When Gilles Villeneuve raced in the Can-Am
The much-anticipated Marsh Wolf-Dallara WD1 1/43 kit is finally here. The Wolf-Dallara was an outlier in the newborn single-seat Can-Am series. Most of the other competitors in the series were based on a Lola F5000 chassis. The Walter Wolf-owned Canadian team was making a splash worldwide during 1977 in F1, Jody Scheckter driving a bespoke Wolf F1 car. Chris Amon (from F1) and then newcomer Gilles Villeneuve (from Formula Atlantic) were chosen for the 1977 North American Can-Am season. Wolf had his own F1 car built (it won 3 races in that first season). In a similar manner, Wolf also commissioned Dallara to build a bespoke single-seat Can-Am car for his team.
Resplendent in the dark navy blue and gold of the Wolf teams, the early season car was notable for its rear wing extending from the rear bodywork. Chris Amon started the 1977 Can-Am season for race 1 with a DNF at St. Jovite. Amon was replaced by Canadian Villeneuve for race 3 at Watkins Glen after the team gave the second round at Laguna Seca a miss. Villeneuve also DNF’d at Watkins Glen, a race I attended. A good 3rd place finish at Road America was followed by a no-show at Mid-Ohio.
When the car and driver reappeared at Mosport, the car had been modified at the rear with a new gearbox-mounted wing. It retired at that race with a broken halfshaft. The next race at Trois Rivieres would prove to be the last race for the car. It was a DNF too. The Marsh Wolf-Dallara kit reviewed here is this late-season version. It will also be available as a factory-built example. The early-season version will appear later as kit or built as well.
What a nice kit!
The long out of production Provence Moulage kit is the yardstick by which we measure the new Marsh kit. The Provence kit was terrific (highly prized on ebay), and featured photoetched louver panels on the fenders. This made painting them gold and cleanly installing them a cinch.
Marsh Models has also used this trick. John Simons of Marsh recommends using the brass photoetch pieces provided in the kit as is for the gold pieces, without any additional gold painting. They do seem to match the gold decals very well. I’m going to go with his suggestion for the wheel inserts as well.
The body is one of the cleanest resin body shells I have seen, requiring very minimal cleanup prior to painting. Detail painting will be minimal too because the radiators have all been provided as photoetched inserts. The dark blue-black appears to match Tamiya TS55 well, but I’ll get back to you on that one. Mr. Simons recommends mixing 3 parts Sunoco Blue with 1 part black for you air-brushers.The photoetched parts are the usual beauties from Marsh. The seat-belts are the same as found in the now-defunct Formula Models brand kits from the late Colin Fraser. That’s quite good.
And the rest of the kit?
Quite good also, as expected. A host of white metal parts will give the finished models some weighty heft. The “engine block” is nice as are the turned injection trumpets that attach to it. The seat is a wonderful, shapely piece. Marsh is back to rubber tires for this kit and so are white metal wheels. The rear wing is resin and the front one is white metal.
The decals are brightly printed and in perfect color registration. Five sheets of photoetch in both brass and stainless steel provide a wealth of high-detail. A rear rain light is also provided, though the clear light will need red tinting.
The great thing about Marsh Models over the years is that the kits go together very well. The parts fit and are well thought-out. The resin castings are super-clean; the white metal stuff needs simple clean-up. The instructions are simple and clear. If you ever need help or parts, Mr. Simons is very quick about it.
Another easy to build kit from Marsh, one that is pretty easy to build with a high degree of detail. The kits are all well thought out in every direction.
This Gilles Villeneuve Can-Am single seater will look great next to my build of younger brother Jacques’ 1983 Frisbee by Meri (right). The younger brother won the 1983 Can-Am championship.
I’ve always thought that if I had to choose one brand of kits to build, it would be Marsh. The Marsh catalog is filled with sports cars, especially American subjects such as the Can-Am.
I asked Mr. Simons how a Brit got so enthralled with sports car racing. He replied: “The first international race I ever saw was at Brands Hatch in 1966. It was the last ever Group 7 race in the UK and was a 2 part race. It featured a battle between John Surtees in the Lola T70 with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in the McLaren M1Bs. I met Bruce and Chris after the race, so I guess it made a big impression on me!”
That’s been great for us too. Great models of great subjects.