I’ve played with the idea of rebuilding a Z32 (again, since I’ve built the Tamiya model twice now), but didn’t expect the opportunity to suddenly come as a customer commission. I wasn’t even aware before this that Fujimi had produced a Z32 model, since I figured the Tamiya kit was the definitive version with a motor and all that.
Regardless, this customer seemed to be an avid Z32 fan, with 3 copies of the Fujimi kit on hand, offering me my pick of one to build as a commission. The other two kits seemed to be standard factory-spec Z32 kits – this last one I picked out was a “Young Town Series” kit, which I assume means it rolls in the nice little racecar bits shown on the box: steering wheels, a (single) Recaro bucket, and real ass Regas.
I feel kind of bad building vintage kids like this, since from what I could tell from my research this “Young Town Series” is pretty hard to come by, with it not being listed in most model databases that I know of, and no examples for sale on eBay or anything. Here I am tearing into it like a heathen.
In reality, all this package really rolls in is two small extra runners of those racecar parts I mentioned above – without them, the kit is incredibly bare. Only 2 full-size runners for the interior and chassis, plus a clear runner for windows and lights. Obviously no motor here.
The spartan construction manual reflects the bare nature of this kit – it’s literally one piece of large paper folded in half.
I was kind of shocked to see that Regas were included here though. As far as I knew only the model car aftermarket produced Regamasters (the set I used on my Anointed Aero DC5 came from Fugu Garage) – I wasn’t aware of any official plastic models coming with them, but here we are.
The main body comes molded in a metallic green, almost British Racing Green-like, to reflect the look of the car on the box art.
Unfortunately the shell needed quite a bit of work before we even began thinking about paint. I guess this is an older kit so it gets a partial pass, but the mold lines on this one are pretty egregious, to the point where there was even plastic flash left on the rear bumper when I pulled it out of the box.
For those unfamiliar, mold release lines are raised lines on the plastic that come from the plastic injection molding process. In this case, think of it as raised extra body lines that aren’t meant to be there on the real car. The best example is the vertical line running down the edge of the rear bumper shown above.
I hate it when kits give you clear parts by molding one gigantic piece in clear and expecting you to paint around the bits that are actually meant to be clear (windows and window frits are exempt since there’s little method around that, but even then modern kits make your life easier by including window masking stickers).
In this case, Fujimi sins by giving you one giant clear strip for the front bumper, of which you’re supposed to paint around the indents in the side that are the marker lights. Since I wanted this piece to be body color, we’re masking those clear light bits and attaching the entire unit to the main body before paint.
So for color – the customer wanted specifically Midnight Purple, to which I had to clarify – like color-shift Midnight Purple? Of course the answer is yes.
I’ve never done color-shift paint before, but I’ve certainly looked into it and have been meaning to try it – I just don’t like to try new things unless I’m forced into it (why do you think I’m still using rattle cans). I decided to give it a whack first with Testor’s Color Shift cans.
The paint instructions specifically read to apply the color shift paint over a black surface first for best results, so we’re doing that here.
In. Love. The effect is surprisingly difficult to capture on photo, but I was really shocked at how impressive the results were from the first spray. I really didn’t think it would end up “shifting” much at all, and that at worst I would just end up with a dark metallic purple with hints of blue or green and that would be fine.
In reality, it does exactly as advertised – the color does indeed do the shifting when you look at it from different angles, and quite dramatically.
In retrospect, I kind of messed up – this really isn’t Midnight Purple. It goes from a greenish teal to a vibrant blue all the way to a deep purple, but real Midnight Purple is much more of a copper-blue-purple mix with a lot less green. Still, when I ran it by the customer they seemed happy with the look – I’m personally very much a fan of this palette and can’t wait to use it on some of my own models.
The next big challenge came with how to apply a clear coat. Testor’s can doesn’t tell you what kind of paint it is (lacquer, acrylic, enamel), but I’ve learned from experience that most of Testors’ paints are enamel (which is why they’re thick as hell and take forever to dry). Most of the Japanese hobby paints I use from Tamiya and Mr. Hobby are lacquer.
It’s general wisdom that applying lacquer over enamel is a big no-no, so I was stuck in a pickle on how to clear this body, since I assumed the paint I used was enamel. I went ahead and tried different cans of both acrylic and enamel clear coats on test pieces and…it didn’t go so well. For whatever reason those paints kept eating the color-shift paint, so I was dumbfounded – what was I supposed to use?
In the end I just sent it and sprayed the body down with my usual lacquer Mr. Hobby clear and…it worked perfectly?? I guess this color-shift paint from Testors is lacquer after all? After all those paint compatibility tests just to find out I could’ve used my usual clear from the beginning.
