Join me as I somewhat re-restore my KITT. Over the winter of 2020 / 2021 I gathered a few parts I knew I’d have to replace at some point in the future. When I recently discovered a few oil and coolant leaks, I thought I might as well do everyhting in one go. I was shocked at how many original parts I still hadn’t changed on this car: springs, transmission mount, power steering mount, steering rack, water pump, power steering pump, the spark control module as well as a number of other parts I changed off camera (see below for parts list).
Hey guys, wishing everyone a happy 2020! I sincerely hope that it’s gonna be a great year for everyone reading this post….and beyond, of course. 🙂
Over the Christmas holidays I’ve been thinking a bit how I want to continue with my MotorScotti YouTube and social media presence. The video says it all. I’m looking forward to making lots more useful and entertaining content with regards to cars, motorcycles and anything connected to wheels and engines. Stay tuned, Carl
Ever wanted to take a closer look at a 2011 botanical green Jaguar XK 5.0 Portfolio with Caramel interior?
Well here’s your chance to get a close look at it and why not get behind the wheel of it, since this baby is for sale. Click here for get to the sale ad. Enjoy the video!
You made it possible!
So my MotorScotti YouTube channel just reached 1’000 subscribers! What I started with a fairly modest short clip of my Yamaha XVS Drag Star 1100 motorcycles has gone through being a model car review channel to becoming a DIY how to repair and modification channel about cars in general and mores specifically the Peugeot RCZ. As mention in my channel update video, it’s time to move on to the next chapter with the Pontiac Firebird KITT project.
Over the years I have received a loads of constructive and positive feedback from all of the viewers and I am really greatful for your support! I enjoy documenting my little automotive and mechanical projects and share it with the world to help others who are looking for the information I provide and simply show that with a little bit of dedication you can do it, too! At you own risk, of course!! :-p
Anyway, this is just the beginning of a lot more to come. Thank you for your continuous support and stay tuned!! 🙂
Are you in for the looks or the performance?!
This week I happened to walk past the BMW dealership in Blackrock, Co. Dublin in Ireland. I looked at all the new and used cars they parked outside and first thought: Wow that’s a lot of high performance cars. Many of them have M packages (M for Motorsport, of course), meaning that they have the front and rear bumpers of the M variant of the respective model. M badges on the sides, the wheels and on the steering wheels.
Upon closer inspection I quickly realized that most of them are actually pretty reasonably powered cars and that most of the aggressive looking cars are much lower powered diesel cars. For example, instead of the X5 M comes with a 4.4l V8 engine, delivering 575 hp. The white x5 here is actually a sDrive25d M Sport diesel delivering 231 hp. Same story for the 420d convertible and the 5 Series Touring; They are literally sheep in wolf’s clothing.
However, rest assured that there are also some properly powerful and fun to drive cars available. Check out the video below and discover for yourself:
From naturally aspirated to turbo
As I walked past the Joe Duffy Porsche Centre Dublin I saw two 991 Carrera S parked next to each other. A first generation in dark blue a second generation in white. Isn’t that the perfect occasion to compare the two?!
The Porsche 991 generation was introduced in late 2011 replacing the hugely successful 997 generation. This particular dark blue metallic Carrera S has a traditional naturally aspirated 3.8l flat 6 engine, producing 400 hp. The facelifted 991 Carrera S, officially called 2nd generation 991, was introduced in late 2015 and brought a major revolution to the Carrera family: turbocharger. Yes, indeed, this Carrera S is carrying a turbo charged 3l Flat 6 engine, producing 420 hp.
The external differences
The front bumper and air intakes have been re-designed. The LED daytime running lights are much slimmer on the second generation. Even though the headlight units are identical from the exterior, they have also been revised and are now featuring four-point daytime running lights. In the back, we can spot four major changes compared to the previous version:
- The general shape of the rear bumper
- The shape and centered position of the exhaust pipes
- The three dimensional shape of the taillights
- And the engine cover grill or vent which now shows 24 vertical lines instead of the previous three horizontal blades
When it comes to the wheels and chassis, the Sport version with the red brake calipers is almost identical. Only the back tires are half an inch larger on the newer model.
A zest of 918 in the cabin
Inside, only changes have been made where it really mattered: the steering wheel has been replaced with a 918-inspired wheel, eliminating once and for all the counter-intuitive gear changing buttons on the standard wheel. Moreover, the infotainment system has also been upgraded.
