Collaboration can be a good thing. If you think about all the famous pairings in history, like Simon and Garfunkel or chocolate and peanut butter, for example, you can see that each half of the pair brings something unique to the table, resulting in something that’s usually better than the sum of its parts. That can also often be the case in automotive endeavours. I mean, sure, the whole AMC/Renault collaboration wasn’t exactly rainbows and unicorns, but usually there’s more success than that. (Mind you, Alliances ROCK… where’s my kit of that bit of automotive awesomeness??)
One good example is the collaboration between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. One of their first collaborations was the Conquest/Starion (yes, I have a Starion kit, before you ask.), and it was pretty cool. Mitsubishi has a history of making some pretty nice performance cars, and the next time Chrysler and Mitsubishi joined forces it was to create a Dodge version of the Mitsubishi GTO, aka 3000GT. The outcome of this operation was the Dodge Stealth. This was a 2+2 that was more akin to a Pony Car combined with a Japanese street racer, and was both very innovative and very much of its times.
If you’ve read any of my car reviews, then you know I have a fetish for vehicles that were made in the Automotive Dark Ages, that sad and hopeless period between about 1973 and 1985, when cars were weak, ugly econoboxes with no more than pretentions to past glory (and no hope for future glory). However, by the latter half of the ‘80s, things had come around. The Grand National, IROC, GTA and new Mustangs were now embroiled in a legitimate horsepower war and people had begun to wake up from their econobeater nightmares to realize they had a right to demand better, more exciting and more advanced cars.
To service and enhance this demand, auto makers had begun to look for new ways of improving performance, handling and safety, while keeping fuel efficiency in mind. This lead to a generation of cars that was quite aerodynamically slippery, with thin, flowing lines and a general feeling of litheness. Compared to today’s relatively square and chunky cars, those of the ‘90s were much slimmer, pointier and smaller. They didn’t have to be quite as overbuilt for crashworthiness as today, and as a result they were lighter, as well. This meant they had good performance on less power, which is great, since engine technology couldn’t yet wring massive horses out of small engines, although that science was certainly on the rise.
A perfect example of a sporty car designed to make use of this new approach was the Dodge Stealth. Using the advanced engineering of the Mitsubishi 3000GT, but with a different body treatment, Dodge created a family of sporty coupes that were designed to appeal to a younger demographic, the one that wanted affordable performance. At the top end, however, was the Stealth R/T Twin Turbo. This was very advanced and powerful car. It sported a 3 litre, 24-valve, DOHC six-cylinder engine. Equipped with two turbochargers, this engine could crank out 296 hp and 306 lb.ft of torque. Add to this four-wheel steering and the result was a car that, for 1990, was way ahead of almost anything else out there.
This “budget supercar” was an immediate hit with auto enthusiasts. Of course, this was the era when that also meant that it was going to be a hit with model makers. Kids and adults alike wanted to build replicas of this newest Mopar performance machine, and there were several makers that jumped on board throughout the Stealth’s life. One was AMT, who offered several flavours of the twin-turbo in 1/25. However, there was another Stealth replica that could be had. It actually predated the AMT offering by a couple of years, being a replica of a 1990 or 1991 vs. that of the 1994 made by AMT. This kit was unusual for two reasons: 1.) it was offered by Lindberg, who were not major players at that time, and 2.) it was in the (by then) oddball scale of 1/20.
Being a fan of the unusual, I have both an AMT and a Lindberg kit. Today, we’ll take a look at the big one.
One thing that Lindberg did not understand, at least by the 1990s, was box art. Granted, AMT and Revellogram were also offering some sad box art, but Lindberg’s is just that little bit less inspiring. Unlike the wild and inspiring box art of the ‘70s and ‘80s, the box art of the ‘90s was all about… the kit. That’s all. Just a picture of the kit (or the real car) sedately parked, usually on a plain background. If it was a picture of a kit, it usually wasn’t retouched much, and many an iffy build graced box tops of this era.
The Lindberg Stealth kit is typical Lindberg in terms of its box. You can check out their other exciting boxes by checking out their Caravan and Sebring kits. This model is no better. It consists of a stereotypical red Stealth R/T on a red and white background. The box does announce that the kit is in “Big 1/20 Scale”, and they’re right; it is big! The box is considerably larger than a traditional 1/24 or 1/25 car kit, although not quite as big as Highjacker, which is a 1/20 van, and thus that much bigger.
There’s not much on the box that tells us much. The end pics are the same as that on the lid, although the side of the box does show a different view of the Stealth and highlights some of the kit’s features. Overall, it is not an inspiring or interesting box, and it would be easy to pass it over in a shop. If it weren’t for the fact that I know that I can count on this era of Lindberg kits to provide a good level of detail with high quality plastic, I doubt I would have even picked it up. Yes, it’s that boring.
We all have been told, since childhood, not to judge a book by its cover. This is a good policy, and certainly applies here. Opening the box, one is treated to a surprisingly large main body, chassis pan, interior bucket and several racks of parts. Well, that’s what you SHOULD see. My kit was purchased second hand, and a lot of the parts have been removed from the racks. However, as you can see from the picture, you get a lot for your money.
