Car modelling has always been a special interest and I have probably amassed one of the largest collections in Britain. I actually tried to count them recently, and got to the number that are built at well over 1000. And there's probably another 2000 - 3000 or so yet to be made.

Many were featured over the years in my columns in Scale Models International, variously termed Off The Road, then Freewheelin'

They also featured in three model car books, the latest of which is above. It is in the same series as my Scale Spacecraft Modelling, published by Crowood Press. Copies avilable via my Amazon page


It has 10 chapters on all aspects of building model cars, from straight out of the box, to conversions, customs, dealing with resin kits, building a Rat Rod and renovating a 'junker'!

The Guest Introduction is by long-time model car builder - and musician - Dean Milano.
The image below shows us both outside the Route 66 Museum in Pontiac, Illinois.


Authors rarely completely get their own way with books (unless you are really famous...) and although I got most of what I wanted in Scale Car Modelling, my editors changed the frontipiece photo as they reckoned, "It didn't quite fit."? However I thought it quite fun and so, for the first time, here it is... I'm sitting in the full size Flintmobile (which has been made as a kit several times anyway) at the Volo Auto Museum in northern Illinois



New one-off reviews also appear regularly in Scale Model News.

The Model Car Handbook
Previous car model books were:
The Car Modeller's Handbook,
Auto Modelling Masterclass

These are now long out of print, but check Amazon, as it seems to be able to unearth any book you wish!
Auto Modelling




Automod 1

Two examples from Automodellismo shows, run as HaMeX Events.

Left from the first in 2011, right from the third, 2013

Automod 3
The 2010 Scale Model World, the UK IPMS Nationals at Telford
The 2009 Scale Model World, the UK IPMS Nationals at Telford

Toymania - originally Modelmania - set up by the Collectormania team, ran for three sessions at Milton Keynes Middleton Hall.



The Model Engineer Exhibition, that later developed into the International Model Show, ran for many decades,

This is at the 2003 show held at Sandown Park




Further to the mention of Scale Models International (published, as Scale Models, originally by MAP, then Argus, then Nexus, and finally, Highland) my model car column started initially as Off The Road in 1984, the title later being changed to Freewheelin'.

Unfortunately, after 367 issues, in early 2001 the magazine - in its original form - ceased publication.
However the cover of the July 1991 issue did feature one particular model.....

Below left - the early set-up, as used in the magazine, right the four DeLoreans and loco diorama on display at Automodellismo 5, 2015


Back to the Future diorama SMI-Back to the Future cover BTTF

One of the most popular dioramas at any model show has always been the Back to the Future scene I built initially for an article in Scale Models International, in July 1991, and which was also used on the cover. It was based on the scene in the third movie where the wood-burning locomotive had to push the ailing DeLorean Time Machine up to its 'time travelling' speed of 88mph.

The 1:24 scale DeLorean models were available from several sources around the world. The first kits originated in Japan from Aoshima, that made all four types. The one from BTTF I, complete with the 'trolley bus' pick-up; the flying version from BTTF II, and two versions from BTTF III. Of the last, one came with the fifties-style wheels, the other with the rail-road wheels, as depicted in this scene. All four models were available in the UK under the Halcyon name, while around the same time, AMT issued the 'flying' version only for the American market. However AMT's parent company at that time, Ertl, also issued three versions as one of its special Blueprinter Exclusives.

Aoshima has reissued the original kits, included 'limited edition' versions with the bodies plated to represent the stainless steel finish, on and off over the years. Consequently they are still around, and of course there is always those on-line auction 'sites!

Also try Timeless Hobbies, (was Comet Miniatures); Hobby Link Japan, or modelsforsale. Also check out Back To The Future - The Fan Club.

In more recent years Polar Lights also issued its own, simpler, snap kits of the Back to the Future DeLorean,with a 'metalised' body, the foiur verisons as from all three movies. Polar Lights is now owned by Round-2 , that also owns AMT, MPC, Lindberg and Hawk.

The 1:25 scale wood-burning locomotive 'The General' was initially made by MPC , was available in the UK from Airfix, and also available as an AMT kit. It has recently been reissued as an MPC kit, in a brand new box. Some conversion was done to the loco, although the major incorrect feature - the number of driving wheels - was left. The kit is an 4-4-0 where the movie version was an 4-6-0. The idea of the diorama was, after all, to recreate the spirit of the scene!


I admit to a fondness for American machinery, (I have two full-size American cars), mainly as these were the first model cars to be be made in the larger scales of 1:24 and 1:25. Plus these are the dominent scales for my
particular interest in 'Star Cars' - transportation as used in film and television programmes.
The latter were compiled into a six-part series for the short-lived magazine, Collecting Scale Models, in 1990, though a comprehensive book is now being worked on!

