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AMT Piranha Drag Team

Round 2 No. AMT1113
Molded Colors: White, chrome, clear, clear red, clear yellow, vinyl tires, metal axle
Scale: 1/25
MSRP: $53.99
Pros: Interesting subject; great decals with lots of extra markings; extra parts
Cons: Some poor-fitting and warped parts; inaccurate parts labels on instructions
I started the tow car first. The flash was minimal, but the parts needed fine-tuning and fitting. Nine parts comprise the main body. The hinged doors and engine cover require a little extra attention before priming.
I glued in and filled the two small rear panels and the little luggage hatch between the rear window and engine cover.  They don’t seem to be on factory Piranhas. Two small sink marks (one on each side) needed to be filled.

I primed the parts Krylon gray and sanded them smooth before a second coat of white primer. With the coupe body ready for paint, I turned my attention to the funny car. 

I primed and sanded the bottom of the drag-car body the same as the coupe. Although I glued together the yellow-tinted upper-body halves, it really doesn’t matter because the car will be painted.
A little sanding trued the seam between the well-fitting upper-body parts. I re-scribed the panel line with the back of a hobby knife. After sanding the gray primer, I coated it with white primer.
That’s a lot of yellow! I shot the larger parts with Tamiya chrome yellow (TS-47) spray paint and handled the more delicate parts with my airbrush. I noticed the trailer frame was a little warped, but the weight of the drag car should fix it.
After the chrome yellow dried, I sprayed a few light coats of Tamiya pearl white (TS-45) on the funny car until the appearance looked right to my eye.
For the bronze fade, I made an 8:2 mix of Testors Sealer for Metalizer (No. 1409) and Tamiya metallic brown (X-34). I thinned the mix by 50% with lacquer thinner and airbrushed it on in two light coats.
I placed the decals on the funny car relying on reference photos. There are plenty of extra decals to mark different car versions. I clear coated the body after decals with Matrix MSV-21 two-part urethane.

After polishing the tow car’s body, I followed the instructions (mostly) for the markings. Tamiya Mark Fit (No. 87102) conformed decals to the front fenders. I also employed a hair dryer for the wood-grain decals on the door sills. 
I airbrushed the tires Tamiya NATO black (XF-69), scraped the paint from the raised Goodyear letters on the race tires with a knife, and cleared the recessed whitewalls with a Windex-soaked wooden toothpick. Testors Dullcote went over all the tires.
The trailer went together easily. While the instructions say to mount the license plate to the trailer, they give no indication regarding where. I cemented it to the rear of the springs so it wouldn’t break off during use.
Glue the inner door panels in place first. Center the windows to allow clearance for the doors to close. I cemented the lower edges of both windows to the lower sills of the doors and let them dry overnight.
A clamp and canopy glue made sure the window stayed attached and eliminated any warp from the doors.

The windshield didn’t fit as positively as the door windows, so I sparingly used superglue to tack the glass to the frame and work out a slight warp. When secure, a thin bead of canopy glue along the top and sides finished the job. The pins molded to the doors didn’t make for a positive fit at the hinge points. I cemented the hinge retainer into the roof and slipped the doors in place. Unfortunately, the pins for the passenger door weren’t quite long enough to keep the part secure. I left mine as is, but drilling the pins and replacing them with stretched sprue or brass would be an easy fix.
The Corvair engine is a little soft on fit and alignment but goes together well enough for the limited visibility once installed. I stripped the chrome from many of the parts with oven cleaner to make them easier to glue. The Hemi fit together a little better than the Corvair. Again, I stripped the chrome off some  parts and painted them with Tamiya metallic colors. I used Rub ‘n Buff silver on the scoop and blower.
Regarding the Hemi headers: The instructions mislabel parts in the detail picture showing the angle and order of the pipes. Part numbers molded into the sprues include L and R letters as well as 1, 2, 3 and 4; I guessed 1-4 meant front to rear.
The dragster fuel pump interfered with the seat bulkhead and would not let the engine sit in the frame properly. I removed it. Also, the distributor didn’t allow the top of the body to fit properly. I filed about .040 of an inch off the bottom of the shaft for clearance. With no posable steering, the wheels were cemented to the axles.
The coupe suspension went in after the engine was installed. The front wheels are not posable but can be posed; I went with straight ahead. Test-fitting is a must, and the axles needed minor adjustment to look symmetrical. Paint all the suspension parts prior to assembly.

