MPC-Ertl 1/25 1971 Mustang

I bought this MPC-Ertl 1/25 Mustang kit (catalog number 6249, 1988 issue) with the plan to build it as the 1971 or 1972 Mach 1 shown below. This is not a completely original car, for example the vinyl roof is not factory standard, the rear bumper should be chrome, the mirrors should be in the body color, and the wheels should be Magnum 500s. I like the looks of the car in this trim, the vinyl roof makes it look a little less massive I think, and I will build my model like it.

When Revell issued their new 1971 Mustang in 2023, I stopped work on this model. The new model looks fantastic, and it would be a waste of time finishing this old model.


Reference photos

This photo is roughly dated 1984. There were several 1971-73 Mustangs to be seen in my hometown, but this one I liked best. The black lower sides probably help the looks, appearing lower and lower.
This car had a dramatic ending. It was chased by police, made a 180 degree turn, and then deliberately rammed the police car. I remember seeing it all smashed up in the police yard. That was a sad day..

Model history

First I wanted to understand the history of the issue that I bought. Here's a reconstruction of its history.

Model quality

I gathered the following insights and comments about this kit. The main sources of information are Eric Verschuur, Dean Hemphill, 'WnB' from rec.models.scale and Rex Turner.

My conclusion: if you fill the vents near the windscreen, and do some work on the bumper, grille and headlights, you can build a pretty decent curbside model of the 1971-73 Mustang, and that's what I plan to do.


I started this model a loooong time ago, when my experience and skills were far more limited. And information was not available as it is now. I wasn't too interested in showing the engine bay, and decided to glue the hood shut. Its fit was not very good, and rather wide and wavy gaps remained. I puttied them several times, and I hope they are OK by now. I still need to shorten the front bumper to 1971/1972 specs. I wish I had found out about that before I glued it on. You can also see some traces of yellow paint: I painted it at a certain point, but the results were disappointing, and caustic soda (NaOH) was used to strip it back to bare plastic.
More blue Tamiya putty was used to fill the hood gaps. Vaguely visible inside the NACA inlets is some plastic card that I added to extend the inlets. It prevents the engine bay being directly visible through the openings. A shallow but long sink mark on the front edge of the hood was filled with Humbrol 1 base coat and sanded. Some scribing is to be performed here: a panel line circumventing the nose will be added, and I need to scribe lines around the NACA inlets. The buckets around the headlight lenses are definitely a 1973 detail, to be removed for a 1971 / 1972 version.

After comparing the MPC and AMT bodies (see below), I started thinking that the grille could be the weakest point of the MPC kit. It's possibly too high, and if that's true, it spoils the 'face' of the model. To keep the analogy, it creates an 'eyes wide open' face, instead of the 'slightly squinting eyes' of the real car. I did a provisional measurement of the distance between bumper and hood on a real car using my hand, and measured 0.205 m, or 8.2 mm in 1/25. The MPC model is 9.4 mm, so indeed the 'face' of the model is off. Now, how can it be improved, maybe by moving to bumper up one millimeter? The AMT measures ~7.7 mm, half a millimeter too small.
A close-up of the work on the hood near the windscreen. The vent slots were filled with super glue, which explains why you can still see them clearly. I applied some white Milliput against the rear edge of the hood, since MPC molded a ridge there, whereas it should be a continuous slope. Still have to sand the Milliput a bit more. You can see some blue Tamiya putty that I used to fill the gaps between the fenders and the hood. Lastly, I scribed a panel line at the bottom of the A-pillars, to visually disconnect them from the fenders.
I added two panel lines around the door: a vertical line at the lower front, and a horizontal line at the lower rear. I think these panel lines add a lot of realism.
Work on the rear side is limited to filling a sink mark and adding the shortened rear wing supports. I believe I halved them to arrive at the height seen on the 1:1 car shown above.
A bit of work was done on the rear panel. It shows the honeycomb pattern unique to the Mach 1 version. Some remains of the first paint attempt are still visible.
The instrument panel looks pretty sweet to me. However, I haven't compared it to photos of the real thing.
The front seats look a bit like thrones, so I decided to modify them back then. They extend all the way to the floor for mounting, and I cut away the bottom half. Next I split the seat, since the original doesn't look like it can fold forward to allow access to the rear seats. However, I had no idea what the originals looked like, so some work was in vain. For example, I created a 'separate headrest' look by engraving lines on the sides, but they are definitely absent on the real seats.

