As always (at least in my case) the story begins with an old Scalex on sale on eBay. As stated by the vendor, "The car is in good condition and drives well around the track though the front wet tyres are a bit perished. Its rear spoiler is complete and has not been glued on". True, the model was complete and in good working order, except the tyres totally perished, but this is commonly assumed when buying such old models.
I was much hesitating to buy this Lotus for several reasons :
Firstly, and this is very obvious on the pic, the absence of front suspension makes the the front axle look quite bare - the more so as the disc braking units were outboard - and the narrowness of the nose of the car reinforce its length. In my view, this rudimentary layout has a quite negative visual impact on the model.
Secondly,although Scalextric have put some effort on the original decoration (especially as compared to some others...), their original John Player Special decoration is not very accurate and leaves the collector unsatisfied. So, the need for relivery the car is obvious.
That said, the Lotus John Player Special black and gold liveries, with their thin gold lines, are really a "bête noire" for the amateur model builder, and decide to embark upon such a relivery is quite challenging and requires a good level of motivation, knowing that using inkjet printed decals will oblige to accept some trade-off solutions and call for some modesty. But, a decision is needed : either we stay frustrated with our original C126 for ever or we move forward to see what our relivered C126 could look like. After all, the famous JPS livery has been recognized as one of the most distinctive and elegant ever and and is certainly worth some effort and time. So, let's go for a test !
The Lotus 77, aka JPS MkII, was a transition F1, developed in 1976 by Colin Chapman with wide tuning possibilities left open in order to determine the wheelbase and track combinations best adapted to various circuits, a kind of laboratory car. So, it will be in constant evolution, with many different configurations and body variants, and will be used to test a number of solutions in the aerodynamical field. It is on the Lotus 77 that the first steps toward full ground effect have been taken. During the 1976 season, the two Lotus drivers were Mario Andretti and Gunnar Nilsson.
Once the model put in pieces, the first step of our re-interpretation project is rubbing off the original golden Scalex decoration. Not so easy, it is very resistant and difficult to remove, and leaves some marks on the body.
Then, before starting the painting step,we have to something regarding the front suspension. Fortunately, I could find in my "surplus box" (every model builder has one of course, with a lot of heteroclite bits and pieces apparently useless) a pair of plastic triangles which I thought could improve the situation. Once glued to the body, they really did ! Not an accurate reproduction of the Lotus 77 front suspension, sure, but much better than leaving the front axle so desperately bare. I leave you to judge on the pics.
That done, we can spray two coats of bright black onto the shell and the rear wing, in order to mask the marks of the original deco and get a uniform black.
Of course, they must be printed on a white background decal paper. Unfortunately, although my ink jet printer produce generally good results and nice decals, the black color remains a problem in that it's impossible, even by changing print parameters, to obtain a black background as deep and intense that he black paintwork of the body. This is one of the trade-offs mentioned earlier.
The other difficulty with home-made decals, which are uncut, is precisely the cutting off, especially for the thin gold lines. No other way than cut the gold lines as thin as possible, which requires a good pair of scissors, a good close to vision and ... patience. Once all decals have been applied, our Lotus 77 looks good, much more appealing than the original one, at least in my standpoint. But you can judge by yourself by looking at the pics. Your feedback is welcome.
Lastly, the driver. I have chosen to feature Gunnar Nilsson, who deserves all our admiration for his courage. Hence the white helmet, with a longitudinal blue/yellow Swedish stripe.
After this test experience with the JPS livery, rather encouraging, a C-050 Lotus 72 would be a logical next step, for the long winter evenings...
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