Uptown Automotive Hobby Shop
The Biggest Little New and Used Car Showroom in Central New York

Know Your Terms

The term "scale" has become commonly misused, though we all have come to recognize it as describing the approximate size of a particular model car or truck. In the eary '50s, model kits were described more accurately in fractions such as "3/8 inch scale" (which we now call 1/32), "3/4 inch scale" ( 1/16), "1/2 inch scale" (1/24), etc. The fractions we now use to describe a model are easier to understand. For example, 1/24 means one inch on the model equals twenty four inches on the actual vehicle. Thus a 1/2" scale model would be one twenty fourth (1/24) the size of the actual vehicle.

Jim Amado           

Chrome Spears?

The Monogram '59 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz and El Dorado Seville kits, and the Gunze Sangyo 1/32 '59 El Dorado kits have chrome taillight spears. This is inaccurate. The only 1959 Cadillac which had the chrome spears was the Fleetwood Sixty Special. To assemble the scale model El Dorado kits correctly, the chrome should be stripped, and the spears painted the same color as the body.

Jim Amado           

Large or Small?

Revell's '56 Ford pickup, in it's first release, kit #H1283, issued in 1962, had the small rear window in the cab. Later releases, such as kit #7384, issued in 1983, had the large back window.

Jim Amado           

Stake Bed

Several, but not all, issues of the AMT, and later Lindberg, '34 Ford pickup kits included a stake bed option. Interestingly, Ford did not offer this option until 1936 when disc wheels, stronger than the earlier wire wheels, became standard. However, the parts included in the '34 pickup kits reasonably represent the 6 1/2 foot stake bed option offered from Ford from 1936 up through 1956! Thus, conversion possibilities exist for the Monogram '50, AMT '53, and Revell '56 Ford Pickup kits. Obviously the stake bed could be used on other makes as well.

Jim Amado           


Pot Metal scale model Jeep forward control trucks have long been somewhat mysterious. Some of the mystery no doubt caused - or contributed to - inaccurate information. The FC 170 stake truck model was often listed as 1/20. Measuring the model's wheelbase, however, one finds that particular dimension to be closer to 1/23. The FC 170 pickup, commonly said to be 1/25, is more accurately 1/28.

Jim Amado           

Liquid Chrome

When a distributor told me that they tested a product that simulates chrome, and that it was "amazing", I doubted.

How many times in decades of modeling had I heard of similar products? I requested a sample. No sample. So I ordered one and paid for it. I tried it. It works! I BELIEVE! It's called Liquid Chrome, and is similar to a felt tip paint marker, comes in either of three tip sizes, is easy to use, and looks great when it dries.

I tried it on plastic, resin, and pot metal. It works! Far superior to silver paint, less aggravating and tedious than Bare Metal Foil, and unlike All Clad, requires no undercoat nor buffing. I recommend this product, not because I sell it, but because I use it...and it works!

Jim Amado          

Vehicle Nomenclature

Body styles of vehicles were given names which reflected their intended usage. Auto manufacturers also gave names to the various vehicles within their product ranges. Somewhere along the line, our society has deteriorated into a “close enough is good enough”, or “whatever” attitude regarding many things, and wrong information is disseminated routinely even by “experts” who should know better. Why?

How difficult is it, especially in this age of the computer where all sorts of information is available literally at one’s fingertips, to determine the correct name for a vehicle’s body style, or a specific model of a given make?

One would logically presume that a car magazine, a model car magazine, or an author therein, and/or a company producing scale model vehicles, would be knowledgeable about the subject matter which they are presenting, and both know and use the correct nomenclature for that subject.