I’m really sad the Z32 doesn’t have much in the way of aftermarket body kit support – there’s basically nothing available as far as different bumpers, skirts, etc., so we’re left with just the stock body. This means to bring the car low I can’t rely on ground effects – it’s really up to getting low with the tires and wheels.
Since the customer wants to keep the Regas, I won’t be able to downsize the wheels to go lower (what I’d normally do). I can, however, try to play with the tire sizing (stock tires are shown above – look at how high the bodywork is!)
Slim jim tires fitted. Looking a lot better, but man the sides of the Z32 ride so damn high. I really wish there were side skirt extensions available to fill that gap.
Adding a bit of tuck and camber. I probably won’t go this extreme, since I think we talked about avoiding an overly stance-y look.
This is pretty much all you get for suspension/subframe detail. I love how the front and rear subframes are just one giant piece each.
Painted matte black with some silver details for the control arms, exhaust, and transmission.
Since this model won’t have a motor I wanted to do the most by pulling all the stops on the interior. Unfortunately Fujimi doesn’t give you much to work with – even the door panels are only half-molded with no detail at the bottom whatsoever.
What’s even more insulting is that they only give you the option of an automatic transmission! I don’t mean to rail on you if you own an automatic Z32 but…Straight Pipes said it all already.
Anyway, an auto just wouldn’t do. I was really shocked that Fujimi didn’t include a manual shifter option at all; I’ve only ever seen the inverse done for Japanese kits before. I went ahead and stole some random spare manual shifter boot I had laying around and cut it to fit the Z’s shifter opening.
While we were tossing ideas around for the car, my customer seemed enthusiastic about the idea of a full roll cage in the car. I’ve already done a half-cage in my previous Z32 build (which even then, only half-counts since that cage wasn’t scratch-built).
I used actual 300zx cages as reference for putting mine together, though it doesn’t seem to be a very common thing done.
Figuring out the front bars that ran into the dashboard turned out a lot harder than I thought, since it all had to line up with the A-pillar and not be too deep in the car. I rebuilt the main bar behind the seat at least 3 times because I had to keep changing its shape to get it right up against the front windshield and roof bar while not making it bulge so much that I couldn’t fit the T-Top covers over it.
Fujimi’s sports package for this car only includes the single Recaro bucket seat, which looked weirdly narrow. In order to run the full set of harnesses that I wanted, I needed two full buckets. I tried several seats before finally being forced to go with some spare DC5 Type R Recaros, since these were ironically the only ones with small enough bolsters to fit inside the cabin with the cage.
As they originally were, the Type R Recaros were still too tall to fit inside. I ended having to cut the bottoms of the seats to near-flat in order not to have the headrests sticking above the roll bar.
Interior carpet flocked.
It’s a tight fit inside, but by some miracle all the windows line up and the cafe doesn’t get in the way of any of it, while still looking natural enough that it wouldn’t restrict too much headroom inside the car.
Seats painted black. I don’t normally bother painting suspension detail in since you’d never see that stuff after the car was put together anyway, but since this was a customer car I didn’t allow myself to cut any corners.
I felt like my usual Takata green harness setup would look out of place in this car, so I decided to go with a set of 6-point red Sabelt harnesses instead. These are the same photo-etch metal belts from Eduard I used on my own Z32.
The Z’s roll bar is a little unconventional in how far back it is. To attach the harnesses naturally I ended up bending some small metal wire around the bar to create hooks that I could just slot the photo-etched harness buckles into.
Big ‘ol quads for the exhaust, using the tips included in the extra sports package runners from this kit. I don’t think they were actually meant to be used like this (the sports package includes other exhaust mufflers), but this was the only way you could get quads with big tips. The other setups would’ve either been a single exit or a regular dual exhaust with one tip on each side.
Window frits painted by hand, since of course we didn’t have masking stickers on a kit this old.
As I was looking at the near-completed kit I just didn’t find myself vibing with the no-wing look. My customer had specifically asked for no wing, but I know he also would’ve liked a ducktail style wing similar to the Veilside CII wing that I think he mentioned he had on his actual car.
So, I ended up digging around my spare parts bin for a bit and found an old Skyline wing that must’ve come from an R32 that I built many many moons ago.
Just trying it out on the car to see if it has potential. I think shortening the deck by just a tad and cleaning up the overall design of the wing would make it flow with the Z32.
The very edges that forked forwards were trimmed off, along with the mounting points that came forward on the trunk lid. I cut out about 2mm from the center and re-glued the two halves together to get something that matched up roughly with the car’s body lines. After mocking it up thankfully the customer gave it the go-ahead, so we won’t have a plain ‘ol back end after all.