Recently I decided to restore the seat back, and correct the substandard old work on the seat bottom. For the pleads on the seat bottom I used 0.85 and 1.0 mm plastic rod, with Apoxie to smoothen things out. The seat backs were made thinner. The seat backs look compressed vertically to me, so I added a bit of material at the bottom.
The engines are a puzzle to me, since I know very little about Ford engines and gearboxes. See also the comments in the 'Model quality' section. I just fiddled a bit with them, adding some plastic strip to make the sump fit, and some puttying.
After I painted the hood with Humbrol 28 (that comes close to the original plastic color), I finally checked whether the NACA inlets are placed too far forward, as I had noted in the model comparison shown at the end of the page. I did some measurements on a photo of a real car, and concluded that the inlets were indeed placed too far forward, by about 2.5 mm. The modification did not look too difficult, so I cut out a large panel with a JLC saw, removed a 2.5 mm strip, moved the panel back, and used the strip to fill in the gap at the front. It worked out pretty well, although I damaged the joints between the hood and fenders, so some repairs are required. I measured the panel gaps, and found out that a 0.2 mm wire fits nicely. That will be the target for the repairs.
A study of various 71-73 Mustangs at a car show made something else clear: the distance between the hood and the bumper is too large on the model. I measured (not very accurately) 200-205 mm, which equals 8.2 mm in 1/25, whereas the MPC model is around 9.4 mm. That explains the 'eyes wide open' impression that the model gave me. Another discovery was that the 73 car has hardly any 'lower grille' opening. The model represents this reasonably accurately.

Since I wanted a 71-72 nose, I removed the (upper) grille and bumper, and started reshaping the latter. It's still very rough. I will mount it 1 mm higher, which will also create a decent lower grille opening. Shown here is the interim result.
As a not to myself, here's the section of the 2020 version of the model, that has revised nose parts for a '71 model.
Another note to myself: a photo by Rob Hall comparing the old and new front ends (source with more photos).


I was puzzled by the 1:1 car's wheels for a long time. They are not the original high-end 'Magnum 500 Chrome Wheels', but close. My modeling friend Eric finally solved the problem when he found MRC's 'Muscle Car Hop-Up Sets'. Set BB106 has the Cragar SS 15 wheels that look almost exactly like the wheel shown in the photo. The wheel set costs nearly as much as the car kit itself, but hey, it's a hobby.

Engine options

Some options for a correct Cleveland 351 are:

Aftermarket parts

The following list is likely not complete:

Paint and decals

The kit has decals for the Boss 351 version, blue body with silver trim, whereas I want to build a yellow Mach 1 version with black striping. The earlier issues of this model probably had the correct decals, but chances are very small that I can lay my hands on these. Also, I would expect their quality to be comparable to the Boss decals, and this quality is rather average. My main complaint is that the pin striping is three times too wide. Therefore I will draw new black decals using the kit's silver 'hockey stick' decals as a reference. The hood decal must be made completely new, since that of Boss is much larger than that of the Mach 1 version. As a test I redrew the trunk decal, based on the kit decal's outline, but with the correct pinstripe width. It was easy enough, but the end result did not match photos of the real thing at all. Apparently the outline of the MPC decal is not accurate.

I also need 'Mach 1 Mustang' logos for the sides and the trunk. Using a large photo of the logo, I drew it in CorelDraw using Compacta LtBT and Microgramma DBolExt as the basis for the letters. After about 2 hours of fiddling, it was ready. I had a few logos test-printed on decal film using an Alps printer, and they turned out very nice.

Fred Cady issued set FC031 (or 031D) described as "1972-1973 Mustang Mach I with black hood, side stripes/Mach 1 side panels". Cady retired around 2010, but his decals can still be found on Ebay.

Late 2004 I found out that custom Mustang decals are available from Keith Marks. He has an extensive catalog of muscle car decals, including decals for quite a few 1971-1973 Mustang versions. They appear to be of a good quality, but I think the pinstriping is equally overscale as the MPC decal's pinstriping. Keith can be contacted through mofobow at He also sells his decals on Ebay as 'kmarks999'.

