The 2003 Competition Viper GTS-R by Mike Sells (Spring 2005)
I don’t really know much about this particular racer beyond the fact that it was campaigned in the Japanese Grand Touring Championship. The very few photos I found on various JGTC websites all show the car with “Eclipse” lettering replacing the Benihana markings on the nose and sides and 6-spoke chrome wheels but I don’t know when or why things changed. I downloaded reference photos from the Symbolic Motors website when it was listed for sale, anticipating that Scalextric or FLY would release the model as I wished to replicate the very interesting paint job. Scalextric won the Viper race (FLY is still a non-starter as I write) and I had one of the white cars shipped directly to Howard Frank after emailing all of the photos to him so he could prepare the markings. Incidentally, without looking a gift horse in the mouth, it would certainly be nice if the “white” Scalex cars came unpainted: it’s a pain to strip the paint to end up with the plain white styrene body and anyone buying an un-decorated car must have plans to custom paint it, right?
While I waited for Howard to find time for the decals, I rebuilt the interior from the Tommy Archer Viper to match the photos of the full-size racer. The interior has been lengthened to the back of the motor, the roll bar and fuel filler altered and the entire unit painted in shades of gray to match the real one. A Monogram Ferrari F40 seat replaces the Scalextric part. AMT NASCAR side window netting was sanded to half the original thickness and the holes opened up before being painted medium metallic gray.
When the Viper and decals arrived from Howard, I stripped the white paint and began to plan the solid color panels; Howard only made the lettering for me because gray and silver are so difficult to print accurately. Micro Scale decal film was used for the large panels in three colors: stainless steel (silver), New York Central gray and bright red. Tamiya gloss aluminum matches the silver film exactly and 2/3 Citadel’s Codex gray mixed with 1/3 Fortress gray is close enough to touch up the NYC gray film; I did not have to match the red during the process. The Scalextric Viper body was scanned and inserted into an auto cad drawing to scale so patterns could be drawn over the images. The patterns were printed to scale on 8 ½” x 11” full-sheet self-adhesive mailing labels, cut into pieces, then applied to the back of the colored decal film. While the patterns were being prepared, I painted the Viper body black. The roof and nose were masked and painted Tamiya gloss aluminum because it would be very difficult to apply decals over the scoops and vents, one of the reasons I was very glad to find a paint match for the decal film.
The gray nose, roof and tail panels were cut and installed over and around the silver inserts; the nose and tail panels were each made in two sections and had to be adjusted somewhat from the patterns to follow the body contours. Lots of Solvaset sucked the decal film tight to the body surfaces. Small cuts were made as necessary at the vents and panel lines to allow the film to conform to the deeper recesses. Three layers of film were applied on the sides: gray, silver and red; divided into two sections each at the rear edge of the side vent ahead of the doors. I figured that it would be easier to make the large panels from film than mask the successive colors for painting but the very narrow silver strips along the outside edge of the gray panels turned out to be impossible to cut from the film. I should have begun with another silver panel closest to the body to provide the silver edging. The color panels were sealed with Krylon crystal clear paint, then the silver border strip was added using fine chrome striping tape. Having trouble getting some of the very short lengths of tape to stick, the chrome strips on the grille bars and lower edge of the grille openings were added using wider strips of bare metal foil, painted on the inner ends to leave the chrome edge.
After sealing the tape with another light coat of clear, the numbers and sponsor decals were tried for fit. Howard had to re-size a couple but eventually they fit very well and look great on the body. Paint was used to touch up the small problem areas. A final coat of Future floor wax protects the markings and restores the gloss finish. Detail Master carbon fiber decals were installed on the chassis below the doors, Howard’s Yokohama and Advan markings added to the tires and the entire car re-assembled with the modified interior. This was a long tedious decal project but I am very pleased with the way it turned out – flaws and all – and it’s certainly a very striking car on the shelf or track.