1/8 VW Beetle
kit Build Diary
- Part quality and fit is good, all metal and most
plastic parts have a nice pre-painted finish. There are no decals to
worry about, all necessary markings are pre-printed.
small Phillips screwdriver is supplied with the kit, but as always more
specialized tools can make the job easier. I have been using Wiha
Precision Phillips screwdrivers sizes #00 x 40 mm, #0 x 50 mm, and #1 x 60 for a range of screw sizes and torque required.
- Pay attention to the numbering of parts in the
assembly steps, which usually is the order in which
they should be assembled.
parts have D-shaped mounting holes or assymetrical mounting points that
help ensure they are oriented correctly. Parts with Left and Right
pairs are often stamped L and R to help with placement.
- It may also be helpful to consult the step
by step assembly instructions for the subscription version.
They are designed more for a novice modeler but include many more
diagrams and photos, although the assembly order is different
compared to our kit. For my build here I am ignoring those instructions
and using only the included paper manual.
- Steps 1-4:
first assembly steps took longer than expected, as identifying some
parts was harder without numbered sprues. Examine the
master illustration of all parts
in a "group" and their numbers at the start of
each section, as the diagrams for the chassis and rear suspension
assembly steps are a vertical view that is not always clear. Further
ahead in the assembly manual the
have a 3-D perspective that makes things easier.
wheels are metal! I was able to mount the tires after just warming them
in my hands, but warming them with hot water or a hair dryer as the manual suggests will
make it easier.
- Step 6:
- Parts 1.49L & 1.51R: be sure to
orient them correctly according to the diagram; round hole faces front,
towards steering rack, and oval hole faces rear.
- Parts 1.52 are
small metal pins with a burred end; insert the smooth end first, then
press with pliers or a small vise until the burred end which secures
them sits flush in the hole.
- Step 7:
- Screw lower spring cups parts 1.56 & 1.61 to
front suspension, then screw part 1.66 loosely
to the chassis leaving as much wiggle room as possible. Then assemble
the shock absorbers & springs which must be held together at
ends, compressed and fitted into place, before tightening part 1.66 to
Group 3 (engine!)
- Steps 10-12: Assembly of the seats
and interior floor is clear and straightforward.
- Step 13:
the rear mounts for the seats in the correct holes and hold firmly
before flipping the floorpan over to snap the forward tabs in
their slots; it make take a few tries, and you may have to squeeze the
forward seat mounts to get the tabs to line up with the slots while
viewing from below.
- Step 14:
- Part 2.52 has a larger and smaller hole that will
orient it correctly on the mounting pegs.
- The diagram does not show that grey flocked
part 2.54 must be pressed into the rear seat back 2.53.
- Most parts are nicely pre-painted, although some
black plastic parts will look better if painted.
- Remember all part numbers ending in "M" are
metal and are located in the foam block that contains the body panels.
- Step 16: Be sure part 3.7M is
oriented correctly and matches the contour of the engine block.
- Step 17:
starting the screws I had to press the engine block halves 3.8M and
3.11M together slightly with a vice to eliminate a small gap. However,
the gap between the transmision and engine block is intentional, as a
plastic part will slide between them in step 19.
- The mounting
tabs and slots for parts 3.9, 3.10, 3.12, 3.13 are
and will orient them correctly so the flats on the cylinders will face
- Step 20: parts 3.20L and
stamped R and L, but are shown on the wrong sides in the instructions
and will not fit if assembled as shown.
- Step 21:
- I had to add part 3.22 after
mounting parts 3.20 & 3.21 to the engine because of limited
clearance. Be sure the flanges on parts 3.21 & 3.22 are pressed
completely into the matching recess in the black part between them and
- Fit the pushrod guides parts 3.24 into parts 3.23R
& 3.25L before inserting the group into the engine block.
the ends slightly so they will stay aligned and in place if necessary.
- Part 3.29 is begging us to replace it with real wire.
- Step 24: Spark plug
wires; refer back to page 16 to match correct lengths to parts
- Body assembly was quick and clear in general.
- Step 35:
Slide the thin metal ring onto the ridge at the bottom of part 4.3
before fastening to the interior door panel, and be sure the seatbelt
buckle faces away from the door.
- Step 43: I had to unscrew and bend
the arm of the fuel filler door several times to get a correct fit in
the opening when closed.
