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Eric Berg
48 articles

Revell Shelby Cobra 427 S/C

June 25, 2019 · in Automotive · · 19 · 3.9K

I don't do cars. Since I resumed modeling in the early 90's, I've built nothing but planes. Sure, I've slapped together a couple of Tom Daniels/George Barris silly cars along the way, but for the most part, strictly the airborne stuff.

Two years ago a good friend asked me if I would build him a 427. He pulled down a dusty box out of his closet and handed me a 2012 re-pop of 's venerable 1:24 scale Shelby Cobra 427 S/C “Street Burner” race car edition.

Mind you, I hadn't built a serious car model since I was 14 years old. Of course I said “The pleasure is all mine!” and promised it would ready for his upcoming birthday. I figured all I had to do was follow the instructions and stick a propeller on the front when finished. Was I ever mistaken!

This kit's moldy genes date back to the late ‘60s with minor upgrades along the way, mostly in the improved decal and vinyl tire department. The major plastic parts have no locating pins or defined attachment points so there's considerable guesswork involved because the dated instructions feature Revell's familiar but vague “point and glue” illustrations from the ‘70s-‘80s. The obsolete engineering of this kit makes it a frustrating struggle to get everything lined up and fit properly. The front end articulated steering rack and suspension are poorly engineered, clumsy and breakable. There is flash galore, and lots of visible seams that need sanding. Many of the chassis parts are way too fragile and tend to snap in half, some more than once.

That's where a spare kit comes in handy. It's much cheaper and easier than trying to repair broken parts and correct one's mistakes. Besides, my pal wanted a “street legal” Cobra with roll bar and this was the wrong kit anyway. Turns out the Revell “Street Burner” does not have the proper parts to build a “stock” version. So I grabbed Monogram's current rebox of same kit, Cobra “Dream Rides” version, dirt cheap with scoop-less bonnet and excellent opaque white decals, printed by Cartograf. However, I still had to jerry rig decals from both kits to make them fit properly.

I poured everything I could think of into this Cobra to make it as close to the real deal as possible, learning as I went. Flocked carpeting, seatbelts, floor mats, engine wiring, resin mags, decanted rattle can metallic paint job - the whole nine yards. But this car build turned out to be a royal pain in the rear and fought me all the way. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to throw it against the wall and gleefully mutter obscenities at the wreckage. Months would go by with no progress because I had lost interest. So I knocked out a couple more planes.

Periodically the car's rightful and future owner would call and ask “Where's my Cobra?” as a couple of birthdays came and went. I would make some excuse and then fiddle around with it some more. A few weeks ago, I got another call and he sounded clearly irritated. That got me off my duff and I powered through to the finish line, 26 months after I started this beast.

My friend finally got his belated birthday Cobra and was thrilled. I'm thrilled that it's out of my hair and I hope never to see this kit again.

What did I learn about building a car model? It's all about the paint job. That's an art and a skill all to itself. If you don't get the paint right, you might as well not bother proceeding any further. Unlike things with wings, you can't hide it with camouflage.

Photos were hastily shot with a cell phone so they're not the best. I left the bonnet off on purpose.

Hope you like it.

Reader reactions:
10  Awesome

6 additional images. Click to enlarge.

19 responses

  1. Humm, it makes me wanna drive it for a spin! Very cool and superbly made car, Eric

  2. The finish is fantastic, Eric.

  3. One of my favorite kits and cars.The Cobra was considered to be a widow maker for
    folks who didn't know what they where getting. Bill Cosby bought one and they say when he drove it a few times he was quick to pickup on what the car could do. As in put you six feet under. It wasn't ment for Sunday drives or comedians who weren't into racing.

    Excellent build and photos.

  4. Pedro's right, Eric. That looks very realistic, and I say that having one had a next-door neighbor here in the Exotic Car Capital of the World who owned one (and let me drive it a couple times - VRRROOM! VRROOM!). Sometimes we don't know how good we are doing something, as a friend recently pointed out to me when I was complaining about a recent model that I didn't think I had done my best with. Don't tell everybody the problems and we'll all think you're some master car guy genius.

  5. looks great to me Eric

  6. Looks good to me also Eric, like the number plate !

  7. Good lookin' model, Eric...I like it.

  8. I think you should do more cars, because that’s really good!

  9. Eric,
    Totally understand your frustration. We all fight that fight. But in the end this turned out super cool.


  10. 🙂 … Greetings … 🙂 :
    A very nice and exceptional eye candy Eric. That Blue finish is very well applied and a pure joy to see as well as the rest of the model. I can see your points as well as see how you how in the end you over came them. When it comes too cars, I only build NASCAR, but I can see other builds and I must say … WOW !

    • That eye candy was difficult. Originally Cobra's were painted Ford approved "Guardsman Blue" which Testors used to make in rattle cans but no longer. I substituted Tamiya TS-19 Metallic Blue over a primer coat of Tamiya AS-19 aircraft Intermediate Blue. One thing about metallic paints, you need to apply many, many coats. Thank god for YouTube how-to tutorials!

  11. This is a real jewel of a model, Eric.

    Well done!

  12. One of my favorite cars, and you've done it justice! I decided long ago (and far away) that I wasn't a "car guy." Just too easy to use camo and weathering to hide my flaws! From what I've seen of the cars in our club - you have the skills...

  13. Thanks for your compliment. I came to the conclusion that building model cars is not much different than building/restoring the real thing, particularly when it comes paint and polishing.

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