IN PURSUIT OF: THE BRE DATSUNS.
The Bogus BRE. by Mike Sells
Brock Racing Enterprises is famous in the United States for their success in racing sedans and production sports cars. They put Datsun on the map in terms of performance, winning SCCA championships with the 2000 roadster and 240Z sports cars and the under 2 liter Trans Am with the 510, all of which helped make Datsun sedans and sports cars incredibly popular in this country. Bruce Paterson (http://members.optushome.com.au/pattosplace/) makes decals for both the BRE Datsun 510 and 240Z racers in various slot car scales and the decals can be stretched to represent the 2000 roadster as well. ARII has released excellent kits of the 2000 and 240Z coupe but, unfortunately, no one has ever offered a 1/32 sale 510 Bluebird of which I am aware.
It occurred to me, however, that the ARII 1960 Datsun 1000 (or slightly different 1200 - your choice) might look good as a vintage racer painted in Pete Brock's BRE colors so here is the "Bogus BRE":
Preparation is quite simple: the dash has been converted to left hand drive by filling the gauges on the right and adding decal gauge faces on the left, a roll cage constructed and an ex-AMT NASCAR seat and shifter installed. The well-detailed chassis/interior was assembled as a single unit, then painted flat white. I should have removed all of the interior door handles and arm rests before adding the roll cage but an attack of laziness set in. I'd also move the roll cage and seat back further if I were to do it again. The original exhaust header is mated to large diameter aluminum tubing exiting under the door. Wheels are Tamiya 1/24 scale Mini Cooper rally Minilites which fit the wide low profile Monogram '82 Camaro tires perfectly. The body is built from the box with bare metal chrome covering the window moldings, body trim and grille. A racing style fuel filler replaced the original small cap on the rear deck. This model was a just-for-fun project employed as a diversion from other more 'serious' `work and I enjoyed it very much.
(The rest of this piece is going to be a different format than we've used to this point. Living just below the Arctic Circle in North Dakota as I do, painting outside is impossible much of the year. My associate does not allow resin casting or painting in the house because of the smell and possible chemical damage to the resident pets and frankly, it's hard to argue with her since I'm very attached to them myself. Until I have a heated remote shop space, I try to accomplish all of the body, chassis and interior work in the winter, paint in the summer if the humidity cooperates and then finish up the models in the fall. The Datsun 1000 sedan is actually last summer's project, recently finished. I intend to serialize the BRE 240Z and 2000 racers; revising and adding to the construction notes as I progress. There may be delays and problems - I have a life, after all, and nothing on the work bench ever goes exactly as planned - but we'll deal with those as they come up. This will give you a chance to collect the materials and kits required if you want to work along with me.)
240Z PART I:
BRE's 240Z racers were of the old school with nearly stock unitized bodies and production based engines and suspension systems. They went very, very well, overwhelming the competition in C-production. There are two possibilities in pursuit of the best possible 240Z model. One can either shorten the excellent Scalextric Datsun 260Z (an otherwise identical 2 + 2 body style rather than a 2 seat coupe) ¼" through the tail and the roof immediately ahead of the hatchback window or modify the recent ARII static kit.
(The picture below shows the shortened Scalextric body with the new fender flare.)
In modifying the Scalextric body, the rear wheel opening has to be moved forward and the original flare replaced. A used ex-slot car came from Scale Models in England - scuffed and scratched, the body was fine under the paint. This is the easier, more accurate conversion of the two as the nose is already correct and the tail light detailing is better on this body than the ARII version. My first attempt using this body required replacing the fender flare over the rear wheel openings but perhaps this can be avoided by more imaginative cutting - I have a second body coming so we'll see.
ARII's 1/32 kit of the 240Z (left) is excellent but based on a Japanese TV show or video game so it has various '90's style "improvements". The cockpit detailing is correct except for the seats and RHD and even provides the basis for a competition roll cage. The kit seats are well done but not correct for either an original road car or the BRE racers. The most accurate road car seats come from the Lindberg Porsche 930 Turbo - highly recommended in it's own right - or the Monogram 300ZX snap kit but the racing seats are more difficult. The closest I have in my parts box are the seats from the Monogram Lola GT. I had cast them earlier for the Owens Corning Corvette so I just made more but I realize not everyone has them at their fingertips. Kit wheels and tires are great looking 90's style Minilite rims with wide low profile skins but we'll have to find something more accurate for the period. The chassis and suspension detailing is very well done although the exhaust must be replaced to match the full size racer.
The ARII chassis and interior parts will be used under both bodies for the shelf models - slot racers are on their own for mechanicals. (The wheelbase and width of the Monogram 427 Cobra is almost identical to that of the ARII 240Z so I suspect the MRRC Cobra chassis would work very well and perhaps even allow one to retain the full interior. The Chassis from the NINCO 427 Cobra is also a very close match for the 240Z. Choosing a racing chassis in advance would allow the new wheel openings to match the chassis exactly.) The body looks marvelous but has two major differences compared to the BRE car: large wheel arches which are not correct and the huge valence panel below the nose is totally wrong for the car we're modeling. The stock grille used on the BRE cars is not included either. If you are not interested in modeling the specific BRE 240Z, you could, of course, leave the wheel arches and/or valence panel in place.
