Hooniverse Asks: What Was Your Favorite Model Car as a Kid?

Did you build model kits when you were a kid? I sure did, and my favorites were cars and WWII airplanes. It was really the construction that I enjoyed more so than the pride in the completed output, so much so that I oftentimes wouldn’t even bother painting my models, leaving them denuded in white plastic. My favorite model company? Well, that would have to be Revell since their models always seemed to be the most detailed. On occasion I would pick up some foreign-made models but seeing as my primary resource for model shopping was a department store called GEMCO those options were limited.
I blame my eventual waning interest in model building not on maturation—pffft, seriously?—but instead on drug addicts. That’s right, junkies junked my junk! See, the thing of it was, when I was a kid we used this stuff called “model cement” or “model glue” to hold together our plastic models. It possessed a particular odor and apparently you could cop a buzz by squeezing it out and sniffing it. Once that was discovered the high-inducing model glue was taken off the market and replaced with this lemon-smelling crap that was about as effective in holding models together as my spit. About the same time model makers started coming out with snap-together models that didn’t even require glue. What’s the fun in that? If I had wanted something that just snapped together I’d have still been playing with Legos.
At any rate, I stopped assembling models in my early teens, and that was about the same time that I started working on real cars. Maybe my model making just shifted scale? If you have memories such as these then you probably have a favorite model that you built as well. I happened to really like Revell’s Gran Turismo, a VW-based model of Revell’s own design. Did you ever build a Gran Turismo, or did you have another favorite? Let’s close the window, uncap the glue, and let the memories flow.
Image: eBay

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39 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What Was Your Favorite Model Car as a Kid?”

  1. Mike Irwin Avatar
    Mike Irwin

    1953 Ford Pickup Truck, 1/24 scale, by AMT. My parents got it for me when I had eye surgery at age 6, and my dad helped me build it.

  2. P161911 Avatar

    I did mostly military models; planes, ships, and a few tanks. Does this count? http://www.rcscrapyard.net/clas_files/Tamiya-Clod-Buster.jpg
    I gave mine an 80s special red and black two tone with a fade between colors.

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      I haven’t touched my Clod Buster in decades. Free to good home. (ran when parked obviously)

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I really need to get my R/C cars back in action. My daughter is getting close to the age where she might play with them. I had a Clod Buster and a Tamiya Fox. I attempted some crazy modifications on the Fox: “welded diff” with epoxy for straightline speed, tires with nails, F-40 body, etc. Many parts got cannibalized for assorted engineering class projects when I was in college 20-25 years ago.

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      Tamiya produced that? It’s a bit irreverent for them.

  3. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    C2 Corvettes and Countaches. There were of course others that struck my fancy at any given time. I built an Esprit S4S, the Monogram Paddy Wagon, and the Cliff Opel Calibra, but if there was a C2 Corvette or a Countach that I hadn’t built yet, I wasn’t leaving the Ben Franklin without it.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      I still have a 1/25 scale Tamiya Countach LP400 (in blue) that I built in the late ’70s.

  4. GTXcellent Avatar

    I LOVED BUILDING MODELS! Started when I was pretty young with previously mentioned snap-togethers. But, it wasn’t long before I moved to glue. Then I got some Testors paint – spray and brush, and I was really off. I’d find old wire and make sparkplug wires. I’d carpet my interiors with fabric samples. Dremel tools. Oh yeah. I’ve still got a big box in the basement full of parts and unfinished kits – waiting for my boys to get older and see if they’ll be as into it as I was.
    As far as the models themselves – the only thing I’d build were muscle cars (surprise, surprise). I think my absolute favorite was this Jo-Han Sox and Martin Cuda. Found it in a small toy store. Waaay in the back. Box was dusty it’d been there so long. I didn’t care for the Sox and Martin decals (and was too young to know their history) so it became a black on black Hemi ‘Cuda.

    1. Doug Avatar

      Second on the Jo-Han kits. I cleaned out the stock at D & J Hobby in Campbell, California. The Sox & Martin Roadrunner was the first. I was attracted to the old look of the boxes-there was a permanent, unchanged quality that spoke to me, straight from the 1970s.

  5. tonyola Avatar

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/92474011729857fc6b1b345901f8e26b2d833413f9222232a52b33a09400bcd2.jpg I got one of these at the age of 11 for Christmas 1965. I wasn’t very good at building model so my older brother helped me.

