AMT 1/25 1976 Volkswagen Scirocco (OOB)

In life, it’s important to be studious, responsible and efficient. That’s what we’re all taught, anyway. That’s what is drummed into us from the first day of school until the day we retire. Whether it’s by parents, teachers, bosses or spouses, I’m sure most of us have been given reminders about this at some point or another. Let’s face it, that’s how society works, and by and large, it seems to work passably well.

But… most people would just like to cut loose at least once in a while. Like a party-animal version of Mr. Hyde waiting to pop up to Dr. Jekyll’s surface, most everyone has a part of them that wants to be “wild and crazy” sometimes. We want to throw the rules to the wind and do something we WANT to do, not just HAVE to do because someone else says so.

This rebellious streak can be both good and bad. If managed properly, it can allow for personal growth and an overall strengthening of one’s character. If let get out of control, it can lead to ruin.

The same thing goes for car makers, and was perhaps the most true in the Automotive Dark Ages. In these hopeless times, from about 1973 to 1985, almost all the fun in driving was squeezed out of automotive design. Like running over an orange with a train, nearly every last drop of excitement, performance and even style were wrung out of North America’s cars. Gone were huge engines and outlandish styling. Replacing them was a new breed. A sickly, runty crop of two- and three-box econobeaters. These cars were a grey, pasty, zombie-like procession of “responsible” transportation. They lurched and coughed around the roads on anemic 4-cylinder engines, doing their level best to enforce a Spartan utility on transportation that hadn’t been seen since the day of the Model T.

Part of the reason for this was the multiple oil crises, but government regulations on pollution and collision safety also helped the demise of the quintessentially “American” big car and slaughtered the muscle car (except for F-bodies). The failure of the Big 3 (and AMC, but let’s be real, they were already dead) to read the trends based on the increasing sales of foreign cars didn’t help the North American auto enthusiast much, either.

With this as a backdrop, makers from all countries were eager to try and recapture some of the feared-forever-lost enthusiast market. Sure, there’d never be a car with the tire shredding performance of the muscle cars in their prime, it was (incorrectly) figured, but at least the beaters could be spruced up and make sporty LOOKING with pretentions to excitement. And so, the car makers began to find a way to express a “wild side”; to find an outlet for that wild-and-crazy side so many people wanted at least a hint of in their cars.

Now, when one thought of sporty cars, back in the day, VW was not a brand that came to mind. With the various generations of Golf GTi, that has changed, but back in the mid ‘70s, that egg had yet to hatch. However, VW had, in fact, been producing a sporty model for ages. That was the Karmann Ghia, a 2+2 coupe and convertible that was half way between a Beetle and a Porsche, with the underpinnings of the former and the styling panache of the latter.

However, in 1974, the Beetle was going to be bowing out, and the first of the new “people’s cars”, the Golf (Rabbit in North America) was about to hit the road. Sadly, while more modern than the Nazi-era design of the venerably quirky Beetle, the fashionably super-square, two-box Golf was not a shape suited to sporty motoring. Something was needed to replace the Karmann Ghia; something based on the Golf. That something was the Scirocco.

The Scirocco was, essentially, as the EXP was to the Escort, or the TC3/024 was to the Omni Hatchback. It was a more handsome (Yes, bug-eyed EXPs are hot, and you know it!), more sporting, more youthful approach to transportation. It wasn’t all “responsibility” and “A-to-B transport”. As a strictly two-door hatchback, the Scirocco was a bit less practical than a Golf, and it was also much more rakish in appearance. It was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, and his Italian flair helped to set the car apart from its more mundane brother. Interestingly, the same man also designed the Brazilian Karmann Ghia TC, something Europeans never got. If you look at that car, you can see how it evolved into the Scirocco.

The Scirocco was offered in North America, too, although it was a bit different from its European contemporaries. Due to the North America’s slowness to adopt anything but round, sealed-beam headlights, the first Sciroccos for North America ditched the European square lights and got four round ones. This immediately separated it from the Golf, which had only 2. Personally, as a fan of the Isuzu BRAT, I find that cars with four, close-coupled, round headlights are pretty sexy. I guess VW was hoping others would too. They weren’t wrong, and while not a huge seller like the Beetle or Golf, the Scirocco sold well enough that it was offered until 1988/89, when replaced by the Corrado.

