Provence Moulage 1/43 Saleen S7-R

KIT #: K 1695
PRICE: $34.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Resin with photo etch, metal, rubber and vac parts

HISTORY

Unlike most exotic supercars, the Saleen S7 racing version, the S7R, has already proven itself on the international motor sports stage. During the past several years, the racing version has been on pole and set fastest race lap more than 50 times and has won nearly 40 races around the world. This incredible record includes capturing several GT Manufacturers’ championships and GT Drivers’ championships, winning the grueling 12 Hours of Sebring and setting a new track record at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.

During the past 20 years Saleen has won eight Manufacturers’ Championships in GT sports car racing and several Drivers’ Championships as well.

The S7R competed in the American Le Mans Series in North America, where it has had a great deal of difficulty dealing with the very fast Corvette team. In Europe Saleen S7Rs continued to win poles, set fastest race laps and win races in the highly competitive FIA GT Championship. No doubt helped by the honking 427 Ford V-8 that powered this car. The car is no longer competing in the ALM series and may also be absent from the European circuit as well.

THE KIT

This particular kit from Provence Moulage is for the two cars entered into the LeMans 24 hour race in 2001. Though I'd have rather had an American LeMans version, it is quite understandable for a French company to be providing markings for a FIA GT version.

My only other P.M. kit was their Porsche 908 spyder kit and based on that, I decided to take the plunge with another kit. I am not disappointed. The kit has the correct balance of photo-etch and resin parts, not relying heavily on cast metal as do other companies for detail bits. This may result in a slightly lower level of detail, but I've found most cast metal parts to be not as well molded as I'd like, though it may well be I've chosen older efforts.

This kit has a full resin body and lower chassis section with the interior molded in. Other resin parts are provided for the instrument panel, backlight cover and the wing with its supports. Another sprue has five wheel inserts of which only four are needed, so there is a spare. This worked well on the Porsche. Photo etch is used for grilles and aerodynamic panels. A straight pin is provided for the shift linkage and the headlight covers and windows are vacuform. The delineation of these parts is rather faint and the plastic rather thin so this will need great care to prepare. Two solid steel axles and six wheels and tires. The wheels are turned aluminum with four of them being the same size and two others wider. The tires are rubber/vinyl and are three different sizes. Two wide ones and four narrower ones, with different inner circumferences. No mention is made of this in the instructions so I'm not really sure what to make of it. No matter what occurs, I'll have a spare set. A section of wire is also provided.

The markings are quite extensive and consist of two well printed and somewhat large (for these cars) sheets. They were wrapped around the rest of the parts so are quite curled. This will not be a problem as long as I don't wait a decade to build the kit! A set of full color instructions are provided with all the printing on one side of the sheet of paper. The majority of the space is taken with decal placement and color information. A small exploded diagram shows general parts placement. There are assembly notes in both French and English scattered around the sheet. I found this to be more than adequate with the 908 and they should be good enough for this as well. Both Le Mans 2001 cars are provided for on the sheet so one can do either option.

CONSTRUCTION

The nice thing about Provence Moulage kits is that they are not festooned with a myriad of small bits. Several kits from other companies that I have would have you bend and fold a bunch of photo etch to make thinks like wings, interiors, and the like. Most all of those sorts of things are already molded in place or are done in resin. This means that a glacial car builder such as myself will have one of these done in a relatively short period of time.

As with all kits that have resin, the first step is to clean up the parts. One generally uses the finest grade of sandpaper that will get the job done to prevent oversanding of the parts. With that done, I then built up the few interior parts. Basically one attaches the instrument panel piece and a blanking plate for the back. The instructions are backwards when it comes to this blanking plate.

I then built up the wing. It has etched end plates and center supports. There are notches in the wing and the body to accept these supports and it really is quite strong, despite how frail it looks. One also needs to remember that the sharper curve goes to the front.

Moving to the wheels, the set gives you four small wheels and two large ones. You also get five resin inserts for the wheels. You also get four small tires, though two of them are lower profile than the others, and two large one. Since the car only needs four of these, one has to look carefully at the instructions to determine that one needs one pair of large and one of small, lower profile versions. I'm not sure why the additional wheels/tires, but I relegated them to the spares bin. The resin inserts have a notch that aligns with a lip on the inside of the rim so it is a simple matter to glue them in place. It isn't a tight fit.

COLORS & MARKINGS

You might think it is a bit early for this, but cars generally get painted pretty soon once things are underway. In this case, I needed gloss black and gloss white. I used Pactra lacquer racing colors for this so the paint would dry quickly. First the white bits, then the black. I masked those few places that would remain white before applying the black, but there was the usual leakage. The kit offers a decal for the white back end, but I have my doubts as to whether it would be sufficient or not so painted it. The wheels were also painted white and later painted with gloss Insignia Yellow from the Model Master range of enamels.

Then it was time to apply the decals. This kit comes with two large (for this scale) sheets of decals. One has all the white parts (some of which I painted) and the large markings for the #60 and #61 car. Unfortunately, one is left up to other references for the #60 car as only markings for the #61 car are detailed. I found that even the 'zebra stripes' are different in the two cars, though only realized it when I soaked off a decal to find that I already had one in place.

Another thing about these decals is that they are relatively impervious to setting solutions. I tried them all; Microsol, Solvaset, DaCo, Champ and the markings only grudgingly responded. This is not good with all the various curves and indentations that the markings have to flow into. I put at least a dozen applications of Champ (the strongest solution I've ever found) on the louvers in the back and even after breaking through the decal to help the end result is less than sterling. Add to it that the white markings are semi-transparent and you can see that this kit isn't going to grace any display tables.

It took the better part of a week to apply decals as almost all of them required multiple applications of setting solution. They were even quite reluctant to come off the backing paper, even after using very warm water.

But I plugged away anyway and in the mean time did more painting with the interior bits, the mirrors and the wheels. Tail lights were painted red and the small headlights were installed using tiny drops of superglue. The transparencies were miraculously well done with the frame lines matching perfectly with the openings. Thankfully, I was provided with a spare as I screwed up some side windows attempting to use super glue to hold them in place. I ended up using clear paint for the transparencies.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

There are a myriad of other bits to add in place. This included the side scoop covers, rear wing, a lower front splitter plate, mirrors, tow attachments, small hood latches and a few other bits. The axle slots had to be drilled out of the chassis section. The axles were slid through the holes and front wheels glued in place. The fit of the rears is so tight that no gluing is needed. Then I tried to install the chassis. The wheels would not allow the body to fit, so I pulled off the wheels, attached the chassis with a touch of superglue and reinstalled the wheels.  A bit more touch-up painting was done then the car was photographed before anything fell off!

CONCLUSIONS

This kit was deceptively simple looking and would have been a great build were it not for the decals. Those are what broke the car for me as recalcitrant markings will generally take a lot of the joy out of a build  for me when they don't work well. Aside from that, the kit is well designed and I encountered no real problems during any of the assembly. I still like Provence Moulage kits, but will be a lot more wary about getting one with a complex decal scheme.

August 2007
#1483 in a series.

I bought this one so you don't have to

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