Fujimi 1/24 Chaparral 2D

KIT #: 12389
PRICE:  3600 yen   (about $43 from Hobby Link Japan)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Ex-Modeler kit with metal parts


Chaparral Cars was a United States automobile racing team which built prototype race cars from the 1960s through the early 1970s. Chaparral was founded in 1962 by Hap Sharp and Jim Hall, a Texas oil magnate with an impressive combination of skills in engineering and race car driving. The name "Chaparral" was formed from the last names of the two founders. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Chaparral's distinctive race cars experienced strong success in both American and European racing circuits. Despite winning the Indy 500 in 1980, the Chaparrals left motor racing in 1982. Chaparral cars also featured in the SCCA/CASC CanAm series and in the European FIA Group 7.

Chaparral was the first to introduce effectively designed air dams and spoilers ranging from the tabs attached to the earliest 2 model to the driver-controlled high wing 'flipper' on the astoundingly different looking 2E, all the way through to Hall's most idealistically inspired creation, the 2J, the car that would forever be known as the 'vacuum cleaner', and was the forerunner of modern "ground-effects" cars. The use by Jim Hall of a semi-automatic transmission in the Chaparral created flexibility in the use of adjustable aerodynamic devices.

The development of the Chaparral chronicles the key changes in race cars in the '60s and '70s in both aerodynamics and tires. Jim Hall's training as an engineer taught him to approach problems in a methodical manner and his access to the engineering team at Chevrolet as well as at Firestone changed aerodynamics and race car handling from an art to empirical science. The embryonic data acquisition systems created by the GM R&D group aided these efforts.

The Chaparral 2-Series was designed and built to compete in the United States Road Racing Championship and other sports car races of the time, particularly the West Coast Series that were held each fall. Following the lead of innovators like Bill Sadler from Canada and Colin Chapman who introduced rear engined cars to Grand Prix cars in Europe (where Jim Hall had raced in Formula 1), its basic design concept was a rear engined car.

First raced in 1963, it was developed into the dominant car in the series in 1964 and 1965. Designed for the 200 mile races of the sports car series, it was almost impossible to beat. It proved that in 1965 by winning the 12 Hours of Sebring on one of the roughest tracks in North America.

As the car was being developed, Jim Hall took the opportunity to implement his theories on aerodynamic force and rear wheel weight bias.

In addition, the Chaparral 2-Series featured the innovative use of fiberglass as a structural element. Hall also developed 2-Series cars with conventional aluminum chassis.

It is very difficult to identify all iterations of the car as new ideas were being tested continually. There are three generally accepted variants:
Coincidental with the development of aerodynamics was Hall's development of race tires. (This is a complex subject that should have a separate article.) Jim Hall owned Rattlesnake Raceway adjacent to his race shop; that proximity allowed him to participate in much of Firestone's race tire development.

A two-article series in "Car and Driver" magazine featured Jim Hall's design theories. The article turns speculation about vehicle handling into applied physics. It was the precursor to the elaborate data collection and management of current racing teams. Hall's methodology was probably the first documented approach to measuring and managing the properties of race cars.


The 2D, and subject of this kit, was a closed cockpit variant of the 2A/B/C series (which were all open cockpit designs), designed for endurance racing in 1966. It won at 1000 km Nürburgring in 1966 with Phil Hill and Joakim Bonnier driving (shown in photo with Bonnier at the wheel). It competed in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, withdrawing after 111 laps. The car was also raced during the 1967 season at select events, but rarely did well.  

Despite the 2010 date on the side of the box, This is an old Modeler kit from the 1970s or so. Back then, these were quite pricey and highly sought so I'm pleased to see that Fujimi is reissuing these. 

The kit is molded in black plastic with a white body and the usual clear sprue. This is very much a curbside with the interior consisting of a plastic section that includes a molded on engine shape. It does look like a small block Chevy with Weber downdraft carbs; there just isn't a ton of engine detail. Having the lower body /chassis and roof intake in black will require some primer prior to painting it white. Same may be true for the wheels, though if one uses a nice metallic shade, like Alclad, the black will be a good basis for some of the more shiny shades.