The Scirocco, in North American trim, got a single engine, on the “large” end of the family spectrum. Early cars had a 1.5L, while this went up for ’75 and ’76 to a 1.6L, and then it dropped again. The 1.6L made a whopping 76 hp, whether you needed it or not, and given that the car weighed in at around 1900lbs, that wasn’t terrible. Consider: Faust, tipping the scales at almost twice the weight, but mounting a 4.9L engine of 210hp, was an actual performance car. The Scirocco only gives up 27% in hp/lb. Significant, but the Scirocco never claimed it was going to be running T/As competition, either!

While it never took off like the “hot hatch” Golf GTi, the Scirocco did a lot to prove that WV could and would produce a more exciting car, and it showed other makers that there was a need for such a thing. As mentioned, many other makers would develop special-bodied versions of their “daily drivers”, but they all came a long time after the Scirocco made its debut. Considering that it was an important trendsetter, you might think it would have been heavily kitted.

You’d be wrong. In fact, the only people to kit the Scirocco in the mainstream were Imai and AMT. Yes, AMT. No Revell Germany model was made of this car. That’s something I don’t get. Still, it’s not a common kit, so the announcement that the AMT was being reissued by Round 2 should have generated a lot of buzz. Thing is, I don’t remember hearing much about it. I do remember finally seeing one of the reissues in a Hamilton Ontario hobby shop, but the price was so exorbitant that I could not justify it. Thankfully, the very next day, I managed to snag an original at the HeritageCon model show at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum! It was less than half the cost of the reissue, and it was an original!

So, let’s turn back the clock to a time when Monza Spyders were considered hot spit, and check out how the boys from Osnabruck tackled the sporty car question!

Get ready: this is the original issue AMT Scirocco in all its glory!

The Box:

The Scirocco kit is from ’79, and share similarities in many ways with other AMT boxes of the time. You get a drawing of the subject, vs. a picture of the kit (retouched, of course!), and it’s coming at you on an angle! As odd as it is, the angle is really good at allowing the Scirocco’s front three-quarter view fill up the entire area allotted for it. The thing that struck me the most, though, wasn’t the car at all. It was the background.

Rather uniquely, the Scirocco I portrayed on a simple black background. It’s not loud, visually startling or overly colourful. However, the silver car on the black background is really very classy. It’s simple, and it works. It uses the car’s shape and distinctive-yet-familiar front end styling to hook you, while the plain background subconsciously draws you in. The background is literally nothing, yet it does so much to enforce the foreground that it’s a stunning example of less being more.

Continuing the trend, the kit’s “VW Scirocco” writing in thin, tall white letters, seemingly “growing” from the white band at the bottom of the artwork reinforce the simplicity and class. The overlapped “C”s are the only non-standard bit going on, and because of that, they are an interesting visual focal point. I find this box very, very strange. I’ve never seen a box from this era so uncluttered and basic, yet so effective in holding my attention. In all honesty, the “AMT” block in red is rather ruinous to the effect. Having it smaller and off to one corner might have been better, actually.

Classy and distinctive, the Scirocco’s box helps the little import stand apart from other, more mainline subjects of the same time period. The AMT Logo kinda ruins it, actually.

As for the illustration of the car, this is about as good as a tarted-up Rabbit is going to look, I think. The distinctive North-American spec headlight job is on full display, and the angle makes the hood look huge. This, of course, was very big in American styling at the time, so making the VW look more “wide, long and low” was a good idea. Of course, it’s not, but it’s still better looking than a Rabbit.  Sadly, not much can cover up those dork-monster Euro-style stamped steel wheels. I personally hate that kind of wheel. It reminds me of the kind that come with the Fuzz Duster, which I think make a car look cheap and used, even if it’s new.

What’s also interesting about the box is that it doesn’t tell you what year the Scirocco is, nor does it mention a scale. That latter part is rather odd, given that scale is a big deal for car builders. If you’re all about 1/24, you aren’t going to be pleased to find it’s a 1/25, and vice versa. However, maybe they figured that if you really want a Scirocco, you won’t be picky. They’re right, from my standpoint, but it’s an odd omission. The tell you it is a model kit (no duh…) and that it can be build stock or “road racer”.

I also find it strange that there’s no mention of the year. After all, not all Sciroccos are the same. In fact, this particular equipment fit narrows the year down to either ’76 or ’77. In 1976, VW introduced the one large wiper, vs. two more conventional ones. The “embedded” or “shrouded” turn signals also tell us that it’s pre-1978, as the cars after that have wrap-around signals. Then, there are the bumpers; they’re extended, but they don’t flow right to the fenders. Also, in ’78 they blacked out the B-pillar, which I will admit makes the car less dorky looking. However, you can barely make out that the pillars are silver on this model, so we know it’s pre- ‘78, and post-’75. I’m surprised that they came out with the kit in 1979, and didn’t do one of the current cars. Maybe they started the tooling and it took a while?

