Protar 1/24 Lancia LC2

In any decent collection of 1/24 Group-C endurance racers, the Lancia LC2 should be included. And so I bought the Protar kit, knowing that the quality would be a lot less than the usual Tamiya kit. And I wasn't disappointed - read and weep..



Kit versions

I have the all-plastic version that was issued early 1984 (catalog number 186). It was also available with a metal body version, in a silver instead of white box (catalog number 187). Around 2003, the model was also repackaged by Portuguese/French decal maker Colorado with two of their decal sheets. The only information I found on this version was posted in a Automotive Forums thread.

       
Protar 186 (1984) Protar 187 (1984) Colorado / Carpena (~2003)


Kit description

The kit contains few parts, and on the whole it feels toylike. The single-piece body is very thick, probably so the metal version could be produced in the same mould. It's clearly made in a slide mold, but that slide mold did not work well, resulting in a really bad step in the sides. The body has opening doors. The cockpit is reasonable detailed, with a chassis tub, seat, instrument panel, steering wheel, pedals and accessories. The transparancies are tinted, and have either snap-in features or require a hot metal screwdriver to melt the surrounding plastic (WTF?). There is no engine, gearbox or suspension. The rear wheels fit on a metal axle, the front wheels are steerable, but the pivot points are placed far inboard so they turn unrealistically. The tires are reasonable compared to the rest of the kit. However, I can't get rid of the feeling that the front tires look far too small in the wheel opening. Plus I noted that the tires are of the 'plastic eating' variety, so be warned. The decals are by Cartograf, and look good with nice colors. But from the days when Cartograf still made stiff decals that will not conform to details and double-curved bodies.

The model's main dimensions are quite OK, but it does appear to have some shape problems. The main one is the windscreen, that is far too bulbous in the top left and right corners. This creates a really weird shape when viewed from some angles. Another possible problem is the line from the cockpit roof back. In most photos this appears to be a straight line, yet the model has a curvature. The division between the cockpit section and engine cover follows an exactly vertical line in side view, but it should be slightly tilted. And conversely, the front panel line of the door is angled whereas it should be vertical. The leading edges of the fins are rather thin, whereas the real car shows rather thick rounded leading edges. The inlets in the doors have rounded edges that should be fairly sharp. As mentioned above, the front wheels look very small in the wheel openings. Either the wheels are too small or the wheel openings are too large. Together it creates a toylike appearance.

John Egbert built this LC2 model and shared the following. The biggest problem is the decals - they are stiff and brittle and wouldn't conform to curves or stick down using any combination of setting solutions. In the end John used Solvaset and a hair dryer and it went better, but not perfectly. The whole cockpit (windows and engine cover) is supposed to be covered with a one-piece decal. It is advisable to mask and spray-paint the black area instead. He used a bit of carbon fiber decal on the wings and front of the car. The rear wing end plates need to be thrown out and new ones made of plastic sheet stock, and the the wings need reshaping to thin down their edges.

All in all the model requires lot of work to make it presentable.



Other LC2 models

There are five alternatives to the Protar model in 1/24 scale:

           
ARII AR276 Tokyo Marui MT60-TR6 Tamiya 2602 Modeler's 6604

In 1/12 scale, you could try to build a full model from the following:



Construction

The lack of good references made things rather complicated, since the design was modified a lot over the seasons. At least three types of noses were used, and the body was widened at some point (1985). I still don't know exactly the order of the modifications. Possibly the only solution is to check out magazine race reports of all seasons, and note the configuration at each race. The box photo (see top of the page) is rather confusing too, showing many strange details (missing exhaust shield, lacking slanting 'skirts'). My best guess is that this photo was taken before the car was finalised. I've put the details of the design and design changes that I found so far on this page.

Because of the limited quality of the model, I decided to build it as a curbside model. A completely detailed engine bay and cockpit would be very nice, but when I started this model I hadn't seen even a single picture of the engine bay. An open engine cover would also show how thick the body parts are.

