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Trumpeter 1960 Pontiac Bonneville

June 2004
1960 Pontiac Bonneville convertible
Trumpeter No. 02501
Model Type: Injection-molded plastic
Molded Colors: White, clear, clear red, chrome-plated
Scale: 1/25
MSRP: $39.95
Pros: Chassis, metal coil springs, parts fit
Cons: Satin finish on chrome parts; high parts count; body scripts too light

The year 1960 was the second for Pontiac's "Wide Track" advertising campaign. Capitalizing on the success of the new-design 1959s, Pontiac updated the car with front and rear styling, plus a host of options to give the driver and passengers a "feeling of complete control." This was the theme throughout the 1960 Pontiac sales brochure.

I think the '60 is a nicer looking car than the '59. I also think that the convertibles look better than the hardtops.

Trumpeter has been gaining a following making military models for some time now. I can't honestly say what those kits are like, but when I heard that they were going to make kits of American cars, I couldn't wait to see how they turned out. I saw test shots of the Bonneville at the 2002 Chicago Hobby Show, and was somewhat impressed with what I can see. Now the kits are here, and we can look at them closely.

The kit comes in a large, flat box that has a few drawings and one photo of the real car on it. Upon opening the box, I noticed that all the parts were nicely packaged. These parts, all 236 of them, consist of mostly white, clear, and plated plastic. There are also clear red parts, a fret of photoetched brass, a bag of coil springs, and eight tires. The box mentions metal transfer emblems, but none were found in my kit.

The parts are cleanly molded, for the most part. I did find some flash and some large mold lines of some of the smaller parts. The chrome in my kit was satin-plated, not shiny chrome as it should be; Trumpeter is offering replacement chrome parts at no charge with proof of purchase. I ended up stripping most of the chrome parts and painting them with Alclad II chrome.

Parts such as the door handles, mirrors, interior trim, and aerials were not on the chrome tree at all; I find this inexcusable. The exhaust system is on the chrome tree and must be stripped or painted over for a realistic appearance.

The body is molded fairly well;there are some minor mold lines to gently take care of, but nothing major. Some of the molding is a bit soft, such as the upper door lines and windshield frame; to me, they lack definition. I would have liked to see the windshield frame molded separately and chromed.

All of the emblems are very lightly engraved, and disappeared under the first coat of primer. I'm sure the aftermarket will remedy this, though.

The hood and trunk are molded open and have separate underside bracing that looks very convincing. The multiple-piece hood hinges are easy to form; however, I found it difficult to keep them together.

All of the side chrome is separate pieces that fit onto molded recesses on the body. These fit very well, and look even better. I painted my Pontiac Tamiya Mica Red; I think it's close to Pontiac's metallic red from 1960.

The standout of this kit is its chassis. The frame is molded separately from the floorpan, and has multipiece front and rear suspensions. These are nicely done, but the big plus here is the inclusion of real metal coil springs that greatly enhance the look compared to springs made from molded plastic.

The mounting parts for the rear end are separate parts that need a little care to mount square. Be careful here, or the whole car can end up sitting crooked.

The exhaust pipes are one-piece units that snake through the frame and rear end, making it virtually impossible to paint all of the frame parts and rear end as a single unit.

Working steering is touted on the box, and Trumpeter did attempt to provide just that. However, the way the steering shaft hooks up to the tie rod leaves way too much slop in its movement to make it work.
The wheels and tires are built up in an unusual manner. The backing plates and wheels are attached to a plastic "donut" that the tire is wrapped around. The whitewall is a separate piece that is placed in a groove in the donut, then a small vinyl tire bead is sandwiched between the whitewall and wheel. It's a rather complicated process, but the result looks good. There is a choice between stock hubcaps and eight-lug aluminum wheels.

The engine is supposed to represent the "Tempest 425," which was 389 cubic inches with 303 horsepower. The engine moldings are done in an unusual manner: the block is split down the middle, with parts of the heads molded on. A third piece that resembles a valve cover contains the other parts of the heads. A flat, undetailed intake manifold then attaches to the top of the block.

The carb, fuel filter and coil attach to the intake, which does help its appearance. The distributor attaches to the back of the block; that's not realistic. The exhaust manifolds are oddly shaped. The left-side one looks OK, but the right-side one look like it's for a V-6.

The four-piece automatic transmission also looks rather soft. A nicely molded fan, two-piece air cleaner and heater hoses really do dress up the engine assembly, though. The radiator consists of seven (!) parts, but unfortunately, it is no more detailed than most three-piece units in other kits.

The interior is built off the floorpan. The side panels feature three-molded on handles, plus one separate one, which I found to be rather odd. The four-piece front and three-piece rear seats are well done; however, I have not been able to match the pattern on them to any reference material that I have.

The dashboard is well done. All of the parts that should be chrome are separate parts, but alas, they are not chromed. The Pontiac lettering is also missing from the trim that runs along the bottom of the dash. The gauges are the only decal in the kit. They are done well and go behind clear "glass."

the fit of all these parts is first-rate, with absolutely no hidden surprises. The completed model captures the look of the real car very well.

This kit is definitely not for the beginner, simply because of the number of parts. I think that Trumpeter could have given us fewer separate pieces, which would have saved on tooling costs, which would have lowered the price of the kit. There are other 1959/'60 GM kits that have fewer parts, but have greater scale fidelity, for a lower price.

I would recommend this kit to builders that are looking for a challenge. But building a really accurate model from this kit will take some work.


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