’64 Chevy Fleetside Update 2: Inner Conflict

As I’ve mentioned before, the interior of a modern pickup truck is as nice as, if not nicer than, a lot of cars. Truck owners expect that they will have seats fittings that are as nice and comfortable to use as those found in even high-end automobiles, and expect nothing less than the full roster of gimmicks to play with as well. Unless you get the most stripped-down, bare-bones work truck, this is just how the market has evolved.

However, it has evolved from somewhere, and that origin is, unsurprisingly, the utilitarian, stripped-down, bare-bones “front offices” of the early pickups. Up until the 1970’s even, pickup trucks weren’t noted for their luxurious accommodations. However, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t try to spruce things up a bit, and the 1964 Chevy Fleetside is a perfect example of that. There were two trim levels on this truck, the Spartan base trim level and the slightly less-Spartan “Custom” cab.

One of my favourite parts of a car model is, in fact, the interior. Since that’s where most people spend their time in a car, I like to try and make it as accurate as possible. In addition, it’s also the part that seems to be given the least attention when a model is built for a box display. There are all kinds of opportunities to use pastel shading on carpets and seats, and there are many different textures and specularities of materials. Thus, the interior is usually a place to have a lot of visual interest and mix things up. It’s a bit of a playground, really, for me.

Of course, the interior is usually one of the more obvious ways to tell the trim level of a car, too. Fancier interiors tell you the car is upscale. Dashboard vents can tell you if there’s A/C installed, and seat type and fabric can often tell you what option package was chosen. There are often differences in dashboard instrumentation or trim, too. All of these factors make it possible to do some detective work and find out exactly what trim level the model is supposed to be. Here’s a surprise: it’s not always what the box says!

This is the finished interior bucket; it’s a lot smaller than what I’m used to! The black rubber floor is legit, as is the beige colour, almost regardless of your body colour choice!

Compounded Confusion:

When I first got this kit, I was quite excited. You can tell that from my Out of Box review. There was something about this kit that just “grabbed” me. It was something different, from a different era than I’m used to modelling. I liked the chrome and white whitewalls, two-tone paint and the overall “classic” aesthetic (vs. the “loser” aesthetic I normally gravitate to). However, as you know from my Chassis Update, the wide whites were a red herring. As I dug further into this kit, and what it represented, I found out that they weren’t the only details Revell and muddled up…

When I finish the kit, and we look at the body, I’ll go into more detail about paint schemes and trim levels. However, when it comes to the interior, the exterior of the cab is quite important. The reason for this is that the standard, and “custom” cabs are different. The Custom cab package has a different B-pillar, with an aluminum decorative panel (saying “Custom” right on it), different back window, and, of course, completely different interior.

The Custom cab, according to the research I did looking at old brochures and asking around the internet (thanks ThunderRocket!) had some pretty different options compared to the standard cab. Here’s a list that should cover most of it:

– different door panels with both white (or off-white, they look the same) inlays and armrests

– the ability to have an armrest on the passenger side, too (this was an option, but only for Customs, I think)

– dual visors

– full instrumentation

– chrome-trimmed controls

– chrome-trimmed lighter

– chrome horn-ring on the steering wheel

– chrome plate in front of the “dispatch box” (aka glove box)

– different padding and pattern of seat w. nylon fabric inset

– possibility of red seat, depending on truck colour

This shows some of the Custom interior options provided in the kit. Sadly, a horn ring wasn’t among them.

Looking at that list, it’s pretty easy to see that you SHOULD be able to look at the kit and determine almost right away which interior it has. Of course, since the kit has the Custom B-pillar, it should have all of this stuff, right. Sure. I also have this cool bridge in Brooklyn, if you’re looking to buy things…

Just as with the whitewalls, Revell really cocked-up the interior. It does have dual visors, what looks like full instruments and it most definitely has the “Chevrolet”-embossed chrome plate in front of the glove box. It also has dual arm rests (fancy!) and there’s no reason to not paint the control silver/chrome. However, it also has NO horn ring, and the seat is wrong. Looking at the brochure, the standard seat just a bench with a very simple pattern on it. The Custom seat is also a bench, but it has the fabric inlay with a white band across the top, and the vinyl bolsters. The kit seat is clearly the former.

So, what to do? The answer is obvious – make the interior as close to a Custom one as possible.

Get Your Beige On!

One thing that was constant in the interior, regardless of trim level, was tan. Every ’64 Fleetside had a tan interior, except Customs with a red seat where appropriate. Since I’m doing the truck blue, clearly I will have a tan interior. (Gack… imagine that, eh? Blue truck, red seat, beige dash… puke.) Finding the right colour tan, though, wasn’t easy. Part of the problem is that almost none of these trucks are properly restored, and most people customize the interiors and update them. Thus, I found lots of pics of updated interiors, some repainted in various colours, but nothing really that showed an original tan interior.

After doing some deduction, I settled on Model Master Acrylic (MMA) Sand. It’s a goldy-tan, that’s quite light and not too brown, not too yellow. It seemed to match the brochure, and that was good enough. I did the door panels, seat bolsters and dashboard in this colour. I also did the headliner and inside of the window pillars in this colour, since I assume they would all also be tan, as seen in the brochures. There’s not a lot of fun you can have with a purely tan interior, or so I though. However, that’s not true. I was able to apply some pastels to the headliner panels, and I used Model Master Enamel “Chrome Silver Trim” to pick out the visor brackets. I then flat coated the headliner with Delta Ceramcoat Indoor/Outdoor Matte Urethane Varnish and used a mix of it and Future to “vinyl” the visors. I wasn’t sure of this, but since my T/A’s visors are vinyl, and GM is loath to change anything, ever, it seemed fair.

