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1960 Chrysler Valiant Estate Wagon and Town & Country Wagon custom models

valiant station wagon models

In 1960, the U.S. Big Three made their bid for a share of the compact car market.  Ford’s Falcon was highly conservative in style and engineering, a kind of soft, rounded American Cortina.  GM’s Chevrolet Corvair was more radical with a rear engine and rear swing axles which, if provoked, could send you backwards into the scenery.

The Chrysler Valiant has been described as the best engineered and most bizarrely styled of the three.  I think “bizarre” is a bit strong. Interesting and well-balanced, I’d call it.  The Valiant was also sold in Australia, where its solid unitary body, torsion bar suspension and an unburstable slant 6 engine giving twice the horsepower of local rivals earned it a strong following, which explains why Trax have modelled it.  Trax used to be a bit of a second-division outfit,  but they have been raising their game recently.  It’s a pity the top windscreen rail seems to bow down and forward, when Trax’s own photo of the real car shows a severely straight line, but that apart it is a very accurate model with first class finish and detailing. (It is a “once only” limited edition, rapidly sold out, but if you missed it, I expect to see it re-appear in 2-tone, or with different model year trim).

Australia didn’t get a Valiant wagon until the much less interesting second-series body arrived, so I decided to make mine an American model. The only external differences I could see on the U.S. cars were a slightly different pattern of chrome trim and small vertical front bumper over-riders between the headlights.

The rear of the sedan roof and the trunk lid were cut away and a solid brass beam was epoxied into the remains of the roof, projecting backwards. The rest of the roof was then built up to that support, using various shaped pieces of brass. Since I’m not enough of a metalworker to form the final shape that way, a layer of filler (Chemical Metal) went on top of everything, including my T-shirt, and was filed and sanded to shape. That was followed by fine cellulose putty, shaped with wet-and-dry glasspaper. Trim pieces were done with thin brass rod in this case, although photo-etch brass strip and even pieces of old guitar string can also be pressed into service.

Curved glazing pieces for the rear side windows were carved from balsa and push-moulded into heated clear plastic sheet. The rear load bed was knocked together from scrap plastic. The painting was done with an acrylic car spray, and the brightwork with Bare Metal chrome foil.

valiant estate wagon model

For the statistically minded, the new rear end (including trim) involved a total of 26 shaped pieces of a bright, malleable alloy of copper and zinc, overlaid in places with a two-part mixture of epoxy paste and hardener which, when fully set, can be sawn, drilled, tapped, filed or sanded or even, on occasion, overlooked entirely and left as small unsightly lumps on an otherwise smooth body.  The result was sprayed Ford Mistral Blue, a pale lavender shade I don’t recall seeing on any Ford but it resembles the colour of some old Citroën 2CVs. On a purely personal note, this was one of those rare jobs where the concentration started out strong and held up all the way through, , so the result is tidy, at least.  I sent a couple of photos to Trax, who replied saying it was a “very tradesmanlike job.” I take that to mean shoddy and half-finished, but maybe they were being complimentary.  Hard to tell with Australians.

Creating a Valiant wagon

The rear of the sedan roof and the trunk lid were cut away and a solid brass beam was epoxied into the remains of the roof, projecting backwards. The rest of the roof was then built up to that support, using various shaped pieces of brass. Since I’m not enough of a metalworker to form the final shape that way, a layer of filler (Chemical Metal) went on top of everything, including my T-shirt, and was filed and sanded to shape. That was followed by fine cellulose putty, shaped with wet-and-dry glasspaper. Trim pieces were done with thin brass rod in this case, although photo-etch brass strip and even pieces of old guitar string can also be pressed into service.

Curved glazing pieces for the rear side windows were carved from balsa and push-moulded into heated clear plastic sheet. The rear load bed was knocked together from scrap plastic. The painting was done with an acrylic car spray, and the brightwork with Bare Metal chrome foil.

chrysler town and country model

The other photos are of a 1960 Chrysler Town and Country wagon based on a model of the Chrysler 300F coupé by Kim Classics. The main problem with this conversion was that the donor model was a very thin-shelled white metal model which was frighteningly fragile (the bare bodyshell could be crushed between two fingers, should you feel inclined to do that to a $120 model). So it was a delicate operation which turned out quite well considering.

1960 chrylser wagon

These are one-offs for my own collection, so I’m not trying to sell anything, and I wouldn’t - or to be honest, probably couldn’t - produce repeats even if asked.

Chrysler Toys and Models

Rolling your own (by Graeme Ogg)

Graeme Ogg adapts existing models to recreate icons of Chrysler history.

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