For the Dutch license plates, DACO issued a decal set with Dutch license plates with numbers and letter in various scales. Slater's has plastic letters in the right style and height (3mm) for older (pre-GAIK) license plates. Catalog number is 1103. Flevodecals also produces a Dutch license plate decal set.

For the non-standard partial vinyl roof, I might follow this methode: Great product for replicating vinyl tops.

Other 1971-1973 Mustang models

Alternatives to the MPC kit are:

In the mean time I obtained an original AMT 1972 issue. Its quality is comparable with the MPC kit in my opinion. Both kits have their strong and weak points, but they don't differ much in quality and shape. The Arii model could be pretty good too, but it is motorized and I'm not sure yet of the body shape, it looks flatter and squarer. I will happily finish my MPC Mustang, it's close to be the best available in my opinion.

Photo comparison of the MPC and AMT models

As an experiment, I photographed the MPC '73 (sand color) and AMT '72 (white color) models in exactly the same position, to compare the body shapes. Next I made animated GIFs of each set of photos (using, that alternate quickly between them. Any shape difference will then become clear.

In this view, I noted the following differences:

  • the AMT windscreen is angled slightly steeper, and slightly longer at the top

  • the AMT A-pillar is thinner and more accurate, and has a slight curve

  • the upper edge of the AMT door opening is positioned 2 mm higher than the upper edge of the windscreen, on the MPC model this is around 1 mm. MPC is more correct in that respect

  • AMT's side window is about a millimeter taller at the rear

  • AMT molded the NACA ducts in the hood 2.5 mm further back, and they are shallower and closed. I measured some distances in a photo, and found that the front edge of the NACA openings are at 33.0% of the local hood length. The length of the inlet piece is 2.75% of the local hood length. That shows that the MPC inlets are 2.5 mm to far forward, and the AMT nearly spot-on (0.5 mm to far forward).

  • AMT's fold in the sides is more restrained than on the MPC model, and faired in the sheet metal with a radius. The MPC has sharp folds, and that's what the real car shows

  • the AMT fender flares are also faired in with a radius, but it should be more of a fold like the MPC model

  • AMT has raised trim strips on the lower body, MPC forgot them. The Mach 1 version had them to cover the factory paint break (earlier I reported the opposite)

  • the 'Mach 1 Mustang' logos the front fenders are molded raised on the AMT, whereas it is a sticker in reality on the 1971 and 1972 Mach 1 cars. Most other Mustang models have a raised 'Mustang' script, as does the 1973 Mach 1

  • the AMT grille and headlight area is modeled differently, likely more correct than on the MPC model

  • the AMT hood has no vent slots near the windscreen, which is correct

A rear three-quarter view shows the following:

  • the AMT windscreen is longer, and the roof subsequently shorter

  • the AMT rear window has too large corner radii at the top side

  • reportedly the AMT rear panel has been contoured wrong, but I did not add it to the model for these photos

  • the horizontal surface of the rear fenders is narrower on the AMT model

  • the interiors visible through the rear windows are quite different

Another but lower rear three-quarter view shows:

  • the 'character line' fold extends lsight further into the rear fender on the AMT model

  • the edge of the nose dips a little lower on the MPC model

  • the nose is raked forward a bit more on the AMT model

  • the difference in the side window height is well visible in this view

A front three-quarter view:

  • the headlight and grille area of the MPC is 1 millimeter taller than the AMT version. The headlight buckets are quite large on the MPC

  • the grille and headlight area are modeled differently, AMT is likely more correct than the MPC model

  • the sides of the AMT model are less rounded, so the MPC is narrower measured on the bottom edge

  • the upper edges of the windscreen and side window show a substantial jump on the AMT kit, and that definitely not correct

1971-1973 Mustang references

I found a fantastic 1971 429 Cobra Jet Mustang site, that has all the information I ever wanted to know, and more. The Paint info page is extremely useful for modelers.

The Mustangs and more site has a forum section with a 'Scale Model Collectors' department.

Scale Auto Enthousiast magazine had a 9-page article on building the MPC 1971 Mustang in the July 1997 issue.

Modeling links

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