If it’s one thing that pickup truck ads are always going on and on about, it’s how tough their respective products are. Of course, in today’s world, being tough isn’t enough; luxury, power, economy and style all have to meld together. There was a time, though, when that wasn’t the case. Trucks were simpler, and they were pretty much all work and very little play.
While that started to change with the Cameo in the late ‘50s, there was still plenty of the basic, workmanlike nature of trucks to be found on units made in the early 1960s. The popular Chevy C/K Fleetside is a perfect example of this. While there were dress-up options, and you could get an automatic tranny and a V8 engine, at the core, the truck was a sturdy frame with a box bolted to it and a no-muss, no-fuss bulletproof drivetrain bolted in among it.
It’s no surprise that the Revell 1/25 1964 Chevy Fleetside starts out the same way. If you’re curious about what’s in the box, you can read about it in the Out of Box Review.
Unlike a lot of car kits that I build, which are unibody vehicles, and thus have full pan undersides with attached subframes, the Fleetside has a full frame. It’s very similar to the van kits I’ve made, as you would likely expect. To build this kit, it’s a good place to start and work your way up, quite literally.
Unfortunately, despite being from 1996, the level of detail on the chassis frame is not all that great. Now, before too much disappointment sets it, it’s important to realize that even in real life, the frames on these trucks were basically just networks of I-beams welded together, and in that respect the chassis is not a bad replica. However, given the fairly new lineage of the kit, I would have expected some kinds of detail, either with weld lines, bolt heads, rivets or routed lines. Sadly, though, none of that is present.
The good thing is that the frame is very strong and very simple. There aren’t too many pieces to glue to it, and there are none required to give it any extra rigidity. All the crossmembers are attached, and even the engine support pan between the A-arms is moulded in. There are only a few pieces that bolt onto the main frame, and these include the suspension and differential as well as the spare tire bracket and exhaust pipe.
The rear suspension consists of a one-piece differential that includes long support arms. This fits very well in place, and there’s a separate torsion bar and shock absorbers that get attached as well. At the front, the complicated tie-rod and sway bar assembly is moulded as one piece, and attaches to the lower A-arm assembly before going into the chassis. There is also a pair of shock absorbers there as well. The rear tire bracket is a single piece, but I found the support legs a bit too long and I had to trim them down to fit properly. The exhaust pipe is also one piece, and while it has nice flange detail at the muffler and other joints, it does need to have the final face drilled out. This makes a bit difference.
I painted the chassis frame, and all other components with Testors Model Master Acrylic (MMA) Aircraft Interior Black (AIB). There’s nothing fancy on these trucks, and from what I can tell, the frames are just black. I then flat coated them with some Delta Ceramcoat Indoor/Outdoor Matte Urethane Varnish and gave them a satin coat with the same stuff, just cut with Future.
To add some variety, I painted the front suspension and rear torsion bar in MMA Steel, and gave the metal components a light wash of Citadel Nuln Oil and Devlin Mud. This adds a slightly used patina to the metallic paint, and makes it look far more realistic. I didn’t want it to look beaten, but no bare metal on a car survives shiny for more than the first drive home!
For the exhaust system, I used MMA Steel on the pipe, Jet Exhaust on the part coming off the engine (hottest part) and Aluminum for the muffler. I have no idea if it was right, but it added some visual variety, and that was good enough for me. I used the same washes, and then satin coated the entire thing as I did the chassis.
Wheels of (Mis)Fortune:
If there’s one thing I notice on this kit it’s that Revell gets some things nicely right, and others horribly wrong. One instance of the latter is the tires. While the wheels and hubcaps are all very nice, the tires are wrong. Dead wrong. They are provided as very nice wide whitewalls. “So, what’s wrong with a nice set of wide whites?” you ask. Well, as many on the forums informed me, this style of tire was out of date in the very early ‘60s. A mid-‘60s truck like this would have had thin whitewalls, which were by then all the rage.
As you likely know, or can see from this site, I generally build losers from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. I don’t have a lot of spare tires from the ‘60s. In fact, I didn’t have any. Add to this the irony that it was the idea of building a dressy truck with wide whitewalls that attracted me to this kit in the first place, and you have a bit of a conundrum. I did want to build this thing stock, and to mitigate the many wrongs that Revell calls out in the painting instructions. However, I didn’t have any choice in tires.
Thank goodness for Hobby Lobby! With a 40% off coupon, I managed to snag a ’66 Galaxie! This had pad-printed thin whitewalls of almost the exact right size. They were beautiful, needing only a tiny bit of cleanup to look perfect. Sure, I paid like $18 for a set of tires, but my brother needed some parts too, so it was a good deal. To make the wheels look really dressy, I applied a good coating of Turtle Wax Ice liquid wax. NOTE: I used the old formulation clear stuff. This works great; you apply to a tire and just let it sink it. It makes model tires really shiny. Of course, it’s long out of production, but I’m sure my half-bottle will last me long past my own out-of-service date!
