Tamiya 1/24 Austin Mini
|Glory days of a misspent youth!
10.00am Easter Sunday, 1990 Kaikohe stock car track, a very nervous young and some say good looking Meece strapped into his stockie in the first line up of the Group “C” Class stock car knockout heats of the day, on his left was the monstrous and evil Pink Panther, a 318 V8 powered VJ Valiant and behind him was the remains of a 308 V8 powered HQ Holden Kingswood, a hulking black beast of a car that had many multi-coloured paint scrapes along it’s long flank, baring witness to the drivers total lack of consideration for the hours of careful painting and sign writing that went into the competitors cars.
Starter waves the orange flag, signal for the drivers to start around the track for the rolling start, the fully worked 1275 GT Mini motor coughs and sputters and almost dies, a quick goose gets the revs up again so the driver can slip the clutch to start off in second gear, around the first corner they go, some Pratt in a XA Falcon surges ahead and snots the rear of Meece’s little mini, ah ha the psychological war is now on, down the back straight the drivers come, jockeying for position in preparation for the drop of the green flag. Pink panther and Meece's Mini trade paint coming around the last corner, both trying to get the driest line on the soaked dirt track, the mini’s straight pipe farting and popping compared to the shear animal growl of the 318 V8 of the VJ Valiant.
Starter drops the green flag, their off and racing, the torque of the V8 propels the Valiant to the first corner a car length ahead of our hero’s little mini until the rear wheel drive Vallytank hits the soaked muddy “kitty litter” on the corner, as the Vallytank starts sliding sideways towards the outside line and as the Pink Panther tries to dance with the steering wheel the little mini quickly nips down inside the Vallytank and takes the lead on the first corner, gaining a couple of meters on the Valiant until the 400 bhp V8 propels the VJ past the Mini on the straights, next corner same thing, the Valiant sledges wide and the little Mini darts inside the nipple pink monstrosity and gains a few feet.
Lap 9 of 10, coming into the last corner, the Pink Panther leading the Mini by 2 layers of paint, a cheeky little upstart in a RX3 Coupe with the same paint job as the mini taps Meece on the rear bumper, Steeling a quick glance in the mud incrusted rear view mirror Meece spots the petite lines of His team mate Sherrie coming up hard and fast, the bridgeported 12A rotary screaming at 9000 rpm … hm meece has to make a decision, does he get out of the way of his pretty team mate with the faster car and have at least one of his cars in the final or does he try to squeeze past the Valiant and steal the glory for himself a split second later the Black HQ Kingswood made up his mind for him … as he pulled wide to give the RX3 the inside line the Kingswood caught the rear left hand quarter panel and shunted the poor mini into the guard rail, the mini does a very good impression of a turtle and flips onto its lid.
Meece watches the finish line revolve slow past him upside down as the Bright Yellow and Red RX-3 of his team mate powers past the Pink Panther for a place in the final heats.
Note: C Graders must have the original factory motor in the car but you are allowed to “hot it up” as much as you want with the exception of supercharging it or adding a turbo to a non turbo car.
This particular model started out life as a bog standard white Mini made up as a model of a former girlfriends Mini Cooper S (about the best part of the relationship that was, driving that car), now just like that perfect puttied seam relationships can fall apart, so here I had a Model that every time I looked at it reminded me of quite probably the worst 18 months of my life, I could have just binned it but regulars that know me know that I’m way to much of a cheapskate to throw any model away so I thought I would re-visit it and turn it into something that didn’t remind me of $#%@.
Flicking though my photo albums one day I came across a photo of my RX 3 Stock car, reminiscing back I remembered that I also ran a Mini 1275 GT for a couple of races until she was snotted by the above mentioned Kingswood and thought, “now there’s a good way of making use of that model.
First thing was to disassemble the major components and then do a Monster Garage on her and remove all the bits that are taken off C graders. Lights, Windscreen, front seats and interior was ripped out and dumped into a heap in the middle of the garage err spares box. A Racing seat was found and added on the right (Proper) side of the car, arm protection netting was added using cut up masking tape and the front mesh was made using stretched sprue. I purposely left off one of the bars just like on the original as I had a hood hit the nose of the mini in a previous race and had ripped the welding off the top of the bar, the rase officials made me secure or remove it before I was allowed back on the track.
The dents were done by heating up parts of the car with a candle and bashing the warm plastic with the side of a hammer! From what I can remember these Tamiya cars fit like a dream and can be turned into stunning replicas with silky smooth paint, well they can be when not made by a klutz like me, doing a stock car (dirt car) model is probably the easiest model you can do as you can hide all sorts of stuff ups under the thick layer of mud.
COLORS & MARKINGS
The original EX’es mini was sprayed white all over so it made a good undercoat for the Kaitaia Auto Spares Yellow and Red colours, now I painted the original car one Sunday afternoon with a 6 inch brush and house paints and one too many beers. The sign writing was hand painted using a 3 inch brush and no spell check. So the model was painted the same way, brush painted and the sign writing done by hand, One advantage of doing a model of a C grade Stock car, you can be as rough as guts and It is authentic!
The 99 was drawn on using an indelible marker.
Once the painting was done I took the model outside and “played” with it on the concrete for a while, by crashing the Mini into the concrete steps I scratched and chipped the paint , just like the original.
The final weathering was the addition of the mud, and lots of it, after a race it was not uncommon to have a 3 inch layer of mud and crap on the bonnet and hanging off the roll cage and your helmet. The mud was recreated using DAP wood filler, Rimu if I remember correctly.
The original model was done way back in 1989 and stat in a box for five years before being converted into the 99 Mouse Mobile, the model then sat on the display shelves at home and at work until a few days ago when I took it home and reglued the odd loose bit and re painted the faded white lettering. The naturally faded yellow and red were left as is because most of the original paint washed off the car anyway and looked faded and wishy washy anyway.
Okay, not one of my latest models but one of my favourite ones now, going from a bad reminder of a hideous relationship to one of fond memories , every time I look at the model my mind goes back to those great days when I was racing the Stock car circuit.
Kaitaia Auto Spares was a business that I owned for a few years back in the early 90’s and we raced three cars, the Mini a RX 3 Coupe and 808 sedan for a couple of seasons before the high cost of running these cars forced me to quit racing.
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