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Monogram 1/25 scale 1965 Chevy Impala SS-396

Kit: No. 2470
Scale: 1/25
Manufacturer: Monogram, 8601 Waukegan Rd., Morton Grove, IL 60053, phone 847-966-3500
Price: $14
Comments: Injection molded, 122 parts, decals.

When my dad drove his new/used blood-red '65 Impala SS into our driveway during the summer of 1966, I was a like a kid in a candy store. Wow, what a beauty! The sleek fastback design was the rage in the mid-60s, and this was the first full-size Chevy with that sloping roof line. It was a mixed blessing for my dad, though, as the rear window seal leaked rainwater into the trunk where he kept his industrial-tool sales catalogs. It was the first car I drove with a floor shift.

Now I can have one in small scale. Monogram's latest in its premium nostalgia line of American cars represents the sporty SS-396. The detail of the white, clear, and chromed parts is excellent. The whitewalls on my set of Goodyear Power Cushion tires was slightly off-center. The clear parts comprise the windshield, rear window, headlights, dome light, and separate wing panels. No side windows are provided.

Many of the engine accessories fit flush to the block with no pins or holes provided. The alternator has no mounting bracket, but Monogram provides air-conditioner lines and radiator tubing. Detail freaks will want to wire the ignition system, but everything looks good under the hood.

My sample's body needed a little cleanup on mold-parting lines, but there was a lot of flash on the engine and suspension parts. Although most of the parts fit well, I found assembly of the front and rear suspension confusing. Part of the blame falls on the instruction diagrams; arrows show where parts go, but not how they attach. The rear suspension is especially tricky; it has separate coil-spring arms, shocks, mounts, and torsion bar, and all connect the rear axle/differential to the chassis. I finally figured out what went where, but when I tried to mount the wheels the whole assembly popped apart and I had to start over.

The interior is beautiful, with a separate chromed rear-speaker cover and center console. Door handles and window cranks are molded into the door panels but look fine. I used Bare-Metal Foil on the trim strips on the interior panels and seat frames.

After painting the body and hood with Testor No. 1104 dark red, I used more Bare-Metal Foil for the chrome trim around the windows. A flat-black wash accents the chromed wheel covers, rear bumper trim, and the grille. The "glass" panels fit perfectly.

There are no locator holes for the exterior door handles, side-view mirrors, or radio antenna. Also, there are no obvious mounting surfaces for the grille and rear bumper; you'll have to dry-fit them, determine the mating surfaces, scrape away the chrome plating, and carefully glue them to the painted body.

The finished model looks and sits like the real car from my boyhood memories. This was a 17-hour stroll down memory lane. Experienced car builders likely will be able to solve the assembly and fit problems I had, but beginners may want to try a few snap-together cars before tying up their fingers assembling this chassis.

Paul Boyer
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