The base of the windshield molding needed to be shaved to allow the doors to fit to the body and for the A-pillars to meet the front fenders. Canopy glue attached the lower edge of the windshield to the car. While the instructions have the dash installed before the roof, it’s easier to do so after mounting the roof.
Test-fitting the upper body to the lower, I noticed the deck lid hit the turbo on the left side. I removed the turbo and trimmed the manifold where it attached. The passenger door opens and closes, but the fit is worse than the other side when closed.

I’m glad I waited to install the wheels until last: On the passenger side, I took off about .050 inches from the front-wheel mounting boss and shaved about .040 inches off the rear upper-control arm. The driver’s side wheels had enough clearance to fit, and, like the funny car, do not roll.

Many of the details inside the funny car are obscured by the upper body. If you plan to build it sealed up, you don’t have to paint and detail all the parts like I did.

I masked most of the body and shot the side trim and cockpit semi-gloss black. The side trim can be chrome silver or black; my reference had black.
When I tried to mount the upper body onto the frame, I broke the headers off the engine. After more test-fitting, it became obvious the headers could not be installed after mounting the upper body, and there was no way they were going to fit into the deflectors if attached to the engine — probably because of my guesses about positioning. So, I cut them off about 3/8 of an inch from the flanges and cemented the headers into the deflectors. While not the way I expected it to turn out, I still think it is a fair trade for the body to fit better over having part of the headers removed.
It took a lot of superglue and accelerator to get the upper body mated to the rest of the car. Installing the wheels prior to mating the body halves limited access to apply glue.
The rear wheels fit fine, and I like the way the model turned out even with the detour I had to take with the exhausts.
The funny car has to be placed on to the trailer facing rearward or the trailer will tilt down and not stay attached to the tow car, but, with the mass of that Hemi, I’d want it that way in real life for the tongue weight.
Until now, this was one of the rarest kits in the AMT Piranha series and consists of three complete models: a tow car; a 392 Hemi-powered funny car; and a simple, tandem-wheeled tilt trailer. I found no proof of this “race team,” but the individual cars are real and documented.

The tow car matches the Piranha from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and does not match the actual production coupe. The funny car accurately depicts the real publicity vehicle built to promote the street car, which laid down a 8.81 elapsed time at more than 182 mph on its first public quarter mile.

Most of the parts, especially the larger ones, are cleanly molded, but several of the smaller parts have substantial flash. A thorough decal sheet includes markings for the two cars in this kit and decals for the No. 3 Piranha roadster and the No. 55 CRV-II SCCA race cars. Even stripes for the OSI Italian-built custom version are here. 

The kit includes a cardboard diorama base; the instructions for it and the models are easy to follow and feature paint callouts.
The Piranha evolved from the CRV (Cycolac Research Vehicle) designed by Dan Deaver and built in the early ‘60s by Marbon Chemical.

The car’s two-piece body was molded from Cycolac ABS thermoformed plastic, for which it was named.
The CRV evolved from a roadster powered by a 42-horsepower Sunbeam engine into a semi-gullwing coupe with a Corvair engine, and, in 1965, a CRV-II roadster with a turbocharged Corvair six-cylinder won the SCCA Central Division D Modified Class with wins in half of all the races.

Notably, AMT Models became involved with a plan to build and sell the CRV as the limited-production Piranha. Both the coupe and roadster would be offered, and Gene Winfield’s Speed and Custom Division in Phoenix, Ariz., would be the AMT factory shop. But with the demise of Corvair, a slowdown in the model car kit market, and a lack of interest in the Piranha, AMT had to abandon the plan. But not before Gene Winfield’s connections to the TV and movies got the car some exposure in the ’60s spy drama The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
These models build into quite a presentable set. Most of the subassemblies are easy to put together, with a few challenging exceptions. And even if the results don’t exactly match the instructions, the work-arounds are fairly easy to achieve, and most are not visible on the final model. 

The gullwing doors on the coupe did not fit well due to a warp in the roof piece and one door — that single detail takes the biggest toll the model’s appearance. If I were to build this kit again, I’d probably pin and cement the doors closed so I could make them fit better. The large windows allow for plenty of visibility inside. 


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