Revell 1/6 Chevrolet Corvette 327 Fuel Injected Engine
KIT #: 85-1594
PRICE: $32.50 MSRP
DECALS: options
REVIEWER: Blair Stewart
NOTES: Pre-painted/decaled 'screw and glue' engine

HISTORY

50 years ago, Chevrolet introduced its entry into the V-8 motor craze that was sweeping Detroit. Designed by Ed Cole’s group,  the engine went from drawings to production in 15 weeks. Chevy’s new small block engine had a shorter stroke than other V-8s and a lightweight valve train, which gave it the ability to rev higher than existing V-8 designs. Chevrolet introduced the 162 horsepower, 265 cubic inch engine in the 1955 Chevy, and the rest is “history.” The small block Chevy motor is now in its fourth generation and almost 90 million have been produced. The engine has found it’s way into everything from family sedans and pickups to hot rods, boats, and even motorcycles.

 In 1957, Chevrolet expanded the displacement to 283 cubic inches and introduced a version equipped with a Rochester constant flow fuel injection (FI) system. Chevrolet claimed that the “fuelie” motor developed 283 HP, or 1 HP per cubic inch, which was unheard of at the time. In the face of increasing vehicle weight and power-driven options, Chevrolet bumped up the small block’s displacement in 1962 to 327 cubes by boring the motor out to 4.00 inches. Again, the hottest performing version of this motor was fuel-injected, and it was available only in the Corvette as the L84 option. The 1963 fuelie Vette had a compression ratio of 11.25:1 and produced 365 HP. For 1964, Chevy engineers managed to tweak another 10 horses out of the motor for a whopping 375 HP.

 The fuel injected 327 engine remained a Corvette option until the 1966 model year when it was discontinued. The Rochester Ramjet FI had a reputation for being somewhat finicky and hard to keep tuned, so a lot of people who ordered or purchased them as options later opted to replace them with a carburetor. Coupled with it’s relatively high option price (~$540) and the introduction of big block Chevy motors in the 1965 Corvette, the fuelie Vette died a natural death.

 The small block Chevy remains a staple in the V-8 world: it will be interesting to see how long this motor continues to power Chevy’s products, hot rods, and other machines.

THE KIT

Talk about the Dark Side: this is BENEATH the dark side! Before I get banned from Modeling Madness, let me explain that I had been caught once again in a nearly terminal case of advanced modeling syndrome (AMS). I would start a kit, and then the AMS would kick in, slowly forcing me to put the partially assembled kit back in the box or on the shelf. But after over 50 years in this hobby (and with a basement stash of 1200+ kits), I wasn’t quite ready to abandon modeling, so I began to search for something that might rekindle my interests. Low and behold, my local Hobby Lobby came to the rescue. On one of my frequent visits, I noticed an intriguing Revell box with a beautiful engine pictured on the top. The more I stared, the louder the modeling sirens wailed, until I finally    succumbed to their tantalizing call and brought it home (entering the house in the clandestine way some of us modelers now have to employ.

 In 2005, Revell introduced a series of 1/6 scale multi-media (vinyl,  rubber, plastic, metal) pre-painted kits of historic automobile engines (along with this kit, they have released the Ford 427, the Chevy 302 Z/28, and a Chevy small block street rod engine). Given the fact that I have finally gotten back into the REAL Corvette world after a 32 year hiatus (the new C6 is THE ultimate Corvette, and I’ve owned 5 Vettes since 1967), I find myself drawn to anything Corvette. So naturally, I couldn’t resist the chance to build a model of one of the more famous Corvette powerplants.  Besides, the kit looked like a “quick build” of the first order, which would definitely help my AMS.

