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FROM THE February 2011 ISSUE

Tamiya Lotus Type 79 1978

Tamiya Lotus Type 79 1978
Ford Cosworth
Tamiya Lotus Type 79 1978
Tamiya Lotus Type 79 1978
Lotus Type 79 1978
Tamiya No. 20060
Model Type: Injection-molded styrene
Molded Colors: Gray, black
Scale: 1/20
MSRP: $71.00
Pros: Nice decals; good fit, finish, and detail
Cons: A bit pricey; mating engine to firewall is tricky

Nicknamed “The Black Beauty” because of its smooth lines, the Lotus Type 79 was considered the most beautiful F1 race car ever developed.

Even though the kit is a bit pricey, Tamiya delivers uncompromised quality with its 1/20 scale kit.

There are more than 135 precision- molded parts in gray, black, and chrome-plated plastic. Rubber F1 tires and beautifully molded metal mesh engine covers are also provided.

Nicely printed decals are included for Mario Andretti’s #5 or Ronnie Peterson’s #6 car.   

The main monocoque on the 1:1 car was made of aluminum and Tamiya replicates it well. The two-part monocoque has all the rivet and assembly holes featured on the 1:1 car Tamiya calls out for all polished aluminum parts to be painted Chrome Silver. Handling is always a problem on parts painted in Chrome Silver paint, so I used Tamiya (TS-30) Silver Leaf lacquer, directly from the can.    

The front suspension goes together well, with functional, poseable front steering. The front brake rotor and caliper assemblies are well molded, along with the cooling ductwork. The front rotors assemble in such a way as to hold a polycap inside each one, making installing the front tires a breeze.

The engine in the Type 79 was a Ford Cosworth that is represented faithfully. Some parts on the engine tree are on other trees in this kit, because it shares a few parts from the old Type 78 kit from 1977. The plug wires are included in the kit, and are very easy to install.    

The rear suspension is well-detailed, and fit-and-finish is perfect. The entire assembly is built as a separate unit on the transmission, then glued to the back of the engine block.

Mating the entire engine unit to the back of the monocoque firewall is really the only tricky part of the kit assembly. The front of the engine block has a hole that slips onto a tab on the firewall. Once in place the entire engine assembly needs to be forced down toward this tab and locked in place. 

The tires are molded in real rubber, with only a minor seam to contend with. The wheels have very nice chrome plating, although it may be a little too bright; some may want to tone them down with a semigloss clear, or strip them and repaint them with Alclad Chrome or the equivalent.   

The four-part outer body shell pieces have various parts that need to be glued to them to make them complete units.    

Make sure you use plenty of water when positioning the decal stripes on the car, or you can tear them easily.   

Final assembly was tight for the side pod and lower wing section. I had to reglue the front intakes to the front side pods twice before they snapped in place correctly. The rear wing was also a bit difficult because there is not a positive location to glue it on to the rear arms coming off the rear side pods.

The last step of the instruction manual calls for adding the Weber carb trumpet intakes with the kit-supplied mesh domes. The domes are beautifully done, but are tricky to glue to the trumpet assemblies.

In my opinion, this kit will be a home run for Tamiya. Out of the box, the model is impressive. If you want to make the model even nicer, Tamiya makes a detail-up photoetched parts sheet for this model.
I thoroughly enjoyed this kit, and recommend it to experienced modelers.


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