by: Russ Amott [ ]
The 1953 Ford pickup is considered a classic and highly collectable car, with a new, more integrated body style and a new numbering system; the F-100 (rather than the F-1). It still used the flathead V8 engine, but new luxuries, like a dome light, lighter and radio, as well as sun visors, were now options. It was a workhorse, but through the years many of these old trucks have been turned into customized works of art.
My grandfather had one of these trucks, and I always loved the way it looked. Older cars seem to have a lot more sense of style and elegance in the design. His had seen a lot of hard work over the years. The original wooden slat bed had been replaced by a piece of plywood, the red paint had faded to a flat orange-red, with patches of pinkish primer and mismatched red paint (left over from painting his cabin that sat on the banks of the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in Mack's Inn, Idaho) and the rusted out fenders added to its appeal for me. Sadly, the truck was hauled away to the scrapyard in 1993.
My first venture back into modeling occurred when I saw an AMT/Ertl boxing of this pickup truck on a hobby store shelf as I passed by. I built the truck up, but it was wrecked in a move. Undaunted, I bought it again, and it was wrecked by kids. I went to get it again, but it was out of production. I have seen it offered on ebay and various vintage collector sites, but at prices ranging above $50, it was not an option. I knew if I waited long enough it would come back out, and happily, not only has AMT re-released the kit, but they have offered it in a collectable vintage box, nearly identical to the original 1963 offering, and with a few extra touches.
In looking online, I have found commentary about this kit, but not a single review. Considering that it is the best available '53 Ford pickup available, I thought I would offer a look in the box.
As mentioned, the box itself is a close match to the original first boxing. The box top shows a custom built pickup, one side the service truck variant, and the box ends the stock version. The other side shows the optional parts included in the kit, with retooled vintage custom wheel caps and 2 in one tires, engraved with "Firestone" on one side and pad printed whitewalls on the other. The bottom of the box has a parts map.
Inside the box are several plastic pouches with different parts trees or large parts carefully packaged. My first observation is the color of the plastic; ivory colored for this release, which is pleasant to look at and should serve as a better base for paint than some of the color options provided at times. One sprue is of chromed parts, one with clear parts, and the tires. Two metal rods for axles are included, as well as a metal clip to raise the hood (bonnet) and show off the choice of engines.
The molding of the parts is really quite good. Small details are present, and if a bit soft on some (like the Ford logo on the hood, small lettering and the wiper blades), it is still good, and legible. Best of all, I did not see any sink marks or deformities in the plastic. There is quite a bit of flash present around the engine parts and acetylene tanks, but it is light and easily removed.
The cab and engine compartment are molded in one piece, with the front fenders included. The wiper blades and some wiring on the engine compartment sidewalls and the doors with handles are molded in place. The plastic is a bit thick, but very well detailed.
The frame has some very heavy sprue attachment points that will need care to cut and clean up. The bed features wood grain on both top and bottom surfaces for the planks in the truck bed, but there are ejector pin marks on the topside of the bed, with corresponding marks, like the ejector pin bumped the sides of the bed. These will require some care to clean out. There are two options of fender; the original rounded fenders and a set of Chevy fenders that are more squared off for the custom version. My only real lament with the kit is that the stock fenders don't include the option of an indent for the side mounted spare tire like my grandfather's truck had, and which was a fairly common feature. The tailgate can be built posable, but will need some scratch building to make it movable. The "FORD" lettering is raised and clear. I understand that to make this a Mercury truck (Canadian version) only the lettering on the truck needs to be changed.
In the engine compartment you can place the flathead V8, or the optional Desoto Firedome Hemi V8 (thanks to the guys at ModelCarsmag forum for that piece of information), both of which are fairly well detailed. If you wish to showcase the engine you will need to scratch some wiring and hoses. You can attach a stock tailpipe or custom chromed scavenger pipes.
Optional wheels include the stock standard with chrome hub caps embossed with the "Ford" logo, or the retooled custom chrome caps. The tread on the tires is fairly well done, and the flash isn't too heavy. The white sidewalls look nice, but will be visible from the inside if you wish to show the "Firestone" engraving.
The cab interior has a single bench seat. The gas pedal is molded in place but the kit includes separate brake and clutch pedals. The stock truck had a shift lever mounted on the steering column but a custom, chrome, floor mounted shift lever is offered as well. The floor of the cab is molded with a raised pattern that I recall being a standard rubber tread floor. There isn't any detail on the interior of the door-no latch or window handles, so these will need to be scratch built. The instrument panel is basic but has a molded on speedometer with numbers present. Two options for the steering wheel-stock and custom-are again offered. The cab glass is molded as a single piece, which won't fit well if it is used as is. To get the best fit trim the top section off and place the windshield and rear window separately. The cab is in "summertime" mode, with the door windows missing and only the triangular wing windows molded in place. A rear view mirror is included for the cab, as well as a two way radio and speaker for the service version.
The stock grille is all chrome, which isn't correct for this model. Only the "teeth" should be chrome, with the rest of the grille white. Two optional chrome grilles are provided for the service and custom version. You also have the option of the stock bumper, a service bumper or custom chrome bullet nerfs. Stock and custom gas caps are provided, as well as a tonneau cover for the custom truck, which can also be cut up and used to make the interior door panels. As a final bonus, the mechanic's tools are all included for the service version, and a jack and tire are also present.
The instructions are also from the original boxing. They are a pamphlet style, folding out vertically rather than the normal horizontal. The stock and custom options are clearly pointed out, and painting instructions are called out for each part during assembly. The instructions are nice and clear. The paint guide in the instructions has generally generic colors although a list of paint colors the truck was offered in are also provided, as well as common interior colors.
The kit decals have been redone, and appear to be a little thick but otherwise very well printed. The service truck has a "Noah's Arc Welding" decal, the custom truck includes a "The Wild Kat" decal with custom pin striping, and there are a number of other, smaller decals for show and sponsorship. 5 state license plates are offered, as well as a generic "A.M.T" plate and a basic "'53" plate.
A separate card is included in the box with paint instructions by part number. There is also a small fold out catalog for Round-2 models, and at the bottom of the box a collectable miniature replica of the kit box printed on card stock.
This has been a very popular model kit for 50 years. I am surprised that there is no aftermarket for it, but the simple fact that it is available again should make many modelers very happy. It has a few flaws and shortcomings, but overall it is still very good. I'll need to gather references from the family before I start my build, but it will bring back many pleasant memories.
I purchased my kit from Hobbylinc, which had it listed at just over $20.00 US, plus about $8.00 shipping. It may be cheaper elsewhere, and might even make it to a hobby store near you. I don't know how long it will be available, so get one while you can.