To correct the ARII body, it helps to find one of the ubiquitous Lindberg 260Z kits. Marketed as 1/32, it's too small, the cockpit and chassis detailing abysmal and the wheels and tires poor but we're just going to use selected parts of the body and throw the rest away. Incidentally, the Lindberg body is quite well done so if you are interested in a slot car that's only about 95% true scale size, it's perfectly acceptable: we'll call that option 3. In fact, it would probably look somewhat more "scale" when raced in company with the Datsun 2000, MGB, TR4 and Spitfire and other small bore production cars. The 260Z kit was re-issued 2 years ago and can still be found at very reasonable prices.
BRE 240Z: Scalectric 260Z body
or ARII 240Z kit (+ Lindberg 260Z if you wish to use the ARII body)
or Lindberg 260Z snap kit
Bruce Paterson 240Z/510 1/32 decals
BRE 2000: ARII '67 Datsun 1600/2000 hard top or soft top kit
Datsun 1000/1200 sedan kit for racing windscreen parts.
Bruce Paterson 240Z/510 1/32 decals
(These three ARII kits and many others are available from Hobbylink Japan (http://www.hlj.com/) at very reasonable prices, even after you add in the postage costs. They also turn up periodically on ebay.)
I have started working on correcting the wheel arches on the ARII body but it's not going well. The idea is sound enough but execution suffers as it's very difficult to blend the new arches in place without sanding them off entirely which rather defeats the purpose. I need to re-assess this situation but will describe the process here, hoping that you'll be able to do a better job. I consider this the 'practice' of modeling: sometimes I need more practice.
The Scalextric body is proportioned differently than the one done by ARII. A study of the second Scalex body reveals that the rear wheel opening cannot be left attached to the tail when the ¼" strip is removed as I'd hoped. The proper relationship of the wheel opening to the door lines and windows means that 1/8" needs to be removed in front of the wheel opening and 1/8" behind. Very careful cutting and sanding would avoid replacing the flare around the wheel opening but I don't know that it would be any easier. Modeler's choice, I guess.
Begin work on the ARII body by cutting off the valance panel at the bottom of the front bumper space. Save this part because you never know where it might come in handy, even if not on this particular model. Build a new lower nose from 0.080" styrene strip laid from side to side. Add the first layer of strips, let dry, then cut the center out to match the grill opening. Add a second layer of 0'080" strip followed by one of 0.040" sheet and set aside to dry. Shape the new nose with a Dremel cutter or sanding block. Remove the grille from the Lindberg nose as we'll need it later. The grille does not fill the space: the opening is, well… open below the bumper.
Mark the center of each wheel opening on the ARII body with a pencil, then very carefully cut a square piece out of the body side (including all of the wheel arch) centered on the wheel opening. Cut the matching wheel arch from the Lindberg body making sure that the square is centered on the wheel opening and is slightly larger than the hole in the ARII body.
(Making the cuts further away from the arches, especially ABOVE them, should help keep the joint and subsequent sanding damage as far from the flare as possible.)
Clean up the edges of the cuts and carefully fit each Lindberg wheel opening to the ARII body - matching the pencil center line - and glue them in place. It works best if you match the top of the rocker panel recess on both bodies: the deeper ARII lower body edge can be adjusted the 1/32" or so required without affecting anything else. The Lindberg wheel arches are just enough oversized to suit the larger ARII body. Fill the joints, sand and prime.
One can dispense with the Lindberg body entirely by making right and left hand patterns of the wheel openings and cutting the replacement fender panels from 0.060" styrene sheet, exactly as described for the Lindberg parts, bending them slightly to match the fender contours. The advantage to using the Lindberg arches is that the openings are already exactly the right size and the contour is correct to fit the body. The rocker panel step can be added using 0.020" styrene strip. In this case, new flares are required all around: see part two. This is probably the most efficient and least frustrating way to correct the ARII body if you do not have or cannot find the one by Scalextric.
Japanese cars are designed to be right or left hand drive for domestic or export use and in most cases the dash units can be changed fairly easily: fortunately the 240Z is one of these. Drill small holes in the left side of the dash centered on a mirror image of the two large pods on the right. Make the holes larger by using progressively bigger drills or a rat-tail file, keeping them lined up the same way as the original pods. Find aluminum tubing the same diameter as the right hand pods and cut off short lengths. Carefully enlarge the holes in the dash to match the tubing, checking the angle constantly. When satisfied with the fit, glue the tubing in the holes, leaving plenty in front of the dash. Fill any gaps around the tubing and file the front side to the same angle as the originals. You should now have four identical pods: 2 on each side of the center cluster.
(LHD dash top, original dash bottom)
The original pods were left in place to this point as guides for creating the new ones but now it's time to remove them. Glue a 1" length of 1/16" styrene rod inside 1/8" styrene tubing, then cut four short lengths when dry. File one cut end on each length flat. Glue two of these in the original pods, flat side in. The other two go in the new pods from the back side, flat side out, recessed inside the pods to become the gauge faces. Sand off the original pods to the surface of the dash, filling any gaps and the steering wheel mounting slot. This technique is much easier than cutting the pods out of the dash on one side and trying to fit them into an opening on the other; trust me, it is.
This is as far as we go at this first session.