Busy Easter

Just a quick update as I’ve been busy over Easter trying to get as far ahead with my research as possible before I head off to Japan. I’ll get something more up within the next few days, but for now just wanted to share a wee project I’ve been working on with you. Yes, you guessed it, it’s another model. Namely, turning a lovely shiny new Norev Renault 5 GT Turbo into a mucky, battered Renault 5 Campus.

I wasn’t just doing this for the sake of committing sacrilege, though. It was a necessary job in order to make a replica of Betty, a well-loved Campus owned by a good friend of mine during his student years.

The real Betty back in the day

As you can see from the picture on the left, the actual Betty was a somewhat faded and rusted example of the ‘5’, but what this photo can’t show you are the letters BETTY inscribed indelibly in the dirt on the roof of this once-white vehicle. The picture also doesn’t illustrate the vast quantities of ice/roller hockey gear that used to be stored in Betty, nor does it show the sea of Irn-Bru cans and bottles that floated in the passenger footwell All of these things had to be recreated, and they all had to be inscribed into the donor model I acquired from eBay.

There was, however, one small problem. The donor car was quite simply too good to butcher. As I unscrewed the metallic white 1:18 Norev car from its black plastic base, I was met by a stunning level of craftsmanship on the interior of the car and brilliant attention to detail on the exterior. And I was supposed to take the shine of this thing, cover it in dirt and – most alarmingly of all – replicate the long line where my mate’s car had been, shudder, keyed by a passing ned.

The Donor Car

In a nod to the original maker of this fine replica, I shelved my plan to hack the thing apart and convert it to right-hand drive (I did that with a Peugeot 205 GTi a few years previous and it took a lot of work, weeks rather than days). Instead, I set about painting the trim matt grey with acrylic paint, applying grime courtesy of Tamiya’s weathering effect products, and creating textured rust with PVA glue and some bicarbonate of soda. The only things I had to tear off were the flared wheel-arches, and by somewhat exaggerating the rust around Betty’s wheel arches I made the join much harder to see.

The finished product perhaps wasn’t 100% accurate, but what I was most chuffed with was that it seemed to get some of the spirit of the car it was based on. I’ve spent much longer trying to perfect other models and ended up not being completely satisfied despite executing a flawless job, and yet I was quite chuffed with how this one came out. I guess that says something about perfection and replication but that’s far too deep for this hour of the morning, so I’ll put up some pictures instead:

1:18 Betty. Note the keying on the wing and door...it was painful to bring myself to do that!

Rear view with exaggerated rust

German course books and an ice hockey stick

Guardian and 'Bru cans

Okay, so Betty was RHD but it's a concession I had to make!

I did want to post a picture of the roof, but due to the presence of some outrageous language I’ve had to leave it off.

While I’m writing, some quick thoughts on the Malaysian Grand Prix. Three good things:

+ Red Bull – I say Red Bull here and not Sebastian Vettel, because I think Mark Webber did a fine job keeping up with his teammate. Vettel is clearly the real deal, so for Webber to run him so close – and out-qualify him – takes some doing;

+ Jaime Alguersuari – I haven’t rated Alguersuari until now, even giving him the monicker ‘Alguerscary’. Today, though, he came good with some superb racing and fearless overtaking. He showed at Melbourne that he’s no slouch by matching Schumi for pace, and today demonstrated he could really be one to watch over the next few years;

+ Vitaly Petrov – like Alguersuari, I was a bit sceptical of Petrov over the first two races of 2010. Again, though, he did a great job until the car gave out, jousting with Hamilton and giving us all something to cheer about. They clearly put something in the water at GP2 races…

And three things I wasn’t so impressed with:

– Sauber – more bad luck for the guys from Hinwil. That’s now three retirements in three races for Kamui Kobayashi, and none (well 2.95/3.00) that he can in any way be held responsible for. Their luck has to turn, but perhaps more worryingly that’s now five Ferrari engines that have broken in the first three races and three more that stopped under suspicious circumstances;

-Michael Schumacher – fair enough, a loose wheel nut isn’t his fault at all, but still out-paced by Rosberg again. Sadly, I just don’t think he’s up to it any more, but would love to be proved wrong;

-Felipe Massa – bit of an odd one this given he’s leading the championship, but I have a sneaking suspicion Massa’s still a wee bit tetchy when he’s tailing somebody, because in every race this year he’s come up behind someone he can’t just zip pass, lingered there and then backed off (okay, there could be other factors at play but I’m ever the conspiracy theorist). He supposedly can’t remember what happened in Hungary last year, but the human mind is a complex thing…

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