A couple of months ago, the Great Big Stinker of the North, the Earl of Northumberland, came up with a project. The idea was to make a Le Mans class winner not offered in 1:43. The Porsche Carrera RSR #77 that won the IMSA class at Le Mans in 1977 is only available as a 1:43 kit. And it’s a pretty rare one to find.
However, it’s the same base car as Minichamps’ 1975 Carrera RSR #58. And decals are not difficult to obtain. So he got himself a spare RSR #58 and the appropriate decals and transformed it into the #77 car. In the end he had a pretty neat model in his hand. Being such a good buddy, he more than amiably offered to source the decals for me. So I thought I also should give it a try.
First things first: get the spare car. The RSR #58 is easy to find and not very expensive. I had two options: get a second Minichamps or buy a Spark and use my old Minichamps as the donor. Spark has the better model, but it’s more expensive and harder to find. But since I’m quite happy with my Minichamps and I could source a second one locally, I went with Minichamps.
The first phase was stripping the donor model. Using my fingernails, sticky tape and a sharp plastic knife, I removed all of #58’s decals. It was harder than I thought, because most of them were solidly adhered to the paint. The white on the door handles is not decal, but actual paint.
That white paint was the part I was most worried about. Most manufacturers apply paint to small areas using a sort of stamp. That’s called tamp-printing, and it’s how they paint logos and emblems. The paint used is very thin, so it’s really easy to remove. Using a non-acetone nail polish remover, it’s just a matter of lightly rubbing with a cotton swab and it’s off. You remove the print and the base paint stays there. But here it was regular paint. Thick paint. The paint pooled inside the recessed areas around the door handle and was pretty thick. So with the white paint I also removed some red paint, demanding some retouches in the area.
Though the RSR #77 was all red, it had three different features, compared to the #58. Two of these features were the door handles and the wheel lug nuts. On the real #77, the door handles were chromed and the wheel lug nuts were gold. I didn’t have any gold paint so I ordered Tamiya’s gold leaf X-12.
However, the wheel lug nuts were not only gold, but a chunky solid thing. So I filled up the model’s nuts with gold paint. I dropped a micro drop of paint using a toothpick inside each nut, and waited for it to dry. After about some five or six drops, the nut looked solid, like in the real car. For the handles I used silver paint (Tamiya X-13), which is not chrome but looks passable.
Paint job done, it was time for decals. First I cut around each decal as close to the edge of the graphic as my nerves permitted. With all the decals cut, the decal job proper began.
I started out with the front and bonnet. And the first thing I did was give the RSR #77 it’s third different feature. The real car had two auxiliary lights inside the front bumper, that were closed with tape. So using two small pieces of black electrician’s tape, I replicated that on the car.
That last roundel was worrisome, because it had to cover the rear air vent. But using a decal softener (Microsol) it conformed pretty nicely to the uneven surface. To my surprise, in the end it looks almost painted on.
And there you have it. I can’t say it was a difficult project, but the stripping was not exactly easy. The decals were pretty straightforward to apply, but you HAVE TO USE MICROSOL. Specially on the rear roundel and the “tape” over the headlights. So if you want to have a rare model in your collection, this is a good project. Not expensive and not too hard to pull it off, though it did cost me four espressos and one cappuccino. Here you can read my review on the model and a bit of history on the real RSR #77.
I have to close this with a thank you. In fact, a HUGE thank you to my bud Gary, for the idea and for sourcing me the decals. He stinks, but he’s the nicest of guys.