Check out the video for a better illustration of the comparison:
History of the car
The “Starsky & Hutch” car was a third generation Ford Gran Torino. Although the third generation was built from 1972 to 1976, the cars used in the 70’s TV series and 2004 movie were ‘74 to ‘76 models. Due to US Government safety regulations their front and rear bumpers, as well as the front grille differed greatly from the early 70’s model years. In 1976, the success of the “Starsky & Hutch” TV show even made Ford make a limited edition of 1’000 units built and painted just like the TV star. The ’74 to ’76 Gran Torino’s were equipped with a range of different V8 engines; displacements of 302 cu in (4.9L), 351 cu in (5.8L), 400 cu in (6.6L) and 460 cu in (7.5L), all of them being coupled to a three or four speed automatic transmission.
For starters, it comes in the correct Ford bright red paint livery with the white “vector” racing stripes all along the sides and over the roof. Furthermore, we can see that is has the correct body colored “sport” rear view mirrors, the yellow front marker lights, which are engraved into the body. The “Gran Torino” model lettering is correctly put on either front fender. However, ERTL used stickers for all letterings instead of actual plastic letters. Moreover, the car is equipped with the chrome US Mags 5 slot wheels. The tires do have actual profile on them but there are no markings on the tire walls. Like in many ERTL models, the chrome lines surrounding the wheel arches are painted on. They did a nice job though with the chrome side skirts from the front fender all the way back to the rear bumper.
In the front, the ’76 front grille with the eight vertical bars and the integrated parking lights is accurately replicated. There is even the Gran Torino emblem on it. Above the grille, we can see the Ford lettering. Gran Torino aficionados will notice that the letters are actually a little too far from the grille on the flat part, instead of being just close to the grille on the inclined part of the front. Further down we find the large bumper going all the way around both corners. It’s got the correct classic blue license plate “California 537 ONN” on the left side. They even put the two vertical bars in front of it with the black padding on it. The tip of the white “vector” stripes almost touch the headlights, which is too far. I believe the design of the stripes changed a little bit over the series but they never reached quite as far.
Going over to the passenger side of the car, we get a close look at the red flashing tear drop police light on the roof, which is attached to the police radio unit inside. But we’ll get to the interior in a few moments. Looking at the back of the car we can see that the taillights are wrapped around the corners. This eliminates the need for rear side marker lights. They are nicely done and clearly show the white reverse gear lights in the center. Obviously, the license plate is the same as in the front. Speaking of letterings, the “Torino” letters are accurately put on the center back. So are the “Ford” letters on the right side of the trunk lid. The trunk lock is only painted and to my big surprise, the trunk doesn’t open at all. The lid is clearly a separate piece of metal, but as I disassembled the car to check whether something was not put together correctly inside, I found out that there are no hinges at all at that the trunk lid is simply riveted to the body. That’s a very disappointing fact, considering that the doors and the hood do open.
The single exhaust pipe indicates that this model is equipped with one of the lower powered V8’s, but a close look under the hood well be given in the next chapter. Anyway, looking around the upper part of the car it’s nice to see ERTL painted the chrome lines around all windows. However, it’s a bit odd that the color surrounding the main windows is not the same as the one following the little rear side window. The windshield wipers are hidden underneath the hood of the car, which is accurately done. The disappointing part of it, is the fact that they are actually part of the body and just painted black on the top. ERTL has proven to be able to do better than that. Last but not least, they added a slightly bent radio antenna, which gives the car a very realistic and used touch, as they rarely stay straight very long.
Under the hood we get to admire the mighty V8: In the TV series, they used cars with different engines. This one, as we can see from its sticker on the air filter, is the 351 12V (5.8L) 152 hp unit. The attention to details is actually quite good: blue air filter and valve covers, the safety stickers on the ventilator cover, chrome painted alternator. Moreover, all of the auxiliaries are visible, although not moveable. Wires and hoses are all there and even the battery clamps are painted grey. Kudos to ERTL for that.
The mechanical details are all quite good; the steering works smoothly and although it’s all made out of plastic it’s reasonably solid. For me, the nicest thing to see is the engine and the transmission; it really pays to have the different elements painted in different colors. It just gives the car a more upscale touch. Back in the rear we can read that it was made under Ford license and built by ERTL. There is however, no mention of a movie production studio or a Starsky & Hutch merchandising department.