The windscreen fits reasonably well, but then I noticed how strange the whole cockpit area looked. I think the windscreen is too bulbous, especially at the top. The first A-pillar is definitely very wrong, it curves forward instead of backwards, and this spoils the looks completely. The lower edge of the windscreen is also positioned too high. The TamTech body looks very different, and as far as I can tell by comparing it to photos, it is largely correct. The only point that I doubt somewhat about the Tamiya windscreen is that it is completely single-curved, whereas the original appears to have a slight double-curved bubble at the top on the sides. But anyway it is far better than Protar's attempt. Also of note is the cloudy transparancy of the windscreen.  
  Later I also noticed that the engine cover aft of the cockpit should be almost straight in side view, whereas the model has a continuous curve there. Question is how to solve all these problems. The 'easiest' solution is to transplant a TamTech cockpit area. Initial measurements shows that the dimensions agree pretty well between the two bodies. Alternatively, a vacforming mould could be pulled from the TamTech body. In this side view you can also see that the panel line between the cockpit section and engine cover is exactly vertical, whereas it should be slightly tilted. Had I know this from the start, I wouldn't have spent that much time refining the existing panel line.
The body sides showed a major moulding problem: the lower sides were recessed some 0.4-0.5 mm due to a mould mismatch. Shown here is the right side, which was not as bad as the left side.  
  On the left side I covered the whole area with card of a suitable thickness. The added plastic has a slightly different color. The slanting skirts were also covered in plastic card in order to retain their dimensions, as was the 'exhaust' of the air tunnel running along the sides of the underfloor, an interesting feature of the LC2 aero package.
The door window has a very unrealistic coaming in which the door window snap-fits. Theoretically that is, because the glass doesn't fit in the coaming. The instructions tell you to melt the door plastic with a hot screwdriver.. sigh.. The window coaming also shows the thick plastic of the body.  
  On the left side I cut away the coaming, and thinned the body considerably. It only solves half the problem: the door window still has the corresponding step. Partly visible here is that I glued the door shut, it fits reasonably well. I then started work on the panel lines, trying to make the more subtle. The engravings were partially filled with superglue and rescribed with a knife. Most other engravings were very deep too, especially the cockpit - engine cover panel line. They were given the same treatment. The effect is difficult to judge since the superglue is partly transparent. A base of of grey paint will reveal the effect. Next question would be how to create new 'glass' for the door.
The nose needed some modifications too. The upper edge of the inlet was placed too low (see the box top photo); the opening was made taller. Another part requiring modification is the white strip just inside the inlet on the bottom side. Protar's strip is too narrow and too thick, and I replaced it with a strip of plastic card. The floor plate is very thick, and I used a belt sander to reduce the thickness at the front end.

The inlet offers a complete see-through effect down to the rear of the model. With the very limited references that I had pre-internet I concluded I had to build an open box on top of which a horizontal radiator was located. I built a box from card on the floor plate, that connected to radiator in the upper body. Still to be added is a curved floor in this box. The bump present inside the intake was located wrongly, and I cut it out, to be replaced later. The Protar radiator had a very coarse 'mesh', and I replaced it with an Ertl truck radiator. Also to be added to the radiator box are two small inlets for front brake cooling.

I also thought the inlet might be too wide, leaving too little room for the headlights, but measurements from photos seem to agree with the plastic.
 
  Almost everything that I added turned out to be wrong however, and will need reconstruction. Behind the inlet/radiator box, I started building a forward extension of the chassis. Problem is that I had never seen a photo of the bare chassis. Protar moulded the forward part of the chassis (or so I thought) integrally with the upper body. Since I wanted to have a scratch-built wheel suspension, it's much easier to attach it to the floor plate than to the upper body. Therefore I cut away the monocoque sides of the upper body, and glued identically shaped plastic card pieces to the floor plate. Years later I found out that the chassis tapers a lot more, and only extends to roughly the front axle. Therefore my chassis sides are completely wrong, and will be removed. I left Protar's toy-like front wheel pivot points for the time being.

The 'radiator box' is also wrong. It should extend further aft, feeding not only the horizontal main radiator, but also two ducts behind the radiator. These ducts go under and around the windscreen and then dump their air in the lower half of the sidepods. It looks like this is the air feeding the intercooler radiators. The door inlets feed the oil coolers on the 1983 version, and the rear brakes on later cars. The two ducts for the intercooler are well visible through the windscreen, in front of the instrument panel, but you need to know what to look for.

Another thing I found out years later is that the flat floor plate is probably not correct. The wider later-model LC2 have a 'cavity' under the front axle, much like the 'Delle' of the Porsche 956 Kurzheck. I'm not 100% sure that the narrow LC2 had it too.
Moving back to the body, I installed the rear fender inserts and used a lot superglue to fill all the gaps. On the exterior side there was plastic shrinkage visible (see lower right corner of the photo), that was also filled with superglue, but not sanded yet. The right wheel opening (at the bottom) again shows the massive thickness of the body. The left wheel opening was scrapped much thinner.  
  Then I partially painted the model in a neutral grey to see how the work had progressed. The work on the panel lines had paid off, just see the difference between the panel line of the nose section and that of the door. Biggest problem still remains the cockpit section with its shape problem and bad windows. I also have my doubts about the rather sharp kink of the bodywork over the rear wheels. I see a larger radius in photos of the real car.


