Mr. Hobby (Gunze Sangyo) 1/24 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Kit #188                            MSRP $27.40

Images and text Copyright © 2008 by Matt Swan

        I really like small and unusual sports cars such as the early 1970s Opal Gt, the Porsches and the Karmann Ghias. When I encountered the Gunze Sangyo Karmann Ghia I simply had to add it to my collection. While this car seems to be slightly more esoteric than my usual selection of sports car I found that it had a propensity to show up in movies and television programs in very unusual places. Recently I was watching the “Kill Bill” movies in which Uma Thurman drove a powder blue Karmann Ghia soft top then I see Mike Myers cruising to his honeymoon in “So I Married an Axe Murderer” with a red soft top and with the remake of “Get Smart” I recalled that Max drove an early 1965 Ghia in the opening credits of the first and second season. This was all too much, I had to build my Karmann Ghia but before I get into that here is a list of various television programs and movies in which the Karmann Ghia appeared. In many of these the car is simply in the background or driving by but in some it does fill a slightly larger role.

Kill Bill
The Darkling
The Simpsons
Columbo: A friend in Deed
King of the Hill
Rosemary's Baby
Love Potion No. 9
Up in Smoke
Get Smart
Honky Tonk Freeway
What Lies Beneath
Deliver us from Eva
The Wonder Years
Dumb and Dumber
Happy Endings
The Gardner
Rush Hour
The Dukes of Hazzard
Return to the Batcave
Car Wash
Something Wild
So I Married an Axe Murderer
Off and Running
Pretty in Pink
The Devil's Child
The Saint
The Man With Two Brains
The Rock
That Thing You Do
Dear God
If You Could See What I Hear
Star Trek IV
The Harder They Come
The Cable Guy

        I wanted to build my Ghia as something from a movie and was tossed between the "Kill Bill" or the "Axe Murderer" car but ultimately settled for Mike Myers red convertible as my car. The kit is a pretty nice package with the body shell being contained in a separate area within the box to prevent shipping damage. The kit included a single medium sprue of chromed parts which, unfortunately, were packaged with the other general kit parts and did take a small amount of shipping damage; specifically the corners of the bumpers took some fine scratches. The kit includes two dash boards for both the 1970 and 1971 version of the car. I think from 1967 through 1970 they all pretty much used the same dash then from 71 until the end of the production run they used the other dash. The kit includes a full hard top made from clear plastic and a folded soft top made from very soft polystyrene. This same material was used for the seats and interior cabin panels as well. Now for most model car builders you may all be familiar with this stuff but for myself as an airplane builder it was something new and I did have concerns about whether it would respond to conventional glue well or not – it responded just fine.
        General parts fit was good with the exception of the interior panels where they all come together in the lower front of the cabin, I did have a couple of difficult gaps there and if you follow the kit instructions to glue the side panels to the floor pan first then they do not match up well to the body shell. I elected to glue them to the body shell first then worry about the floor pan connection. Instructions are basically good and other than the one issue with those cabin panels seem to get the job done. One down side the windshield was a poor fit, the kit does not include a side view mirror and the body shell is just a little short compared to the wheel base which would create a small rubbing issues should the front wheels be steerable. Since they are not steerable this is only a minor cosmetic issue.

        Most of the interior is unpainted other than the dash and the floor mounted controls (pedals, shifter and brake). The dash was obviously painted the exterior body color and the kit instrument decals were used. I did have to trim the excess carrier film off the decals to get a good fit into the instrument nacelles and applied some Micro-Sol to ensure everything snuggled down nicely. Some silver and black paint was used for the detail work and a fine looking dash board was achieved. For all the tan parts such as the bonnet and steering wheel I used desert sand. The visible areas of the engine underneath were done with Alclad 2 paints. The main body shell was the most challenging aspect of the kit. I have always had issues getting an automotive finish that I was happy with and was determined to succeed this time. I used Testors dark red thinned about 50% with lacquer thinner. Prior to paint I went over the body with some 1200 buffing sandpaper and took care of all mold separation seams then wiped everything down with a dust shammy to removed dust and finger prints. I applied three coats of dark red allowing each coat to cure fully under a dust cover then checking for any imperfections and buffing them out with 1200 sand paper. Once all three coats of red were done the chrome pieces were added along with the three body decals. Next I took a 60/40 mixture of Future floor finish and Simple Green cleaner and airbrushed the body. Again, this was allowed to cure under a dust cover before proceeding. Three coats of Future/Simple Green were applied with gentle buffing in between before I had my final finish. The last step of assembly was placing the body shell onto the chassis and adding the clear windshield and light fixtures. The convertible top was attached with some medium superglue and the license plate decals were placed. Overall I only had about sixteen hours of modeling time in the kit and am very pleased with the results.

You may click on these small images to view larger pictures

        This was a fun diversion from the usual aircraft build and allowed for some alternative painting practice. I’ll be adding a few more automotive kits to my collection in the future.

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