Here's the story of how we contructed the Ferrari 365 GT4 BB body we raced at last weekend's "Big Wheels @ Spa" event in Germany.
Starting point for this project was an old airfix kit of the #75 N.A.R.T 1978 Le Mans version that Gabriel bought from Stefan Kuhn
At first I did not think much of Gabe's choice, which was obviously motivated by the fact that the car was about as low and wide as the Big Wheels rules allowed. But boy was it ugly....or at least I thought it was...until I saw this video
The Airfix body is a bit crude kit, produced in the early 80's it has a wall thickness off ± 3mm, has but the most basic formed interior. And as it was a "motorised" kit, it also had no motor detail what so ever. Further more when we inspected the box contents we also found that it
contained windows for a Porsche 935 and some really ugly wheels,which as I remarked with some loathing in my voice to Gabe.. were certainly not big!!
First thing I do when building a car is research the web for foto's and car references and what I did find on the car .....did not improve my liking of it...After viewing the first photo's I thought ....God it looks so ugly...the ride hight is so high it looks like they
were going to do Paris Dakar instead of Le Mans and Daytona.
After Ferrari's focus on F1 in 1973 racing sportscars was no longer
getting any factory support from Maranello so it was the enthousiastic
entrepeneurs like N.A.R.T. who carried on. After the succes years with
the 365 GT4 Daytona, the new mid engined 365 GT 4 BB (Berlinetta Boxer)
looked like the obvious choise to continue GT racing. At the end of 1974 two chassis were sent to Chinetti Motors in Greenwich, CT USA where they were modified by Francois Sicard and prepared for racing under the N.A.R.T banner.
Most cars run as good as they look and the F365 GT4 BB was no exeption. With its boxer 12 mounted on top of the gearbox it handled like a dog and lacked some 200bhp compared to the Porsche 935's. Not a very inspiring subject. An other added problem was that the #75 NART car was already taken by Team Viezbuxen. So the kit decals were of no use as well.
Clothes make the man and wheels make the car, so the first things I did was grind out the wheel arches to give the car a
better stance and go through my bit & parts box in search of some suitable wheels to make the wheel inserts.
The wheels above are aftermarket wheels for a IMSA Camaro, I liked them but thought they were too fine, to turn the 365 into
a mean machine it would need some bad ass wheels.
So in the end I went for these, they are from a Hasegawa Nissan GRC. They had the right offset, and with some alclad chrome on
the rims and gold centers....
In the mean while I stumbled on to this feature of sn/ 18139 on conceptcarz.com.
One look at the open rear end and yes there was the challenge and the inspiration to create a interesting car... but there was more to come
It offered me what all modells and slotcars miss, and what makes every Ferrari so special...the sound of 12 blarting intakes, whining gears and short stacked exhaust.....and I fell in love with the car..
..the only problem was...that the kit still looked like this.
Here I already started with drilling the holes in the rear fender and the cut out in the rear deck for the carburettor intakes.
By now we had decided to model the car as it had raced in 1978. here's a picture of the car at Watkins Glenn.
The main differences the 77 Airfix kit was that when the car returned
to Le Mans in 78 the car was raced with a type of "long tail" bodywork.
Also it ran without the covers over the carburettor trumpets.
Normally when I do such a car I make all the neccesary modifications on the kit body and dump it in the silicone to make a GFK copy making it light and strong.However with just one week before the race...time was not on our side. No matter how many late, long nights we would do...
..there just was not enough time.
So I had to do all the modifications on the body..but as we would also race it, it meant that I could not use any filler or putty as these would crack and chip of the body the first time it would hit the boarding or an other car !!! Apparently Gabriel noticed the headaches that he was causing me with this body as on Saturdaynight I was invited to a family diner. On the menu was Swiss cheese fondue but how appropriate this time with Italian cheese
After more headbanging and trying to avoid the subject in the end I
just had to take a deep breath and cut off the rear spoiler.
Then I took the Dremel and milled ± 1mm of the rear fenders. This to create a reccesed area to which I could glue
1mm thick lexan sheet that I bent to shape with the aid of a hair dryer.
Here the absurd thickness of the body actually helped as there was still 2mm of material left to glue the lexan to.
The secret of performing this job without any filler is to test fit both the lexan and milled recess over and over again
so you get an almost seemless fit. There were needed I filled the
remaining gaps with Zapp thick CA or the thin CA in combination
Above the result after a lot off sanding and two shots of paint. This
process would repeat it self many more times during the build.
With that hurdle taken it was time to concentrate on what would be the main focus of the car.
That Swiss cheese like rear panel and everything that was visible behind it.
Some 20 years ago long before my slotracing day's I wasn't into cars but into Airplanes and in a Parisian modell shop I
picked up a Punch & Dye set. Aircraft modellers use it to punch
holes in the cockpit panels so they can fit the dails of the
I've used it many time to do the same on a 1/24 dashboard, but boy did it come in handy for this job.
I made a template of the rear panel and tranfered it onto a 0,3 mm thick lexan sheet. Drew 3 lines on which to centre the holes
and just started punching. I started by punching the left upper and
lower holes, and then puched the diagonal rows left to right.
As it turned out, the punch I used was a bit to big, I only managed to get 10 holes in a row....
...but then again who would count them and compare them with the original... ( I did there's 15 holes in a row)
For the Tail lights I cannibalised a 1/28 Kyosho F40 body (sometimes you have to make sacrefices).