Inside it’s all black, so that’s a good start. The steering wheel has the correct shape and the grey-ish accents. Even the ignition is there but the keys are missing. It’s nice to see that the gauges and everything on the dashboard does have the correct three dimensional shape and color, rather than just being put on a sticker. As mentioned before, the cable of the flash light is connected to the passenger side police radio unit. The microphone doesn’t come off, but it’s great to know that they built the whole thing. On the floor we can see three pedals. Being an automatic I suppose the left one is for the parking brake. The front seats tilt forward to get easy access to the rear. A lot of attention to details has been put into the door panels as well: visible lock pins on top, “Gran Torino” stitching in the middle, as well as some chrome elements contrast the all black door just as in the actual car. Looking up, we can spot the rear view mirror, the sunshades and even the inside light.
The box comes in traditional ERTL / RC2 fashion with the big windows in the front and on top, coupled with some pictures of the main actors of the TV show. In the back, you get a brief description of the show and the car in both English and French. On the bottom, the ERTL, RC2 and Ford logos authenticate that this is an official product of the toy company and the car manufacturer.
Back on the road
This ERTL 1/18 “Starsky & Hutch” model car is quite good, although not as good as fellow movie car model this brand has made alongside this one. It does have all of the car’s components and TV elements, such as the radio and shows a very well made interior. The only downside is the fact that the trunk does not open and the windshield wipers are part of the body instead of being separate parts.
History of the car
The third generation Dodge Monaco was sold from 1974 to 1976. It was a complete redesign compared to the previous generation with an all-new unibody platform and all-new sheet metal. It came with three different engines, all of them being V8s: a 360 cu in (5.9 L), a 400 cu in (6.6 L) and a a 440 cu in (7.2 L) V8. The latter of them was the one being used in the “Bluesmobile”.
This metal example comes with the the classic, slightly tarnished Mount Prospect, Illinois police livery painting. It has the the black push-bar, standard for a US police car, the correct license plate “Illinois BDR 529” and the steel wheels without hubcabs. They did a nice job installing the left rear view mirror only, as well the police searchlight on the left A-pillar. However, there is no handle on the inside to operate it, but that would probably have been more difficult to make the searchlight stay at a fixed position.
The original police letterings and symbols, such as the “to serve and to protect” are visible on both front fenders and so is the star on either front doors, as well as the “P1” on the back doors – just as in the movie. RC2 did well adding all of these elements while still making the entire paint job look old. The big thing that caught my attention was the spray painted dirt cover all over the car – just like a car looks like after “106 miles to Chicago”. Like the front license plate, the rear one is obviously accurate as well, but in a very special way; although it has four holes to put screws in, it’s only attached by the lower two, which is equivalent to the movie version. Furthermore, RC2 deleted the middle “D” of the Dodge lettering on the back. I’m glad they did that despite the fact that it is a Dodge license product and that the car brand might have wanted its name to be branded properly on its merchandising article.
The windshield whipers are very subtle and hide just behind the hood and don’t stick out as much as the ones of the 1969 Dodge Charger R/T “General Lee” I reviewed previously.
The running lights, doors handle and door locks clearly stick out and were not just painted on. They appear to be a part of the respective body panels and are not glued on them, which gives the entire car an even more solid appearance. They even put on the radio antenna. It was on the original car as well. However, that one was all twisted, whereas the one on the model is perfectly straight.
Elwood carried his handbag with him throughout the entire movie. This one is made out of slightly soft plastic and is attached to the floor of the trunk.
I suppose the only way of disconnecting it would be to disassemble the car and to unbolt it from underneath. And then, looking at the dashboard you can’t miss all of the garbage imitations they replicated – cigarettes, pack of cigarettes, crushed coke cans and so on. The attention to details just shows how much respect RC2 had with regards to the Blues Brothers franchise.
With all that praise given to this model car, there are still a few things that are not quite accurate to the actual movie car. First of all, the two bumpers. On the model, you’ll find two vertical bars on either bumper. Which are correct, when you look at it from a factory point of view. On the Bluesmobile however, for whatever reason, they were removed. If you look closely at the bumpers in the movie, you can spot the respective holes where those bars are supposed to be mounted.
By now, any true Blues Brothers fan will ask himself where they iconic loudspeaker is they carried on the roof of the car. Obviously, this model came complete with that loudspeaker on a wood imitation frame and four robes to attach it to the car.
Obviously, the loudspeaker and the frame are both made of plastic, but once again they put on a very nice paint job: It could have been painted in a slightly lighter grey to match better to the actual one of the movie, but it’s very well made, nevertheless. And so is the frame holding the loudspeaker. I especially like the slightly elastic ropes that attach the frame to the car.