I painted the wheels the same colour I mixed for the body, which was a bright blue. This is a mix of MMA Gloss White, GM Engine Blue and a couple of other colours I had kicking around. I couldn’t duplicate it, but it sure looks nice! The wheels are done in body colour because I’m two-toning the truck. Otherwise, they’d be black. I don’t like black wheels on a car, so I was glad to have the option. Amazingly, the wheels fit the Galaxie tires very well; they’re a shade too big, but the Galaxie rubber stretches enough to go on and look fine. It’s even the right width!
I only used one kit tire, and that was for the spare. I had no choice, and I wasn’t wasting a good thin whitewall on something you’d never see. I just put the kit tire in “upside down” so the blackwall faces out (down). I didn’t even insert the whitewall piece; there was no point. As for the hubcaps, I used Alclad II Chrome on them to get them looking as good as I could. The chrome on this kit was a fight, and I’ll talk about it more when I do the article on the final build up.
Attaching the tires was easier than I’m used to. There are little two-pronged snaps to attach the wheels. These are similar to the clips on ‘80s GI Joe toys. The wheels fit on perfectly and do roll somewhat freely, but not enough that the model will careen off a shelf.
Not Seeing Red – The Fleetside’s Engine:
One of the many erroneous paint applications called out on the box and/or instructions of this kit is the paint on the engine. Not surprisingly, the Chevy Red found on so many Tri-Chevy (and later) V8s is called out. After much reading and research on line and in print, I can safely say this is WRONG. It seems that Chevy used different colours for their truck and car engines, and that the truck engines were a darker, more industrial colour by far. While there are cases of crate motor replacements being red, it seems original ’64 Fleetsides (and Stepsides, for that matter) had non-red engines.
It does appear the colour varied from a dark grey, to a grey blue to a grey green. I’m sure there were batch-wise variations, and Chevy didn’t seem to care. For my Hi-Torque 283, I chose a blue-grey colour, actually the same PRU Blue I mixed up for my 1/100 Buccaneer! Compared to the body blue, it is much darker and more “industrially thick” looking. I painted the transmission in MMA Aluminum, because I wasn’t sure what colour it was supposed to be. Underside shots of stock trucks are almost impossible to find, and I never got a good answer. They could have been black, but that seemed boring, so I just used what I thought would look good.
Of course, there are inappropriately chromed valve covers and other components, and these were stripped down with yellow-can Easy Off oven cleaner. The valve covers are the same colour as the block. Interestingly, the decal sheet does have the appropriate and correct 283 Hi-Torque markings for the valve covers. I didn’t use them because I only found out about this marking after I’d already aged the block. Still, it’s a nice detail, and I commend Revell for having it.
The oil pan was done in MMA Steel, as were the alternator, the carb, fan and the driveshaft. The exhaust manifolds were done in Jet Exhaust and all metallic parts were given the same washes as mentioned above. I did the air cleaner in AIB, put on the decal and then Futured it all in. I then flat coated and satin coated the unit. The belt was done in AIB, and I glossed the pulleys, leaving the belt matte. To give a bit of “gas staining” to the carb, I also gave it a thin coat of a pigment-based paint I made. This is made from Future with some Jacquard-brand “Interference Gold” pigment dissolved in it. This gives a goldish shine, which when combined with the brownish “Devlin Mud” gives a nice “Carb gold” effect.
The engine fit together really nicely, and there were a few other nice separate extras, like the distributor and coil. Unfortunately, the oil filter and starter were moulded to the oil pan. Why this was the case I have no idea, but it was disappointing. However, Revell redeemed themselves with the alternator/generator (whichever it is… I’m not sure). If it’s one thing I hate on model cars it’s that alternators and power steering pumps (something notably missing on this kit) just hang out in space on the ends of the belts. There are never support arms. WTF? That is NOT how belts work, my friends! Sure, I could build arms, but I generally hate that kind of work, so I don’t bother. On this model, though, Revell gives a very nice support arm, and not only does it look fabulous washed, it also fits up to the engine PERFECTLY!!
One area that always gives an issue, it seems, is the mating of the exhaust components. Once the engine and driveshaft were in place, I had very little work to do to massage the previously-installed exhaust pipe up to match with the manifolds. I did this while the glue on the manifolds was still a bit wet, so I had some “wiggle room”, just in case. However, it didn’t take much to get the flats in the main pipe to mate with the manifold extensions.
Despite being a fairly simple chassis to build, and without a tonne of texture and detail, I’m very pleased with how the frame and engine on the Fleetside turned out. Sure, it’s drab and workmanlike and it has only the tires for a splash of colour, but that’s right in keeping with the way trucks were back then.
The next step will be to get the interior done. I know there are some accuracy issues there, too, but I’m hoping it will turn out as well as this part did!