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1964 Pontiac GTO
Manufacturer: Polar Lights
Release date: 2004 (This one: Great American Rides)
Catalog number: 6400
Date Purchased: May 2007
Date Completed: August 2008
Number in collection: 10

Up until this point, my model collection consisted of die-cast cars. For this one, I decided to build a 1:25 plastic kit. My previous collection was primarily made up of kits such as these, as I had only begun working with the smaller scale, die-cast cars in the late 1990's. This is also the first addition to my current collection that could actually be considered a kit. The others have been already assembled, then taken apart, detailed, and re-assembled.

For my first all-plastic kit, I chose the Polar Lights issue of a 1964 Pontiac GTO for several reasons. First, was the pre-painted body. I didn't have a suitable place to spray a body at the time I bought it, and the factory painted finish looked at least as good as I could have done on my own. Next, the box art said the kit contained a good level of detail, even though it was a snap together kit. As I had not built any plastic kits in over five years, I didn't want to start with anything overly complicated. My final reason for choosing this kit was that it was in the clearance section, and discounted to a point that I couldn't pass up.

I have no prior experience with Polar Lights kits, and didn't have any way to judge the overall quality except for the nicely moulded and painted body in the clear section of the packaging. After opening the box, I found that the remainder of the parts have decent engraving and clearly marked part numbers. The parts count is comparable to that in glue together kits of the same skill level.

As I originally worked on this car before I started photographing them, pictures will be limited to ones taken when I wrote this page.

Click to zoom Click to zoom
What I started with. Actual car I used for reference.

Although this kit is intended to be snapped together, I chose to glue most of them. This results in sturdier finished construction of the sub-assemblies, as well as the overall kit.

The following is a summary of the paint, assembly, and detailing process. The sections correspond to the order of assembly in the printed instructions:
  • Engine: There is a choice of building the engine with triple two-barrel carburetors (an option on the actual car), or custom dual four-barrel carburetors. You can also choose between stock plated valve covers, or custom finned covers. I chose the stock items in both cases. I glued the engine halves together, then added the heads, oil pan, timing cover, and intake manifold. I painted the basic engine piece, except the transmission, Testors Model Master Pontiac Engine Blue. The alternator, carburetors, fuel pump (moulded to the timing cover piece) and transmission are painted Tamiya flat aluminum. The fan belt and radiator hose are Testors acrylic flat black. Tamiya semi-gloss black is used for the pulleys, cooling fan, alternator mounting bracket, starter, and distributor. Finally the chrome plated air cleaners were added to the top of the carburetors.
  • Wheels and tires: A choice is given between chrome plated, five spoke mag type wheels, or a wire style with separate plated knock-offs. Neither of these is stock, but I chose the mag wheels, as this is more likely to be found on the actual car. I sanded the tread surface of the tires with 220 grit sandpaper to simulate wear. Each wheel has a separate backing plate, which I painted Tamiya semi-gloss black.
  • Chassis: The chassis features a level of detail that I've never seen on a snap kit. It puts many glue kits that I've built over the years to shame. I started by painting the frame, front suspension, rear axle and drive shaft, and rear springs (all separate pieces) Tamiya semi-gloss black. I painted the rear shocks Testors flat yellow. The dual exhaust system (one piece for each side) and fuel tank are painted Tamiya flat steel. The separate floor pan is painted Testors acrylic flat black, with Tamiya semi-gloss black used to highlight moulded in frame cross members. I added Bare Metal foil to the exhaust pipe ends to simulate chrome. Wheels and tires, assembled in the previous step, snap onto the ends of the front suspension piece and rear axle.
  • Interior: Once again, the interior features more detail than the typical snap kit. It is a 'platform' style, starting with a base that has the rear seat, carpet texture, and front inner fender wells moulded as a single piece. The interior door panels, front bucket seats (two pieces each), dashboard, steering wheel, and firewall all attach to it. The floor console and shift lever are separate plated pieces that also attach to the base. I painted the seats, door panels, dash, and steering wheel a mixture of Testors acrylic tan and brown to match a shade of beige used on the actual car. The carpet and rear package shelf are painted a slightly darker shade, mainly for contrast with the rest of the interior. The firewall and fender wells are flat black with semi-gloss black and aluminum details. Remaining interior details were highlighted with appropriate colors and Bare Metal foil, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
  • Windows: A plated rear view mirror attaches to a hole inside the one piece window assembly, which attaches to the inside of the body.
  • Body: The body is pre-painted a color that looks very close to the Saddle Tan Metallic offered on the actual car. I Applied Bare-Metal foil to window trim, Wheel opening trim, rocker panel mouldings, door handles, and windshield wipers. Body panel lines were drawn in with a metal tipped 'quill' pen and black ink. Pontiac emblems and GTO emblems on the rear fenders are decals, which were applied before entire body was sprayed with One coat of Testors Closscote to help seal the foil and provide additional gloss to the finish. The radiator and fan shroud are a separate piece that glues to the radiator support. The headliner area inside the body was painted the same color as the seats. The remaining area inside the body and the underside of the hood is painted Testors acrylic flat black. The front bumper and grille assembly, rear bumper, hood trim, side view mirror, tail light panel and radio antenna are separate plated pieces, Painted grill with flat black, then rubbed paint from grill bars after it dried. all lights are detailed with Tamiya clear red and clear orange, Testors flat white and silver. Remaining exterior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
  • Final assembly: This was done as indicated in the instructions. The interior/underhood assembly is placed inside the completed body, and the completed chassis fits to the bottom of both. The only difference is that I used glue on the attachment points for added strength to the completed kit.

Pictures of completed car (click to enlarge)

The proportions of the completed car look very close to the actual car. The table below shows how close they are.

Actual car 
(mm / in)
(mm / in)
Dimensions of actual car based on model scale
(mm / in)
Calculated scale based on model to actual car
Length 5156 / 203.0 206 / 8.13 5150 / 203.1 1:25
Wheelbase 2921 / 115.0 117 / 4.62 2937 / 115.6 1:25
Width 1862 / 73.3 75 / 2.97 1829 / 74.2 1:25
Height 1359 / 53.5 60 / 2.36 1496 / 58.9 1:23

This kit lives up to its advertised scale in all major dimensions except height. It seems a little 'jacked up' at the rear. I don't know if it was engineered that way, in order to give it a more classis muscle car stance, or because of the way I built it. Whatever the reason, I like it, at least for this particular car.

I'm very happy with the way this car turned out. It was my first Polar Lights kit, so I really didn't know what to expect. I think it compares favorably to similar kits from other companies, at least those made from tooling less than 15-20 years old. This line didn't seem to be very successful, as I got this one as a 'close-out' in 2007, and haven't seen it since. Two other kits are shown on the back of the box that I don't remember seeing in any store.

This was the first larger scale plastic kit that I completed in about six years. Since I considered my skills to be somewhat 'rusty', I omitted many of the extra detailing features that I had been doing at that time. I at least gained some confidence back to start adding them back to kits that I work on from that point on.

Liked what you saw? More cars can be found HERE .

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