Lindberg 1/32 Scale 1976 Ford Granada (no. 373) / Mercury Monarch (no. 377) Model Kit
information and review ©2003 by Tony Lucio
The 1976 Ford Granada and 1976 Mercury Monarch were replicated in the form of two model kits produced by the Lindberg Company in the mid 1970’s. As part of their famous “Lindberg Line” of scale replicas, these were easy-to-build 1/32 scale “Snap Kits” which did not require glue or paint. To this day, they stand as the only licensed replicas of any version of the American Ford Granada and 1970’s Mercury Monarch ever produced. I am fortunate to own one of each, and thought I would share my insights and experiences with the kits.
While the model year listed on the box is 1976, the cars themselves are almost dead-on for both the 1975 and 1976 model years, and only very slightly off for 1977. Depending on how picky you are, they may only be “merely passable” for the 1978-1980 model years, but it’s as close as we’ve got and indeed, may ever get. It is unknown how long the kits were produced and in what quantity, but if you’ve ever tried to find one, and seen the prices they routinely fetch, it’s obvious that they are quite rare indeed.
Before I go any further, let me
first establish what I am reviewing and why.
When I was growing up, the car my parents had was a 2-door 1979 Granada,
white with a red landau (half-vinyl) roof, and as base level as options and
trim get. I loved that car. Even as a
young child, it struck me as unique compared to anything else on the road, and
as I grew older I appreciated its refined boxiness
and pleasing proportions even more.
Unfortunately, routine short trips, seeing 3 children from cradle to varying
stages of adolescence, and 13
In early 2000, a year and a half
after discovering that some sort of kit had actually been made, I finally
managed to win a mint-in-unopened-box Monarch kit on an ebay
auction. I had really been searching for
In July 2002 I moved to another
town, and visited a local antique shop that specializes in model trains
(another passion of mine) and old toys.
The deal with shops such as this is “You never know what you’ll find”,
so it was worth a shot. Well there was
nothing for me on that day, and I had no particular reason to become a regular
customer… but in March of 2003 I inexplicably felt a sudden, out-of-the-blue
urge to pay a visit there again. Lo and
behold, when I walked in the door, sitting all by itself on the counter was an
assembled, “70’s yellow”
Thanks for bearing with me! Now, on with the review:
Examining the kit as a whole,
it’s obvious that the production molds were initially created for the
Each kit consists of 25 pieces, plus an instruction sheet. I have grouped them here in a chart as subassemblies based on purpose and likeness of colors in the kit. I will go into further detail on the subassemblies below. First things first: there are no motor or separate chassis parts/details to speak of, and the interior is spartan at best. There are no functioning parts (opening doors, steerable wheels) either. Still, it’s a great start, and what we’ve got consists of:
Kit Color A
Chromed / Clear
Kit Color A
Headlight & signal assys. (2)
Chromed / Clear
Interior floor & seats
Kit Color B
Chromed / Clear
Kit Color B
Chromed / Clear
Kit Color B
Chromed / Clear
Chromed / Clear
Axles & Screws (2 ea.)
Also, a decal sheet was included,
at least with the Monarch kit I got out of the box. It was a flame pattern
(matching the box artwork) but I deemed it a bit ostentatious, so I didn’t use
it. Since my
Okay, now on to specifics about each piece.
The body shell represents a stylish 2-door model in Ghia-level trim, featuring a full vinyl roof and wide-pattern bodyside molding. It’s molded in one solid piece of thick plastic, in colors that seem to roughly mimic basic factory colors in which the real cars were available (I have seen deep blue, emerald green, white, and harvest yellow). There’s no way to tell what color you’ll end up with until you open the box. Surprise!
Overall proportions are dead-on.
There are no unsightly mold seams, ejector-pin scars or other such blemishes on
the exterior, and detailing is crisp and sharp.
I am particularly impressed with the fender emblems! They absolutely nailed the stylized scripted font:
dead-on perfect, raised relief with such fine detail that I wonder how in the
world they did this 25 years ago. The hood and trunk
badging is also in excellent proportion and crisp detail, although the “F O R
D” on the front of the
The texture of the vinyl roof is
very nicely done, with realistic grain and crisp rib lines and seams in the
places you would expect. This same grain
texture is used in the raised molding trim on the sides of the car. Unpainted chrome trim is present where it should
be and around all windows. Windshield
wipers are molded onto the cowl at the rear of the hood, but do not have that
much detail, although the cowl vents look quite good. Seams and lines between
fenders and “opening” panels are nice and crisp. Handles and keyholes are properly placed on each
door. Overall, the design and execution
of the car body is just about perfect in both the
Unfortunately though, it is not without a couple minor flaws. The biggest problem is a set of “dimples” on the front quarter panel, just behind the turn signal socket. This is likely a result of the molding process available 25 years ago: considering the type of plastic used and the complexities of the mold in this area (keeping it one solid piece with appropriate contours, a big mounting lug for fastening the underframe, and mounting holes for the headlights and grill, must have been a challenge). If you plan to paint your model, it may be possible to use modeling putty or filler and sanding to even out the dimples, but putty usually has a way of making itself evident again over time even after it’s been painted, and it’s tough to sand the area properly without messing up the wheelwell contours.
