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Retro Army Staff Car--PT Cruiser

Kit: Revell’s PT Cruiser 1/25 Scale

This project started after buying this kit for my daughter and building it with her. It was by far the best snaptite kit I had ever build. I was impressed with its detail and engineering, plus I thought the actual car was pretty cool and thought of purchasing one for myself. I wanted to build the kit, but not being a car guy, I wanted to give it a little “armor touch”. Having watched the parade of WWII movies including Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor and Tora, Tora, Tora on DVD, the rash of old-fashioned Army staff cars gave me the idea for the paint scheme I would use. The PT Cruiser would make an excellent retro staff car for, of course, at least a 3-star general.

I started with the Revell PT Cruiser snaptite kit. I prepped the one-piece body by painting the interior MM FS36118 Gunship Gray. After masking, the exterior was done using MM FS34087 Olive Drab. I masked off the door and window frames and sunroof. These were painted black after the exterior had dried. After the body painting was completed, I applied the star markings (see below) and gloss coated the body.

The interior was assembled per instructions with only a few detail parts painted flat black; the rest of the interior was left unpainted dark gray plastic. The seats required a little sanding and clamping to get rid of the seams. The windshield was painted black from the inside along the molded frame detail. The center-mounted brake light was painted Testors Stoplight Red. The turn signals and, mistakenly, the fog lights too, were painted Testors Turn Signal Amber. The rearview mirrors were molded hollow, so I built up the depressions with Elmer’s Glue and painted them silver. Once all subassemblies were dry, the kit was assembled.

Now comes the fun part. I got a photo of a GSA (US Government) license plate and reduced it in size. I then printed it out with a color laser printer onto a self-adhesive address label sheet. The rear plate was cut to size and peeled and stuck to the rear bumper. Since there wasn’t a front license plate mount, I affixed the plate to a piece of sheet styrene cut to the appropriate size and glued it to the front bumper.

The lieutenant general’s plate was created using MS PowerPoint, reduced in size and then printed out onto a sheet of clear overhead transparency with the color laser printer. It was then super glued onto a piece of sheet styrene. Now came the problem, where to put the plate? It wouldn’t fit to the right or left of the license plate since it would block the headlights. So I glued a couple of bits of fine styrene rod to each end of the 3-star plate and then cemented the plate over the license plate. Hey, it looked as good a place as any to me.

The star markings came from an old Verlinden WWII US Armor dry transfer markings set. I picked a circled star for the hood and hatchback, and a regular star for each door. The dry transfer set also had a lot of “Caution Left Hand Drive” stencils, so I put one on the hatchback too.

The PT Cruiser staff car was a nice break from the armor kits I’ve been working on and it was a lot of fun. The bad part is that my 4-yr-old wants to play with it. Maybe Revell-Monogram will do a ProFinish kit with my paint scheme!

You can view all images for this project here.

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About Sabot