I screwed up one of the extra holes in the top right corner, but there
was no use in trying to fix a small detail like that without using any
By now it was Thursday afternoon, 3 days before the race and besides a swiss cheese, I still had no windows, no wheels,
no interior and no motor detail. I was getting a bit desparate
But then the postman rang twice and delivered my order from Germany. A couple of 20mm alu wheels and most important....
.. a Fujimi F512bb kit.
From the moment I inspected the kit contents, all my problems were solved. also clear was the close family ties between
the 365 and the 512 Ferrari, even in kit form. The Fuijimi floorpan and windows fitted the Airfix body almost perfectly.
And finally I had what I needed most...that big fat Boxer 12
Another good find was that the boxer12 was about just as wide as the inline motorbracket, so it would cover it completely.
But unfortunately as we started to run out of time the gaps in the pictures we took grew larger and larger.
So Sorry no pic's of the masters for the vacformed interior and motor detail, maybe I can post those later.
Next item on the list were the intake trumpets. We actually made these
form cable end caps, their dead cheap and a lot lighter than the machined sakatsu parts. Its a racecar and every gram would count.
The Fujimi kit had some nice open grills and besides the top covers for the intakes also the undelaying trumpet covers.
I glued the top covers upside down on to the undersides of the grill. Milled the trumpet covers so I just had the rim left
and drilled 2 x 6 holes for the trumpets. I had to do a bit of
guesswork here as detailed photo's of this area could not be found.
In between jobs I would continue to lighten the body by scraping
material from the inside with a round #24 scalpel. I could not use the
Dremel that much because although the body was thick as hell, the
plastic would melt and bubble when even the lightest pressure with a dremell was
applied. This made it even more labourous so I did it in 20 min
sessions and then stopped to do something else. I was happy if after
each session I had gained another gram But in the end I managed to get the bare body down to 20 grams
This is what the car looked like late thursday night..or more honest early friday morning. The body had been repaintedfor the 3rd time every time trying to get that right shade of old Ferrari red with Tamiya spray cans.
In the end I used Dull red covered with a light coat of Italian red.
Is it the correct color...don't know but it had to do.....and it had to dry....as it was now Thursday night which was also the last moment I could reinforce the body. I used with some GRP lamination in the rear and some carbon strand's at the front and in those very fragile wheelarches. All in all these reinforcements added some 3 grams to the body
While that was hardening I finally found the time to finished casting, cleaning and painting the 2 inserts for the frontwheels
and the 3 sets for the rear wheels. I just love that Aclad, their chrome is so cool, and with those gold centers...dammm we finally had them bad ass wheels we needed.
Ok...fast forward 24hrs and the car looked like this, can't describe what its like to build and modell a car under stress,
when actually its supposed to be a relaxing hobby But then again were crazy anyhow because after all this work......we were going to race this car and we would undoubtably crash into something or someone. To get the car to this point all team members put in their effort
regardless of their modelling skills. Event the competition joined in
as Nick who for this race was driving that "other" Ferrari of team
Viezbuxen decalled the body as Gabe end I were finishing the Lexan
Somewhere around 22:00 hrs we left for Alsdorf with a box full off
parts and but the thinnest layer of clear coat over the decals, hoping
that they would dry during the 2 hrs drive to the track.
Actually the first crash happened before the car had even left the pits. I
dropped the body on the floor and it broke the rear bumper. Luckily
this was an easy fix which I did by glueing a plastic rod in the bumper
with some foam tape...
We arrived at the track @ 00:30 and ran the car for a couple off laps, all
seemed to be working, it drove very well straight out of the box.
The tires we still needed to improve but first we needed to finish the car.... and that's when I f****d up big time.
Because of the wide mix of decals that were used on the body (some very old some new) I had sprayed the first coat
of clear with Gunze mr Hobby Acrylic (the blue can) This because it
contains less solvent and is there for less agressive on the decals.
But it has two major setbacks. 1st it dries slowly, 2nd it's not petrol resistant. For this reason I usually use the Grey
canned Mr Hobby ( more agressive but dries quick and petrol resisitant)
Now with the gloss clear you can use both types over each other, but apparently not with the semi gloss. The last thing I did on
friday night was to give the body a last shot of semigloss clear, and as it needed to dry quick I used the grey can.
Big mistake, instead of flowing evenly, immidiately the wet clear started to attack the underlying semigloss.
The whole body looked like an orange
Luckily enough we had also brought some spare cans of the Acrylic clear and rushed off to the toilet quick dried the body
under the handryer and applied several thicker coats of acrylic to see if I could regain some form of smooth surface.
At first this seamed to work, so i left the body to dry overnight, but as I returned the next morning @ 8...
..the same orange skin had reappeared. But at least the clear was now thick enough to wet sand it with some 2000 grid
that I had brought along. So back to the toilet, sanding wet under the tap, drying under the hand dryer, again and again.
After some time most of the orange skin had been polished to a matte but semi smooth surface.
I then used Revell modellwax and buffed the surface to a sort of semigloss shine. (as seen above)
By now Gert was screaming for us to offer the car for technical inspection, wich we passed after adding 1 gram extra in the body and then we were just in time to make the line up off all the cars on the grid. Even with all the details that were obviously missing..and the messy clear job The car managed to score some good concourse points.
And then it was time to start the race, or first qualifying, and when the flag drops...the bullshit stops.
On new fresh tyres the little Ferrari drove like a dream, claimed pole position and at the start took off...
...showed the whole grid her pretty ass and never looked back.
She may not have been completely correct, but at least in 1/24 scale
s/n 18139 did what it had never been able to do in real life......
.....it beat the crap out of the Porsches 935 and won the race.