As for the seat, I found that MMA “Roof Brown” was appropriate, even if the name was not. I painted the seating surface and halfway up the back in this colour, and then painted the horizontal stripe white. This isn’t quite correct in terms of placement or pattern to the real Custom seat, but I figured it would get the point across. I’ve heard there’s someone who makes decals for the proper seats, but to be honest, I wasn’t interesting in spending money on aftermarket to fix Revell’s screw-ups. I applied some different pastels to the brown and tan parts, sealing them with the same flat coat I used on the headliner. I then “vinyled” the bolsters and that was that.

The pastels on the Roof Brown seating surfaces really show up in this shot. While the pattern is wrong, the inclusion of the white stripe and the two-colour fabric is close to the correct Custom seat.

The dash board was easy… -ish. The tan went on fine, and I painted the instrument panel black. I wasn’t sure about this, but I think it’s correct. I used a Prismacolour silver pencil crayon to pick out the details, and used Testors Chrome Silver Trim (as detailed above) for the other controls. Then came the glass. The instructions call out for a transparent piece to cover the instruments. This is pretty normal on cars, but unusual for a kit to bother with. Sadly, the fit was horrible, and no amount of magic was going to get mine to fit. So, I opted to leave it off. Since the whole dashboard is glossy anyway, this made no difference.

That, though, is different, at least for me. I’m used to the padded “safety” dashboards of ‘70s and ‘80s cars. These are usually vinyl, so only semi-shiny. On this truck, though, the dash is painted metal, as was the custom in the day. (Safety was for babies – just don’t crash and you’ll be fine, right?) So, I was actually done when I glossed it! However, I used a different gloss. Normally, I swear by Future. I still do. However, I wanted to try Alclad’s “Aqua Gloss” I’ve been messing with it for chrome (separate story), and found it to dry much glossier, much faster, and with fewer coats than Future. Oh, it’s also even TOUGHER than Future, making it some kind of crazy “mother of all gloss coats”!

This is the dashboard before glossing with Alclad Aqua Gloss. You can see the detail is good, and matches the Custom cab requirements.

To my glee (some of the only joy found in this interior build), it worked great. Two coats and I had a shiny, smooth dash. I sanded it lightly and applied one more coat, but that was just to be sure. I painted the door panels tan with the white inset panels, and then painted the beige tops on the armrests (another feature of the Custom interior). I glossed them the same as the dashboard, since they are also hard surfaces. Then I had to apply some Bare Metal Foil (BMF) to the “Chevy” plate on the dash and the window cranks on the doors. This was unusual for me; I rarely deal even with chrome trim as my usual subjects eschew chrome for “Euro-sleek” flat black.

I will admit this gave me some much-needed enthusiasm back for this project. As you can tell, my excitement had been tempered by all the work I had to do to sort things out. Getting to chrome some interior stuff was a neat treat, and it went well. I painted the steering wheel white, and glossed it too. I was trying to figure out how to make a chrome horn ring for the longest time. I had some thin styrene rod; that would have worked… maybe. Then, I decided the best way was no way. Revell messed it up so badly on the cab that it wasn’t worth fixing. I don’t have enough of an attachment to these trucks to go to that level of work on it. So, I just glued in the steering wheel as it was. I figured that I’d already gotten this as close to correct as I could be expected to, and that I’d be fine with cutting my losses. I was right.

That’s a lot of beige. The white with chrome foil trim on the door panels breaks up the monotony. The chrome in front of the glove box doesn’t show well in this shot, sadly.

The interior bucket on this kit is WAAAY smaller than I’m used to. It’s also not very detailed, but that’s okay. The real trucks had pretty much nothing in them but the seats, dashboards and black rubber matting. To replicate this, I painted the entire cab black, and then used Delta Ceramcoat Indoor/Outdoor Matte Urethane Varnish on the underside (to match the chassis) and my “vinyl” paint on the matting, to give it a somewhat slick, rubbery sheen. I did the same thing to the gas, brake and clutch pedal.

Assembling the interior was easy. There was very little to glue in, and everything fell together rather nicely. The hardest part was locating the seat properly. The supports can hold the seat in a number of different ways, so it was important to test fit it numerous times. Eventually, I found the right place for it, but I suggest that anyone building this kit be aware of this small challenge.

Conclusions:

Normally, doing the interior of a car is my favourite part, and this one did turn out well, I think. I did enjoy it, but the game of “Styrene CSI” I had to play to decode the various features presented was less fun than it might at first seem. There’s no reason Revell couldn’t have given us the right seat and steering wheel to go with the dash and door panels. However, I’m pretty sure this interior also shows up (likely as incorrectly) in the numerous other versions of this kit.

I did like the contrast between the bits of chrome and the black rubber floor, and the fact that “armrests” were an option, certainly help to drive home the point about the way in which truck interiors have evolved over the last half century! The detail that is given in the interior is nice, and it paints up well. As always, there’s a bit of a place for some pastel work, and that is always enjoyable too.

Overall, the Fleetside’s interior is a pretty good representation of a Custom cab, and one that can be made more accurate with just a bit of paint work. As long as you know what you’re getting into, it’s not like it’s finicky or persnickety in any way.

Next Up: The Body and Final Assembly!

Well, it’s getting there! the interior bucket looks lonely on the chassis, but it’ll have to wait for a bit. There’s lots of polishing on this kit, and it’s going to take a while, I think.

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