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When Only Plastic Will Do

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Hobbies Topics:  Porsche 911
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

When Only Plastic Will Do

Bill Crittenden
December 19, 2009

Much to the consternation of the traditional model builder, die cast cars offer top-quality instant gratification at reasonable prices. The precision crafted versions of cars by such brands as AUTOart, Lincoln Mint and GMP are often built to standards that the average modeler just can’t reach. We’ve all heard before that it’s one of the reasons the hobby is dying, and there’s not much of anything any modeler can do to stop it.

I admit I own many more die cast cars than plastic kits, thanks to an extensive collection of Action NASCAR pieces. No where is the model business hurting more than in the once-thriving stock car racing segment. The time and skill required to properly build one of these kits, when compared to the purchase price of a modern die cast, just doesn’t seem worth it.

Another thing we’ve heard, especially those of us who hang around John Walczak, is that unless we get the younger generation involved in model building the hobby will die off. So how do we get kids, who have hundreds of new entertainment options that weren’t available in the golden years of model car building, interested in sitting down at a table and spending hours to build a plastic model?

Inspiration came from telling an 18-year old about one of the models I saw Doug DeMars bring to the meeting a few weeks ago. It was a red Porsche 911, but I noticed when I was taking a picture of it that it had an engine where the back seat should be. It was also not a Porsche flat-six, it’s intake came up to just below the rear glass. It was a Chevrolet 427, mid-mounted, and connected to the rear wheels by a transaxle from an Oldmobile Toronado.

I imagine such a chunk of metal added to the car would upset the precise handling that Porsche is known for, but that’s beside the point. I realized that with a little imagination, some glue and perhaps a little heat, a modeler can put together parts that just weren’t ever intended to be on the same car. And that’s something that you just can’t do with die cast. Go ahead, try to find a red Porsche 911 with a 427 engine from any die cast producer.

The ease of working in plastic allows anyone with patience to be a desktop Chip Foose. We can indulge our imaginations and show our results to the world without all the expense of real cars and a full-size shop to build them in. That’s something that should appeal to the average teenager, who probably doesn’t own a shop. Or a car.

Porsche 911 Carrera 427 Engine Modified Porsche 911 Carrera
Chevrolet 427 Engine
Transaxle from Johan Oldsmobile Toronado kit
Built by Doug DeMars
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
December 2009 Meeting of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo, 3,254KB
Porsche 911 Carrera 427 Engine Modified Porsche 911 Carrera
Chevrolet 427 Engine
Transaxle from Johan Oldsmobile Toronado kit
Built by Doug DeMars
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
December 2009 Meeting of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo, 3,333KB
Porsche 911 Carrera 427 Engine Modified Porsche 911 Carrera
Chevrolet 427 Engine
Transaxle from Johan Oldsmobile Toronado kit
Built by Doug DeMars
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
December 2009 Meeting of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo, 3,536KB
Porsche 911 Carrera 427 Engine Modified Porsche 911 Carrera
Chevrolet 427 Engine
Transaxle from Johan Oldsmobile Toronado kit
Built by Doug DeMars
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
December 2009 Meeting of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo, 3,022KB



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