MPC 1/25 1982 Ford EXP

From here, the 1982 EXP looks like a sleek, futuristic motoring machine. From inside the cockpit, however, this illusion was soon shattered.

From here, the 1982 EXP looks like a sleek, futuristic motoring machine. From inside the cockpit, however, this illusion was soon shattered. Brutally.

So, my car building career began when my brother gave my the 1/32 Monogram EXP. Since I enjoyed building that little loser so much, he thought it would be a good idea to get me another one. However, this time, he went bigger, and got me a copy of the 1982 MPC kit!  This is a 1/25 EXP, and is far more detailed (and correct) than the little Monogram.

The Kit:

Like many of the MPC kits from the early 1980s until MPCs “end of days” in 1988, the EXP is actually a very nice kit. There is a TON of flash, of course, and every single piece needs to have the mould seams scraped off. By that, I mean EVERY piece, from steering wheel to spring, and seat to air cleaner!

This kit comes moulded in a somewhat sickly royal blue, and is equipped with a bevy of ridiculous customizing parts. There’s the ubiquitous MPC turbocharger for the engine (although it really could have used it in real life!) and louvres (de rigeur for 80′s sporty driving), as well as a bunch of stupid wheel flares, a new front end (with 4 headlights??) and a whale tail spoiler. So lame. As if you thought the EXP wasn’t lame enough, well, guess again… it could be so much worse.

Dude... what the... Okay, so we've got a non-standard colour, dumb stripes and what the what is that front end on the side of the box? It's like the Atari 2600 version of a frog... from hell!

Dude… what the… Okay, so we’ve got a non-standard colour, dumb stripes and what the what is that front end on the side of the box? It’s like the Atari 2600 version of a frog… from hell! It sucks I can’t redeem my “golden wheels” tokens now. What a ripoff!

The engine is quite detailed, and you can almost feel the power coming from the 1.9L carbureted engine. In that respect, it’s just like the real thing! I’m sure most EXP owners could “almost feel” some power too, just not quite there… The underhood area is not badly finished, there’s a tiny bit of wiring detail and there are two fluid bottles to go on the fender walls. I painted them with clear blue and clear green over white to simulate some fluids. Of course, if I wanted to depict anything other than a factory fresh EXP, I’d have had to lay some puddles under this wheezy little monster!

The interior on this kit is far better than on the Monogram. For one thing, it doesn’t have rear seats, which is much more realistic. It also has nice carpet texturing, which is something a lot of other companies really didn’t get right on their cars. The dash as a good instrument cluster which matches the layout in the sales brochures I’ve seen, and the unique black piping (I’m sure it adds horsepower… right?) found in real cars is in this kit, wherease it was absent in the smaller one.  The backup light shape is also better, if I remember right.

This is where the magic happens... kinda. The anemic 1.9L four and racingly-piped seats are separated by a ralleye-inspired black dashboard! Huh...

This is where the magic happens… kinda. The anemic 1.9L four and racingly-piped seats are separated by a ralleye-inspired black dashboard! Huh…

Fit of the kit is a solid meh; typical of a later MPC. The big problem is the end caps; they have NO LOCATING PINS! That’s right… there’s nothing to help you align the front and rear bumpers! To rectify this, I glued little pieces of styrene sheet in place on the body to make “stops” for the bumpers. This aided in assembly an infinite amount, and saved copious amounts of rework at the final assembly stages. I’ve used this trick since, too, and it’s always a winner!

Here are  the little 'teeth' I made to locate the rear bumper. I did  the same at the front end.

Here are the little ‘teeth’ I made to locate the rear bumper. I did the same at the front end.

Painting and Finishing:

I did a lot of research on EXPs for this kit. I didn’t want to screw up the colours like I did on the little kit. My brother had a sales catalogue from the 1982 model year, and there is an EXP owner’s club on the web that provided a lot of good pictures. It’s there I found out that in order to promote a sporting feel, all dashboards were black. I assume that this is some weird quantum physics trick, or else related to blackbody radiation and photon absorbtion. Maybe, by reflecting less light, the resistance of the EXP was reduced, improving top speed? Most of us would have thought more horsepower, torque or less weight would have been a simpler option. However, the gurus at Ford settled on black dashboards. Of course, these were the same geniuses who used the early Thunderbirds in EXP ads because they were both two seaters. Uh huh…

I did the car in a dark metallic grey, a legitimate colour, with a red interior. This is a completely legit combination, as far as I can tell. I really do take getting my cars as accurate as possible finish-wise very seriously. These kits are meant to be mouments to automotive history. Now, it’s a part of history we’d rather forget, but I can’t let that happen, lest we be forced to repeat it. Never Again.