Revell has recently rereleased their ‘53/’54 Chevrolet sedan delivery model kit. Why do they mislabel it as a “panel”? Certainly they know better! A panel truck is truck based, and has double loading doors at the rear. A sedan delivery is passenger car based and, with few exceptions, has a single loading door.  Examples of panel trucks are Revell’s ’37 Ford, kit #4930 (and prior releases), and the ’55 Ford which had been done in various guises under the Monogram label. Examples of sedan deliveries are the ’31 Ford, formerly done by Revell, and the ’39 Chevy, formerly done under the Monogram label. So, it’s not like Revell is unfamiliar with both body types; which makes it all the more confusing as to why they couldn’t or didn’t call the newly released model by its correct name.

Some who write about real cars are also guilty of misnomers, which again is unnecessary and irritating. To them I say: “Know your subject matter! Do your homework!” we who read magazines do so not only for entertainment, but also to gain or enhance knowledge. Fords, for example, are often mislabeled in articles. It’s really not that difficult to follow Ford’s nomenclature lineage; especially if the author is writing about Fords, a reader would presume said author to be knowledgeable about Fords, and know the facts he or she is relating.

Herewith is an attempt to clarify some Ford facts. Beginning in 1951, Ford called their two door hardtops “Victorias”. In 1954 they offered a two door hardtop with a plexiglas roof section over the front seat; this was called a “Skyliner”. Ford convertibles were called “Sunliners”. In 1955 Ford offered the Victoria (two door hardtop), a “Crown Victoria” which, though not a true hardtop, had a chrome B pillar, and targa bar, or tiara, which went over the roof and connected to the B pillar on the other side. A third offering was the Crown Victoria with the Plexiglas roof option; this was called a Crown Victoria Skyliner. All three versions were also offered in 1956, as well as the Sunliner convertible, and a new body style: a four door hardtop. The four door hardtop was called a Town Victoria.

 In 1957 the Plexiglas roof option was no longer offered, yet the Skyliner name was continued, now being applied to the then new retractable hardtop. So the ’57 line included two and four door Victorias, a Sunliner convertible, and a Skyliner retractable hardtop.

The Skyliner, with its folding steel roof, was continued into 1958 and 1959. In 1959 there were also two models of fixed roof two door hardtops in the Ford line. The Fairlane 500 had a thin C pillar, and the later released Galaxie (first year for that name) had a “formal roof”, with a more squared C pillar, like that of the then current Thunderbird. Interestingly, the Skyliner had used that similar C pillar since its inception in 1957.

In 1960 the retractable hardtop, and the Skyliner name, were gone. Ford two door hardtops had a new thin pillar design, and were called “Starliners” (a name which Studebaker had used in 1953), while the four door hardtops retained the Thunderbird roof line. Convertibles were still called Sunliners.

In ’61 a “formal roof” Galaxie two door hardtop, called a Club Victoria, shared the roof line of the four door Town Victoria, and both were joined by a thin pillar two door hardtop, similar to the ’60 Starliner, and carrying the same name.

For 1962 the only two door hardtop roof was the squared T-Bird style, which was found to be less than ideal for NASCAR competition, so Ford went into their bag of tricks, and pulled out a fiberglass lift off hardtop which could be attached to their convertible bodies. This roof line was virtually identical to the ’60 & ’61 Starliners, and was called the “Starlifter option”. Ingenious, but soon declared illegal by NASCAR.

Free useless information: The U.S. Air Force had a cargo plane, the C-141, which was also called a Starlifter. Probably capable of carrying the entire starting grid of NASCAR cars…

Jim Amado          

Black Widow? Which One?

There were two model car kits with the same name, which may be confusing.

The first "Black Widow" was actually the second. That is, the original Monogram scale model of a modified Model T Ford hot rod (which would be called a street rod now), and which was made in the early 1960s, predated the Revell scale model of the '57 Chevy 150 Utility Sedan, which was released in 2009.

The real 1957 Chevrolet 150 Utility Sedan made, not surprisingly, in 1957, was the entry level, or least costly model in the Chevrolet line up that year. It was a vehicle descended from the business coupe , which as the name implies, was intended for businessmen and salesmen to transport sample cases, or whatever tools and/or work related items they used in their craft. In my youth, a great uncle who was a building contractor drove a '57 150 Utility Sedan, with a thrifty six cylinder engine under the hood, and his tools behind the front seat.

