AMT 1/25 '37 Chevy Early Modified

KIT #: 38180
PRICE: $15.00 MSRP
DECALS: options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2005 Reissue


Back when I was a kid, growing up in the Midwest, one of the major forms of entertainment we had on weekends was to head to the county fairgrounds to watch what we called stock car races. Of course, these cars were rarely stock and were, in fact, modifieds, generally based on two dour coupe bodies from the late 1930s.

These cars were powered by large V-8 engines and in the 1960s that meant big block Ford and Chevrolets with the 390 and 427 Fords and 396 and 427 Chevrolet engines being the main engines of choice. Every once in a while a competitor would have a 426 Hemi, but rarely did it do well. There were also a few older Chevrolet 409 engines in the mix as well. Many a week end night I and my friends would return home with ears ringing from the sound of these cars as they raced around the 1/5 or 1/4 mile dirt ovals. They were great and while they looked very much like this kit, there were some differences. One was the lack of a hood and the other is that the cars generally had the trunk area curve down to just behind the rear wheels, leaving little overhang. I think this was as much to allow more cars on the track as anything else. The local racing legend at the Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, IL, a 1/5 mile high banked dirt oval was Don Klein, whose 427 Ford powered car was just about unbeatable. Of course, they still race at these places, but the look of the cars is quite different and they are totally undistinguishable from anything you might see on the street, being little more that slab sections of sheet metal attached to a framework.


Apparently, this is a reissue of a much older kit as the instructions proudly state that they are identical to the original. The light grey plastic parts are well molded and free from flash. Detailing is quite good as well, though probably not up to modern standards. The parts are flash free and I could not find any other major glitches like sunken in areas or big ejector marks. There are not any clear parts, of course, but you do get a very well done chrome sprue for wheels and air cleaner and valve covers, for example. The tires on this one are two piece plastic so there will be some filler needed for the seam.

The chassis is the main construct. Undoubtedly, some time will be spent scraping seams on the tube framework, but nothing worse than your standard NASCAR stocker. Painting the frame will be a bit difficult as one needs to have the engine installed at an early part of the construction. All of the suspension bits are separate and again, will require careful construction to get things properly aligned. Unlike modern car kits, this one has a body that comes in sections. However, thanks to the design of these older bodies, you should be able to get away with not having to do any filler work as the seams fall along standard lines. As this is a modified, you may well need to cut on some of the body bits to enlarge the opening for the driver or trim the back a bit. Actually, were I building this car, I'd do some extensive modifications to the rear in order to shorten things to match the cars of my youth. Some hot water will take care of the rear body work and some judicious trimming will work with the frame.

The kit does include a selection of numbers so that you can do a variety of schemes. There is not any suggested overall color aside from what seems to be a red frame, so you are on your own when it comes to painting. Some of these cars were quite colorful and it will give you an opportunity to perhaps do some custom decal work to come up with a sponsor name. All the really successful cars were sponsored by a car dealership, from whence they could get the latest racing bits from the factories.

By the way, those of you with sharp eyes will notice that the car on the box art is not a '37 Chevy, but something else. If you look at the rear quarter window and roofline especially, you'll see it is different from the parts on the sprue shot and in the photo of Don Klein's car. Why AMT did this is beyond me and there is no disclaimer.


So there you have it. AMT released a number of these sorts of cars before they made the corporate decision to stop producing car kits for themselves a year or so back. AMT kits you see on the shelves are now done by contract and it is Auto World who is the major driving force behind the more recent issues. Regardless, car modelers are always pleased to see these older kits surface as it means they no longer have to pay collector prices for them. I'm very glad to have seen this one reappear as it brings back many fond memories.

February 2009

Thanks to 'store credit' at CRM Hobbies for this one.

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