I’m H-a-p-p-y…Go Like Hell…1966 Ford GT40 MkII Number 1 – That’s No Train Part 12!

Another day, another post about not trains…but this was one I’ve been looking forward to building for a bit, and after the past two years of disruptions, the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race returned to its traditional June date last weekend. With that motivation, building my 1/24th Scale model of a 1966 Ford GT40 MkII finally came to the top of the pile, it gave me something to do while watching the race on the weekend, and during the week before to motivate me to get things done on the build to be able to finish it while I watched, but before the whole story…Yes, It’s That’s No Train Part 12!!! Previous ones here.. 1, 2, 3 (& 3.5), 4, 5, 6, 7 8, 9,10, and 11!

I have previously built a modern Ford GTLM car from a Revell kit, I’ve wanted to do a 1966 GT40, that car’s predecessor for a while, but the kits that were out there were not available, and rather dated. In 2020, Meng Models, a Chinese company released a 1/12th large scale version, then announced in 2021 that a 1/24th version was coming as well. My local plastic model (and paint/tool supply) at Wheels and Wings had it in (as I write it appears to be out of stock), so I dutifully ordered it and set to thinking about which of the two cars I might build, that I would build. I was torn between the winning #2 of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, or the “losing” #1 of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme. If you’re not a racing fan, here is an article on the long standing controversy of the fixed finish by Ford of the race and the potential fix by Ford to make sure the car of theirs they wanted to win, did so. There is also a great book on this history of Ford at Le Mans, Go Like Hell, well worth a borrow from your local library or an addition to your library. I finally decided that I wanted to model the blue Mikes/Hulme 1 car, even though my 2016 car is the one that won on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first win in 1966. While a diorama of the two winners would be nice, I decided I just like the look of the blue car better than the black and silver number 1.

Early stages of work on the GT40, test fitting and checking out, getting sub components of the engine painted and assembled.

The Meng kit is, in some ways a “snap together” kit, a lot of parts are designed in the way that Bandai Star Wars/Gundam style kits, where you could assemble them without glue. It’s not entirely that way, but the way it is designed allows for a lot of easy test assemblies and building sub assemblies to understand how the kit goes together, which is really nice to me, as I was able to think ahead of how I was going to need to modify the driver figure I bought to fit, and if any major changes would be needed to add lighting.

Painting and assembling the kit, working out modifications to the driver figure to fit inside.

I decided that this was going to be my Le Mans week project this year, I needed a break and a mental cleanse from doing the same old things on model train projects, the timing worked out that I was able to set the spray booth up the weekend before, and leave it up for a couple of days, and use my breaks and lunch early in the week to get through painting and masking and repainting different colours so by the time the race started on Saturday morning, I was well advanced and into final assembly and details during the first few hours of the race. By the 1/3 way through the 24 Hours, I had the project mostly done other than some detail touch-ups and could put my feed up and enjoy the race.

Painting the driver figure add on from Le Mans Miniatures and painting interior details/assembling the interior.

I like adding drivers to car models. When I was a teenager and building a lot of model kits, I hated that manufacturers didn’t include drivers, especially in race cars, as it made any attempt to display them dramatically look wrong as there was no one driving. That continues to this day, but unlike 30 (gulp) years ago, thanks to the internet, it is much easier to find after market third party detail kits for models and driver figures. For this one, I found Le Mans Miniatures who makes figures in a variety of scales, including the 1960-1970’s style drive figure I used for this one.

Tinting headlight and taillight lenses, and using the window masks included in the kit to paint the window frames.

One of the challenges of a project like this, is paint colour. There are “accurate match” paints out there, and I used paints from Zero Paints on the modern GTLM, but these are “hot” lacquer paints, that stink and require harsher chemicals for cleaning, which I don’t really like using. I much prefer acrylics that can clean with water and much milder cleaning products, so it took me a while to figure out the “right” blue for the pale Gulf Blue the car wore. I eventually settled on a Vallejo Model Air “Sky Blue”, Number 71306 which to my eyes captures the pale blue right. Is it a perfect match? I don’t know, I know that it looks to my eyes when I look at the car how I feel a Gulf Blue Ford should look, and that is good enough for me!

The Decal Hot Tub makes an appearance. The decals in this kit were really nicely printed with thin film. The red teardrops around the headlights reacted well to MicroSol and settled nicely to the body curves with several patient applications of it.

The final part was to add LED lights. I have a good supply, so was able to just take from my bin of electronics, but I realized that I I don’t have any battery clips and switches left. This car has headlights and taillights wired for lights. I will need to at some point place an order for more switches and battery clips from my usual supplier of Evan Designs, but I will wait until I need a bunch of stuff to make it cost effective, for now, the project can do without the battery and switch. I love the look of the lights in a model, especially when I turn them on in the evening and my office/layout room is dark, the little sparkle and glint just makes models feel alive to me.

All in all, I am really happy with how this turned out, building a kit in a week is pretty fast by my standards, but I don’t feel I cut any corners, I just used a bit of the wind of motivation to get it done, rather than falling into my usual traps of losing motivation or not making time. I need to get back to some layout projects, but as with all my puttering I find if the motivation has flagged even a little, its best to not do things than push them, as pushing is when I make silly mistakes and frustrate myself instead of enjoying the break and positive feelings the hobby is supposed to generate. Pictures of the finished model and some video links to learn more about this car below. Circling back to the title of this post… I’m H A P P Y…

Endurance Racing means racing at night. My models of endurance cars have lights, and they come to life when it gets dark.
The recently completed 1966 GT40 MkII alongside my previously completed 2016 Ford GTLM car on my “Le Mans” diorama base for them.

Below are the trailer to the movie Ford v. Ferrari (Le Mans 1966 outside North America) and to a video of actual footage of Le Mans 1966 with members of Carroll Shelby’s team and Ford speaking about the race.

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