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Miracle Workers: Extreme Truck Builds from the 1/18 Custom Diecast Syndicate

Miracle Workers: Extreme Truck Builds from the 1/18 Custom Diecast Syndicate

A couple of issues ago we introduced you to some of the masters of model modification that inhabit the 1/18 Custom Diecast Syndicate Facebook group, and showed you some of their modded muscle cars (Winter 2019 issue). Those guys were such an inspiration and the feature story such a hit that I decided to reach out to the group again and request submissions in connection with our truck theme for this issue. The response was overwhelming—so many great trucks of different styles utilizing different techniques and showcasing such diverse creative vision! It was a chore to narrow them down, and what you see here is just a fraction of what we received. The complete set is posted on the group’s Facebook page, and I strongly encourage you to check them out. In the meantime, enjoy this collection of trucks—some work, some play—spanning five decades in genres, ranging from hot rods to off-roaders to weathered workhorses.


1953 Ford F-100 Road Racer 〉〉Thierry Boucher

Inspiration for this radical second-gen F-series came from an image by artist Rodrigo Chicon, but Thierry took it in his own direction and the result is this one-of-a-kind road-race version of a hot-rodder favorite based on the Road Signature 1953 F-100. He deleted the bumpers front and rear and added race-style tow loops made out of a red paper clip. The custom side-exit exhausts that poke through the body are made out of styrene tubing with steel wire inside to hold their shape and painted in Tamiya aluminum. The roll bars are made the same way but wear Tamiya black (bed) and Tamiya red (the interior). A Maisto Concept Mustang Mach III supplied the seats, which sit on styrene pedestals. The Mach III also donated the shifter and the bed-mounted fuel cell. The dash cluster and inset taillights come from a Revell Wiesmann Roadster, and the pedals come from an AUTOart Mazda 787B. GMP supplies the R-code 427 big-block that takes the place of the stock Flathead and the Torq Thrust–style Trans Am wheels. I particularly admire Thierry’s knack for transformation using basic materials, small components, and factory paint that all add up to more than the sum of its parts.

 


1955 Chevy Cameo 〉〉 Gabriel Clarke

Gabriel’s Chevy started life as a stock Ertl (now Auto World) ’55 Cameo, but he has massaged virtually everything to create the restomod wonder you see now. He stripped and repainted the Chevy in two-tone red over black enamel with a clear overcoat. The bed has custom wood planking, and Gabriel did his own foil work to represent custom chrome. The stance has been slammed; the live axle and leaf springs were ditched in favor of an independent rear suspension salvaged from a ’69 ’Vette, and the wheels are from a Muscle Machines import tuner. The motor is a monster: a GMP-sourced 572 big-block with a custom resin twin-turbo setup feeding a custom fuel-injection manifold color-keyed to the exterior paint. For the interior, Gabriel added custom resin buckets and stereo, plus a ’69 Camaro steering wheel and burgundy flocking for the floorboards. If there were a SEMA show for scale vehicles, this thing would be the headlining attraction!


1965 Fantasy Ford Race Hauler 〉〉 Marty Johnson

One of Marty’s previous custom creations was a scale replica of Gas Ronda’s altered-wheelbase ’66 Mustang. Ronda actually hauled the Mustang on a flatbed trailer, but Marty envisioned a proper race hauler and set out to build one using a pair of Sun Star 1965 Ford F-100s. He sectioned the two Ford bodies, removing the beds and rear cab walls from both and the cowl from the one that would form the rear of the crew cab. He crafted fender extensions from a ’53 Ford tow truck and extended the frame. He had to fabricate new door hinges, and he constructed the rear hauler section out of styrene, although the ramp surface began as a trailer with the axles removed. The Dayton wheels were 3D-printed, and a set of tires were from a Highway 61 1:16 International tow truck. Marty credits Gene Herman’s truck expertise for many of the scale touches and fellow builder Chris Moroni (whose work you can see elsewhere in this article) for his fender-shaping techniques. There is obviously much more to the build, but Marty’s results—while perhaps not quite historically accurate—ring convincingly true in character.