In '57 Chevy also offered optional engines up to and including the fuel injected Corvette 283 V8. A 150 so equipped would likely have been intended for racing, and could have included other competition options such as six lug Chevy truck wheels on beefed up axles. Some of the racing 150s were painted black and white, and thus were referred to as "black widows", due to their "lethal" nature. These could have been said to have been equipped "strictly for business" of another kind.

Interestingly, the Monogram Black Widow scale model kit did not replicate an actual vehicle, but was representative of a type of actual vehicle. It was one of a series of three "hot rods" (street rods) which Monogram offered. The others were another Ford "T", called the "Green Hornet", and a '32 Ford coupe.

Ironically, within the first decade of the new millennium, a gentleman had an actual vehicle constructed to duplicate the Monogram scale model "Black Widow". In 2010 the Monogram Black Widow model kit was once again released in nostalgic Monogram box art, reminiscent of the original, but now issued by Revell (they and Monogram having become one company several years ago).

See Model Cars magazine, issue #155, December 2010, for an in depth article on both the new actual vehicle, and the new scale model.

Jim Amado           


                                        How To Know AMXactly What You’re Looking At

The American Motors two passenger coupe, known as the AMX, was modeled by four different model companies back in the day…sort of. 

Actually, it was made by only three model companies, but marketed by four.  When the car was first introduced in mid 1968, AMT offered a scale model kit in 1/25 scale, and MPC offered a kit in 1/20 scale.  Interestingly, however, AMT did not produce the 1/25 scale model .  JoHan did. It was felt that AMT was the better known company, so it was marketed by them.  The AMT kit number was 2568. According to some sources, JoHan also made promotional models for the AMC dealers in 1968, with and without friction motors.

JoHan  made the ’69 in 1/25 scale, again marketed by AMT, under kit #T294. Promotional models were also offered by JoHan, for the AMC dealers. The ’69 AMX has been reissued by JoHan numerous times. In a kit, as one of their “USA Oldies” series, and  as the “Drag-on Lady” Shirley & H.L. Shahan  Super  Stock drag racing car (kit # C3069), and yet again as the same (drag)car inaccurately  labeled as a “Pro Street” car. This last version was essentially the “Drag-on Lady” kit, without the decals; it lacked the Pro Street characteristic narrowed rear end, and tubbed rear wheel wells.

Revell, in 1/32 scale, kit # H1296, and AMT, in 1/43 scale, (various releases) also modeled the ’69 AMX, but here our focus is on the larger scale renditions.  MPC offered two kits of the ’69 in 1/20 scale: kit #2002, was the stock version, and kit # 2004 was the “Yankee Clipper funny car drag version.

The ’69 AMX has been recycled several times under the JoHan name as a “Promotional” model. The most recent releases were unfortunately inaccurate, in that they had 1970 interiors.  Later releases of the drag car kit (#C3069) also included the incorrect interior.  

For 1970, AMT kit # Y722 was a 1/25 scale AMX, and MPC kit # 3170 was a 1/20 scale kit. Promotional models of the ’70 were done in 1/25 scale by JoHan.

 Here’s how to accurately identify each of the three years. Externally, the 68(1/2), and the ’69 are identical; the exterior of the ’70 differs in hood, grille, taillights, and rocker panel molding. The real key, however , is the seats.  The ’68 bucket seats had low backrests, the ’69 had headrests, and the ’70 had highback (integrated headrests) bucket seats. The upholstery pattern was also different in the 1970.

Unfortunately, though the name JoHan (actually a contraction of the name of the founder, John Hanley) remained, the company changed hands a few times in recent years, and things got a bit confused. The most recent releases of the AMX models, both the kits and the reissued promos, though intended and labeled as 1969s, had ’70 interiors with the high back bucket seats, and incorrect (for ’69) upholstery pattern. 




Jim Amado          

page updated 12/22/2023