Odds and Sods

French connection

by Roger Virgo 2004


I am a V12 fan and over the last year I have managed to get hold of three very different Matra V12 kits. The first was the Tenariv 1972 MS120D from BAM, then the PM 1968 MS11 from GPMA Australia and lastly the Starter 1972 Le Mans 670B winner from Peter's sale of Merrymeet.

All three kits are cast in resin, the Tenariv kit has white metal ancillaries whilst the other two have a mix of resin and photo etch ancillaries. The PM kit being the more recent had a good looking decal sheet, but the decal sheet from the Starter and Tenariv kits looked a bit dodgy. All three kits were primed with Holts Dupli-Colour Etch Primer DS125, the blue was Tamiya French Blue TS10 and the white on the MS120D and 670B was Holts Dupli-Colour Ford Dynamic White DSF72. All three kits were finished with Johnsons Future.

I started with the Starter 670B winner at Le Mans in 1972 with Pescarolo/Hill aboard. It was Matras first win after seven previous attempts. Henri was not happy about having Graham, a driver well into the twilight of his career as his team mate but soon found that Graham was on a mission to become the first driver to win the F1 World Championship, the Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans. The two drivers paired well, Henri the quicker of the two but Graham was fast enough and had the experience to look after the car and drive difficult stints at night in the rain. In the end it was a straight fight between the Matra team cars with Henri and Graham coming out on top, Graham getting his unique triple crown.

The kit was built straight from the box with the exception of the tripod that supports the rear view mirror. I replaced the flat section photo etch part with one scratched up with fuse wire. The kit basically fell together, the decals fell apart. Most of the solid colours were OK but fragile, they

settled down with Mr Mark decal softener, but anywhere there was clear carrier film like the drivers name scripts just split into small pieces.

Painting them with Future whilst still on the backing paper solved this problem but they needed to be handled carefully else they still split. The two colour paint job was easy to do as the demarcation is on a fairly distinct panel line. This was my first Starter kit, it matched my references and was a nice easy quick build with the decals causing some headaches.

The next one I tackled was the PM MS11, this is the brutal looking short nose Monaco car of Beltoise. This was the Matra V12's debut race, this first engine had the inlets between the cams and was treated by Matra as two inline sixes on a common crank. The engine was heavy, could not be used as a stressed member, thirsty and not very drivable or reliable, but it did look good. Beltoise qualified a respectable 8th but retired on lap 11 after hitting the chicane and damaging the suspension . The first thing I noticed after comparing the kit with my reference photos was that the nose of the car is painted in a darker blue than the rest of the body work, this is not shown in the colour instructions. Again very clean castings with minimal clean up. After hitting the body work with French blue I masked the nose and sprayed the darker blue (Tamiya Brilliant Blue TS44), the join line is hidden when the nose flash decals are applied. Most of the suspension is photo etch and therefore flat instead of round, I used the kit parts for the front suspension as the top rocker arm would be difficult to replicate.



At the rear I used the photo etch lower A arm and axle rod to locate the rear hubs and then replaced all of the radius arms and top links with fuse wire. One of the best features of this V12 Matra is the inlet ports between the cams and those three long, long chrome exhaust pipes coming from each bank of that magnificent V12. The kit parts that represent these two key features are cast in resin and just didn't do it for me, so I threw them out. I had twelve inlet trumpets left over from an MG Ligier JS5 (you couldn't see them under the airbox) and grafted them onto the PM kit. The exhausts, I cut the original resin pipes off at the headers then made up new ones using brass tube finished with chrome BMF then glued these back to the header. I then added the plug leads and various other bits of plumbing and wiring which snaked all over the rear of this early Matra V12. The PM kit provides different bits of wire for this and instructions on how to wire the plug leads and plumb the fuel injection, I didn't do the latter as my eyes are just not that good. The tyres and wheels on this kit are excellent, throw the steering wheel away as it one of those wretched 10 to 2 jobs that PM must have ordered a million of about 10 years ago. The decals were excellent and a fitted the car perfectly. The mirrors in the kit are completely the wrong shape, they should be round and painted white not silver. I used a set of round ones from the spares box. Also the screen should slope back more at the front, the one in the kit is a bit to upright. Again a very nice kit with a few mistakes that could have easily been avoided with a little more research.

Lastly I took on the Tenariv MS120D, the kit represents Amons 1972 French GP car, another race that Amon should have won. The 1972 French GP was held at the fabulous Clermont-Ferrand, a lot of drivers preferred to use open faced helmets there so they could throw up on the fast down hill sweeps. This was by Amons reckoning his best race ever, he flew round the 50 corners that make up this track to take pole by nearly a second faster then anyone else. At the start he led easily but at half distance picked up a puncture and rejoined the race in ninth, less than amused. He than made a remarkable comeback, on a track with no straights to speak of and horrendously difficult to pass on, he passed five cars to finish third with the fastest lap. This kit needs to be cleaned very thoroughly as with all Tenariv resin kits the resin has a tacky feel to it. Painting was again straight forward with a clean mask around the cockpit cowl which needs to be white.

The steering wheel is the same as the PM kit, I threw it out and raided the spares box, whilst you are at it replace the tyres as they are crap, I used a set from Tameo also grab a seat belt set and some Goodyear tyre decals. The build is straight forward, don't use the front axle that goes all the way from the right wheel to the left, make your own stub axles as well as left and right steering arms. In my reference pics the rear wing is white except for the last section which is bare aluminium with a goodyear logo on it. I used BMF for this as well as the small trim tabs on the nose section, in addition the coil springs in all my photos were white.

The decals were fragile and a lot of the solid white decals had cracked on the sheet but luckily the French GP version did not need these. I used Future to seal the decals on the sheet and had no major problems applying them, the two shell decals on the nose would benefit from a white backing as the blue bleeds through somewhat. Typical Tenariv, nice build, nice model but let down by mediocre tyres and lack of tyre decals and seat belt etch.

Apart from a few decal problems the kits went together well with no major fit or construction problems. Although none of them are what you would call Tameo standard I would still recommend them to any one.