From any angle, the Dark Charcoal metallic and Red interior make a stunning combination. It helps the EXP's dorky demeanor a lot.

From any angle, the Dark Charcoal metallic and Red interior make a stunning combination. It helps the EXP’s dorky demeanor a lot.

The Grey was made up using silver and grey metallic Jacquard pigments and some Future sprayed over grey primer. The interior was Testors Model Master Acrylic Guards Red, and some darker red pastel was used on the carpet, to bring out the fibres. I glossed the dash and seats to give them that sickly “vinyl shine”, while the cloth bits were flat coated with Ceramcoat flat.

The only custom touch on this car is my choice of wheel. The stock wheels that come with the kit are not right, as far as I can tell, so I went with the custom wheels. I thought that, if I did the center spokes black (a very modern touch) I could really bring this awkward little guy forward in time.  Even with the white letters, I think the new wheels with their black, glossy centers and chrome trim rings really makes it look modern. Maybe the EXP was ahead of its time?

Nah.

Check the stylin' wheels. They really do help update the EXP. Certainly moreso than that weird front end...

Check the stylin’ wheels. They really do help update the EXP. Certainly moreso than that weird front end…

Check our the powertrain. A misnomer if there ever was one.

Check our the powertrain. A misnomer if there ever was one.

Conclusions:

While a bit rough around the edges, a competent modeller can turn this rather rare and under-appreciated kit into something quite presentable. It is a fun kit to build, if for no other reason than it is so weird, and such a product of its time.

If you like cars, and you like weird cars, then this is definitely one you need for your collection. Not one for the inexperienced, mind you, but one for those who can work around some pitfalls and make a nice pot out of a lump of clay.

From the back, the EXP does have a certain sporty appeal. It definitely has a big rear window!

From the back, the EXP does have a certain sporty appeal. It definitely has a big rear window!

Even for a small car, the EXP's engine compartment looks a bit empty. That should tell you about just how low people's expectations had fallen when it came to "sporty motoring".

Even for a small car, the EXP’s engine compartment looks a bit empty. That should tell you about just how low people’s expectations had fallen when it came to “sporty motoring”.

The 1982 EXP was definitely unique in its styling. It seems like it was supposed to have pop-up headlights, but that these were cancelled at the last minute. While awkward, the cars do have a cult following, and a nice one in good condition really donesn't look that bad.

The 1982 EXP was definitely unique in its styling. It seems like it was supposed to have pop-up headlights, but that these were cancelled at the last minute. While awkward, the cars do have a cult following, and a nice one in good condition really doesn’t look that bad.

4 comments

  1. Nice classic! I’ve been collecting up the 80′s classic foxbody mpc mustangs! I too am from the 80′s. Love a lot of the cars wish they had made the 85? Cavalier z-24 2 door “wolf in sheeps skin” the ads stated! Need to figure out that red its period perfect for fords from the 80′s

    1. Rock on! 1980′s all the way, man! I used to have a big LN7 poster in my room when I was a kid. At the time, itg seemed cool.

      The Model Master Guards Red is pretty close to the Ford red from that era, I think. I used it on the EXP’s interior, but I seem to remember a red like that on a lot of Mustangs.

  2. Well done on this kit. Yes, I’m one of those who actually likes the 80′s kits. Just finished the ’79 Mustang and wetbikes. You kinda gotta be from the 80′s to like the 80′s. Your review has helped me to decide to buy this kit. But I will not be able to resist including the uglier options! he he

    1. Hey Mike!

      Thanks for the compliments. I appreciate them! I’m a huge fan of ’80s kits, so I’m glad there’s someone else out there like me!

      You’re right; if you’re not from the 80′s, then you likely won’t have the same love for these things as we do. Heck, I grew up with all these “loser” cars all around me! It feels good for me to be able to build some up as plastic kits. It’s like resurrecting those magical days when Transformers were new and Knight Rider ruled!

      I hope you can find one of these EXPs! I think it would be a blast to “Street Freak” it all up with the accessories, too; I just couldn’t because I only had the one kit, and stock always comes first for me. I did customize my Omni though, since I have a spare. I’ll post it one of these days, too!

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