Engine bay

I'm not planning to open up the engine cover to show the Ferrari engine. However, some comments on this task. Murray Dickinson reported that LC-2's Ferrari engine and gearbox were used in the 1984/1985 Ferrari 288 GTO. The Italeri 1/24 kit of the GTO (kit number 652) has a very nice engine/gearbox with strengthening ribs, turbos etc (Tamiya quality). Alternatively the Fujimi model, kit number 8105 (Enthusiast Series) could be a source. This would give a good basis to work from.

Fellow modeller Eric Verschuur reported more on the engine. According to one of his sources (a Haynes book), this engine started life as the Typo 105 V8 block as used in the Ferrari 308, which was converted by Abarth into a race engine for the LC2, and a modified version of this engine was then installed in the Ferrari 288 GTO. A quick comparison of some available photos show similarities and some large differences between the LC2 and GTO engines. One of the most striking are the inlet ducts. On the LC2, each cilinder bank is fed with air from the opposite turbo, with a small air box overhead the opposite cilinder head. On the 288 GTO, each cilinder bank is fed by air from the turbo on its own side, and the air boxes are rather different. Whether the LC2's gearbox was retained is unclear. Concerning the models, Eric commented that the Italeri model has the Ferrari F40 engine, which is incorrect. The Fujimi kit (EM22, later 8105) however has a correct and fully detailed engine. This model was reissued by Testors in the USA.



Wheels and tires

The wheels and tyres are another problem area. The front tires look way too small to me. The skinny tyres make the model looks ridiculous. The rear tires appear to be a little too flat too. I also noted that the tires are of the plastic-eating type, so they are useless anyway. The best replacements that I've identified so far are Tamiya 956 front tires and Airfix Peugeot 905 rear tires. Both front and rear wheels appear to have the right diameter, but they don't look very realistic. I don't think there are suitable replacements, so these will have to be modified to look more realistic.



Decals

As mentioned above, the kit decals are reportedly very difficult to use, and this is especially problematic with the complex Martini scheme used on this car. There are alternatives however:



LC2 modeling links



LC2 links



References

Apart from racing magazines covering all races (such as 'Grand Prix magazine'), I found the following books with LC2 information:


There are also a few modeling references on the LC2:



Configuration change study

Through the LC2 chassis list on the Racing Sports Cars site, it is possible to analyse the configuration changes.

Track & date Nose Rear wing Engine cover Other details
Monza 10 April 1983
Silverstone 8 May 1983 'Protar' nose Looks like triple element wing. 'Pirelli' on inner side of vertical tail
Nürburgring 29 May 1983
Le Mans 16 June 1983 New nose with large bulbeous headlights
Nürnberg / Norisring 3 July 1983 'Protar' nose Probably no oil cooler exhausts yet
Spa 4 September 1983 'Protar' nose triple element Oil cooler exhausts ahead of rear wheels. Seen with and without rear brake intakes! Note missing decals on apparently new bodywork
Brands Hatch 18 September 1983 Protar nose Looks like two element wing Oil cooler exhausts ahead of rear wheels
Fuji 2 October 1983
Imola 16 October 1983 Two element wing Oil cooler exhausts ahead of rear wheels
Mugello 23 October 1983
Kyalami 10 December 1983


Change of plans?

The LC2 continued to be raced until 1991, in various sponsor markings (see the Racing Sports Cars site again). The 1991 markings for example are pretty basic, on an overall Ferrari red car, which is quite nice. I will probably finish my Tamiya TamTech body in this scheme, most likely that of the Nurburgring 1991 race, of which I found four photos. Shown below is the decal set I drew up; the items are not scaled yet though. The Russian logo site yielded vector artwork for Lancia, Ferrari and Veneto, although I had to modify the Ferrari logo somewhat to make it look like the logo seen on the actual car. The remaining logos were created from several fonts, with modifications. Parpas Group appears to be some kind of industrial group, Mionetto is a wine brand, Delfin no longer seems to exist but was in finance, Veneto and Equipe are somehow linked I believe (there is a Equipe Veneto site). The team was listed as 'Veneto equipe' however (i.e. backwards). The 'Vallelunga circuito' decal was probably the toughest, since my photos of it were quite blurred. The 'Vallelunga' part is pretty accurate now, but I had to guess the font used for the 'circuito' part. I received an e-mail from Italy (hi Riccardo!) that pointed out a spelling error in my original Delfin decal artwork, that is now corrected.





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