by: Andras [ ]
“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces.”
I admit I do not have much experience with ICM. I’ve built their Panther-based artillery observation vehicle years ago and found it to be an excellent model; I was really curious how this will build up.
The Model T was introduced in 1909, and was affordable for your average working family at a price of $450. It was in production until 1927 (!), and millions were sold during these two decades. It is a truly iconic vehicle; it was the first mass-produced, easy to maintain and reliable car sold.
ICM has already issued several versions of the Model T. This version is a stripped-down and modified version of the trusty family car, built for speed by independent companies as an alternative for the expensive, custom built race cars of the era. And when I say they were built for speed, I mean 80km/h, according to the sources I found (and the short history section of the instruction). It may not sound much, but it is actually terrifying if you look at the car. It has the bare minimum to work: an engine, suspension, wheels, seats and a fuel tank. It lacks such luxuries as a seat belt or even a proper body. (Although there were versions with streamlined bodies available.) You really had to love racing (and had to be slightly mad) to drive this car at its top speed. The Speedster versions had other modifications, too: the chassis was generally lowered by four inches, and the wheel bases extended. The car got “wire wheels” instead of the stock (and heavy) wooden wheels. The engine got a RAJO Overhead Valve Conversion (OHV), a hot cam, balanced crankshaft with pressure oiling, and side-draft or up-draft carburettors. I have not seen the other T model kits by ICM, so I cannot comment if all these changes were replicated in this kit or not.
The model comes with a traditional, color printed top. Underneath you have a thicker cardboard box with its own top lid; I will be keeping this box to store my paints in it.
The model is quite simple, and has only hundred parts. There are some extras provided which are necessary for other versions, and we get a nice set of white rubber tires as well. (I’m still on the fence on rubber tires in car models. I think there’s a good argument for full-plastic ones.)
The engineering is very “traditional” (or old-school if you like); there are several round parts (prominently the fuel tank) which need to be built from halves, necessitating the filling and sanding of seams. It’s a less-than-ideal solution, but something that we were all very used to until recently with all the manufacturers spoiling us with slide-moulded parts.
The quality of moulding is excellent: the detail is sharp and there is no flash to be found. The fit of the parts is also very nice; I did not have any issues during the build -it may be old-school, but it is an excellently made model. ICM really did well designing and producing this model.
The assembly is quite quick and simple. The instructions have 55 steps, but this is quite deceptive, because unlike most manufacturers ICM’s instructions show (almost) every single individual sub-assembly as separate steps. (So gluing parts B1 to B2 will be one step on the instructions.) They are clear and very easy to follow; this model will not be a problem even for a beginner.
The assembly took me about two hours; it really does not take long.
As with most models, the assembly starts with the engine. It’s a simple but detailed affair, but can be easily super detailed if you choose to do so. Most of it will be hidden if you close down the hood, unfortunately; the only access to it will be from underneath. It should not be difficult to add some wiring, though, and there are plenty of photos available online for reference. There are no options to depict the engine bay open; the thin metal sheets covering it should be folded back onto themselves. With some careful surgery this issue can be remedied. The flaps have to be cut along the hinges, and the plastic needs to be thinned somewhat; it will not be perfect, since the hinges have a visible pattern. Alternatively you can fashion a scratch-built part relatively easily (I think…), using a 1/35 PE workable hinge as a base.
There is usually one or two leather belts securing the hood on the real vehicle; these are missing from the model. They are not present on every reference photos, so their omission is not a mistake; but it would have been nice to have them as option.
In the next few steps we assemble the suspension, the running gear and the bottom of the chassis. Here the only issue was the fitting of the engine; the instructions show it to be installed from the top, but this is actually not very practical; you should fit it from the bottom. The only problem is presented by the braces holding the engine: they make fitting -from either direction- difficult. Perhaps it would be better to attach the braces to the chassis first, and then glue the engine in place.