At first glance, I’m happy to announce that the dirt cover story continues in here. As mentioned in the introduction, this car is equipped with the 440 cui V8 and is producing a total of 280 hp. It’s just beautiful to see how much attention they’ve paid to details – every part of it is clearly visible and painted accordingly: air filter, the blue valve covers, power steering, alternator, and what appears to be the cooling fluid container – even the clamps of the battery plugs are visible.
Moreover, the solid metal hood has been given the actual shape on the interior as well and it closes nicely and fits perfectly. I assume I can quote Elwood Blues to sum up the mechanical part of this car: “It’s got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It’s got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters so it’ll run good on regular gas”.
I’m pleased to note that the same attention to details has been carried on underneath the car. First off, the entire undercarriage is covered with the same coat of dirt as the rest of the car. The different elements of the engine, oilpan, steering, exhaust system and suspensions have been molded and painted with precision. We can see the screws that attach the chassis to the body: two in the front, four in the middle and two in the back. Evidently, the four big holes in the middle are the mountings for the stand in the box. Another valuable detail is the fact that this car is an official license product of the then Chrysler Corporation, Universal Studios and the Blues Brothers’ movie merchandising department.
Although it looks very upscale to have a black & brown steering wheel and a black steering column in contrast to the rest of the dashboard, the actual car had a complete brown interior. As mentioned in the beginning, the handle of the search light mounted on the left side A-pillar is missing – only the insert place is visible from the inside. The seatbelts, however, are missing. Not that the Blues Brothers would ever have used them. Because remember their slogan: they were on a “Mission from God”.
If we look up, we can see the interior rear view mirror and the sunshades, but there is no headline. But it would have to be the absolute deluxe version for it to be in. Seats are correct as well; one seat bench including the head-rests in the front and one in the back.
The door trims match the one of the real size car: All beige with the chrome window handle. I like the fact that the windows are rolled down in the front – probably because the Blues Brothers always reach out their arms to indicate a turn, rather than switching on the turn signal.First of all, the quality of the steering wheel, instruments and dashboard is very good. Everything from the indicator and gear lever, to the gages and the police radio in the lower center is there. They integrated the accelerator and brake pedals, as well as the parking brake on the far left.
The packaging box comes a white brick imitation with of course, the Blues Brothers in the front and a detailed description in English and French in the back. In addition to the standard stand on which the car in mounted with four screws, there is an additional transparent container to put the loudspeaker & frame in.
Back on the road
Overall, this metal model car of the 1974 Dodge Monaco Sedan “Bluesmobile” is a very detailed example. It’s a real pleasure to see, touch and feel with how much respect RC2 made this car. Obviously, one can always to an even better job, but this one already is top notch.
With this article I’m starting a series of model car reviews, with a special focus on movie and TV show cars. What better way to start with the iconic 1969 Dodge Charger R/T “General Lee” of the Dukes of Hazzard TV show. Since I’m lucky to have two seemingly identical General Lees, they will also be compared and checked whether or not they are identical twins.
History of the car
The second generation Dodge Charger was launched in 1968 and was replaced after the 1970 model year. Nevertheless, to this date it is still a very famous and highly desirable American Muscle car. Partly because Muscle cars of the 1960’s and 70’s in general have always been symbols of the American way of life, and also because the second generation Dodge Charger has been the star of several TV shows and movies, such as Bullitt, The Dukes of Hazzard obviously, and more recently the Fast & Furious franchise.
It came with a plethora of engines, from the 3.7L inline 6 cylinder, all the way to the 7.2L V8. The 1969 model showcased in the Dukes of Hazzard had the 380 hp, 383, four barrel, 6.3L V8. The model cars reviewed here were made by ERTL. They don’t have functioning engines, but that won’t stop me from having a look under the hood.
The Charger R/T comes complete with the signature orange paint, the black push-bar in the front and the American Racing Vector cast aluminum wheels. ERTL even put a sticker placement on the left side of the grill for the “Charger” and “R/T” (road & track) lettering. However, of the two cars reviewed here, only one has the “R/T” sticker on, but not the “Charger” one. The second car is missing both stickers. Speaking of missing stickers, the second car also lacks the front and rear license plate stickers, as well as the “R/T” badge on the back of the car. Funnily enough, the confederate flag depicted on the front license plate plaque of the first car to my knowledge was never present in the TV show.
