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February 24, 2014

Steve Boutte’s 1951 Chevy Convertible

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Written by: Steve Boutte
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STEVE BOUTTE’S 1951 CHEVY

Inspired by the Chevys created by the Barris and other custom shops in the late ’40’s and early ’50’s, I started recreating this in 1/25 scale using an AMT ’51 Chevy convertible.

Back when these cars were customized after being just a few years old, or even brand new, it was all about making the car look more elegant than the what it looked like on the showroom floor, so big bumpers (not smoothed) & grilles from upscale cars like Cadillac’s was the way to go.

CCC-Steve-Boutte-51-Chevy-Inspiration-W Before I started working on the 1/25 scale model I studied many 1949-52 Chevy custom convertibles built in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. This helped me to figure out what I really liked and what I needed to do to the AMT kit.

 

I started this project based on the old 1951 Chevy Convertible kit from AMT. I realized that this old kit needed a lot of work to get to the level or realism I was looking for. I had worked with the AMT 1951 kits before, so I knew what the problem area’s were. The upscale car parts, ’49 Cadillac bumpers & grille were obtained from Modelhaus. The resin grille needed to be modified to fit the body. I also modified the rear bumper by adding the wrap around ends from another bumper to make it fit the Chevy body better.

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 The old AMT 1951 Chevy Convertible kit was the base of this custom project.

 
One of the first steps I do on a new project it to get the stance of the model the way I want it. This helps me with the flow of the body once I start customizing it. Once the stance was there I could start customizing the body.
The windshield frame was chopped a couple of scale inches. The basis for the padded top was the custom padded top from the Revell ’48 Ford kit. I needed to modify this top quite a bit to fit the car, and look more realistic. Since the both the Revell top & the AMT kit beltlines did not have enough curvature around the back end, I rebuilt that portion of the body & beltline with styrene & superglue. The beltline trim was redone using half round styrene strip, all the detail on the top was done with styrene, superglue & filler.

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Early stages of the built. The stance was pretty much there, although the rear was later dropped a little more. The windshield has been chopped and the body contours have been sanded into shape. The stock grille and bumpers are used to help me figuring out what needs to be done to achieve the right look.

 
I reshaped the nose of the hood as well as the ends at the door line to make the AMT hood look a bit more like the real 1:1. I added the peak down the center of the hood using a piece of wire, blended in with superglue. The AMT windshield opening/cowl is far from accurate and extremely thick. A lot of work went into fixing this, using photos of a real 1951 Chevy. Most of the out of scale AMT details in this area was sanded down and replaced with round strip and shaped more realistic. Also, note the body colored strip between the hood & beltline/windshield trim. This is totally absent on the AMT kits. The out of scale AMT vent windows were replaced with units built from styrene strip. The grille opening was modified to fit the 1949 Cadillac grille and headlights from an AMT ’50 Ford were molded into the body. The body sides were reshaped and rounded once again to fix the old AMT kit flaws and the original side trim was modified. Once all the body work was done and the primer was smoothed  a black base was airbrushed. This was followed with several very thin coats of Sally Hansen Wine Not nail polish over a black base.

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The padded top is starting to get the right shape, the Cadillac bumpers and grilles are now in place. The hood reshaping has begun and the ’50 Ford headlights have been molded into the fenders. It is starting to look right.

 

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More work on the padded top included reshaping with filler and strips of styrene. The heavy, out of scale kit vent windows have been removed and replaced with scratch built units for a much more in-scale look.

 

To adjust the placement of the dash, I added a vertical .080″ strip to each side of the door panel as well as a .060″ horizontal strip. I removed a slice along the curved section of the dash and kept sanding until the fit in the body was good. I also added filler to the top of the dash to match the curvature of the windshield opening.

 

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The Spotlights are modified resin units from Replicas & Miniatures of Maryland. A lot of work was done to the the hood to cowl shape closer to the rear car look. A metal wire was added to the hood to create a nice peak.

 

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At the back I used taillights made from the turn signals pods from the ’51 Chevy grille. These units were frenched into the smoothed fenders.

 

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This is my attempt at an early ’50’s Chevy “butterfly” accessory steering wheel. I used a steering wheel rim from the AMT ’50 Ford kit & scratchbuilt the rest. The rounded portion of the horn ring is made from brass strip bent to shape. I also made the steering column, shift lever & rod, as well as the turn signal switch from styrene.
 

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The Model Car Garage Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps with paint detailed photo etched emblems. Tires are Modelhaus T-270 with modified whitewalls. By now the body was primered in black.

 

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The seats & door panels were modified to accept tuck & roll panels made from acrylic paint. The dash knobs, door handles, window cranks & armrests are resin copies of scratchbuilt pieces.
 

 
The finished model

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About the Author

Profile photo of Steve Boutte
Steve Boutte
Steve is our model car contributor. He is a very talented man, plays wonderful guitar, paints the most fantastic paintings and creates amazing custom model cars. His model cars in scale 1/25 are so perfectly detailed and in scale that the photos he takes, he is a very talented photographer as well, are often thought to be taken of real cars.




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5 Comments


  1. Profile photo of Tom Nielsen

    The detail on this model is amazing. The early fifties style of this ’51 Chev custom is right on!


  2. Profile photo of John Goschke

    This model is simply amazing! Steve created a stunningly beautiful custom that looks deceptively like a real car, a herculean task given the number of inaccuracies and fit problems inherent in this kit.


  3. Profile photo of Jeff Neppl

    Steve you already know how I feel about your work.This chevy is just flatout INCREDIBLE! I am amazed to see your customs. They are just perfect and there is not another way to describe it. I really enjoyed reading about this build. Thank you ……. Keep up the great work.


  4. Profile photo of James aka Joker

    Details Details Details
    Thanks for demonstrating how research and patients , along with
    a soul for traditional Kustoms equal to a stunning end result.
    Who would have thought that the grill side lights would also
    work as tail lights? (after a little bit work with a Dremel ,files and
    sandpaper) Thanks Steve for sharing/posting . I’ve tried your
    laminate knob technique and am super happy happy happy
    with the results. Got the materials to try out your pleated
    rolls for the interior. Thanks again for sharing your techniques.
    Much appreciated.


  5. Profile photo of Michael Patterson

    All I can do is echo what was said above. Well done Steve. When I look at a scale model, I want to see things to “scale” and the kind of awesome detail us applied.
    Michael



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