1/20 Team Lotus Type 49 1967 by Ebbro (Available From HobbyLink Japan – HLJ.com)
It’s an iconic combination of colour – British racing green and lemon yellow. Built by Colin Chapman and Maurice Philipe the Lotus 49 was the first real F1 car that included the engine as a stressed component of the race car. Initially it was considered a handful with the 408 horsepower output, after Colin Chapman negotiated with Ford they built the DFV engine specially for this race car. It would prove to be a good partnership as for many years later almost the entire grid of F1 was to be powered by this engine. Names such as Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Jo Siffert, Jochen Rindt have all driven the car which was to become one of the sport’s most recognised cars, and has also been considered ‘the most beautiful F1 car of all time’.
It comes moulded in black, green, chrome, grey, and clear yellow for wind shields. It was a tooling that was done under the Ebbro brand name, although Tamiya had a hand in the creation of this kitset which is quite possibly why the model fits together seamlessly and was a pleasure to build. The decals are thick, however with decal solution they conform to the body very nicely. They are bold in colour and do not allow the paint colour beneath to seep through.
Options are included in the kit for US/UK/Mexican/Italian/Dutch Grand Prix races, and the drivers included are Graham Hill and Jim Clark.
Cockpit & Monocoque
The base detailing in this kit for the cockpit is good, and there is a lot of room left for addition of small details such as wiring. I added a small amount to the rear of the instrument cluster just to bump things up. The main monocoque consists of 5 pieces and despite having 5 pieces coming together to create one, the seam lines are almost unrecognisable once glued together.
Suspension & Engine
The suspension on the Lotus is one of beauty, lots of chrome (reflected in the kitset) and a traditional simplistic structure. Included in the kit is two options for braking, a set of normal disc brakes, and a set of vented disc brakes. This kit I decided to run the vented versions. Right out of the box, I had concerns about the car sitting flat on all four wheels, a quick dry fit of parts son revealed that this was not to be an issue.
The engine is assembled slightly different to the Tamiya branded models, although once the block is together, as I mentioned before, it is difficult to see how many parts make up the component and on this model it’s more important than ever as there is no engine cowling. The exhausts that are usually a 6-piece nightmare in Tamiya kits are only a 2-piece configuration and look superb. I painted the exhausts with primer for that matte white finish. My only little issue with the engine was that to plumb the wiring from the distributor requires you to purchase 0.4mm plug cord. I didn’t have any in black so exercised my creative license and used blue.
Wheels & Tyres
My favourite thing about this kitset is the wheels supplied. They come pre-painted with the ‘Firestone’ markings and the gold pin-striping which looks superb. Adding to this is the tyres have no middle moulding lines. So no sanding required at all. Just paint the rims and you have a fantastic looking set of wheels to finish the model off.
All in all, they are very very good. As I mentioned earlier they are a little thick but if you use plenty of decal solution and allow time for them to soften up it’s not a problem. Patience is the key here. I had huge reservations about the yellow decal conforming around the tip of the nosecone. I decided to give it a go, and in the worst case where it didn’t work I would paint it. After 45 minutes of smoothing and rubbing the decal it conformed nicely saving me from the need to mask and match paint colours. Phew!
The finished product
My overall impression with this kit has me ranking it as a solid 9 out of 10. Perfect fitment, great tooling and everything is accurate and proportionate. It’s wonderful having a model that allows so much variation within the options. There were 3 different types of windscreen, 2 gearbox options, 2 brake options, decal options, and engine options as well.
As well as being a great build, this kit looks superb sitting on the shelf. Until now most builders only option was the big 1/12 scale Tamiya kitset although now with the 1/20 option it goes perfectly with the 1970′s machines on the shelf. If you are tempted to pick this one up all I can say is do it! You certainly won’t be disappointed.