Moving on to the doors of the car, where we can clearly see the iconic “01” on either side painted in black with white contouring. A nice touch is the fact that the doors don’t open. Yes, any Dukes of Hazzard aficionado will be pleased about that, because that’s just the way it was on the show – the doors were welded shut, so that the main characters, Bo and Luke Duke had to jump into the car to get in. However, if you really want to open them, you can do so by disassembling the car and remove the little piece of black plastic that prevents the door mechanism from moving.
Look at the roof of the car, and you’ll see the “General Lee” decals on either side, as well as the confederate flag between the letterings, which is accurate as such. Nevertheless, the “General Lee” lettering of the real car of the TV show, as well as on the more recent remake movie of 2005, covered the length from the A-pillar to the beginning of the C-pillar. On these model cars it goes all the way back until the middle of the C-pillar.
As mentioned before, only one of the cars features the correct rear license plate sticker “Hazzard County CNH320” of 1976, as well as the “R/T” badge.
Another nice feature is the left rearview mirror only, as well as the chrome fuel filler cap with the “FUEL” lettering on it. Unfortunately, the trunk does not open. The shut lines are clearly visible, but they are fake – the trunk lid is a solid part of the car body. It has been molded to show the lines. Speaking of the trunk of the car, the Dukes of Hazzard’s original car had a radio antenna mounted between the rear window and the trunk. Furthermore, there were two little flags, one checkered and one confederate between the antenna and the rear window. These items are missing on the ERTL model cars.
Oddly, the models have silver painted stripes around all wheel arches. There was never anything like that on the actual car. Funnily enough, where ERTL should have painted a chrome line was on the lower edge of the C-pillars, in order to imitate the ones shown in the TV series. Furthermore, the model cars feature a little Chrysler pentastar logo on either front right fender only. These were probably added due to the fact that the cars arre Chrysler licensed products. These logos were not on the actual show cars. Overall, they are very solid metal model cars. The shut-lines are generally very good and the trim finish, such as mirrors, door handles, bumbers and everything with an actual three dimensional shape are well built. The only significant negative thing I have to mention about the exterior of one of the cars, is the alignment of the hood and its shape at the front end. It doesn’t really align nicely with the fenders on the rear half part and it’s clearly a little too long on the front left side. It looks as though the factory didn’t shape and cut it correctly but passed quality control anyway.
Pop the hood and you’ll find a mighty V8 engine. The most important items like the engine block, headers, air filter, battery and radiator are there, but it’s a pretty simple finish. ERTL didn’t seem like they thought it would be important to build the car as accurate as possible in there. On the flip side, as I mentioned in the video review (see below), it comes down to the price of the vehicle; if they’d made it super expensive, I would have expected it to look like the actual car in every detail.
A look underneath the car shows the continuation of what’s visible in the engine bay. ERTL did a nice job with the pear grey exhaust pipes and silencers all the way back to the chrome finished mufflers. However, the transmission is sort of cut in the middle: the visible grey part is attached to the red part, which appears to be a single unit with the engine block. The rest of the undecarriage is quite alright: Yes it’s all plastic, but the entire steering, control arms, etc. are all functioning and linked to the steering wheel. The push-bar is firmly attached to the car with two of the total six screws that bold the chassis to the body. The rear leaf spring suspension have no give at all but are nicely molded – even the shock absorbers are in place.
The interior follows a similar quality philosophy as the exterior. It’s accurately painted in beige, there is a roll cage, although it’s missing a diagonal bar for increased stiffness, like in the TV show car. The seats are partly accurate, meaning that the front seats have the correct shape, including the head-rests. However, the back seats are completely missing, which is pretty odd. The General Lee used to jump over obstacles a lot, but it was still meant to be a race car, not a stunt car. Over the series, many people drove with the Duke cousins. Hence, it’s strange to have the seats missing.
On the plus side, the door trims are very detailed and elements such as the window lever are in chrome color. The dashboard dials are also all present. The main dials are meticulously replicated in black color and are contured by a touch of grey.
The steering wheel with the beige center and circle, as well as the three metal spokes is a precise replica of the real one. On the flip side, the gear lever is L-shaped and comes out of what appears to be a black soft cloth cover. In the TV show, the gear lever came out straight and there was no additional cover to the existing housing.
Back on the road
Even though these ERTL version of the famous 1969 Dodge Charger R/T “General Lee” is not perfect in every detail, it is a very pleasant example of one of the most iconic TV show cars ever. Any fan who can name one of these it’s own should simply keep it.