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1933 Willys Van

March 2003
RELATED TOPICS: AMT | 1930S
1933 Willys Van
1933 Willys Van
AMT/Ertl No. 31566 BC
Model Type: 1/25 scale plastic
Molded Colors: White, chrome-plated, clear
MSRP: $12.75
Pros: Good source of parts for original issue, good-looking end result
Cons: Some poor parts fitment
AMT/Ertl has re-introduced its Buyers Choice program, and will have many re-issue models to pick from. The program is good because some of the kits have been off the market for a while and the swap meet prices are going up on them. Another good thing about these re-releases is that parts can be found to repair older models, and for some people it gives them a second chance to get a model they forgot to get, or wanted to build but never got the kit. To date, this will be the seventh release of this kit and is the second time in the Buyers Choice program that the 1933 Willys panel truck, or van, has been released.

The Willys vehicles of the 1930s and early '40s became popular in the '60s because early Fords are getting rare and the quest for small, lightweight vehicles became popular with the "hot rod" people. The Willys was light, small, ad very easy to modify. You could fit just about any modern modified high-performance engine for racing or cruising. The coupes are the most popular body style and can be seen from time to time on the street or at nostalgic race meets. It's hard to believe that in 1918, the Willys-Overland company was the second largest vehicle producer in the United States. Since then, Willys has changed in the way it was built, named, and has been long gone, with the exception of the famous Willys Jeep, now, of course, part of Daimler Chrysler.

The 1/25 scale AMT/Ertl 1933 Willys van kit contains 100 parts. All the parts tree clusters are separately wrapped, and the kit contains a reproduced assembly sheet. There are no detail or graphic decals in this kit, so any graphics or lettering will have to be sourced from other kits or decal vendors. The box art is nicely done, and shows a completed model. There are no surprises here - what you see is what is inside. There's plenty of chrome in this kit; two trees of chrome parts, mostly suspension and engine parts, are included. Generally, the detail and quality of the plated parts is very good, except that the first kit contained chrome trees that were warped so bad, another kit was used to make sure the parts would fit properly. The two-piece body assembly features a molded flip front end that pivots on the chassis frame rails. The engine is a 29-piece DOHC Ford 429 cid V8 with a top-mounted fuel-injected supercharger. Most of the engine has good detail, and can be greatly enhanced by wiring and plumbing, but care must be given to the assembly, as the block halves won't fit properly and the injector top plate and supercharger manifold are difficult to index for fit. The chassis is more of a challenge because the directions don't have any part numbers on them and the parts tree parts do. It becomes a guessing game and lots of pre-fitting must be done. Spending extra time here and also with the engine mounting will reveal that the steering gear and engine exhaust parts won't fit correctly unless they're cut to fit, and the rear axle assembly will be too far forward in the rear-fender opening. The decision then is to leave it as the original kit is or lengthen the drive shaft and suspension arms, or relocate the rear end on the rear springs. When placing the body on the frame, it also becomes apparent that the top edge of the instrument panel has to be trimmed to fit behind the windshield glass. This will position the body correctly to allow the pivoting front end to fit as it was designed to. The interior seems to have come from the coupe kit and isn't very detailed. Detailing would help this area greatly, and cutting the side glass out will allow a better view of the interior detail. There is no filler floor for the rear of the body, so the back of the interior tub, the top of the bare chassis, and bare insides of the body will show. A lot of careful checking and indexing will be needed to complete this kit, but the end results are very nice.

This kit isn't recommended for novices. To build the kit nicely, some prior building experience is necessary and a lot of patience and time is needed.

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