1936 Ford Hot Rod 〉〉 Bengo Mathes
Bengo went with the old-school hot-rod look for his build, starting with an Ertl ’34 Coupe and a Solido ’36 Ford Pickup. He grafted the front of the former onto the cab back and bed of the latter. He had the finished body pro-painted by the online diecast specialist Stefan Imschweiler at SI-Unique, and when he got it back, he did the real wood bed himself. He borrowed the seats from a Bburago E-Type Jag and got the steering wheel from GMP. He also up-detailed the Ertl Flathead V-8 with some GMP/ACME

parts and made the velocity stacks from scratch. He went back to GMP’s Deuce series kits for axles, brakes, wheels, and tires. I really like the contrast of the cream-colored frame and bed against the burgundy body—very classy.


Rat Rod 〉〉 Glenn McFeaters

Whereas Bengo’s hot rod has pristine paint, Glenn’s has a decidedly rough patina, giving it an authentic rat-rod vibe. Adding to that is the long list of random parts he borrowed from various brands—mainly Ertl, Road Signature, Johnny Lightning, and Maisto. That great finish was created using a mix of paints, washes, and powders to get the proper weathered look. The interior sports re-creations of old license plates, street signs, and random memorabilia to decorate the floorboards. The shifter is a cutting torch with gauges. The front suspension has been pushed forward but retains the stock Ford axle. The rear has been swapped out for a Corvette independent rear suspension. The motor is a 440 out of a late-’70s Dodge. Front wheels are Johnny Lightning pieces; the rears are resin-cast. One component Glenn is especially proud of are the scale pewter horseshoes he used as door handles.


1971 Chevy C10 Fleetline 〉〉Giannis Lo

The subtle simplicity of this truck’s shape belies the incredible amount of work Giannis put into it. He is one of the moderators of the Syndicate Facebook page, and his fabrication skills show why. Beginning with a Highway 61 Chevy C10, he applied some classic tricks familiar to the full-size custom world: shaving the body to smooth out all the marker lights, door handles, exterior mirrors, and wiper well in the cowl. He pancaked the hood to remove the seam, crafted a more sculpted front bumper, and made a custom rear roll pan with recessed taillights. The dark amber color is a tweaked version of a factory Lexus color, and he added mahogany bed planks with brass runners. The bucket seats come from a GMP Streetfighter Camaro and sit on custom rails. Giannis fabricated a center console to house a Jerico shifter lifted from a NASCAR stock car. A German company called TK-Diecast supplied the wheels as well as the spoked wood steering wheel. The 383 small-block came from the same GMP Camaro that supplied the seats, and is backed by a Tremec 6-speed. The truck rides on a full custom frame with drop spindles to achieve the desired stance and a trick 2-piece carbon driveshaft. Giannis estimates the build took a year to complete, and I’d say every minute was well spent.


1969 GTO Camino 〉〉Richard Olheiser

Sacrilegious? Perhaps. But you can’t fault Richard’s creativity or craftsmanship in pulling off his fantasy should-have-been muscle car. It started as a ’70 El Camino and a ’69 GTO Judge—both from Ertl. He Dremel’d off the front clips of both cars and then joined the Poncho’s nose to the Elkie using JB Weld, smoothing where needed with Bondo. Richard sacrificed a second GTO—this one a ’66 Highway 61 model—to claim its more detailed 389 Tri-Power motor, which he further detailed with foam around the Ram Air box. He also borrowed the ’66 car’s hood hinges since the original doglegs had been a casualty of the nose transplant. The ’66 also donated its bucket seats, console, and steering wheel to give the car a Pontiac feel inside as well as out. He even transplanted the Judge decal to this car’s dash. Wheels are an out-of-production set of GMP 5-spokes. Richard had the proper Pontiac Carousel Red mixed and put in a spray can, and he had Judge graphics made for his creation. The result looks remarkably factory, which is a tribute to just how much subtle work was involved in the El-GTO.

