Recently a good friend of mine got in touch to let me know that sadly, his father-in-law had passed away. The family needed to raise some funds for the funeral and my friend asked if I would like to buy his father-in-law’s Mercedes 540K kit.
I had to take the opportunity. Firstly, pre-war Mercedes are among my favourite cars, I think they’re stunning machines! I have also never done a 1:24 scale car model before, so it would make for an unusual project. Also, I wanted to make it in memory of my friend’s father-in-law. I wanted to send some pics to my friend and his girlfriend as I went, so they can see that his kit was being enjoyed and hopefully he would have pleased with the end result.
This kit is 3701. It’s a 2008 re-release of the 701 kit, which came out in 1976.
For a casting that’s over 40 years old, I was actually quite impressed with it. The molded detail is really crisp and there is plenty of it. The quality of the materials used is really good! There are a few odd construction choices that I don’t think you would get with a modern release, but that’s why it’s £20 to buy new and not £50 or £100.
The car was in primer before I noticed that Italeri had left their stamp on the underside of the passenger side running board. That’s a sign of the age of the kit. A lot of manufacturers stamped their name or logo onto parts of the kit itself. I’ve done a couple of older Airfix kits which had the same.
Still, with a little sanding and filling it’s easily hidden.
I decided on a burgundy colour for the body, with a couple of coats of a good glossy lacquer. Art-deco era cars were very curvaceous and the lacquer will allow the light to reflect off of those curves, accentuating them.
For the chassis work I’ve taken a little artistic licencing. As you can see on this picture of a rolling chassis, the suspension, brakes and running gear components are all the same black as the ladder chassis.
(Image from Google)
On my much more modern W202 a lot of the suspension, steering and braking components are a dull grey, which I have decided to replicate so I can add black bushings and silver bolts onto the parts.
It just makes it a little more interesting to look at underneath.
The rear end is really interesting. Note the additional dampers across the differential. I’d be curious to see how that works in real life.
I decided to keep the wheels body coloured with silver detailing. I felt the whitewall tyres were a must on this car.
The kit’s engine block is actually really nice with a lot of molded detail. The back of the air filter is cut away, which I found a little odd, but the rest of the block is accurate.
I added ignition leads to mine, They are simply black thread cut to length.
This was my inspiration for the interior. I think the cream seats and biscuit carpet really compliment the exterior red.
(Image from Google)
This is the main tub for the interior.
That is them mounted to the chassis and the firewall is then added. I actually didn’t glue the tub down. Knowing this was an older kit I was expecting to meet some fitting issues with the body that goes around it. However, there were no issues that arose that needed the tub to be moved.
In retrospect, I would have liked to have tried to model what I assume are the brake and clutch fluid reservoirs mounted to the firewall (see picture below).
(Image from Google)
Next up were the sides! The vents in the bonnet were painted black and then dry brushed silver to highlight the grating. Dry brushing is where you wipe the majority of the paint off of the brush, and then lightly go over your subject to highlight any raised areas.
I also tried it on the radiator, but it’s harder to get to look convincing on the larger surface.
A lot of people really get in a pickle with glass. Superglues and plastic cement often stains the glass and makes it look frosted. There is a special glue that you can buy called Glue & Glaze. Poundstretcher do a 3 part arts and crafts glue set with a Pritt Stick, PVA and a clear glue. A little of that clear glue, just in the corners, I find works really well.
The rear panel comprises of the truck lid, rear of the arches and body and two bits that go over the tops of the doors where the windows are mounted (in the kit you have the options to model the windows up or down. I opted for down.
It was the only part of the kit that didn’t fit together nicely. It did take a bit of convincing but I have got it to a point where I’m happy with it. It’s not perfect, and I’m sure some of you will kindly point that out, but I feel if I modified it any more I would be doing more harm than good.
The dashboard and steering wheel are what really make a car for me. It’s what you spend the most time looking at when you’re driving and I really wanted to try to capture it.
The dashboards in the 540ks were beautiful! Many had a Mother of Pearl effect on the instrument panel and the instruments themselves were often two tone white and brass or white and chrome. If anyone has any ideas on how to paint that Mother of Pearl effect please let me know for future builds haha!
The steering wheels were either black or ivory. I opted for the ivory just for a bit of colour.
Here are the pics I took inspiration from:
(all four pics from Google)
Here is my attempt:
Then things went together rather rapidly I’m afraid. The brightwork all went onto the model really nicely. Of particular note is the structure that holds the headlights in place. It’s thin but has a bit of flex in it and was strong. In some kits parts that thin are very fragile. The light lenses were also really nicely detailed.
I opted to have the roof down, but the kit has the option to have the roof up if wanted.
Here’s the completed car!
I really enjoyed the build and I’m actually really pleased with the outcome. I think the fact that it was an older kit took the pressure off a bit. I felt I could do this kit justice. Carl, I hope your father-in-law would be pleased with the result.
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By Richard Francis