit paper to soften the seam and even the whole tire. I'm saving the tire decals (my least favorite thing in the universe) until the end.


I planned on using just vallejo silver for the engine bits, but I found a bottle of Alclad chrome at my LHS for $1! It was about half used up and it's for lexan, but I figured for a dollar it was worth a shot.


I will use the alclad for the engine block, headers, and the radiators. Here they are primed with Tamiya fine surface primer. from here I will paint gloss black and then the chrome.


Finally, there were four nasty ejection marks on each side of the floor. Two of them will be covered up by the inner sided during, but the two next to the headers will be out in the open and very exposed. Tamiya putty will cover these up.


It's not much now, but my next update will be more expansive and hopefully very soon. Forum member "Hugh Jampton" sent me some reference photos, so I will be using these when it comes time to detail the engine bay. Thank you, John! It's guys like you that make this hobby of ours fun.

Thanks for looking,


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chrome for lexan I don't think will give a chrome look as it's made for those clear rc body shells so works the opposite way to normal alclad chrome. I may be wrong but I would hate to see you make a mistake after all the work you have put in so far


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another quick update. I went ahead and gave the Alclad a try on some stock card and it came out pretty good. It wasn't incredibly shiny, but neither was the car. I used the Alclad gloss black base and them the Alclad Lexan Chrome and I must say it came out better than expected.


I was most pleased with the radiators, they're properly shiny!


While waiting for the paint to dry, I worked on the rear suspension. The pushrods were airbrushed semi-gloss black, the rest is dry brushed Tamiya acrylics. I added wiring using some copper wire from an R/C car that bit the dust. I also wrapped the pushrod at the mount to the rocker arm with a single piece of copper wire in an attempt to replicate the adjustment mechanism.


I also went ahead and ordered this: I'll be very excited to see these come in!


Finally, I did some work on the floor but didn't take a picture. I painted it gloss black in prep for the engine compartment, which according to references will be a very bright silver.

Thanks for looking,


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Work continues on the McLaren.

the heads are done, as is part of the intake system. They were painted Tamiya semi-gloss black, and the bolts are all Vallejo steel applied with a toothpick - 82 in total. The rear axles are finished with Tamiya bronze, they're a little too metallic but I'll live with it.


The top of the transmission and suspension attachment points were also finished in semi-gloss black. The suspension arms have been given a coat of semi-gloss clear to give them a little more shine than the engine. I will scratching and wiring all over this area, hence why it looks a bit barren now.


The first thing to scratch in the engine compartment is that black round thing attached to the outside of the rear wing mounting pylon. I haven't a clue what it is, but I'm going to make it!


And here it is. A piece of hollow tubing with a couple copper wires around it to simulate the o-ring attachments. I've also drilled a small hole in the bottom of it to feed a hose into it. Next time I shoot some semi-gloss black, they'll get the treatment.


As my friend Bugs Bunny says, that's all folks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did a little work on my McLaren while watching Jenson Button put his McLaren on the second row in qualifying.

This is my attempt at recreating the headshielding between the block and the exhaust manifold. It consists of a piece of mesh cut from a screen door and tin foil.


Cut and shaped. I also added a light wash of Tamiya Smoke to tone down the foil's shininess.


Here it is glued in place. It secured surprisingly well with C/A.


I then added a couple hours' worth of plumbing and wiring. A majority of it is varying thicknesses of copper from stripped wires. They need a lot more paint touching up, but I'll wait until more of it is attached. I've also painted the mounting points on the gearbox for the suspension silver, and titanium gold for the mounting points at the wheel hub.


That's all for now, thanks for looking,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the support, guys! I've done some more detailing to the engine, I'll upload a photo when I get home from work.

John, I'm extremely excited and nervous to work with these decals, they've got another week or two before they come.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A little more progress on the McLaren.

I did a bit more wiring and plumbing, as well as attaching the rest of the suspension arms.



That's about all I can do at this point. I am waiting on the carbon decals to come from Japan, and the majority of the stuff I need to do in the engine bay involves wiring and plumbing that have attachments to the carbon airbox. I painted the floor Tamiya Mica Silver.