 


1953 Shelby F-100 〉〉Damon Paterson

In the spirit of the “Snakebit” show truck, Damon built his own version, grafting a 2005 AUTOart Mustang Shelby GT500 nose onto a Gearbox Collectibles’ 1953 Ford F-100 pickup. But he didn’t stop there. The truck also has a custom vented hood in a style consistent with the GT500, and he added the taillight panel from an Ertl 1969 Shelby GT500 for more consistency, which required a custom roll pan. The fascia reconstruction required widening the wheel arches front and rear, and he filled any gaps with Milliput. The interior got an Ertl 2003 Viper center console, Maisto C6 ’Vette seats, new gauges, and a set of racing belts. There’s a NOS bottle to give the truck a little extra go, and a fire extinguisher if things get out of hand. Under that vented hood sits a 427 Windsor stroker motor out of a Shelby Collectibles ’67 Eleanor GT500E. Additional underhood goodies include a bigger radiator, dual electric fans, a resin MSD ignition box, a battery with scale cables, and a brake master cylinder. Eleanor donated its front and rear suspensions too, so some alterations to the frame were required, along with a custom exhaust. The wheels are interesting: They use the Eleanor wheel centers modified to fit aluminum rims and tires from Uli Nowak. Damon finished off the build with a removable custom bed cover incorporating the ’05 Shelby rear wing, and covered everything in Stellar Blue Pearl paint.


1946 Chevy COE Hauler 〉〉Romain Koullen

Romain is into old-school hot rods and wanted a hauler for them of appropriate style and vintage. The donor vehicle was a 1946 Chevrolet grain truck from Highway 61, and the suspension and rolling stock remain unaltered. Romain removed the body and shortened the chassis, then cut the fenders and running boards from the upper cab, raising it. He bridged the gap with styrene and automotive putty, then primed the reshaped body and painted it in navy blue—first with an airbrush and then with a brush, followed by a layer of black onto the still wet blue. From there, all manner of scale details were fabricated: air lines from electrical wire, a styrene fifth wheel, and horns and various other bits from an AMT big-rig kit. To get the weathered look, Romain gave it a series of paint washes to simulate dirt, mud, and rust. From the photos, you can practically smell the rust and old grease on this rig.


1953 Ford F-100 〉〉Peter Nock

Peter’s area of interest is building lifted trucks with working suspension; he even has a Facebook page (Nocky’s Diecast Creations) devoted to it. Not surprising then that he spent much of his effort tucking a Road Legends 1959 Ford F-250 4X4 chassis under a ’53 F-100 Street Machine body by the same manufacturer. It includes the F-250’s front and rear axles, engine, transfer case, and even front bumper (the rear is styrene C-section with an aluminum tape wrap). The roll bar and exhaust stacks are styrene tubing. To dress up the F-250’s Y-block, Peter scratch-built headers using a styrene manifold-face hand-bent aluminum rod for the actual header tubes. There are aluminum collectors and more aluminum tubing routing them to the exhaust stacks. The suspension has the scale equivalent of a 2-inch lift courtesy of scratch-built leaf springs made out of styrene strips and shocks made out of styrene tubing sleeved around metal rods. He used garment hooks to form the leaf-spring shackles. Wheels are 3D-printed from Lynx Micro Tech on Shapeways, and the tires are Rok Lox 1.0 tires from RC4WD.


1965 Chevy Stepside 〉〉Andy Ruiz

Andy drew inspiration for his build from an artist’s concept rendering of a project truck called the “C-10R” from PCH Rods, and applied the theme to Sun Star’s 1965 C10 Stepside. It wears the stock truck’s satin black paint, and the interior is pretty stock except for the added flocked carpet. The real action is under the hood, where a race-spec 427 big-block out of a Highway 61 Camaro with a GMP air cleaner, braided hoses, and a set of custom headers that route to side-exhaust pipes using chrome tips from a ’71 ’Cuda. It has the obligatory suspension drop, and it rolls on 19-inch aluminum rims from Uli Nowak with resin BBS inserts, with brake discs and calipers visible behind them. It’s a subtle build but very effective.