The assembly of the steering wheel was a bit of an issue due to the instructions: first, it’s not clear how the semi-circular part (B6) should be attached to the shaft. The second issue is that the handles were mis-numbered. (B30 instead of B4.)
Just dry fit the shaft into its place; this will help you orienting part B6.
The lamps (not the headlights; I’m talking about those square lamps that look like the ones used on coaches) are somewhat problematic. They are made out of two parts; one forms three sides of the lamp assembly, and is made out of a transparent plastic. You’re supposed to paint the front and side faces with brass in a way to leave round areas in the middle clear, and paint these areas clear blue and red respectively. It’s probably best to use a mask, because the plastic part does not have any grooves moulded on to aid the process. All in all, it’s a pretty annoying part of the model. I went the easy route, and just painted the edges brass, leaving the front clear face square.
The mounting of the front lamps and the two headlights is also a bit of an issue. If you first glue the mounting brackets/holders in place, and add the lamp/headlight bodies later, you will have alignment issues. The best advice I can give is to attach the lamps and headlights to their holding brackets, and glue this whole assembly to the chassis to make sure that they line up correctly. I did not do this with the headlights (because I prefer leaving larger sub-assemblies off until I finish painting and masking), and you can see that the car is somewhat cross-eyed as a result. The lamps on the side, as mentioned, have similar problems: the holding arms tilt up if you fit them into their corresponding slot on the chassis. You will need them glued to the lamps before attaching them to the car if you want to make sure they look straight.
The spare wheel is usually attached to the back of the car with three leather belts; they are not provided as detail.
The wheels of the model are not the lightened, speedster versions. Interestingly I found a couple of photos of a car having the exact paint scheme suggested by ICM. This car does not have the belts holding the spare wheel, and has the stock, wooden wheel. I suspect this was the reference vehicle for this model, so the model is actually accurate, and the “missing details” are missing because they are not present on the real-life car. Since many companies built Speedsters out of the base model back in the day, and many surviving examples have been rebuilt and restored several times since then, there is no “right configuration” to compare the model to. I think originally most, if not all speedsters got the lightened, “wire” wheels, as they offer significant weight saving, so the stock wooden wheels might have been added during a later restoration to the vehicle ICM was using as a reference. If you really want to have the model in a Speedster configuration, you will have to find an aftermarket offering for the wheels.
The build itself was quick, but I had trouble choosing an attractive paint-scheme. The green-on green is quite traditional, but I’m not particularly fond of it, and was not looking forward to painting the raised lines on the mudguards. I found a really good-looking black-yellow option, but the tires of that particular car were black, and I despise painting yellow. (This is one reason I prefer plastic; rubber is more difficult to paint.) The red also looked nice, but it resembles a fire truck (also available from ICM by the way). In the end I asked my wife which scheme she liked best and went with that.
The chosen paint scheme also required black tyres, and fortunately the rubber took the black Vallejo metal primer well. I sprayed the whole model black, using this paint, and after masking I sprayed Vallejo gold on the appropriate areas. To be honest it would be better painting these parts before assembly, but I wanted to have photos of the assembled, unpainted model for this review so I had no real choice in the matter. The red further complicated matters; it’s just not an easy color to spray (similarly to yellow…). I ended up using a brush and Khorne red by Citadel mixed with Lahmian medium in several layers. The gold was touched up using AK Interactive’s True Metal gold paint; while it is still not the perfect metallic paint (there is no such thing in my experience), it is extremely good, gives a smooth finish, and moreover it is very easy to use. It’s wax based, so it’s quite thick, and has a very good coverage. With a fine brush I managed to paint the thin raised lines on the mudguards; any mistakes could be easily cleaned up with a brush moistened with white spirit (or ZestIt, which is a friendlier alternative). I used some Citadel black ink on the black areas to make them even deeper black and give a shine to the model, and well, that was it. The model looks really nice, and frankly it really stands out from the usual green and brown tanks on my shelf. Absolutely recommended even if you are not a car enthusiast.