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As roadwarrior requested, I've written a tutorial for how to modify ERTL's 1/18 Dodge Charger (from the fast and the Furious) to make it look more realistic seeing how pitifully poor the engine and interior detail are in the standard model.

You'll need about 4-8 hours to do this depending on your skill and/or confidence. This is my very first mod and it took me about 5 hours to complete so just about anybody who can use a toolkit, cut wires, etc, will be able to do this. The painting takes up most of the time. Hopefully I've given enough details on the mod so GOOD LUCK!

To make the modifications you'll need the following:

- electrical drill with one 1mm drill bit, one 2mm drill bit and one 3mm drill bit (a Dremel set or something similar would be ideal)
- silver acrylic paint (a 50 ml bottle will be more than enough)
- 3mm paintbrush
- 300-400mm of 3mm doweling or kebab skewers
- small saw
- 800mm 1mm red electrical wire
- 50mm 1mm white electrical wire
- 80mm blue (neutral) electrical wire
- size 1 (3mm) crosshead screwdriver and possibly a small pair of pliers or a small wrench for added torque
- super glue
- small craft knife
- some blue-tack/white-tack
- 100mm of sellotape


1) Unscrew the six screws on the underside of the model - 2 on each side of the middle, 2 on each side near the rear and 2 just below the front wheels. The screws are pretty tightly screwed in so you may need a small pair of pliers or a small wrench to make it easier.

2) Pull the "chassis" from the bodywork. You may need to pull the steering wheel from its hook with the steering in order to get the bodywork away from the chassis. When this is done, pull the interior section away from the base plate.

3( There should be three screws on the underside of the interior section beneath the passenger and driver's seats. Unscrew them and remove both seats - the passenger seat may be discarded as the real car only has a driver's seat.

4) To make the roll cage, you'll need to cut the doweling/skewers in to the following lengths (they may still need to be cut down to size):
- 45mm
- 3 x 50mm
- 80mm

5)a Drill a hole (with the 3mm bit) approximately 1cm behind the driver's seat but make sure that the hole is in line with the horizontal bar of the rollcage. b Now place one of the 50mm lengths of doweling here and check it it fits. If it is too small, cut a piece a bit larger and if too small, cut slightly down. When the fit is just right, put a dab of glue on each end and put it in place.

6) With the same drill bit, drill a hole about 55mm behind the front upright of the rollcage and again, make sure that the hole is in line with the horizontal bar of the rollcage. Repeat step 5b with this hole now.

7) Place the last 50mm length of doweling at the point where the front vertical section of the rollcage bends. If it fits, glue it here. Place the 43mm length about 14mm above the 50mm length and glue it here if it fits.

8) In the rear section of the interior there should be two box-like shapes. Drill a hole on the floor here in the middle of the box. The hole has to be placed on the passenger side.

9) Place one end of the 80mm length of doweling at the point of the rollcage where the horizontal starts to go downwards at the rear of the driver's side. If it fits, glue the doweling length here. Now leave the interior section to dry for about 15-20 minutes.

10) Once the super glue has dried, you can start applying the paint. At first the paint will be transparent on the rollcage but when you keep adding layers of paint, the rollcage will look like metal rather than black plastic and wood. You'll need about 6-8 coats. Painting the rollcage near a radiator or some form of heat will speed up the process. You need to allow each layer to dry before applying more paint. This can be as quick as 15-20 minutes per layer if you leave it near a radiator as acrylic paint dries more quickly that ordinary paint.

11) When no more of the black plastic or wood can be seen through the paint, the painting for the rollcage is complete. Now you can replace the driver's seat and screw it back in place. The interior is now complete.

12) Before you proceed, look and take note of how the engine, undercarriage, etc are connected. On top of the base plate just behind the engine, there is a screw. Unscrew it. There are four tabs that keep the wheels, exhausts, undercarriage, etc in place. Push them out.

13) There are several points on the base plate where the plastic appears melted - these are to keep the exhausts and suspension in place as well. Cut all of them away (except for the two that hold the tail pipes) with the craft knife.

14) There are about 4 or 6 screws on the base plate keeping the wheels attached. Unscrew them.

15) There are two more of those melted plastic circles on the radiator just in front of the engine. Cut those away. Now the whole engine and the wheels can be taken away from the base plate. If not, you may need to remove more of the melted plastic circles.

16) There is a hard piece of plastic connecting the radiator to the blower. Pull it from the blower. If you break it, don't worry - when you re-assemble it, it won't be very noticeable. Now pull the exhausts from the engine. Now you should just have the engine, the exhaust manifold and the blower. Gently pull the blower from the engine block then pull the heads from the block. The exhaust manifolds from each head should fall away. Pull the "belts" from the blower too.

17) Start painting the engine block and heads using the same technique in step 10 but avoid painting the section where the head and block are connected otherwise you will have problems fitting them back together. Paint the top of the block where the blower fits though so you can hide as much of the red plastic as possible. Also paint the radiator but only apply 3-4 coats otherwise you'll lose the features of it.

18)a When the painting is complete, you are now ready for wiring up the engine. Using the 1mm drill bit, drill 4 evenly spaced holes in the right side head and 3 in the left one. b On the blower, there is a horizontal seam on the section where the three intakes are. Drill a hole on the left side of the blower beneath the seam about 3mm after the blower begins to taper from the front.

19) Using the 2mm drill bit, drill one hole about 4mm below the white water box and one hole in the gearbox on the right hand side.

20) This bit is very tricky. Reconnect the engine block to the front undercarriage. Put a small piece of blue-tack in the red part of the block and stick the exhaust manifolds on them. Now reconnect the exhausts to the base plate then reconnect the rear undercarriage. Make sure that the exhausts are connected to the manifolds and also make sure that the tabs and screws are back in place so the parts are held together.

21) Take the length of blue wire and place on end of it in the hole beneath the water box - DO NOT take out the copper as this wire needs to be fairly stiff. Cut seven 80mm lengths from the red wire. If you can remove the copper without damaging the red casing then do so - it will be easier to feed it in the heads. When the lengths are ready, feed the in to the holes that you put in the heads. This may not be possible at first so use the 1mm drill bit a little more on the heads but enough so that the wires go in snugly, not loosely. When the heads are wired up, place a small piece of the blue tack in the head to keep the wires in place.

22) Place the white length of wire in the hole you put in the blower (step 18b) and re-attach the "belts" to it. Now take each head with the wires and place them back on the block (with a bit of blue-tack or super-glue if they are still loose). Take the wires from each bank and hold them together. Now place each bank of wires on either side of the bulge in the base plate that houses the gearbox and stick them down with the sellotape. This may sound crude but the interior section hides the sellotape.

23) The engine bay should really start to look more realistic from here on. Now that both banks of cylinder heads are in place, bend the blue wire so it sits just above the right bank of cylinders and put the other end of it the hole you drilled in the gearbox in step 19. The fit should be snug.

24) Place the blower on to the block now and feed the other end of the white wire in to the space between the blower and the left bank of cylinders. You may need more blue-tack to make the blower fit securely on the block. Now put the radiator back in place and fix the protruding piece in to the blower. The engine bay is now complete.

25 Place the interior section back on to the base plate. You'll have to guide the steering column back in to the hook on the steering. When they are together, place them in the metal bodywork and screw it all back together.

Now the conversion is complete.

I hope this tutorial helps. If you have any further questions or problems, please don't hesitate to ask me by PM, e-mail or just by openly posting your question as a reply to this thread.
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