Revell 1/25 'Fireball' Roberts' 1957 Ford

KIT #: 4024
PRICE: ~$25.00 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2013 release


"Fireball" Roberts was born in Tavares, Florida, and raised in Apopka, Florida, where he was interested in both auto racing and baseball. He was a pitcher for the Zellwood Mud Hens, an American Legion baseball team, where he earned the nickname, "Fireball" because of his fastball. He enlisted with the United States Army Air Corps in 1945, but was discharged after basic training because of his asthma.

He attended the University of Florida and raced on dirt tracks on weekends. In 1947, at the age of eighteen, he raced on the Daytona Beach Road Course at Daytona, for the first time. He won a 150-mile race at Daytona Beach the following year. Roberts also competed in local stock and modified races at Florida tracks such as Seminole Speedway.

"Fireball" Roberts continued to amass victories on the circuit, despite the changes in NASCAR, as it moved away from shorter dirt tracks to superspeedways in the 1950s and 1960s. In his 206 career NASCAR Grand National races, he won 33 times and had 32 poles. He finished in the top-five 45 percent of the time, and in the top-ten 59 percent of the time. He won both the Daytona 500 and Firecracker 250 events in 1962, driving a black and gold 1962 Pontiac built by car builder legend, Smokey Yunick.

On May 24, 1964, at the World 600 in Charlotte, Roberts had qualified in the eleventh position and started in the middle of the pack. On lap seven, Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson collided and spun out and Roberts crashed trying to avoid them. Roberts' Ford slammed backward into the inside retaining wall, flipped over and burst into flames. Witnesses at the track claimed they heard Roberts screaming, "Ned, help me", from inside his burning car after the wreck. Jarrett rushed to save Roberts as his car was engulfed by the flames. Roberts suffered second- and third-degree burns over eighty percent of his body and was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. Although it was thought that Roberts had an allergic reaction to flame-retardant chemicals, he was secretly an asthmatic, and the chemicals affected his breathing.

Roberts was able to survive for several weeks, and it appeared he might pull through, but he took a turn for the worse on June 30, 1964. He contracted pneumonia and sepsis and had slipped into a coma by the next day. Roberts died from his burns on July 2, 1964.

Probably his most famous racing car was the supercharged '57 Ford. While the success of this car caused NASCAR to ban supercharged engines halfway through the 1957 season, Roberts still won eight races that year. The car was found abandon in a forest north of Charlotte NC the late 1990s and was restored to its unsupercharged condition about 10 years ago.


Revell has produced a few stock kits of the '57 Ford 2 door sedan and so it was not unexpected that they would produce a race car using that basic kit. The race car was equipped with a Thunderbird 312 cubic inch engine and it appears that Revell has included the supercharged version as there is an extra assembly atop the engine that looks to be the supercharger.

One would expect there to be some inaccuracies when basing a racing car on the kit of a stock sedan and so it seems there is. For one thing you are provided a full exhaust with mufflers. I doubt the racer had these but I could be wrong and perhaps NASCAR required them in 1957. You do get the double front and rear shocks that were and probably still are standard on these cars. Typical of the era, the gas tank is located under the trunk space on the back of the floor pan/inner fender piece. The separate chassis/suspension assembly is placed on this.

On the upper side of the pan one installs the interior. This kit provides a specially modified bench seat with the large side bolster. There is no back seat and in its place is a roll bar and braces. Where the kit falls a bit short on the interior is that this car actually had a bit of a cage with a bar running along the inside of the front doors to another roll bar just behind the windscreen. This is not part of the kit. Also, the racer probably did not have inner door panels. However, you need to install them on the kit or there won't be any place to put the dashboard.

All the 'glass' pieces are separate and fit inside the body so it would be wise to prepaint the body before installing these items. Stock cars did carry bumpers, but not headlights and tail lights. The lights are replaced with blanking plates and the kit supplies these. Racers also did not have door handles and pretty much had the doors held shut by a rectangle of metal screwed into the body. This is not duplicated in the kit. Where the door lock went was often just an open hole. Drivers were normally thin enough to slide in through the side window. The owner of the restored car had the door mechanism reinstalled, which tells me he won't fit through the window. In addition, the hood was held in place with straps and had a large cabinet handle in the middle along the back leading edge so it could be opened. Revell supplies the handle. Leave off the turn signal pieces as well. 

The chrome plating is first rate and it does provide proper rubber tires. Instructions use generic colors and all the parts are listed by name in the front. There are two options. One is the box art car for Roberts and the other is just one they seem to have tossed in there. Note that you are also provided decals for the cloth inserts on the inside. You really shouldn't use these and even better, the interior side bits should be sanded smooth and painted red to match the rest of the inside. The decal sheet is nicely printed, and typical Revell USA, is a bit on the thick side.


This looks like a very nice kit. Thankfully, Revell molded it in white and the molding is excellent. One does have to keep in mind that Revell used the restored car as its example when designing this kit so one does have to take that in mind when dealing with possible discrepancies. I was quite unable to find a period photo of this car though I'm sure they exist. Those used to building cars will not find any issues and those who like NASCAR racers will be pleased not to have to scrape seams on miles of roll cage parts.

June 2019

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Thanks to me for the preview kit.

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