Closed Wheelers

Building a Monogram Ultimates 289 AC Cobra 43rd scale

by Tony Lyne © 2004

Editors Note

It is not our normal policy to feature plastic kits but the two Monogram kits in this series were classics in 43rd scale. The quality was exceptional for the period and the level of accuracy set standards for the resin industry to follow. It is sad that changes in management meant that the series was ended after just these first two subjects. The kits are highly recommended if you can find one and the parts have found there way into more than one resin kit over the years either as detail additions from the bits box or as sub-masters for production.

The AC Cobra family is a famous line of historic cars, which today are now sought after by collectors and are now often seen in the club-racing scene in kit car form. Their lines are typical of that era of motoring with beautiful curves and lines, which will remain timeless.
Many kit manufacturers have reproduced the 427 version of the Cobra, but there have been few attempts at the earlier 289 versions.

Monogram in the 90’s did however release a 289 leaf sprung version kit in the 43rd scale genera, which was very impressive and with a build/moulding quality, which probably equalled, if not bettered that of the more expensive resin attempts.


My previous experiences with Monogram kits was somewhat mixed, Their moulding were usually crisp but lacked the quality of fit and required more work than other plastic manufacturers such as Tamiya.

It was very refreshing to see Monogram lift their standards in the Ultimates series, a superb line of kits that looked to be gracing the piles of un-builts in my workshop. But it never really eventuated. After 2 releases the 289 Cobra and the Corvette (both superb in their own rights) Monogram ceased developing more in this series.

This article will outline my experiences building the 289 leaf sprung AC Cobra.

As you can see from the shots, you are greeted with a healthy number of parts and P/E pieces. It doesn’t come any simpler than this to start a kit.
The instructions were pretty much spot on for order of assembly, so starting with the Chassis and suspension first everything just fell into place.
The chassis and engine bay side panels were all one moulding, with the top half of the suspension and differential moulded in separate pieces.


I used Humbrol Satin black for the Chassis and most of the suspension bits. For the leaf springs I added a drop of gun metal into the mix to provide some colour separation.

In the 289 series the engine bay sides was unpainted and showed the raw folded metal. To achieve this I airbrushed Humbrol Silver fox mixed with Revel Dark grey to dull it down.

The next step was the engine assembly. The 289 Ford V8 was beautifully moulded and every piece fitted with no issues. Going with Ford tradition I had the choice of black or blue for the block colour. I decided to go with satin black for the block. Ignition wiring was added later. The only disappointing thing I found with this kit was that there was no attempt at moulding a fan or alternator belt by any means. But the pulleys were there. So I decided to use Tamiya modelling tape, cut and shaped it to resemble a fan belt then painted it matt black. Worked a treat, and looked to scale too!

While all of the engine and chassis was being done the body was prepared and painted.
I got the colour schemes the 289 Cobra was released in from a restoration handbook, which acted like my bible for the whole build of the kit. I chose Metallic Sand as the colour scheme that is one of the colours the 289 was released in.
There were relatively heavy seam lines that had to go, but nothing that a good sand couldn’t take care of. The body was primed with Humbrol light grey then sprayed with Revel Metallic, left for a couple of weeks then clear coated with a couple of heavy coats of Humbrol clear coat.



The interior of the car was next assembled and painted. One interesting thing that Monogram has done was to completely PE the instrument panel. This made it very easy to etch back the paint to resemble chrome trim after painting.

Given that the bulk of the interior tub consisted of 3 parts, this gave the perfect opportunity to provide some separation in the red colour scheme of the carpet and the leather seats.
Red is one of those colours that can alter its shade greatly depending on the base colour of its primer. By using a white primer on the tub and a light grey primer on the seats and dash. I was able to provide a good contrast between leather and carpet using the same red. All the interior chrome trim was BMF added in later.


Next were the wheels. These were absolutely stunning when assembled. Full compliments to Monogram on how well they were casted and etched. The spoke and hub assembly was 2 layers of PE. The rim and back of the wheel was the usual plastic chrome plated. I dulled down the chrome with a black wash for the back plate of the wheel and outlined the disk brake with matt black. The knock offs were added in last.

The remaining parts were the exhaust assembly and trim. These were relatively straightforward.

I did find the seam lines on the rear and front bumpers to be too much, so I de-chromed them and used Alclad II to re-chrome them again once adjusted.

For the exhaust, the only thing I did was to cut off the final 2-3mm of pipe and replace it with chromed brass tube that gave a better resemblance to the external trim used in the actual car.

Summing up...

I was pleased with the final product and only wish Monogram did more of these fine kits. Feel free to email me at:  if you would like any information or have any questions on this kit.

References used

Original AC ACE & Cobra / Rinsey Mills

Additional material

Bare Metal Foil

Alclad II Chrome

Fujimi ignition wire