Another slightly bothersome trait of the kit is once again a result of the production process. Apparently, the body shells were cast on onto a sprue (a common and necessary practice), and the individual shells were then broken off and packaged at the factory. You can see the sprue attachment point directly underneath the trunk lock, and it is hard to eliminate completely. Carving any excess sprue material away somehow leaves a small dimple or rough texture. Of course, it’s possible that instead of excess, the breaking of the sprue may have taken a small nib out of the trunk instead. Either way, because of it’s proximity to other fine details like the trunk badging and outboard finish panel (the wide, fancy vinylized bar on Ghia models, covering the gascap, where the car name is spelled out), filling and sanding is a debatable proposition. It would have been better had they attached the shell to the sprue at the bottom of the car, but it’s a moot point now. In reality though, you can clean this up fairly well and if you paint the other details you’ve been given, most people won’t notice or even care.
There is one other problem that
may not really be a flaw, but is definitely something to be mindful of. While
the shell is very sturdy, it has a definite weak spot in the A-pillars,
especially the driver’s side. Of the two examples I own, the Monarch’s was
cracked out of the box, and the
The windows are cast in one “Hotwheels style” piece such that the front and rear windshields and rear quarter (“opera”) windows are accounted for. In other words, when assembled, the side (door) windows are open. It’s a pretty straightforward part: There are tabs at the base of the windshields that, when sandwiched between the shell and the interior, hold it in place. The clear plastic used in this kit is not quite the same as we are used to today, and discolors if certain glues or solvents are used.
This last point is merely an observation, but worth pointing out nonetheless: I mentioned that the plastic is quite thick and sturdy, and this is evident when you look at the doors. The chrome trim panel at the base of the window would be quite thick; a feature that carries into the quarter panel opera windows as well. This is forgivable and not really worth fretting about. I just thought it was interesting, in comparison to the model kits available today, which would probably have scale-thickness doors and flush-fitting quarter glass, if such a kit were available.
Don’t let the flaws fool
you. They’re understandable and
forgivable considering we’re dealing with a 25+ year old kit that is long out
of production. The rest of the
detailing, aka the important stuff, is dead-on and begs to be seen. Even by today’s standards, the shell still
rates a solid 8 on a 10-point scale. No
Underframe, Tires, Axles, and Wheels
The underframe is a no-nonsense, straightforward part. It’s a flat piece of plastic with enough chassis detail cast one side to be interesting, but it’s not contest-quality resolution either. Still, components such as the frame rails, lower control arms, oil pan, catalytic converters, mufflers and exhaust, floorboards, differential, gas tank, and leaf springs are all evident. There are two holes for the set of screws to thread through and fasten the underframe into the lugs molded onto the underside of the body shell. The underframe is sized such that it nestles snug into the body shell once it’s screwed into place: very nice touch!
The tires are your basic generic
fare: hard semi-rubberized black plastic with a generic tread pattern, and
“Super Mini-Lind” sidewall lettering.
The wheels are molded in clear plastic with chrome plating, and are
potentially troublesome. It seems this
plastic does not age well, and as a result either the chrome finish may be dull
or worn, or the plastic will be brittle, or both. This was evident in both of my kits… both
sets were brittle, and on the Granada, the chrome had completely worn off, to
the extent that I wonder if they were chromed at all! Still, with care you shouldn’t have any
trouble trimming the sprue bits from the wheels,
pressing the wheels into the tires, and then onto the axles, without breaking
them. You can also paint the wheels in a chrome or argent color if the original
finish is worn (I got creative with the clear ones on my
The detail of the wheels
themselves is at first hard to pinpoint, but I was pleasantly surprised to
discover they are actual Ghia wheels from the
1975-1976 cars! Many different kinds of wheels and hubcaps were offered in real
life, and lots of model kits simply substituted “generic” wheels, so this is no
insignificant detail! The kit wheels
evoke a small spoke pattern connecting a central hub to a thick outer rim with
what could have been an optionally painted trim ring. In real life, these wheels are somewhat rare,
but I have photos of them. Over the
years there were other
Cutouts exist in the underframe
where the wheels go, and two lugs are present in each one, to hold the axles
square. Two more cutouts exist where the part of the underframe is pushed up to
form tabs to hold the axles level. The
plastic is not soft enough to allow the tabs to serve as any sort of
suspension, so unless you want to replicate the
If there were a part of this kit I would consider disappointing, this is it. I have seen other Lindberg kits of the period, such as a lowly 1978 Chevy Monza 2+2, that had every last interior panel and knob accounted for. Compared to that, there’s little to get excited about here. In fairness though, the other models are in the larger 1/24 scale, and it’s possible that the entire line of 1/32 snap kits of the period were pretty lacking in the interior department. Still, the overall flavor is there, and Spartan may be a good thing, as I will explain:
The three interior parts are
molded in a color different from the body shell. I can’t speak for intent or taste, so there’s
no telling what kinds of color contrasts were packed or what you’ll end up
with. My Monarch came as a green body
with black interior (um, no?) but the
The floor and seat assembly isn’t a true
“assembly” as it’s molded in one piece.