 Upon opening the box, one is greeted (hello!) by a number of clear plastic bags housing the 100+ parts and a well-designed cardboard separation system to keep the various bags isolated from each other. The parts include molded color plastic and painted metal parts, actual rubber drive belts, plated fuel lines and ignition wiring shields (I like to say the Corvette Stingray was the first vehicle in the world protected against high altitude electromagnetic pulse [HEMP], but the real reason was to cut down on the ignition interference to the radio: that fiberglass firewall was light-weight, but contributed “zip” in terms of absorbing RF interference emanating from the engine’s distributor, coil and ignition wires), spark plugs, and a nice display stand. The Rochester FI system is particularly well detailed with all fuel lines and connectors. Another nice touch is the distinctive Corvette cast aluminum (not chrome!) valve covers. The front of the motor is completed with an alternator and fan, all connected by scale rubber drive belts.

 After my initial examination, I was even more convinced this was just the ticket for my AMS, so I launched into kit assembly. 

CONSTRUCTION

 

There is good news and bad news about this kit. The good news: there are no sprues to fiddle with, as all parts are molded/cast separately and packaged that way, there is absolutely NO painting required, and all decals are pre-applied. The bad news: the parts aren’t numbered, so I had to double check the not so clear instructions several times to make sure I had the right part, especially with the various fuel lines into and out of the fuel injection assembly. Another drawback for me was the fact that this kit does require a lot of gluing, which ordinarily is not a problem for me, but after examining all the types of parts, I decided that Super Glue was the best approach. My problem is I am not a great fan of Super Glue: yes, it has its place in modeling, but I find it messy to work with and not very convenient. Using an accelerator was a must for this project.

 

Per the instructions, I started by screwing the metal block and oil pan together, then super-glued the fuel pump and starter to the block. At this point, you screw the engine stand to the block and then screw the stand to the base, which makes all later assembly easier.

 

After assembling the water pump, fan and fan pulley, I glued these to the block and installed the first of two rubber drive belts around the crank and the water pump pulleys.

 

At this point, it was time to start assembling the beautifully detailed Rochester fuel injection system. This consists of some 18 different parts including the four gas and vacuum lines.  After assembly, I set the FI system aside and moved to the intake manifold.

 

I glued the distributor and oil filler tube to the manifold, and then attached the FI system. At this point, I screwed the completed manifold to the top of the metal engine block.

 

Next came the ignition system, and here’s where I ran into a little trouble. First, I discovered that there were only six molded vinyl ignition wires in my kit: not eight. Also, even though the instructions show a distributor-to-coil wire, I couldn’t find this in the kit, either. To make matters worse, I could only find six spark plugs. At this point, I was just a little peeved at the kit, but then I remembered: this is a Corvette motor, and the ignition system is basically covered up anyway with the chrome ignition shields. So, after convincing myself that it was OKAY these parts were missing, and that no one but me would know, I pressed on. I don’t know if this was a Revell quality control problem or what, but I am convinced that the parts were not in the box (‘course, I was a lookout at Pearl Harbor, so you have to take that into consideration).

 

Once the “incomplete ignition assembly was finished, I glued on the nice valve covers, exhaust manifolds, and the sparkplug shields to the sides of the motor. I also attached the fuel line from the fuel pump to the fuel filter mounted on the intake manifold.

 

The final steps involved the alternator assembly followed by the second drive belt. And there I had it: a 1/6 scale bitchin’ fuelie Vette motor to display on my desk at work! (and I could already feel the wonderful healing process starting for my long standing case of AMS).

CONCLUSIONS

I spent probably a total of five or six hours assembling this kit, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Revell is to be commended for issuing these types of kits as alternative arena for the modeling hobby.  When you finish one of these, you are left with a beautiful display model that is sure to draw many comments from admirers. And if you are cursed with AMS, these kits are the cat’s meow: I can’t think of a better prescription!

REFERENCES

 James Miles, “Chevy Small-Block V-8: 50 Years of High Performance,” Vette Magazine, February 2006.

“Chevrolet Small Block Engine,” Wikipedia webpage, 2005.

Chevythunder, webpage, 2005.

“Chevrolet Corvette History – Second Generation, 1963-1967,” webpage, 2005.

Blair Stewart

February 2006

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