In addition, there are a number of metal parts for the head lights, tail lights, rear view mirrors and fuel caps. They are not as shiny as shown on the box art. The kit also includes five rubber tires (the racing rules required a spare). There are optional parts for two cars. One as raced at Nurburgring and the other at Le Mans in 1966. There are differences in the rear spoiler and various scoops and lights that one should take into consideration during the build.

Instructions are quite well done with very nicely drawn construction steps. These include all painting information and there is a Gunze paint reference. Decals are nicely printed and have tire lettering decals in addition to race number and race sponsor markings. The only color for any Chaparral sports racer or GT is white.

This is not really a complex kit, however, thanks to its age, it also is not the best fitting kit on the planet. Nothing major, but most parts need some sort of trimming to fit well. Typical of car kits, painting is an on-going process and one of the first things one does with the kit.

For this, I started painting the tub. Most of it is a darkish brown with an aluminum engine and some black bits here and there. The detail really needs to be brush painted and so I broke out the acrylic and hit all the detail bits in aluminum and black, for the most part. The instrument panel has separate instrument decals to be installed. The decal sheet works great with setting solutions, which is quite nice. You are given more instruments and other markings that you'll actually use.

While all the paint was drying, the differential was assembled and cleaned up. Same with the exhaust. This latter piece needs to be trimmed quite a bit to get it to fit properly. On the tub section are alignment marks where the exhaust fits. I drilled these out to help the part sit better after leveling out the depth of all the other exhaust pipes.

The wheels were painted with aircraft aluminum, and then sealed. I sanded the tread of all the tires except the spare, to remove the mold seam. Then slide them on the wheels. There is a clear induction piece that gets all but the front and rear part painted aluminum. I also painted the lower tray black and tan as shown in the instructions. The side panels were painted white.

I now had a bunch of parts ready to glue together. Taking things slowly, the various bits and pieces were glued to the upper tub and that included the differential attachment point, rear interior bulkhead that had been painted black, shift lever, brake pedal and the instrument panel assembly. When that had dried, the lower tub section, including the valence section, axles and differential were glued in place. The fit of all these parts was actually quite good, much to my delight and some pre-assembly flash removal.

Now for the body itself. I had decided to do the LeMans car rather than the one shown on the box art, which I figured most modelers would build. This meant I had to use the proper rear spoiler and the different external mirror housing. It also meant I had to drill a hole in the right rear for the additional number light that was required for tracking the car at night when it flashed by the scoring stand.


The body was painted white using Testors Boyd gloss white, the same shade I used for the lower valence panels. Each of the windows was masked off and a black gasket line was sprayed in place. Back at the body, the dash and interior were painted flat black using a brush. The windows were installed using clear gloss paint. At this time, the few markings were installed. These are basically numbers and the Chaparral logo. I used Mr Mark Softer to help the decals snuggle down into the door handle crevices. The whole car was given a coat of Future, which turned things a slight ivory color. So much for using old Future on a white car. I should have known better.


My next step was to paint the headlight openings in black, again using a brush. The kit comes with metal parts for the tail lights, head light bezels and the fuel fillers. I didn't use the nicely done external mirrors as those were not attached at LeMans. The metal bits were glued using superglue from the underside of the body. Tail lights were painted red using Vallejo transparent red. For the head light lenses, I again used clear paint to glue them in place. The clear covers were attached, also using this material.

I then removed the masking from the windows, fearful that it would pull them out. Didn't happen, though it did take a bit of paint from a few areas. The air box was glued to the roof and that was it. I should mention that the front axle seems a bit long or I messed up somewhere as the left front wheel sticks out more than it should. Getting it jammed into the wheel well was not easy. Frankly, I hate those plastic axles as they make it nearly impossible to get the wheels on straight, the fit is so sloppy.


It really is nice to see this particular kit available again. Prior to Fujimi releasing it, the Modeler kit was horribly expensive due to its collectible nature. Now, with fresh decals and still all the well molded metal bits, those of us who wanted to build this very sharp looking care can do so without taking out a loan.



January 2011

Thanks to Hobby Link Japan  for the preview kit. Get yours at the link.

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