On the one side of the box, you get something very odd for a model box; a cutaway! Well, maybe not quite a cutaway, but a phantom view at least. Also, they finally deign to tell you this kit is 1/25! This view lets you see all the awesome kit that you can stick on to make this little sportster into a REAL racer. You get MASSIVE wheel flares, a HUGE front rollpan, covered headlights, “tuned racing exhaust” (coming out the side, of course), roll cage, and more. Sadly, this box was damaged, but under the damage is a custom wheel (you can just make it out) and apparently a custom seat. Throw on Firestone racing tires and BBS wheels and you’ve got one bad-arsed machine. Of course, there were no mentions of improving the performance, no engine mods or suspension upgrades, no bigger brakes. So, what that tells me is that adding flares and funny exhaust and pretending to go fast is nothing new! Take THAT Civic crew!

Extreme flares for extreme tuning!!! No engine mods, though. Check those BBS wheels, too: EPIC!

On the other side of the box, as well as the two end flaps, you get a face full of the race version. This time, tough, it’s a booty call, and as Poncho would say, “wider is better”. This car has serious curves, and those wheel flares are completely, and utterly, ridiculous. I’m hoping that the drawing is a bit off because if it isn’t, the car’s going to look like it has tumours growing on each fender! You can see the rear rollpan treatment here, too, as well as the one feature that almost every custom from the ‘70s needs: sunset Stripes!! That’s right, it wouldn’t be cool if it didn’t have red, orange and black stripes on it! Just ask a ’79 Cobra about that one. Dressed up like that, the car looks like it should be towed behind Gold Rush the way one tows a 2003 Hyundai Accent behind a Winnebago today!

Even with some damage, you can’t miss the size of those flares, nor the de rigeur “sunset stripes”.

As with so many MPC kits, the custom seems to be the feature here, not the stock version. At least, though, the main box art was for the stock one, and really, that surprises me. However, the classy simplicity would have been lost if that yellow, flared monstrosity had been on the box top. I’d have still wanted it, mind you…

The Kit:

When this kit was reissued, they used this box for the new kit too. They decided it was the best version, since it didn’t have any “Matchbox” labelling on it like the other issues of this kit back in the ‘80s. So, then, how do you know that this is an original? Well, other than the fact the box looks beaten up a bit, you can immediately tell when you take the lid off!

No, it’s not just the musty smell, although that helps, that gives it away. A bigger sign that this is an old one is that the kit is entirely moulded in RED. The new one is in a medium grey plastic. Other than that, the two kits are likely identical, or at least they ought to be. Still, seeing this one all in red was simultaneously fun and disappointing. There’s really no fun in a plain grey or white car kit, but they are easier to paint and primer, and the worst colour for that, I’ve found, is red. So, while neat, the red makes me think that this one’s going to be a bit painful.

That’s how it’s done old-skool!!! All red baby! With a bit less flash but more coverage problems, this is an orignal Scirocco, all right!

There are six small runners of parts, as well as the body, chassis, interior pan and rear seats. Interestingly, this kit is a bit unconventional in that you have to tack on the sides of the interior. In a way, this is far, far better, since it makes getting to the door detail much easier. However, there’s a risk that it won’t hold together as well as a one-piece bucket. Also, alignment may prove to be a bit tougher, since these old kits aren’t known for their laser-like precision. In addition to the red, you get clear windows, a bunch of tires and a small chrome rack.

The shininess of the plastic and the texture on the carpet are obvious in this shot.

The plastic is just what you’d expect. It’s shiny and fairly brittle, as I find most old red plastic tends to be. It’s got sharp corners, too, so handle carefully! Because it’s an original, the detail is pretty crisp, overall, and there’s almost no flash! I guess that’s one way to tell it’s not an MPC, eh? One thing that is MPC-like, though are those flares. They are, indeed, as big as they look on the box. Man, what in the what were they thinking??? Sometimes, too much is just enough. This is NOT one of those times.

The chassis is nicely textured and has some good detail on it, even if the suspension is not that great. It’s certainly nowhere near as nice as that on the Tamiya Sierra XR4i, and it goes together in a very much unconventional way. Speaking of unconventional, I’ve seen cars with no interior side panels moulded in before, but usually in these the engine bay is part of the deal. Not here. The Scirocco has a completely separate three-piece engine bay that locates to the front subframe. Now that… that’s a bit on the weird side. I think it was done to make the kit cheaper for AMT, and it’ll be interesting to see how it all fits together. I have to admit, I have some worries about alignment on this one.

