Mazda RX3 Model Kit
most Americans in 1973 my family was driving big cars, and
my mother was no exception. Not that the '67 Impala 2-door
was a bad car, it could easily hold the whole family, which
included me and my two younger brothers, and the neighbors
kids as well. But with the oil crisis in the news, she thought
a smaller car would be the way to go.
A new dealership had opened just a couple of miles from
us back then, and I remember going there with my mother
to pick up the new ride. I was around 11 years old or so,
and it just so happened the car she chose was a "fresh
off the dock, an RX3 Station Wagon (with fake woodgrain
on the sides no less !).
Ever since then, I have had a certain affection for rotary
powered Mazda cars. With a Rotary 13B being about the size
of a 5-gallon bucket and making several hundred horsepower,
I find it a fascinating little universal powerplant for
In my adult life, I have always wanted a model of a Mazda
RX3. While the chances of a wagon being issued by an injection-molding
model company are pretty slim, I am willing to compromise
my lust with a 2-door coupe. In this case, Fujimi's RX3
curbside (no engine) kit is 1/24 scale. Even then, it is
still a small model car, and at first glance you might think
it's 1/25 or smaller. The body, two taillight assemblies,
and nose piece are molded in white. The rest of the sprue
trees are molded in black, with a clear tree provided for
the headlights, glass, and tail lenses. Four real rubber
tires are included, with one set of factory stock rims.
Only a right hand drive dash is provided.
As with most Fujimi models, the body and nose piece are
crisp and clean. You would be hard pressed to even find
a moldline anywhere. I would have preferred the grille not
be molded in, it would have been better if it were open
and you could see through it. I thought about trying to
open it up in back by grinding it with a Dremel tool, as
I have with other kits, but it appeared to be too thin to
do so. The honeycomb grille insert is molded with a very
The chassis is somewhat simple. The lower engine is represented
with an oil pan, the driveshaft and exhaust are also molded
in. Fortunately, the front and rear suspensions are made
up of a few separate pieces, so if you wanted to say, change
the rims and tires, you could probably do this with a minimum
When I build a kit, I typically start off by painting as
many parts as I can. If a particular tree can use the same
color, I will genrally paint it all at one time. I paint
every part on a model kit. Even if you can't see it after
the kit is assembled.
To prep the body and nose piece, I removed some extremely
fine mold lines. I then washed it in soap and water to clean
off fingerprints, mold release, and dust. The real RX3 Wagon
my family had was a bright shade of blue, and Testor's
French Blue makes a good match.
I first spray the inside of the body, using a folded coat
hander to hold it in my hand (use small pieces of masking
tape to make sure the body doesn't come loose!). I do this,
because I want to make sure the model is painted inside
and out. This also let's me see how the paint will appear
inside, and in a rare case, if it doesn't look good, I can
change my paint choice for the outside. After the paint
dries a bit, I take it off the hanger, and if touchup is
needed, I spray my body color in a small dish to use a brush.
Once the body has the coat of paint on the inside, I do
the outside. Again I use a coat hanger to hold the body.
In order for the nose piece to have the same consistent
color as the rest of the body, I have used masking tape
to temporarily hold it on. I spray the color in nice even
pans across the body, with a few minutes in between. This
builds up to a smooth even solid color, across the entire
body takes some time to dry when using enamel paint, so
it's time to move onto the rest of the kit. The chassis
is next. I used flat black spray paint (department store
bargain $1.00 a can stuff). After that I may use a slight
mist of grey primer, or oxide brown primer, depending on
the look I am after. No chassis would be perfectly flat
black and consistent on a real car. Using a mist color can
give it some character and highlights.
Because this is a curbside, there's not much detail underneath
to paint. I used silver for the exhaust and oil pan. The
front and rear suspension pieces were done in gloss black.
Here you can see a painted chassis next to a new one out
of the box.
of the trees were painted as needed, between the body and
chassis parts. Although I don't like using flat black on
models (boring!) for interiors, our original RX3 wagon had
a black vinyl interior. So this coupe gets the same treatment.
Black interiors don't allow much detail, it's hard to see
inside. So using a brush, I painted the various chrome trim
and used gloss black to try and highlight some areas.
The nose piece probably took as much time as the rest of
the build. Although the directions say use flat black around
the headlights and taillights, I found that on the real
cars, that doesn't appear correct. The parts appear more
of a metallic charcoal color and texture. (many Asian market
cars seemed to use this, a Datsun B210 comes to mind...).
I was able to replicate this to my satisfaction by using
a can of Rustoleum #7754 "Anodized Bronze".
I spayed it into a loose cup, and brushed it on carefully.
It looks much better than flat black would have, and more
The rear tail-lamp assemblies received the same treatment.
The rear lenses are clear, so I used Tamiya Clear Red to
bring them to life. Testors Parking Lamp clear paint was
used on the front parking lenses.
Installing the wheels and tires was for the most part uneventful.
These use the soft clear round attachments like most Asian
made kits. I know our family's RX3 had better looking rims
or hubcaps, but I don't remember what they looked like.
These stock examples with the kit are begging for an aftermarket
The inside glass and windshield is a one piece part. I slipped
it in with no trouble. If this model was being build for
a contest or show, I would recommend using bare metal foil
in the little trim that there is on the body and around
the windows. But since this is for my own personal fun,
and to keep costs down, I just painted the trim with silver
paint (and a steady hand !).
With the body now dry (this being several days after being
painted), and the subassemblies ready, I inserted the chassis
to the body from underneath. I must say, it went right in
with little fuss. After a small amount of wiggling and fiddling,
the model sat even and on all 4 wheels.
I glued on the front nose piece, and began doing the work
on the outside. The side marker lights, bumpers, and taillight
assemblies were added. At this time I did any outside detail
painting that needed to be done, such as the door handles
and key locks.
few decals supplied are of good quality, and lay well with
no silvering. The sheet includes the GT markings, emblems,
and badges. I was grateful for these, I prefer markings
in decal form, rather than molded to the body. I used the
Savanna front plate, but instead of just using the decal,
I cut it out with scissors, and kept the backing on. This
to me gives the tag thickness like a real plate when glued
on. Use a black Sharpie around the edges to give it some
I enjoyed doing this build. A curbside can be a nice break
from a full blown kit and still be rewarding. In this case,
it brings back some memories of one of my favorite style
cars from when I was a kid. Back to a time when my mother
would go to a gas station and the mechanics would come out
and ask, "Can we look under the hood ? We've never
seen a rotary engine before!".
Oh, and I mentioned at the beginning I bought two of these
kits, because the second one is getting the full treatment,
with a 13B donated from a Monogram RX7 !