Grape Ape (Jawbreaker kitbash)

Built by: Jon Ferren in Hollywood, FL

Many of my projects are inspired by full sized cars in Street Rodder and Rod & Custom. I often build my own "version" of a car, influenced by but not necessarily a copy of one I've seen. In this case, the Grape Ape was influenced by a much smaller car, a Hot Wheels that I fell in love with.

When the re-issue of the Jawbreaker came out, I knew the body would make a perfect subject for this project. I got together with my good friend and plastic hacker extraordinaire, Wes "Kit Karson" Hofferber when I was on a business trip to Atlanta. We spent two evenings hacking up the Jawbreaker body. After careful consideration and a mock up or two, we decided the body was just a bit too long. We cut about 1/4" out of the length through the rear passenger windows, making them look more "5 window" sized rather than "Vicky" sized. The roof was pie cut in the crown to bring it down about a "saws width" to make the line smoother.

Next was a relocation of the wheel wells. New ones were cut in the back with the originals filled in with Evergreen plastic. A rear window was needed, so a prototype resin chopped '32 sedan body (Wes made the master from the Orange Crate) from Replicas and Miniatures of Maryland donated the part. The roof was filled in a bit in the front, but the majority of it was left open. Safely back in Florida, the body was treated to drip rail, beltline, wheel well and bottom sill beading with more Evergreen strips. After much sanding and guide coat priming the body was sent out to Doug Shay at Hammer Painting and Striping for the House of Kolor purple flake job (thanks Doug!). Decals from the AMT '55 Chevy pickup were applied before clear coating and rubbing.

The frame is a stretched unit from the AMT '25 T bucket kit, with a serious 'Z' job in the rear. The frame was also pie cut at the firewall kicking up the front end to give it that serious rake job. The interior bucket from the AMT American Graffiti Coupe dropped right in with a rear package tray and tubs from the Jawbreaker kit. Seats are from the T bucket kit and the dash is from the parts box. The American Graffiti '32 grille and shell were utilized as well. The front suspension is from the Jawbreaker while the rear is a quick change hung on coil overs from the parts box (what we all say when we can't remember where a part came from, right?). The ladder bars are from the Revell "Big John Mazmanian" '41 Willys.

The engine is a 392 Hemi from the AMT Don Garlits Wynnsjammer kit with the intake scoop from the Tony Nancy dragster kit and headers from the Ramchargers dragster. A bit of plumbing and wiring was added.

The shift knob die (singular for dice) is from the good folks at Model Car Garage (I think) stuck on a bent piece of chrome linkage. The front wheels are Polar Lights on old MPC funny car front tires, while the rear wheels are Johan funny car with AMT treaded slicks from the '66 Nova Pro Street car. A moon tank was added for that aggressive look. Brandon Flannery (fellow modeler represented elsewhere on this site) named the car łThe Grape Ape˛. I enjoy hacking plastic and this project gave me plenty of opportunity to do just that!




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