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Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible 1957 1/25 Revell/ AMT

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Hello to all, 


I made this model, the Chevy Bel Air 1957 at 1/25 scale, from july 2015 to march 2016. I wrote an article about it that was published in the french edition of Tamiya Model Magazine in  july/ august 2016 (n°249). You can order it on the T2M site for more informations about this build.

For this model, I used as documentation mainly the videos that resellers, american generally, do and post on YouTube. Making screen captures, I could get photos, then zoom on details, and so, making a pics library. 

The kits from where my model was built are the Revell (US, bought on internet) and the AMT, both at 1/25. I bought first the AMT, but when I saw how poor was this kit, I tried to find a better one. The Revell was better indeed, even if it had to be improved a lot too, to get a convincing model. However, the AMT engine was better, that is why I decided to integrate it in the Revell kit.


What a lovely car! I was inspired a lot by this light- blue one, that Jeri Drager (Dragers Classic) showed on YouTube. Jeri, very kindly, authorized me to post pics of his Chevy...



Jeri shows us the interior of the car: I won't represent the belts, that did not exist in 1957. The other main difference with his car concerns the rear bumper...



Revell, unlike AMT, gave me the choice of 2 bumpers: the classical one (the one of Jeri's car) and a stock-car version, like we can see on this very nice red Chevy. I chose this option...



Alclad chrome on gloss black base was used to get a shiny spare wheel cover. Of course, a good preparation with the Micromesh is necessary to get a very good state of surface...






Drybrush technique to get a more realistic aspect of the carpet. The foot gearbox was full scratchbuilt.




Hood: this screen capture will be my reference to improve the Revell's part:



Among the 2 kits, only the Revell gives the opportunity to represent the car top down, what is definitely my favorite choice, for obvious esthetic reasons. More, this solution allows to see all details of the dashboard. The hood requires however to be improved a lot (folds, buttons, sewings in angles):



I had bought as a precaution 2 ex. of the Revell's kit (the shipping was nearly as expensive as the kit's themselves...). So, I could do this pic that shows the hood before and after corrections.




Enlargement of the speedometer: the decal had not the good size and was quite poor, I chose to print in HD at the right scale this photo. The same was done for the 2 other dials...




The steering wheels were unrefined, especially the AMT one...



A very delicate job was done to get the slender look of the original. Bare metal foil was used for many details, especially the edges of the sunshades:




I made from scratch the fuzzy dice, that was present on the Jeri Drager's Chevy. The antenna is an aftermarket part (Hobby Design ref. HD07-0056).  The rubber joint around the windscreen was done with matified Bare Metal black chrome. The windscreen wipers were subject to a special care (see below)




Windscreen wipers: indeed, as the steering wheel, the original were very slender... too much to be made from polystyrene...



while the Revell's ones were too thick:



I used 1/24 windshield wiper set A from BNA world, very thin:


... getting so a much more convincing result. Notice that I applied a very light coat of blue on the windscreen, to get it bluish... Notice too the little nipples of door opening...




Wheels: the original, very nice!


The 3 arm star is totally missing on the Revell wheels, and the black notches too...


I scratchmade the 3 arm stars... 


... and created notches with a bur, to get more convincing and esthetic wheels:




Rear mirror view:





Engine compartment: the original, very inspiring:



On my build at 1/25:




Underbody: the original: happily, Jeri is very thorough, and made a video of the underbody of the Chevy  he was selling...



I could so represent with many details the underbody: Mr Surfacer was used to get rough surfaces...






















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Great job on one of the best of the great Tri-Chevy years (55-57)

Nice photo swaps between real and model shots too.

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Good Lord that's an impressive model. I really like the color. Your work on the hubcaps is equally impressive.  That kit steering wheel is embarrassing! How did you get that scale effect on the chrome? It looks very realistic. 


Can I offer one correction? Seat belts were available on all the Tri Five cars as a dealer installed option. It cost a staggering $10.95 per seat.  Chevrolet had no belts available so they bought them from Boeing straight off the 707 supply chain. Despite what the internet says, they where very common. As a matter of fact almost every Tri Five car I've worked on has had them. Most people just stuffed them back under the seat. They were uncomfortable and awkward to use, nothing like modern belts. Or the ones shown in the restored car. 


I'll also throw in a little trade secret, you can always tell a restored car from an original by the front seat. Chevrolet had a manufacturing problem with the orginal seats and the front seams will be uneven and non symmetrical. Where every restored car fixes these faults.


Also the hubcaps supplied with the kit are correct for a stock Bel Air. The spinners where another dealer add on. Much like stripes on a Shelby Mustang, they are so common everybody thinks they came from the factory that way. IMHO just like the Mustang,  they just look so dang good with the spinners people just always add them.


Now you have to build one in red right? 



Edited by Thud4444
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1 hour ago, Olivier de St Raph said:

one of my favorite

Mine too although the 58 Impala/Belair is another one..The Black 55 Chevy in American Graffiti driven and crashed by Harrison Ford and Two Lane Blacktop is too !

Edited by bzn20
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Thank you so much to all or your kind comments!

7 hours ago, Thud4444 said:

How did you get that scale effect on the chrome? It looks very realistic. 


Look at that enlargement (screen capture): 


I used the Revell steering wheel, much better than the AMT, but needing however to be refined a lot. Notice the levers on steering column, very thick too (right side of the pic), I replaced the left one by a scratchbuilt one (0,4 mm brass rod, with a drop of cyano at the bottom), and removed the right one, as I had chosen the foot gearbox:



If I wanted to be able to refine the rim of the steering wheel and the ring of horn, both very slander, I had to remove the latters:



then I got this:



and then that: Alclad chrome was used on a gloss black base for the chrome portions (masking with care).




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8 hours ago, Thud4444 said:

Seat belts were available on all the Tri Five cars as a dealer installed option. It cost a staggering $10.95 per seat

Thank you for this info, I am impressed by your thorough knowledge!

That said, esthetically, I prefer without the belts. In fact, I had first scratchbuilt them, painted blue, but finally, I did not use them.

Notice that, at this step of my build, I had not yet redone the hood with the folds and seams... (1st generation)


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8 hours ago, Thud4444 said:

Now you have to build one in red right? 

I loved the red one too, of course, and the choice was difficult, but this light blue, lagoon color... 

I have many projects (and few time) before doing a red version, but one day, maybe... That said, if you love the red color and the Chevy Bel Air 57 ( and you are right, definitely!), why don't you make it? My article on T2M could help you, you can order it on the net. Of course, it is in french... The editor in chief of the magazine told me the article could be published in the english edition, but I don't think it has been finally.

It is a very different model and scale, but if you love red cars, you can have a look at my "Italeri" Fiat 806 1/12...

It has been an incredible build, 187 pages in the "Fiat 806 research and scratchbuilds", with a group of great "Britmodellers", summarized in the "ready for inspection" section under the title: "Fiat 806 Corsa 1/12: a true to original replica".


All the best



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Impressive Olivier, that is simply super. I've a friend who is restoring a '56 Bel Air coupe, the detail is what slows him down. I was pleased you kept to the stock steering set up rather than Jeri's rack & pinion conversion. That's detail :)


Edited by stevehnz
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