The plastic on this kit is of exceptionally high quality. It’s even higher quality than I’m used to seeing on my newest Gundam kits. It’s thick and heavy, with a shine that reminds me of Lego. I don’t know if this is ABS or Styrene; I would guess styrene, but it feels like ABS, and has a solid sound when parts come together. All the parts are moulded in red, except for a rack of chrome parts and the glass components. There are clear windows and signal lights and even a clear mirror! The tail lights are given in red. All the “glass” looks clear and in good shape, and a quick test fit shows it will go in, or “on” if you’re talking about the main windscreen, with little trouble.
The engine looks fairly highly detailed, and is reminiscent of an MPC kit with numerous the separate pieces. There’s no wiring for the engine, and while I don’t normally worry about things like that, at this scale, it might be something worth considering. The interior bucket looks good, with nice texturing on the carpeting, door panels and seats. Unlike a Japanese car kit, there are even backs to the seats: definitely good at a big scale like this! The chassis is deceptively simple looking, but there is a lot of detail moulded in it. Some careful painting and detailing will make this machine come alive for sure.
The suspension geometry, due to the four-wheel steering, is quite complicated on the real car, and the Lindberg kit captures this very, very well. There are a lot of details in the suspension components. Sadly, they’re likely going to end up black, but if they were painted in metal shades, a good wash would make them really pop. Of course, I might just do that anyway… Does anyone know what colour the suspensions on these cars were?
The chrome rack, as usual, has mostly inappropriately chromed parts intended to give the engine some flare. There are also four of the “sawblade” wheels usually associated with the Stealth and shown on the box side. Incidentally, you can see that my wheels are red, not chromed. That’s because the previous owner has taken the trouble to strip the chrome off of them for me. This is nice, since they should be a more “brushed aluminum” colour. Airbrushing with either Alclad aluminum or a thicker coat of Chrome should take care of these parts.
The tires are very nice. They are lettered, although white letters are inappropriate for this time frame, you could still try it if you wanted to. They are also low profile; something I’m not used to seeing in tires. A number of the “bottles” under the hood are also separate pieces, and this will greatly simplify painting them. Thank goodness they’re not the Monogram “drippy” moulded-in attempts at bottles; those suck.
I did a dry-fit of the windows and some of the other loose components, and found everything is a very nice fit. The kit is NOT a snap-tite, but it looks like the fit will be as positive, at least on the body/chassis interface.
Like all Lindberg kits, the Stealth comes with a very large instruction sheet, printed on both sides. Even those with mediocre eyesight won’t have a problem seeing these puppies! You could use them as a small table cloth, should the need arise. They are typical model car instructions; detailed enough to get the job done, but not exactly a reproduction of the CAD models.
There are no steps that really seem difficult or like they will pose undue difficulties, but one thing I find weird is that the front windshield goes on FROM THE OUTSIDE. That is NOT something I’m used to. The fit seems good for now, but once paint is on there, I can’t help but wonder how this is going to work out. I can hear my brother’s refrain now: “Use Tacky Glue!” He’s right on this count, I’m sure.
There are very few decals for the Stealth. There are the customary licence plates, but there are also some engine bay decals, which are very welcome and will make this large-scale kit look much more realistic. Now, there are some EPICALLY ‘90s neon-laser-squiggle decals. These stand out in a way that only a ‘90’s New Kids on the Block album cover, or the jacket of a ‘90s exercise home video could. Sadly, while epic, they are really a sad addition to such a great car, and there’s no good reason to put them on your model. In that way, they are super-realistic; there was never any reason to put on the real decals like this back in the day, either. If only I had this style of decal for my Beretta GT, I’d be laughing! I have no idea how the decals will work, but they look like they’re in good shape, so I don’t anticipate any problems.
I’ve never built a 1/20 kit, but I do have a growing number in my collection. I must say that the difference in the size of all the parts is quite amazing, and it’s like looking at the 1/100 parts on a Gundam kit that you’ve built the 1/144 of! I have 1/20 kits from over three decades and numerous makers, and I will admit that this one from Lindberg looks like the best one yet. The kit looks solid and well-made, with good detail and not a lot of extra gimmickry to try and justify the size. It’s like Lindberg just up-scaled a small kit, and in my mind, that’s perfect.
This kit is not going to be any more difficult than a smaller-scale version of the same vehicle, from what I can tell. If anything, it would be a better kit for a beginner or neophyte; with larger pieces and more places to hold things, this big Stealth is more user-friendly than most car models. Thus, this kit is actually probably going to be a good beginner kit; it’s more advanced than a Snap-Tite and will help build gluing and painting skills without being needlessly fiddly. It will also be a great platform for more experienced builders, as it offers plenty of space for superdetailing and interior texturing. However, painting may be a bit more difficult; it’ll be that much harder to get things nice and smooth looking, since the panels are all so much larger. I smell a lot of light sanding in my future!
If you’re looking for something different, both in terms of size and subject, this Stealth R/T has got you covered. It’ll likely dominate any display of conventional scale cars, and with its racy lines and nice detail, it’ll be a great addition to any collection of sleek and sporty imports, budget supercars and other “wish-I-had”s. If you see one, I would say grab it. You’ll be glad you did!