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'77 Jeep CJ-7 Renegade 2'n 1

December 2003
'77 Jeep CJ-7 Renegade 2n'1
Revell No. 2180
Model Type: 1/24 scale plastic model kit, straight reissue
Molded Colors: White, clear, chrome, black vinyl tires
MSRP: $14.95
Pros: Excellent decals
Cons: Excessive flash; ripples and dimples in plastic; substandard fit

Just before World War II, the U.S. Army contacted America's auto manufacturers with an open challenge to design a general-purpose vehicle that could travel over any terrain, carry one to four passengers, and convert into a weapons carrier.

Bantam Motor Cars' design incorporated a small flathead four-cylinder engine of proven design, three-speed transmission, and excellent part-time four-wheel-drive system that was practically bulletproof.

The Army judges were ecstatic. Bantam breathed a huge sigh of relief; it was having cash-flow problems and needed a government contract to keep them going. But the contract went to Willys, and Bantam Motor Cars received nothing for its design.

Willys was unable to keep up with the demand for the new general-purpose vehicle (nicknamed GP or "Jeep"") Instead of offering the additional manufacturing to Bantam, the contract was given to Ford. Bantam got a contract to build the Jeep's unique little trailer, but it was too little, too late; Bantam Motor Cars folded shortly thereafter.

After the war, returning GIs demanded production of the Jeep for sale to the general public. The result was the first civilian Jeep, or CJ. When Willys ceased to be, the Jeep line was picked up by American Motors until they went bankrupt in 1979 and were purchased by Chrysler.

Because of the height of the average American had increased, the Jeep's wheelbase was extended by more than 12 inches. The extended-wheelbase Jeep debuted in 1976 and was named the CJ-7, as opposed to the shorter-wheelbase CJ-5.

The Revell '77 CJ-7 Renegade kit was originally issued in 1977, and with the exception of the decals, has remained unchanged through the present rerelease.

I inspected my kit's parts trees closely, and found excess flash, most parts had "bumps" where the mold ejectors would be, and the surfaces of the major pieces showed rippling and minor dimples. Cleanup took approximately five hours.

Assembly begins with the engine assembly, which consists of sixteen parts. The design is oversimplified; the oil filter and starter are molded with the engine halves, and the carburetor is molded one piece with the intake manifold. The completed engine is barely recognizable as an AMC 304 V-8.
The front axle consists of four parts: the front axle-springs-third member cover drive-shaft part, the center-link-tie rods-steering-arms part, and two shocks. The rear axle assembly is almost a clone of the front axle, except it is missing the center link-tie rod-steering arms piece.

The parts remaining to complete the chassis are the front and rear bumpers, rear muffler, two-piece transfer case, and transfer case skid plate. There are two third member skid plates included in the kit but they are not mentioned in the instructions.

The front and interior parts of the body go together rather well after all the flash and bumps are removed. I suggest taping the doors and cowl panel in place before gluing the windshield frame, because the mounting angle is rather vague.

The final assembly is straightforward, with the exception of the removable hardtop. The top in my kit would not fit properly; the angles at the right and left rear corners of the body are 90 degrees, but the angles on the top are approximately 84 degrees.

I had to cut the inside of the top at the corners with a razor saw, spread the sides until they approximated the angle of the body, then carefully remove the lip at the upper rear corners of the body until the top slipped into place.

This kit was probably the standard of the industry in 1977, but it's definitely showing its age in 2003.


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