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MPC Don “Snake” Prudhomme Dragster

1972 Top Fuel Dragster
MPC No. 844
Model Type: Injection-molded styrene
Molded Colors: Yellow, clear, chrome
Scale: 1/25
MSRP: $25.99
Pros: Detailed engine; decals
Cons: Fitment and inaccurate size of front tires; poor location of notches on chassis
Don Prudhomme’s Hot Wheels “Yellow Feather” top fuel dragster campaigned against its great rival, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen during the 1972 racing season. Shortly after, MPC released this 97-piece kit.

The dragster’s rear engine is well detailed, being made of 30 pieces, including the mounting plate, blow shield assembly, and drive shaft.

While the majority of the pieces fit well, I had a problem affixing the intake manifold to the engine block. The solution? Remove the locator pins.

Other parts like the blower belt and pulleys, also were tricky to line up properly.

Despite having difficulty with a few of these pieces, assembling the engine was my favorite part of this build.

A total of 40 pieces make up the main chassis, including the engine, rear-end housing, front axle, front and rear spoilers with their respective braces, seat, various levers, pedals, steering linkage and wheel, fire extinguisher, and fuel line.

The overall look of the chassis was pretty good yet the main problem was the placement of the locator notches and pins. Both the notches and pins were off by about 1/64 inch, making some assembly a bit of a strain. The fuel line had to be bent to reach the fuel pump. The driver’s seat (which was wider than the chassis) also had to be forced into position.

The rear spoiler had four ejector pin marks that needed to be cleaned up. Its braces also created quite a challenge when locating them on the chassis. The front wing also had four ejector marks that needed fixed. However after a little time and patience the result looks good.

The dragster’s body consists of four  pieces plus two front radius rods. All body panels had noticeable molding flow marks, which required additional sanding and the application of extra primer. Once smoothed, I airbrushed the body panels with Krylon gloss sun yellow.

The bottom body panel didn’t want to seat correctly but a couple of clamps and prolonged drying time fixed it. In addition, the upper body panel was slightly warped, creating fit issues. I was able to hold it in place though and added the front, lower nose piece and clear windshield.

While the instructions call for cutting the lower arm from the radius rods prior to mounting, I chose to leave them as is.

Attaching the front wheels and tires turned out to be the most complicated steps in the build. The front tires required a lot of time to sand their inside edges to properly fit them on the rims. Next, I sanded the front tires’ exterior to round them off as they were egg shaped right out of the box.

The minor issues continued though, as I noticed when comparing the kit to a photo of the real dragster, that its front tires are considerably smaller than other similar kits I’ve pieced together in the past. Thankfully, the dragster’s rear wheels came pad-printed and required minimal sanding to make them look more realistic.

This build may sound more complex than it was. Apart from a few hassles I encountered with a few parts being tricky to fit, the kit ended up looking pretty attractive.
However, this is not a kit for beginners. It’s better in the hands of a modeler with at least moderate building experience. 


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