  6. Mister Sterling Avatar
    Mister Sterling

    I went through quite a model building phase in 1987-1988. It was an odd period before changing schools and being just a year or two too young to get a summer job. I made a list of what I wanted to build and just gradually built them. 87 Grand National. 85 Volvo 740. 69 Dodge Charger. 84 MR2. But the last two were special to my heart. Revell’s BMW M6 coupe was a pricey kit, but I had to get it because at the time, Spencer For Hire was on ABC, and Hawk (Avery Brooks) drove a white M6 (and being a kid in Boston, I wanted to show Boston pride wherever). Did I want to build Spencer’s 1986 foxbody? Nope. M6 for me.
    And then my gateway drug into all things JDM. The Toyota Soarer 3.0 twin turbo GT. A rare kit by Fujimi. I had no idea JDM was a thing. It was the fall of ’87 and my last kit. I had just entered high school. Star Trek TNG had just premiered. It’s A Sin and True Faith were in heavy MTV rotation. A future Toyota V8 sedan was in the auto news. The legendary W140 S Class sedan was being tested in the wild. The BMW M3 was getting so much praise. But what’s this? Toyota made an attractive rear-drive sport luxury coupe that had bulging fenders and ground effects for their domestic market? Wha? Front that point forward, I would be researching SIlvias, Hiaces, and Skylines for decades.

  7. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    I recycled the wheels and engine from a dragster (one I’d previously built and broken) on a ’67 Thunderbird kit to make a custom T-bird drag car, with big slicks and a blower through the hood. I cut the hood opening with an X-acto razor knife. I got the opening right and didn’t slice my hand open even once (which, as you know, is a total mark of maturity). It was white with orange and red flames on the front. I was so dang proud of that project. My folks probably still have some blurry Polaroids of it in a box of photos somewhere.

    1. Sean McMillan Avatar
      Sean McMillan

      I did cut myself with an xacto while removing the body from the zz top coupe to make a woody. Right in the meaty part of my thumb. still have the scar.

  8. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    When I was a kid I butchered a Hubley model of a Duesenberg my father was saving once. Once.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      I remember Hubley kits!

  9. Gianni Burrows Avatar
    Gianni Burrows

    I loved building the Tom Daniel Monogram kits. Cherry Bomb was my favorite of all the TD designs.

    1. JayP Avatar

      I’ve got that one ready to go… Haven’t had the time and forgot about it.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      I didn’t even know this was a thing. Fantastic!

    3. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      My autoshop teacher in high school had a visible Wankel on his desk.
      Without an accompanying image, that would have sounded pretty bad.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        I had one of the Visible Rotary Engines, and it was 1/5 scale. I believe the one I had was made by Entex. I loved it. I think I got it in 1972 or 1973.

    4. dukeisduke Avatar

      The first ones produced (back when they were made in the USA) were pretty well made, but I’ve read that the newer ones don’t go together without some modification, rework, swearing, etc.

    5. ptschett Avatar

      I had a model like that but it was the Ford OHC I-4 (as seen in the “Fox” platform cars.) I was pretty young and my dad did pretty much all the work though.

  10. Inliner Avatar

    I’m nearly into my third decade, and for the past few years, I’ve been collecting supplies and researching, but I still have yet to start …

  11. dukeisduke Avatar

    One was the Moonlighter Corvette funny car (by MPC), that came with a glow in the dark body. There’s a picture of me holding it, with my little brother looking on, in a photo album my late mother put together for me, years later. You can still find them:

  12. dukeisduke Avatar

    One of my favorites as a kid was one I didn’t even build. It was a built 1/72 scale B-52 with jet sound (so I believe it was the Monogram version). Biggest damn thing I’d ever seen. I was throwing a paper route then (I was 12), and someone had put it out near the street, for the garbage man (so naturally, I scooped it up and took it home!). I put batteries in it, and of course, the jet sound worked. It eventually got thrown away, probably by my older brother (jealous!).

  13. Maymar Avatar

    I think I only have two proper models I ever completed – a ’77 Trans Am (in proper black gooold, although I believe the screaming chicken decal didn’t stick for long), and this Boss 429 Street Machine. I like the Trans Am better, but I appreciate how Jail Car the Boss is (I think I’ve got them both kicking around some box somewhere).