1930 Model A Ford 〉〉Robert Nance

Robert started with an old Motor City Classics 1931 Model A pickup for his build, then set to work making it his own. To get the Ford to sit nice and low, he crafted his own aluminum floor pan and transmission tunnel, then added a shifter from his random-parts box. The front axle is also aluminum. It replicates the stock item relatively closely but was made wider to accommodate the new stance. He cut his own frame out of hard-plastic stock and pinned all the chassis cross-members with copper nails. The rear suspension—which now sits up in the bed—is a mix of Ford and scratch-built pieces according to Robert’s own design. The Flathead V-8 was pulled from a Motor City ’34 Ford, and Robert built a custom fuel-injection setup using scrap parts from other models. The wheels are really old-school—sourced from a 1920 Cleveland—and copper-plated. The body now wears Testors Dove Gray with satin black details. Robert told me this is only his second build, which makes the result all that more impressive.


1953 Ford F-800 Car Hauler 〉〉Chris Moroni

To craft his custom F-800 hauler rig, Chris used no fewer than three Road Signature 1953 Ford F-100 pickup trucks and one Ertl ’56 F-100—needed to get the curvature just right on the widened front, which involved sectioning the fenders from the F-100s, adding middle sections from the donor trucks, and then smoothing the whole thing out with Bondo. He crafted side trim out of styrene tubing and bar stock. He then covered it in a convincing ’50s color scheme for his fictitious trucking company. The interior is largely stock, but he up-detailed it by substituting a steering wheel with a thinner, more realistic rim and adding a radio and even a folded paper map. And the driver is an Indiana Jones figure! Since F-800s came with Y-block engines, Chris appropriated a Y-block 317 from a Yat Ming Lincoln Capri. The suspension is borrowed from a Highway 61 1:16 farm truck with its paint stripped off of it. The MHS trailer is essentially all scratch-built using a Tonka base. The wire mesh came from an office-style inbox. The roof lights, horns, and gas tanks were all scratch-built—the latter using cut-down bottoms of aluminum soda cans for the ends.

  


1959 Ford F-250 Forest Service 〉〉Herb Thompson

Here’s another subtle build that maximizes impact by focusing the mods where they count most. It starts with a Road Signature 1959 Ford F-250 4X4 and retains the factory green color because it suits Herb’s chosen theme of a U.S. Forest Service vehicle. A work truck like this doesn’t need a gussied up interior, so this one keeps things pretty much stock inside. Obviously it’s wearing new—and much more aggressive—rubber. These are Mickey Thompson Baja Claws from RC4WD wrapped around a set of GMP steel wheels off a ’70 Road Runner, with GMP ’65 Ford Fairlane dog-dish hubcaps on them. To mount those wheels, Herb swapped front hubs and the Ford 9-inch rear axle from a Classic Carlectables Ford Falcon XA and lifted the suspension using 3/16- to 1/4-inch aluminum spacers from Home Depot. The engine comes from GMP’s parts department—an R Code Ford 427 out of a ’65 Fairlane 500.


1936 Studebaker 〉〉Brian Ordung

Brian’s truck started life as a Sun Star 1937 Studebaker pickup, which he stripped and sanded down in preparation for livelier paint. He also removed the spare tire and filled the void with JB Weld. He notched the bed to clear larger rear tires, and used old paint-can caps as the new wheel tubs. The interior was painted in multiple shades of gloss, satin, and matte black to create contrast, and Brian flocked the floorboards and door panels as well. For power, he installed a 454 out of an Ertl ’70 Chevelle and fitted it with a 3D-printed Hilborn fuel-injection system and “572” valve covers. The Chevelle also donated its rear axle, and Brian crafted custom trailing arms and shocks out of styrene to make it fit. The engine is fully plumbed and wired, and wears the same paint as the exterior, which is two coats of Testors Purplicious covered by three layers of high-gloss clearcoat. Wheels are GreenLight’s Fast & Furious wheel set. And he finished it all off with a working set of LED lights.

by Matt Boyd

Updated: April 24, 2019 — 12:10 PM

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