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Old 12-31-2003, 01:43 PM   #8
Layla's Keeper
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Revell Datsun 510 1/25th scale

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of this kit, a little history lesson on its origins is probably in order as it'll explain a lot of why it is the way it is.

For starters, this kit was originally introduced in 1973 as the BRE Datsun 510, a famous little car that stomped on Alfa Romeo GTV's and BMW 2002's in the SCCA Trans-Am class for under 2.0L cars. It's one of the cars that pioneered what has now grown into the import rodding hobby, and looked damn cool with its fender flares and 4 spoke American Racing Libre wheels.


Now, onto the kit.

Starting with the engine, we find that it's a little gem of an L series four cylinder, and I do mean little. If it weren't for the well-engraved (if chrome and flash choked) Weber DCOE sidedraft carburetors - or Solexs, or Mikunis, same design - this engine would seem to be hovering in the engine bay. Good luck trying to drill wires into the tiny separate distributor cap, but it'll be worth it if you do as the passenger side of the engine (where the spark plugs are) is pretty bare, only dressed up with a separate oil filter. The oil filter isn't too good, either. Just the usual cylinder of plastic. Grab an Exacto knife and whittle some fluting into the bottom of this thing to give it real detail, and scam AC Delco decals out of a Lindberg Impala for added realism. Also, look into stripping the chrome off the valve cover, as it's a mile thick and obscures a lot of detail. As I said before, same goes for the Weber/Mikuni/Solexs.

A good representation of a classic BRE "bundle of snakes" header is the last engine piece to complete a really nice engine that has really aged well. It helps that the last time this kit appeared was in the Revell Selected Subjects Program, which reissues classic kits as limited run collectors items with original box art.

Also, kitbashers and engine swappers note; the 510's engine has separate mounts. So, if the L18 four isn't up to the task for you, just save the mounts and adapt them to whatever else catches your fancy. Mazda 13B rotary, perhaps?

Now, we do have one problem that pops up in several other places in the kit. You noticed that I've mentioned the header, the Weber DCOE's, and other racing accessories, right? Well, that's it. There is no stock engine option for this kit, as it was never tooled as a stock Datsun 510. Get ready to pirate some SU carbs from the parts box and scratchbuild the rest if replicas are your bag.

Moving to the chassis, we find more good detail news and more evidence of the kit's age. A well-engraved chassis pan is marred by several injector pin marks and some flash. Luckily, the copyright notice is in a relatively easy place for removal. Sure enough, it says Revell 1973. The gas tank is a separate item (which is good if you want to add a fuel cell, instead) and the rear suspension is comprised of nine well-engraved pieces. Everything fits together quite well, though the differential back plate tends to leave a small gap after installation that needs to be filled. Also, there's a small hole through the rear crossmember that the exhaust is supposed to be placed inside of when the two halves of the crossmember are put together. I can't confirm through my sources if this is correct or not, but it sure looks funny when you don't use the kit's tiny exhaust pipe.

At the front, things are also quite good, with six pieces representing a sway bar, the front struts, control arms, and a tie rod. There's no posable steering, but that can be worked out by an experienced builder. A big problem, though, is that the upper strut mounts are attached to the body, not the chassis, so aligning the suspension before you paint and attach the body becomes a very tricky affair. If anything, I'd suggest removing those mounts from the body and attaching them to the chassis's inner fenders. It'll make lowering and aligning that much easier. The last few things for chassis detail are some good underhood bits; the master cylinder, wiper motor, battery, and windshield washer fluid bottle are all separate and well realized pieces. An interesting detail is the steering box and steering shaft piece, which attaches to the front subframe and passes through the firewall to also function as the steering column. Pretty neat for 1973. All of these pieces should be coveted by anyone who builds Fujimi's kits of classic JDM Nissans like the Fairlady Z or KPGC10 Skyline, as those kits, even when they have engines, lack these details.

Revell was kind enough to ditch the old two piece Goodyear Blue Streaks that this kit (and it's BRE Datsun 240Z sidekick) had originally. But the no name tires we got in exchange are no better, as they fit miserably on the kits American Racing Libre wheels. Not a great loss, though, as these Libres have seen far better days. The thick chrome and heavy flash on the wheels can be removed, but it's time consuming and tedious, and the results won't be very satisfying. R&D Unique sells a resin set of Libres of this size for $5. It'll be money well spent when compared to agonizing over these kit pieces.

The interior is another interesting story. As I don't have a Revell BRE 510 reissue on hand to confirm this, I can't say for certain, but it looks like they've added factory stock seats, dashboard, and side panels to the racer's interior. Sure enough, there's no carpet engraving on the top side of the chassis pan (where the interior builds up, much like the real deal. How's that for accuracy?) and there's a bare metal rear partition for the package shelf. But somehow this spartan, race ready, enviroment spawned a radio in the dashboard and massive speakers on the package shelf (represented by decals).

It's good stuff, though. The seats have good upholstery engraving and the dashboard is very fine. A set of gauge decals helps with all the tiny details, for those of us who aren't keen on painting them. But I still can't help but laugh at the juxtaposition of a fire extinguisher and a bare floor beneath factory seats and massive speakers.

The body is an interesting piece, too. It's very attractive, and almost menacing with it's finely engraved trim and large fender flares. There's a good BRE chin spoiler in the kit, and a very funtional hood hinge that doesn't compromise realism very much at all. But there's some other problems. First off, there are some massive mold lines that go through some window trim, so sanding them obliterates some details. Also, the separate front and rear valances are nearly impossible to align properly. Break out the putty and sanding sticks for this one guys. The bumpers and grille are well done but the chrome is thick and obscures a lot of detail. The headlights are represented by clear pieces (a welcome touch, no doubt). However, the tail-lights were modled onto the rear valance. Adding to this problem is the fact that the other 510 kit on the market is Hasegawa's 1/24th scale JDM four door. Cutting and sanding are going to be a big part of any solution to that problem.

Oh yeah, and remember what I said about no stock option? Same here. The body is BRE all the way, so if you want a stock 2 door Datsun 510, get cozy with a Hasegawa kit and a razor saw to build this one stock.

The decal sheet, is a nice one, with plenty of emblems (good, since the ones on the body are either going to get sanded off while removing mold lines or buried by a coat of paint) and two very interesting (attractive is a whole other story) graphics packages. The decals lay down well, and don't react badly to setting solutions, so if they're the sort of look you like, they're very workable.

By no means is this a bad kit. It represents a subject that hasn't been touched by the other kit manufacturers and has lots of neat details. But time has not been kind to the tooling as it is now producing a lot of flash. It's probably due to the fact that this tool sat on the shelf for decades while muscle cars and street rods were produced time after time. This kit celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and is a fun one to build. But don't be surprised if you run into some difficulties because of its middle-aged status.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10
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