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AMT ’55 Chevy Bel Air 2-in-1

Round 2 No. AMT1119M
Molded Colors: White, chrome, clear, clear red, black vinyl
Scale: 1/25
MSRP: $26.99
Pros: A lot of decals; many wheel and tire options; 2-in-1 kit
Cons: Missing parts; clunky headers; stock exhaust system molded into the chassis
The 1955 Chevy Bel Air is the start of the Tri-Five era with four models on offer: the 150, 210, Bel Air, and Nomad. The ’55 Chevy offered the first successful V8 engine which meant changing from a 6- to a 12-volt electrical system. Chevy offered many color options, including 19 different two-tone combinations. 

When you open the kit, you’ll notice it offers stock, custom, and street rod parts, and a V8 engine. The instructions provide a paint chart and suggestions for exterior and interior color choices. 

Assembly begins with the engine, which can be built as a stock or custom mill. The manifolds on the stock version lead to the exhaust system molded into the chassis. I chose the custom engine with the headers that dump out the side of the car. Overall, the engine is nicely detailed, though the headers are a little clunky. With some work, I eliminated the stock exhaust system. In my kit, the collector ends for the headers were missing. 

The interior tub includes the rear seat, door panels, and floor as one unit. The front bench seat is a simple two-piece affair with the houndstooth fabric pattern engraved into the plastic. The kit’s dash shows excellent detail but doesn’t include decals for the gauges.

You’ll need to paint the trim and the instrument cluster. 

The kit offers three options for wheels: a stock hub cap version; a set of centerlines that allow you to use wide tires in back; and five-spoke chrome wheels that aren’t shown in the instructions. The centerlines aren’t chrome plated, so you’ll have to paint them appropriately. I chose the five-spoke wheels for this build, even though the rear wheels were missing from my kit. Luckily, I had a matching set among my spares. The kit includes four whitewall tires, four blackwall tires, and two wide blackwall rear tires.

The gas tank and spare-tire compartment come molded on the chassis. The rear axle and leaf springs go together easily; a metal rod runs through the rear axle to attach the wheels. 

The front suspension can be set at three different heights: stock, street rod, or custom. The street rod and custom ride heights are lower than stock height.

To allow the front wheels to be posed, don’t glue the spindles to the steering mechanism. On my kit, the tabs on the end of the front spindles passed through the steering linkage too easily. I added a piece of plastic cut from a sprue to stop the steering linkage from falling out of the spindle.

When installing the engine, make sure to double check the length of the drive shaft and test-fit it before applying any glue. 
I went with a stock two-tone paint scheme using Tamiya racing white (TS-7) and Tamiya coral blue (TS-41). I applied the flame decals that came in the kit. After painting the body, I assembled the firewall, radiator and the radiator support, and windows, and  I inserted the fully assembled interior into the body.

With the body mated to the chassis, I installed the battery and upper radiator hose, leaving the hood until the absolute last.

The kit offers a couple of options for the rear taillights: custom full-red lenses or stock chrome-rings with red lenses. I picked the latter. You can use either the chrome emblem or a decal version on the trunk. I liked the decal better, and opted to leave off the bumper guards.

The kit offers a standard hood or the addition of a scoop. I dispensed with the scoop — the flames were enough heat for this cruiser. 
I’ve built many re-issues and found this kit challenging due to the older mold and some missing parts. However, having many decal options is a huge plus. The model has the right stance for a custom ’55 Chevy Bel Air, and I’m looking forward to displaying it.


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