M & S Hobbies' 1/24 scale 1989 Porsche 962 Transkit

Images copyright Alex Nahooy, Joachim Kutt, Mark Windecker, and  Michael J. Fuller
Text copyright Michael J. Fuller

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During  the late 80s many  IMSA teams fielding the Porsche 962 began extensively modifying their cars in order to compete with stronger and better budgeted competition from Nissan, Toyota, and Jaguar.

In 1988 Jim Busby Racing introduced their modified Porsche 962 at the West Palm Beach Grand Prix.  The modifications over the factory standard 962 included a replacement of the factory monocoque with a much stiffer Jim Chapman tub, revised rear bodywork with integrated deep rear wing endplates, repositioned rear wing, replacement of the standard single element wing with a double element unit, reshaped nose, reprofiling the front wheel well exits, modifications to the cooling exits, reshaping and changing the angle of the underfloor tunnels, and modifications to the intercooler intake and the inclusion of a turbo inlet scoop.  The car ran throughout 1988 in BF Goodrich colors, but come 1989, and with the unfortunate passing of Al Holbert, the team inherited the Miller High Life Beer sponsorship.

1989’s Daytona 24 was unfinished business.  The year before the Busby team had come to within a lap of winning the race after having qualified on pole.  In 1989 the team lined up for the start in 12th position overall, though leading the field were the wickedly quick Nissan GTP ZX-T and Jaguar XJR-9. At the start and throughout the first half of the race the battle was between the Nissan GTPs, Jaguar XJR-9s and #86 Bruce Leven Havoline Porsche 962.  The #86 Porsche would drop away from the lead group by ╝ distance but rising into the background, if not into contention, was the #67 Busby/Miller car driven by Bob Wolleck, Derek Bell, and John Andretti.  The 1989 race was unique because just before half distance fog dropped over the circuit leading to a red flag period that ended up lasting four hours.  With the restart the lead (and only remaining) Nissan resumed in first place but by hour 19 retired with a blown engine letting the #67 Porsche 962 past and into the top spot.  But the #60 Jaguar XJR-9 of Price Cobb, John Nielsen, Andy Wallace, and Jan Lammers gave hard chase and but for a spin by Cobb and rising engine temperatures they ultimately fell just 2 minutes shy after 24 hours of racing.
The M & S Hobbies 1/24 scale resin kit depicts the 1989 Wolleck/Bell/Andretti Daytona 24 winning car with low downforce nose (throughout the year the car would use a high downforce nose at appropriate tracks and the team did initially test with it at Daytona).  The kit comes with 30 parts all cast in either tan or clear (headlights, headlight covers, tail lights) resin.  Two vacuum formed sets of front wind shield and side window glass are provided.  The model's casting is crisp and clean with very good definition in bodywork parting lines and high detail in areas such as the waste gates (which hang out the rear of the car).  Naturally there is some flash but in the areas where you’d expect it and is easily removed.  Pinholes are absolutely minimal.  Mold parting lines are tucked away where less obtrusive and can be sanded off with ease.  A donor Tamiya Porsche 962 is needed and essentially everything is used from that kit barring the body, wheels, tires, and decals.  The M & S kit comes with IMSA style (and dimensioned) BBS wheels and tires.  Instructions, and more importantly, templates are provided.  The templates are used to mark the areas of the Tamiya underbody and monocoque sides that need to be removed in order that the underfloor and tub will mate up with the M & S body.  At first the task seems somewhat daunting but a quick read through and you’ll notice the templates are used sequentially and they all make sense in where to place them and what areas are removed.  Just take your time and think before you commit.  The decals that come with the kit include everything needed to livery the car as it was at Daytona in 1989.  The printing is crisp and the colors are sharp.  The kit retails for $75.00.
Overall the model is faithful to the actual car but for two small areas.  The 1989 Busby 962’s underfloor was modified from the factory standard and fit closer to the engine, gearbox, and had a much higher trailing edge at the rear.  As you are using the underfloor from the Tamiya kit this actually depicts the water-cooled 962C's underfloor.  M & S Hobbies' other 962 transkit includes a resin piece that replaces part of the underfloor correcting its differences at the trailing edge (height and length).  Though the primary issue here could be that photographic research is very limiting as to what the actual shape of the floor was beyond what can be determined about its trailing edge height.  Regardless, as the tunnel's shape was significantly different (it isn't just a trailing edge height difference but the tunnel's angle is different as well) it would have required a rather extensive replacement piece for the Tamiya underfloor in order to depict it.  Suffice to say, in my own research of this car I haven't a definitive answer of what that shape is and would be hard pressed to commit anything to resin.  Additionally the trailing edge of the intercooler intake on top of the engine cover is less streamlined than would appear on the actual car.  Ultimately these are minor quips, and while there is little that can be done to correct the underfloor, with some sand paper and a file the intercooler duct’s taper can be improved.
Clearly this kit is recommended and its shortfalls are really minor (call me a rivet counter).  The subject is very unique, efficiently utilizes Tamiya's decent Porsche 962 kit (though talk about shortfalls!), and is well executed.  The Porsche 962 was so prevalent in IMSA and Group C that many teams wanted to improve their performance over the next guy.  All these years later these variants lend themselves to interesting model kits and M & S has indicated that they have another 962 transkit in the pipe line for this year (along with another GTP subject!).  Stay tuned. 
1989 Daytona 24 race details paraphrased from Janos Wimpffen's book Time and Two Seats

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ęCopyright 2006, Michael J. Fuller