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Tamiya 1/20 scale Lotus 25 Coventry Climax

Kit: No. 20044
Scale: 1/20
Manufacturer: Tamiya, imported by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922
Price: $40
Comments: Injection molded, 103 parts (8 vinyl), decals.

In 1962, Colin Chapman started a revolution in race-car design with the birth of the Lotus 25. Its monocoque construction was a dramatic advance over the welded-tube space-frame race cars of the day. The lower center of gravity, stiffened chassis, and reduced weight and height, combined with tire improvements by Dunlop, gave the car far better handling characteristics than its competitors. With Coventry Climax's 1.5-liter V-8 engine and the driving talents of Jim Clark, the Lotus would win Grand Prix championship titles in 1963 and 1965 - and just miss in 1962 and 1964.

Tamiya's 1/20 scale Lotus has the revised windscreen and the shortened engine/gearbox shroud of the late 1963 version (possibly chassis R4). This style of car was used in several races with and without the famous yellow stripe. Also included are the small oil tank, exterior side-mounted electronic ignition box, and the five-speed ZF gearbox.

The styrene parts are colored silver-gray, black, dark-green, clear, and chrome. The black hub inserts and tires are vinyl. If you carefully follow the 20-step instructions, you'll encounter few problems. However, the rear brake calipers in step 13 are molded upside down. Also, clean the notches in axle mounts B30 and B33 so you can rotate the axles 30 degrees to offset them from each other.

Eliminate the seam after gluing the under-nose fairing to the body. The molded Lotus body had no seam there. Several chrome-plated parts will have to be retouched with Bare-Metal Foil to clean up the sprue-attachment points. The lower front wishbones should be chrome plated, but they are molded with the floor pan. The gearshift linkage which runs along the right side of the engine to the rear of the gearbox is missing.

Painting the car produced the biggest headaches for me. Tamiya recommends its own paints, but the overall color (Tamiya spray can TS-43) is not available in the U.S. I mixed automotive lacquers, starting with Benetton green and adding a touch of black. British Racing Green changed over the years, so check good color photos before mixing paints.

Some of the painting instructions may not be accurate for an original chassis. (I suspect Tamiya may have studied a restored car.) The roll bar on A1, bulkhead (A4), front upper arms (A5), exhaust flanges (B28 and B29), exterior of intake stacks (C1), main bar of the steering link (C3), and uprights on the rear suspension (C19) should be steel. The seat, upper part of the instrument-panel frame, shift knob, and steering-wheel cover should be bright red. Cam covers B10 and 11 should be a grimy black. I painted all exhaust pipes with Testor Metalizer exhaust, and the exhaust collectors (B25 and B26) burnt metal. The mirror exteriors (C14 and C11) should be flat aluminum. I also painted all but the forward and rear inches of the water pipe (D6) bright red to simulate the wrapped insulation.

Tamiya simulates the intake screen with a clear piece, but I substituted silver-painted brass screen. The kit tires are beautiful, but the original car did not have painted lettering. Instead, a green spot identified the Dunlop brand. I painted over the lettering and added the green spot. I used insulated wire for the brake lines for all four wheels.

The decals were beautifully printed, opaque, and reacted quickly to Solvaset. Good references on the classic Lotus are Lotus 25 Climax FWMV, A Technical Appraisal by Ian Bamsey, Lotus, A Formula One Team History by Bruce Grant-Braham, and The Single-Seat Lotus, Formula 1 and Indy Cars by Doug Nye.

I spent about 40 hours building this wonderful car. An intermediate builder can handle it, but an expert can improve on it with corrections and added details.

- Ross Whitaker

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