Fujimi’s just full of surprises with this kit. This is the first time I’ve seen a model maker deliberately give you one-sided big brakes (meaning there’s no detail on the reverse side, the calipers and rotors are literally flat) with the intention of making you literally put these new brakes and rotors over the small stock ones.
That’s right. No brake replacement. Just covers, since the original rotor and caliper assembly is connected to the suspension struts. I don’t personally have a problem with this, since you won’t be able to really tell the difference at the end of the day, but it is amusing to me that this is the best Fujimi could come up with to give this car big brakes, rather than go through the trouble of molding a complete replacement assembly.
It is kind of cool that the big brake calipers actually have Brembo molded on them in raised lettering, but I ended up sanding it off anyway since it was easier for me to put Brembo decals on the calipers than attempt to paint in minuscule raised lettering.
Among the extra sports package parts were some mini side-mounted intercoolers, canards, extra exhaust tip options, a rear diffuser, and another unknown plank that I couldn’t figure out.
At first I thought that black bar might’ve been an optional spoiler or wing, but it was far too short to fit. Maybe it was an extra diffuser? The instruction manual sure doesn’t tell you. I only really figured out the rear diffuser was a rear diffuser because my customer pointed it out to me.
We’re not using the canards, but the funny thing about the side-mount intercoolers is that there wasn’t initially any obvious place to mount them, since the car didn’t have a motor and the subframe mounted oddly high behind the bumper. You’d think they were supposed to go on top of the subframe underneath the hood, but it turns out they fit well into little corners right behind the front lip at the bottom, essentially being suspended from the top down.
All the fun with these extra parts is pretty much left to your own intuition, since the instruction manual doesn’t acknowledge their existence other than to tell you not to acknowledge their existence. They pretty much tell you not to use almost the entire runner of extra sports parts that the kit includes. Whack.
As I mentioned, the customer was very much set on keeping the Regas that came with the kit on the car. He wanted to keep them silver, but shinier than the plastic silver. The only way I knew how to achieve that was with some gratuitous Motolow Liquid Chrome treatment, so the entire wheels were chrome’d out.
Finally, the only bit of carbon on this build would be for the rear diffuser. I decided to use my larger 1/12 scale weave here to make it stand out.
Like all my commission builds, this kit will be built and delivered with a dedicated single-unit magnetic display case.
Adding the magnets into the chassis of this car was actually a lot more work than I anticipated, especially given there was no motor under the hood. I obviously stick a giant neo-earth magnet there, but I also needed some pull at the rear/middle of the car.
I ended up sticking a one-inch wide bar magnet right in the middle under the transmission tunnel and on top of the driveshaft, but my magnet was a little too large so I ended up trimming bits of the cabin and pretty much cut out the upper half of the driveshaft assembly to make it all fit.
Cased up and ready for its new home.
The removable T-Top sections exist, but I really kind of messed up on them in the process of attempting to tint them. For whatever reason my spray tint just wasn’t coming out even on these parts, despite working perfectly fine for the car’s rear window assembly.
Their fitment ended up being a little messy and there’s no real way to hold them on – they kind of just plop onto the roof and would slide off at the first movement, so I opted to just put them to the side.
Finished, in all of its colorshift glory.
I’m still kind of in shock that this paint and color turned out as well as it did. I didn’t find many concrete examples of this paint on model kits online, and I’ve never held a particularly high regard for Testors paints in general, so in my mind this attempt had like an 80% failure rate.
The only bit of a drawback to this color is how big and thick the pearl mica flakes are. Up close, the paint almost looks grainy because the metallic specs in the paint are just that large.
The coolness of the color shift overrides the big flake issue for me though, and I don’t actually think this is a problem unique to Testors. Previous cars I’ve done in metallic body colors have tended to have too-large flakes – remember it was actually the main reason I rebuilt my first Z32 in gloss white, since the original gunmetal color just wasn’t cutting it.
Something I didn’t particularly like about how Fujimi handled the front end: the headlight lenses have so much raised detail etched onto their reverse side that it makes it almost impossible to see the projectors beneath. This also makes them look whiter and larger as clear pieces.
The front wheels also can’t really turn (oops) thanks to it being so low. I probably could’ve made the steering work with some more camber and tuck, but I didn’t want to go excessive stance on a customer car. They can turn backwards but not forwards, since there’s less room behind the front bumper.
I’m pretty happy with the cage in this one. The connection joints where all the pipes meet right in front of the B-pillar looks like a welding glob mess, but hey – it’s like that for extra structural rigidity.