The chassis is pretty nice. Sure, the texturing might be a bit much, but it’ll look nice with a super-light wash.

The detail is surprisingly good, especially on the interior parts. The Scirocco has some “Euro flare” to it, including weird patterns on the door panels, and the separate plates for this really capture it. In addition, like so many other VWs, the upholstery pattern on the Scirocco is a bit wild. Like a crazy ‘70s suit jacket (or curtains) come to life, the strange cross-check pattern is also replicated. Not sure how I’m going to handle that, I have to say… The carpeting too, is also really nice, and yes, the seats have backs to them. (Again, Tamiya… you’re getting beaten by AMT. C’mon, man… not cool.) The dash is also pretty good, so by and large, the Scirocco looks like it’s going to be just as much fun to build as a comparable MPC of some North American loser car.

The weird check-pattern on the seats is actually nicely reproduced. Not sure how to capture that once painted, but it seems like a neat challenge!

The engine is not quite as detailed as an MPC, though. The texturing on the block is there, and will look good with a wash, unless the block turns out to be black. Oddly, while calling out the other accessories, the instructions don’t tell you the colour of the block. Hmmm… There are some accessories (like the distributor and oil filter) moulded onto the block, and that’s going to need some creative painting. Still, the transmission is a separate assembly, and it is a weird, almost squished-hexagon-shaped affair, with what I think is the starter moulded in. Overall, not the best engine, but definitely something different and I’m sure it can be made to look good.

Here are most of the engine bits. Good texture, but the moulded in accessories and the battery/intake as one piece do hurt it a bit.

The steel wheels suck. I mean that as a design criticism, and the kit captures the Euro-steelie “so-lame-I’d-not-even-mount-snow-tires-to-them” vibe very well. They look like little mechanical pies, or some kind of odd hats for a robotic Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee. (I guess that makes sense, the Scirocco did fall down the “Rabbit” hole, after all!) The only problem is that they should have through-holes at the “bottom” of the indents. Of course, they don’t, and drilling out a square hole like that is going to be tough. Maybe some outlining pen, like on a Gundam, is called for?

Pies or hats? Either way, these stock wheels are lame. Accurate but lame. The custom wheels are light years better.

The tires are okay, but tiny. The Scirocco was not rockin’ Corvette-class rubber. They are very small in diameter and are quite thin, very much in tune with the Rabbit underpinnings. The aftermarket tires are much wider, and are lettered. They’re still very small, though. The best part of the aftermarket setup is not the flares and rollpans, mind you, it’s the BBS wheels! I love ’87 GTAs, as you know. My favourite part is the gold lacy wheels with the chrome outside rim. I love that style so much, I even have knockoff BBS wheels (I cannot afford the real things) for my G8! Well, this little car comes with the same thing! The custom wheels are, as seen on the box, supposed to be gold-spoked BBSs. The kit does an adequate job of simulating these wheels, and they are, in fact, “through-moulded” with the outer lacy part actually having real spaces between them. Sadly, like all American car kits, it seems, the rims attach right AT the rim, so getting them off perfectly will be tough.

The thicker “racing” tires are on the left, the the thinner stock one on the right. Quite a difference!
This is my daily driver, a 2009 Pontiac G8 GT. It was nearly perfect from the factory, but it needed gold lacy wheels. NOW it’s perfect. I wanted a four-door GTA. I got a four-door GTA, but with comfort, handling and power.

The rest of the chrome rack, while small and simple, is nice; mostly. The parts are even in their plating, although there are sink marks in BOTH bumpers where the attachment pins are extruded backwards. This REALLY sucks, and is going to be a challenge to fix. I’d say maybe you can leave it, but I’m not sure you can; in some lights, it’s really obvious. The grille is nice, but as to how well it fits into the body shell… Let’s just say my experience with the AMT ’76 Gremlin has left me a bit cold on AMT and front-end fit-ups. We’re going to have to wish for luck here, and I’m not a big believer in that kind of thing.

Simple but well done, the chrome rack doesn’t contain any inappropriately plated engine accessories for once. A bit of gold paint on those wheels, and they’ll look just like mine above, or so close as to not matter.


