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AMT “Gear Hustler”

AMT No. AMT1096/12
Molded Colors: Clear red, yellow, clear, chrome, clear blue
Scale: 1/25
MSRP: $31.96
Pros: Tons of optional parts, new wheels and tires, excellent decals, unusual configuration of a popular subject
Cons: Some fitment issues, older mold is soft on detail in a few areas, sparse instructions

AMT’s newest reissue, the “Gear Hustler,” is a 1965 Chevrolet El Camino done up like a construction foreman’s personal vehicle. It joins the Crew Chief Blazer and bulldozer as a part of AMT’s “Construction Series,” complete with three sets of construction company decals to match.

The box is packed to the brim with parts, as this kit includes a ton of options. There are two sets of glass, clear and blue-tinted, for both the windshield, headlight lenses, and bed cap. Tinted red taillight lenses are also included. There’s the bed cap itself, as well as a six pack of soda and a pair of hard hats for some extra interior detail.

Out of the box, you get three sets of wheels: stock covers, Cragar S/S mags, and a new set of deep chrome-reverse steel wheels that look great, but require significant thinning of the included wheel backs to fit properly.

Continuing with the construction theme is a pair of snow tires for traversing muddy building sites, and the remaining four tires are pad printed Goodyear Polyglas GTs.

You also get a custom grille, roll pans to replace the bumpers, and a host of engine upgrades. Any way you build it, there’s a ton of spare goodies. You’ll be sure to find a use for the leftover wheels and small-block Chevy hot rod parts.

The kit builds up into a great representation of a ’65 El Camino. Being an older kit, expect a lot of dry-fitting and tweaking of parts to get everything to fit right. With that said, it goes together relatively easily, with only a few  issues that need to be addressed to turn a good build into a great one.

On mine, the top panel for the bed cap was about ⅛-inch too long, resulting in a noticeable overhang which I fixed. I sanded it down, and used a length of .025-inch styrene rod to rebuild the raised front edge trim.

While the body itself was straight, there were a few wavy panel lines, most likely due to the age of the mold. It’s crucial to test-fit the engine in the bay and sand accordingly, as you’ll likely need to remove some material from the back of the transmission case to ensure a proper fit. Failure to do so will cause interference with the hood and front axle; in addition, the exhaust headers and upper radiator hose will not line up.

The interior was, in my opinion, the most fun part of the build. The pan was sprayed with flat black, and chrome door panel trimming was picked out with a Molotow Liquid Chrome pen. The chrome center console was brush-painted flat black, and I used a cotton swab to remove paint from the raised areas, leaving the chrome trim behind.

I also brush-painted the aluminum dashboard and steering wheel trim before adding the decals for the gauge faces, using a drop of canopy glue in each pod to simulate glass. Finally, the interior detail was finished off by a six-pack of soda sitting on the passenger’s seat, my favorite part of the kit.

The body was finished in Tamiya  Camel Yellow (TS-34). I opted not to use the construction company decals. The ones I did use for the gauges and soda can labels were easy to work with, even without the aid of a setting solution.

Remember this isn’t a modern Tamiya or Fujimi project, don’t expect it to just fall together. With attention and careful planning this is an enjoyable kit to build, resulting in an impressive, attractive shelf model that can be completed by a competent modeler in a weekend or two.


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