Left: Nick's Drive In , one of Revell's card dioramas, with a modified AMT '57 Chevy foreground,

Right: Tamiya's Toyota BB in Hot Rod mode

Left: two verisons of the AMT Dodge Deora, the yellow/gold is the original, the red the Vantasy conversion

Right: Alexander's Drag Time conversion, from the Deora, with an IMC Dodge A100 as the tow vehicle

Left: show verison of the AMT '50 Ford, with Carson top, large toy bear, and trophies

Right: the rare AMT Flame Out show rod. The kit has
recently been reissued

Left: AMT's Li'l Stogie stage coach, with suitable figures. The rattlesnake blends in!

Right: AMT's Li'l Gypsy Wagon - recently reissued - in a suitable forest setting (If three pine trees can be considered 'a forest'?)

Left: a conversion of AMT's annual 1966 Thunderbird into the car as driven by Thelma & Louise

Right: AMT Beach Buggy as driven by Elvis in the movie Live a Little, Love a Little

Left: AMT's Munsters' modes of transport, with their builder and drivers

Right: though maybe what Herman would prefer to drive, a Chevy Monster Truck in Munster markings?

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

Left: the first 1:25 scale injection styrene kit of the original TV George Barris Batmobile. This from Polar Lights

Right: and the Tumbler, from
Moebius Models

Left: the origins of the TV Batmobile, the Lincoln Futura, from Revell.

Right: five TV and movie Batmobiles
top: Moebius' Tumbler and Polar Lights' Barris
bottom: movies in order - left AMT, centre and right, Revell

Left: An AMT 1970 Chevy Nova, possible an odd choice for the Beverley Hills Cop?

Right: "Who you gonna call?" Mr Stay Puft welcomes the Ghostbusters

Left: The seventies lives! With IMC's Frisco Sleeper and some Britain's flowers


Right: Jimmy Flintstone's modified 1964 Lincoln Continental into the Deathmobile from Animal House

Left : Jo-Han's 1959 Rambler station wagon in surfing mode

Right: Jo-Han's Chrysler Turbine Car in stock bronze, with the white version as used in the movie, The Lively Set

Left: The 'car' from Lost in Space, the Space Chariot from Moebius Models

Right: Monogram's Blue Beetle '29 Ford pickup resurrected (Now as the 'Blue Bandito', but we all know what it is!)

Left: MPC's L.A.Dart

Right: MPC's 'Ohio' George Montgomery's Malco Gasser

Left: Modified 1963 Pontiac Catalina, used by NASA to tow the M1-F1 Lifting Body

Right:: Testors Dodge Charger, with markings for the TR-1 chase car


Left: Uncle Martin's personal transport from My Favorite Martian, by Pegasus Hobbies

Right: Revell's new version of the classic VW Microbus

Left: Revell's Drag Boats in two versions

Right: As Comic Book Guy would say "Worst movie ever", Plan 9 from Outer Space managed to use at least three different versions of the 'same' police car in one sequence - this Revell '57 Ford may have been one of them.

Left: Revell's H2 Hummer as the CSI Miami transport for Horatio Caine

Right: Revell's Amazin' Moon Mixer (back) meets the similarly-based Guber Wagon

Left: Transportation for a certain Chief Inspector from Oxford - Morse's Mk II Jaguar. This is not the Tamiya kit, but the Small Wheels, as it has the correct steel wheels.

Right: Testors' Supervan, built by George Barris for the movie of the same name.

Rat Roadster

Rat Rods Rule

Left: Revell's David Stacy's creation - and, yes, you get the guitar

Right: A scratchbuilt Rat Rod using the MPC '32 Chevy van body and the twin blown Chrysler engine from the AMT '53 Studebaker kit

Rat Rod


A tribute to Ed "Big Daddy" Roth

Ed Roth was the creator of the wildest of all custom cars, although he was actually an artist first and foremost and built the cars initially to purely show off his handiwork. He's also the creator of the famous rodent, Rat Fink. Many of his car designs were made as kits by Revell, most shown direct above, including the Outlaw (top left) and his personal transport, a '57 Chevy (bottom right) He also built the Surfite, (top right), which has an odd British connection - it was built on the running gear of a very early Austin Mini Cooper that Roth had found in a breakers yard! The Surfite has oft been rumoured to have appeared in the surfing movie Beach Blanket Bingo. Actually it does - but only if you view the original widescreen version. This is because it is almost off the screen, in an all too brief appearance in the distance on the far left, as part of the scene at the airfield. Ed Roth himself, (top centre), photographed on the Revell-Monogram stand at the 1996 National Model and Hobby Show in Chicago, behind the full-size Beatnik Bandit 2.

He continues to inspire other car builders, such as Fritz Schenck and his Roswell Rod, kitted in resin and shown, bottom left, in a suitable 'Roswell ' setting