The instructions on the Scirocco are typical AMT of the era. They’re generally clear enough, but there are some problems. Firstly, there’s nothing that really points out exact placement when it comes to things like the air induction/battery piece. They show it in the engine build step, but mention it’s only shown for illustration; it’s placed in the final step. However, it isn’t SHOWN in the final step where it goes. It’s shown on the left front fender well somewhere, I guess. Oddly, though, it’s covered by the car’s outer fender in the view given. This is really poor planning, but it gets worse.

The odd order of putting in the engine with the axle at the end, while simultaneously building the suspension, may seem fraught with peril. I feel the same. Strongly. However, clear instructions with multiple views to illustrate how to do it make it a lot easier. Wait… they WOULD, if we got some. But we don’t. We just get some dotted lines that vaguely say “Stick it here!”. I think this is going to need some serious test fitting and maybe some creative workarounds to go nicely. I’m thinking it’s best to cut off the top part of the axle holder on the tranny, put in the suspension, and then, at the end, seat the engine. Sadly, I can’t tell this from the poorly detailed and oddly vague instructions, so it’ll be a game-time decision, I guess.

There’s a lot left to be desired in this final assembly diagram. Clarity is not helped by vague arrows pointing to places obscured by the rest of the kit… The parts tree layout opposite is neat, and unusual for an American kit of this age.

Another weird thing is that they show the interior bolting onto the chassis. They show the assembly of the engine bay. They mention the bay attaches to the chassis. But they never show it all together. Worse yet, they don’t show if you have to put the engine bay in first (my guess is yes) and then the chassis/interior or if it’s the other way around, or if they go in together… Gaaaaah! Even better; they don’t show the chassis/interior ever going into the car. They show the windows and engine bay, but never the interior/chassis. What. In. The. What… seriously AMT? All the good will from nice texture and seatbacks is being burned up at a prodigious rate by these poor instructions.

The interior fits to the chassis, but they don’t need to show something that noobz-level, right? These are not the clearest instructions going.

There are only a few decals with this kit, but they are the massive “sunset stripes” as well as racing credits and “Scirocco” writing. That means they’re all for the custom variant. No engine bay decals, and sadly no upholstery decals, which would have been a really nice touch. Sadly, this is not corrected on the reissue, either. One thing that is nicer on the reissue, though, is a list of interior and exterior colours. Still, like with all cars, it’s going to be best to try and find some literature or some “for sale” examples online to get the full details right.

The decal sheet is nice enough, but only good for the custom racing version. I’d have liked some engine decals…


This kit is something of a surprise. AMT did bring out some really out-of-left-field stuff in the late ‘70s, including surprising European kits like this and the various Capri II kits. In many ways, this little VW Sportster is a wonderful looking kit. It has great interior texture and the engine looks passable, there’s decent chassis texture and the aftermarket wheels are really, REALLY cool.

I love to be able to get American kits of foreign cars. They combine the American kitmaker’s attention to things like full seats (That’s never going away… ever!), carpet texture, full engines and (often) lettered tires with the allure of non-American subjects. I have found that some of the best kits of European and Japanese cars are AMTs and MPCs. That’s why I was so excited to get my hands on this Scirocco! Well, that and it’s a somewhat-dweebish kinda-loser machine from the worst time in automotive history. Truth be told, though, I have always loved them, and honestly do think they look great.

The sad part is this kit has all the hallmarks of a troublemaker. Lots of unnecessarily separate parts, like the engine bay and the interior walls will likely combine with the American kitmakers’ penchant for alignment issues to create a potential nightmare. Test fit and pre-assemble are quite possibly the big watchwords for building this little guy. Add to this a highly unconventional assembly process, and there’s red flags a-plenty for builders to watch for.

So, with that said, the Scirocco is not for everyone. I think you’re going to need some pretty serious experience to get this one to go together right, and patience and planning will pay off. If you’re expecting Tamiya-level final assembly and nice, solid alignments and locations, get off this bus now. If you are a casual builder with only moderate experience, this one is going to tax you, I think, and as long as you’re cool with that, you’ll likely be okay. Still, this isn’t one for beginners, and you’re going to have to cut your chops on some more conventional kits before wrangling with this one.

Overall, this is a neat kit of an interesting automotive oddball, and one that, with some work, should make a neat and unusual display piece. Not for tyros or the faint of heart, it should still be able to be built up into a decent replica. Care and control are going to be required, which is ironic, since this was supposed to be VW’s “wild and crazy” member of the family!

Still, if you like VWs, sporty compacts or just odd cars, you can’t miss out with this. Grab an original or a reissue, it won’t matter much. Just be ready, it could be one waskely wabbit with more than a couple tricks up its sleeves!

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