I was just speaking with a friend a few weeks back about how music can sometimes take me to places.  There might be 50-100 songs out there which have sort of a time capsule affect on me.  When I hear the song, I feel almost like I time travelled back to that moment.  I can smell the smells, associate images and colors, and more importantly, deeply feel emotions at that time in my life almost as if it was recorded.  The song I heard the other night was “Melancholy Man” by the Moody Blues.  This triggered memories with my father building model cars….

As a child, my dad was my best friend.  He was nowhere anywhere near the best husband or father who ever lived, but he was the best best friend anyone could have.  He could talk with you about a million subjects, seemed to know everything – and most importantly, had a curiosity for the world around him which I most definitely inherited.  He was a big car guy,  and when I was a child, I really liked the “classic cars” of the 50s and more the muscle cars of the 60’s and 70’s.  My dad also was a part time drag racer and apparently blew out his rear assembly when the slicks on his Camaro gripped too hard.  But I digress….

For any father out there, sometimes you want to expose your son to different things besides the digital world.  One hobby I’d recommend is model building.  It is a relatively inexpensive hobby, and you can spend as little time or as much time as you want on it.

For example, the item below I probably spent a total of 6 hours on.  This was a kit, and I did spray paint the body first, and hand paint the parts before assembly.

While many people might think this is nice…and I was sort of impressed myself I still had some skills…THIS is not what we used to do when I was growing up.  Yes, we’d buy kits…but where my dad went, they didn’t need kits.

Let me first recommend some equipment for what I’m about to tell you:

  1. Exacto knife
  2. Several different grits of sandpaper from rough to very fine.
  3. model paints.  It’s not hard to find these, I have probably 24 different colors or so.
  4. Spray paints.  These are what I’d recommend for bodies or bulk groups of parts you want to paint.  I have maybe 5 different colors of this.
  5. model glue.   No, don’t sniff this you sicko.  What was interesting as a kid, I used to glob it on.  As you grow up, you learn the less is better and I often apply it with a pin head for smaller parts.
  6. old sharp knife.  This can be used to cut into cars.
  7. model putty.   you’ll see what this is for below.
  8. Old window screens
  9. Access to a hobby shop for wheels, tubes, etc.
  10. Maybe some wires, batteries, etc.  Again, you’ll see below.


First, I want to present two pictures to you for analysis:

What do you see?

What this was was a kit car which was cut down the middle lengthwise…cut down the middle width-wise, and an area cut out for the top of the engine.  On the backside, a tail fin was added.  The back window had some sort addition with an oval hole cut into it.  Then, window screen was cut and glued on the inside.  This was the work of my dad circa 1980-1985.

See another – and this is the color I saw when Melancholy Man came on…


The below might show you how an old coupe could be sliced down into a cab of sorts.  This was the fastest car ever made.  My dad and me used to race them down hill on an ad hoc plywood race track ramp tilted.  I used to try and load up my cars with weights, and he went to lightweight.



Additionally, he used to build his on frames out of parts trees.  Take a look.


So, yeah, 30 years after I did this with him, I still have most of his artistry.  Here’s a few more laid out…you can see the use of the putty on some of these he never finished.  The putty is then sanded fine and the bodies painted.

Then, lastly…you can kick it up a bit  with lighting.  It’s 30 years later so none of this still works…but it’s also 10 years since he passed so I’m lucky to have all of this.  It might be interesting to share memories like this with your son someday….and build some keepsake reminders he will always have of your time together!  Don’t forget to put on Moody Blues while doing the model cars!