Group 5 (dash and
moving body panels)
- Step 57: Part 5.43 was a loose fit
so I squished the mounting pins slightly to get it to stay securely.
- I rotated the mounting arms of the rear
bumper slightly to get a correct fit in the body.
- Step 58:
Inserting metal pins into the door hinges right against the painted
body made me nervous. I also had to bend both lower hinges
to get clearance for the hinge pins. Nylon jawed pliers were a life
saver here to squeeze the hinge pins into the hinges.
- After mounting the doors they may not fit right, but
the door opening will spread when the body is mounted to the chassis.
- Step 59:
The dash was a tight fit because of interference at the sides from body
assembly screws. Next time I may drill holes to allow more clearance.
- Step 64: The placement and ID of
parts 5.68 & 5.69 is difficult, better to wait until after the
body is mounted to the chassis.
- Step 67:
assembling the body to the chassis you may need to do some flexing and
wiggling to get everything to line up at the correct mounting
points. Start at the front with the car upside down and be sure the
tops of the front suspension towers fit into the recesses in the wheel
well. Then spread the body at the sills if needed as you work your way
to the back.
- After mounting the body to the chassis I gently but
firmly spread the upper body
opening front to back by bracing against the windshield header
the rear of the car to create more space for the doors to close
properly. You will see there is some natural flex in the bottom of the
chassis when the doors are open.
- Step 69: I wrapped a thin
strip of tape
around the neck of the winshield washer reservoir 5.72 to achieve a
secure fit in the mounting collar.
- Step 70:
- Windshield trim 5.78; notice the mounting pins angle
downwards, and all four must be pressed in and down at the same time.
- The ends of the rear shelf 6.3 must be snapped firmly
under tabs inside the body to get a correct fit.
- Windshield washer nozzle 6.33 is a very small part
but shown deceptively large in the illustration.
Group 6 (final
- Steps 72-74:
Be sure to refer to the photos on page 60 in addition to the parts
diagram on page 57 to help clarify the assembly of the folding top
- Step 76: It is a little fussy to
reinforced holes in both layers of the cloth top to align with the
"sandwich" of rear window plus interior and exterior trim
Make sure each layer (outer cloth, rear window, inner cloth, inner trim
piece) is fully seated onto the pins of exterior trim
piece 6.26 before tightening each screw. Be careful your
screwdriver does not slip and scratch the window!
After the rear window is attached undo the velcro and reattach so the
metal top mechanism is between the layers of the cloth top.
- Step 78:
Be sure each piece 6.31 clicks fully into each hole in piece 6.29.
Refer to the photo on the previous page 62 of the manual for
- Step 79:
When attaching the rear of the top to the body, insert the
pegs on parts 6.17 from step 74 first. You will
have to angle the top of these parts inward to insert the pegs.
- Step 80:
Face the front of the model and brace it against your body while
pulling the front edge of the convertible top to
header, then press the pegs firmly into the holes to secure the top.
cloth top is bulkier than the real version, something that is more
difficult to scale down than hard parts, so it is hard to fold without
looking awkwardly high. My solution is to unmate the velcro holding the
inner and outer layers together, fold and stack the top layer
carefully, then fold or roll the inner layer into the middle before
covering with the fabric boot. There was some interference when I first
retracted the top so I had to pinpoint the problem joints and
the metal bows gently to get them to stack symetrically. The
elasticized fabric boot looked awkward until I researched
the car and saw that the real one often looked
enjoyed this build and the quality of the parts. Total build time was
quicker than expected because the car itself is simple (like comparing
the Pocher Classic Fiat to the Alfa).
- Minor criticisms:
- Getting the doors to fit well was
a little fussy, partly because the nicely scaled metal
hinges are a
little too flexible. I'll accept the trade off because the accurate
hinges look so good. I wish there was a better latching system
just a friction fit against the body opening.
- The tires look a little wide to me but also look
great on the car.
- I wish the bumpers were metal.
will suggest improvements to the manual for the next LEGRAND 1/8 kit,
additional steps and clearer illustrations. Color photos as shown with
the subscription instructions linked above would be best.
- Final Thoughts:
- The finished model looks great, and will look even
better when I get a chance to polish and wax it as I do for every build.
convertible top looks good up or down, an improvement over the
prototype photos. The metal mechanism works well and makes so much more
sense than the plastic pieces Pocher provided in the Classic car kits.