Fujimi Mazda RX3 Plastic Model Car Kit
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Fujimi Mazda RX3 Model Kit



Like 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" 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 a car when modified.


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 Savanna GT.



This 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 fine detail.

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 of modifications.



rx3 body on kit


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 piece.



rx3 facia painted


inner body painted on kit


rx3 painted interior


rx3 grille installed


painting setup


rx3 painted and ready



The 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.



rx3 undercarriage



Some 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 accurate.

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 upgrade.




model kit parts


painting model parts


rx3 undercarriage comparisn


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.



Mazda RX3



The 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 depth.

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 !



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