After which I couldn't resist a test fit of the engine.


While I wait for the decals, I am going to start on the bodywork. Here is the engine covered primed with Tamiya Fine White Primer, after which I will shoot Tamiya Pure White through the airbrush.


Thanks for looking,


  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you search "the team a season with mclaren" on YouTube you'll find seven episodes of a fantastic behind the scenes documentary from 1993, including an episode dedicated to Mika. Loads of useful references.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you search "the team a season with mclaren" on YouTube you'll find seven episodes of a fantastic behind the scenes documentary from 1993, including an episode dedicated to Mika. Loads of useful references.

Brilliant TV series, wish they would do an update. Didn't know it was on youtube, off to watch it.Thanks.

Amazing work on the MP4/8 watching with great interest made it when it first came out and bought it again recently.

Brilliant TV series, wish they would do an update. Didn't know it was on youtube, off to watch it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds neat, thanks for the tip! I'll definitely check that out. The carbon decals have arrived from HLJ Japan, and tonight I will start on the floor. I'll post some photos soon.

Thanks to everyone looking and commenting!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi everyone,

Some progress pictures on the McLaren. It doesn't look like much, but it's been a heck of a time getting these carbon decals to work. None of them fit! And it isn't even the excess carrier film, the shapes are simply wrong and it's horrendously frustrating. Moreover, they are extremely thin and brittle, and conforming to surfaces even with light heat cracks them. I will not be using them on the engine, that's a disaster waiting to happen. On the plus side, they do look rather nice and the printing is phenomenal.


I am not going to worry about the big crack down the middle, it won't be seen. I will do some patchwork with leftovers at the end of the diffuser.


The top of the floor. Some cracks and missing parts, but overall I'm pleased. All together that's 6 hours of work! Once I decal the areas I want, I will use the leftovers to patch everything else.

Edited by Jake Moon
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Finally an update! The airbag has been fitted and covered in decals. They were such a hassle that I ended up just superglueing the corners. Shh that'll be our secret! The Computervision decals on the airbox are from the kit, but unfortunately the kit doesn't contain Shell Oil decals of any sort. They would've gone just above the Computervision logos.


I have also started the last bit of wiring and plumbing for the engine. the blue hose/wire fixed to the back of the airbox is the first of about 6 that'll snake through the engine bay. They are copper wires painted in TS-66 Metallic (Alpine) Blue. The silver valve assembly attached to the airbox is made from styrene tube and part of a 1/72 airplane landing gear strut.


Thanks for looking,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally - some work that isn't the engine or carbon decals! I started the interior a couple nights ago.


The dashboard decal fit perfectly onto the dashboard piece, a surprisingly rare occurrence! It does slightly bother me that the dashboard/screen is "on" when the car will be sitting with panels off and certainly not in a running manner, but it doesn't annoy me enough to do anything about it. I used a toothpick to apply the silver paint for the buttons.


I also painted up the seat and steering wheel. The seat itself is painted Tamiya Rubber Black to achieve that Alcantara look. Normally, the moulded belts are annoying to me, but these were sharply formed so I was okay with it. i painted the belts semi-gloss black and the latches are Testor's Metallizer steel. I was pleased with how the metallizer managed to dry brush, I was expecting noncompliance like with Alclads. the spots on the seat are just dust. The steering wheel was a quick job, and the paddles behind it are Tamiya Titanium gold.


Oh my goodness bodywork! I finally got started on the body. The engine cover here is primed with Tamiya white primer, then I airbrushed TS-26 Pure White over it. I masked it off, and soon it will be airbrushed TS-36 Fluorescent orange. the Tamiya tape color kinda makes the masked engine cover look like the time McLaren ran a livery for a special Marlboro flavor, I think it was Portugal 1986.

That's all for now, next update will hopefully have some bright orange in it! For anyone that has airbrushed Tamiya's Fluorescent Orange or any other super bight fluorescent lacquer, I would really appreciate any tips or advice. it kinda scares me!

Thanks for looking,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...