  14. spotarama Avatar

    heres some I built earlier ( a few years ago now, since I lost my modelling space)

  15. spotarama Avatar

    still have a wardrobe full of part built and untouched kits waiting for a safe space to lay out the workbench (needs to be a cat free zone )
    I usually have a dozen or so in progress at any time and they all get modified, usually hot-rodded but sometimes just go silly. its an incredibly relaxing way to pass time even though mrs spotty claims gardening to be such an activity…..but I know shes a liar
    I’ve also got the 1/8th scale 32 roadster half done and that’ll prob be what I get back into it with, it needs finishing but it also needs a big display cabinet to put it into

  16. bv911 Avatar

    It had a real rubber belt for the blower, and spark plug wires, fer cryin’ out loud! Plus flames.
    But it was out of my league, never did finish it. Was a little too heavy-handed with the cement; that thing called for finesse. Did a “Rat Fink”-type mashup with a Monogram ’55 Chevy, with the blown Hemi overflowing out of the engine bay, trimmed the Vega’s frame and made a ladder-bar suspension, used the rear axle, slicks, and wheelie bars. Man, I wonder what happened to that…

    1. Jeff Mac Avatar
      Jeff Mac

      I did the same car but in 1/24. Also reworked a front engine Big Daddy Garlits “slingshot” into a rear engined version. Garlits had just made the change and there wasn’t a model of it yet. Wish I had it now!

  17. ptschett Avatar

    I never was very good with the paint & decals or with not getting glue all over everything, but two of my favorites were a Douglas A-1 Skyraider and a ’92 Ford F-150 4×2 regular cab/long box that was rattlecan-painted black.

  18. Mark Jordan Avatar
    Mark Jordan

    In my model building days, we had the real glue (Testor’s) but I had no clue – to it’s, er, other properties, being young and innocent and a child of the ’50s. I built plenty of Revell and a few Jo-hann models, ’40 Ford coupe, ’56 Big Window F-100, a ’63 Split-Window, a few Barris customs, but I always wanted more detail and a larger scale. College and marriage and job and kids intervened, and childhood things were put away – until I went to Tokyo in 1982, and found toy store in the Akihabara District called Kiddyland. Not just any toy store, this one was five stories tall
    The entire fifth floor was devoted to model cars, and it must have taken me an hour to walk around inspecting my choices before I made my decision: a radio-controlled LeMans Porsche 956 kit by Tamiya in Rothman’s racing livery, complete with working differential, racing tires, all the proper decals, and in glorious 1:12 scale. Of course, I had to have a controller, too, so I bought a Futaba with a central joystick and gas and brake controls. Then I picked up another differential with a different set of gears, and some racing slicks. It’s quite a hobby in Japan, with proper clubs and series racing, where some enthusiasts would spend two or three thousand dollars to get the last millimeter of performance out of their model.
    I wasn’t that gonzo, but after I returned home and found the time, I really enjoyed putting that Porsche together. Tamiya is well known for its attention to detail, and in 1:12 scale, they had room to duplicate everything well, from the suspension uprights to the lacing on the aluminum wheels. “Racing” it was big fun, too, especially after I found a well-paved, seldom-used road up by the reservoir, where myself and a buddy would mock-stage our own LeMans (relief drivers, y’know, lap times).
    I’d like to try my hand at a Pocher kit one day (1400+ parts in plastic, rubber, leather and metal!), maybe the 1929 Alfa Romeo 2300B Cabriolet. But so far, Tamiya’s Porsche 956 was my favorite.

  19. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    After this Monogram Mercedes,Tamiya models, the most intricate was the BMW ‘Parts’ car after I’d seen the real one racing.

  20. salguod Avatar

    I had 2 big 1/8 scale kits, a 63 Corvette and a Turbo Trans Am (1980?). The T/A was my favorite so I decided to build the Corvette first. I never finished it and never started the T/A. They’re both in the basement, but at my old house they were stored in the crawl space where the cats walked on them and damaged them.
    I built a bunch of 1:24 scale kits, my favorite was a 53 Chevy panel truck that I decorated with scallop decals that were left over from my dad’s model building days. Even ~30 years later they were were still good.