Airfix to Kit Cars: My Modelling Journey
Everyone remembers the thrill of completing their first Airfix build.
For me it was the start of a decades long journey that would start in the cramped confines of my childhood bedroom and lead me all the way to a professional racetrack.
Back in the 1970s there weren’t many hobbies that were readily available for young people. If you were a young lad then football was one of a few past-times that were open to you, alongside joining the Scouting Movement (a sure-fire route to bullying) or vandalising the local neighbourhood estate. Asthmatic as I was, football was never going to be an outlet for me, and due to some scandalous rumours my Mother strictly forbade me from joining the local Scout group (much to my relief).
Once my homework had been completed and I’d eaten dinner, the only activities left at my disposal were dull television programs on our black and white television or thumbing through a worn magazine. By the age of 13, this daily onset of ennui was really starting to get to me, so it was with some relief that my grandparents gifted me my first Airfix kit.
This first model was a dream car of mine: a Porsche 911. This was the car that Steve McQueen had driven in Le Mans, its silky curves and hair-raising power were more alluring to me than any school crush – I was in love before I’d even opened the bag!
Airfix gets short shrift these days from the younger generations. They don’t see the value in sitting down and methodically putting together your own miniature car, but back then it was a little more accepted and my parents were certainly glad to see me holed away in my room, rather than skulking around the local estate with spray paint in hand. That first project was a real labour of love. I was perhaps a little too young to be tackling something this challenging, but I was so wary of making mistakes that I triple-checked myself at every step of the way.
It was a momentous day when I put the finishing touches to the paint job on my 911, I remember beaming with pride as my parents marvelled at the precision with which I’d attended to this tiny car. They hadn’t expected me to take to this new hobby so quickly and soon I found that I was being gifted new models left, right and centre. In the following years, I spent countless hours building planes, tanks, lorries and all other kinds of vehicles, but the Porsche remained pride of place in my collection.
Over 20 years after completing my first build I found myself putting the finishing touches on my most ambitious one to date: a Porsche 911 replica kit car. This fully functioning machine was the culmination of hundreds of hours’ labour, years of savings and one dream to drive a dream car that I’d built with my very own hands.
My grandparents did not live to see me fulfil my dream of completing a real version of that first model that they gave me, but I thank them every day that I drive that car.