It features a rough stylized texture meant to simulate carpet, but it is
not as fine as the texture on the vinyl roof.
In fact, my first thought after looking at it was “shag pile”. The seats are bucket front with headrests,
and bench rear. The rear seat seems a
bit narrow though, as if this piece could have been used in a convertible; in
reality this is to give sufficient depth to the wheelwells.
There is a small deck behind the rear seats, and a firewall at the front of the
part. The detail on the seats loosely
resembles the prototype base-trim vinyl seats, but is not an exact match, and
could be generic to any other model kit.
There is some sort of console between the front seats, but again, it is
not an exact match to any real
If the seats are generic and
indistinguishable, at least the dash is better.
You can clearly recognize the overall shape, and the trim panel in front
of the passenger’s seat is there, complete with a raised spot in the center
where the name badge or optional clock went in the real cars. Moving over to the driver’s side, an
instrument cluster is present. A couple random buttons,
and a centered, square speedometer panel further identify it as a
The steering wheel and column screams “Ford Motor Company in the 1970’s” and was doubtlessly used in many, many other Ford model kits (just as the real ones were!). It inserts into a notch cut into the firewall, under the dash.
Even though the kits were marketed as not requiring glue, and it is indeed possible to assemble them that way, I personally prefer to fasten the dash to the firewall with glue. You can even use white glue, should you ever want to separate them again. Also, the steering wheel has a tendency to sag if you don’t dab a little glue on the column and wait for it to set when you insert it into the firewall notch.
Overall, the interior is there to get the silhouettes in place… nothing more, nothing less. But this is perfectly understandable by the standards of the time: at 1/32 scale, with the interior in the car, you really can’t see much in there anyway, unlike the exterior where everything is plain to see. The dashboard is a nice piece however, and is actually visible; when painted appropriately to represent the fake wood trim, and touched up with some black spots on the instrument panel and where the A/C ducts would have been, it looks very good indeed!
Which brings me to my only real gripe about the kit: There are no interior door trim panels! I can understand not needing super detailing on the seats and floor on a 1/32 scale car, but if you look through the side window, the bare door interior staring back on the other side is hard to ignore. Painting it is a good start. Maybe I’m too picky, but I might try molding my own out of clay. And that may actually be a blessing in disguise: Depending on packages, trim levels and options, there was a dizzying array of interior panels used on Granadas and Monarchs (I could probably think of at least a dozen off the top of my head), so if you are so inclined, you could fashion your own to be exactly the one you want.
Exterior Trim / Chrome / Detail Parts
Finally, we get to the assortment of small parts that plug into the little holes on the body shell. Not surprisingly, these parts are what give the model its character and identify it as one year/model vs. another.
Let’s start with headlights, as
they clarify an earlier statement. I
said that the car was truly only 100% accurate for a 1975-1976 Granada, so
let’s analyze: First, the headlights are
round, which makes it a 1975-1977. 1978-1980 cars featured square headlights
and did not have the fancy turn signals.
Also, we eliminated late 1976-77 due to the automaker’s name being on
the header panel and not the grille. So
that narrows the years, but what about the Monarch kit? Why is it not 100%,
even if the year is correct? The answer is, because the headlight bezels
included for either kit feature the chromed hollow-bar-grid texture that was
ONLY used on the
Nitpicks aside, the headlight
bezels themselves are chrome-plated clear plastic, just like the wheels. The casting detail is quite good! I don’t know the technical term for the
hollow-grid-bar pattern used on the 75-77
While we’re at the front, let’s
get the grilles accounted for. Unlike the headlights, these ARE
Let’s get the bumpers out of the way. They’re pretty straightforward after all, we’re only talking about bumpers. But they do feature the ever-popular (at the time) vertical rub bars, both front and rear. The entire piece is chrome-plated so you will need to paint the rubber pad portion. You should also paint the lower radiator air intake holes on the front bumper with a flat black color. It should also be noted that the chrome plating itself may be rather dull, but this is easily rectified with new paint.
the taillights. Once again, we have clear plastic parts with chrome
plating. They are also interchangeable between left and right sides, and nestle
into sockets for a nice effect. Unfortunately the Monarch gets another strike
against it as the taillights are once again only accurate for a
Tweaks and Tips
Now that I’m done rambling about the parts, let me offer a few tips and observations here that I couldn’t fit above.
For 1978-1980 cars:
While their status as the ONLY replicas of their namesake arguably makes them the “Holy Grail” for the American Granada or Monarch fan, these Lindberg kits are excellent additions to any model car collection. Their relative rarity makes them a centerpiece, and they represent a rare type of kit: one that honors a commonly overlooked nameplate that served the “everyman” driver well in its day. Considering their age, the level of detail holds up well, even against today’s CAD-assisted, precision-molded kits. Their snap-fit design and ease of assembly means that the model can be assembled and enjoyed, yet still be disassembled to retain the “original condition” appearance that “mothballer” collectors insist on. And, the literally countless variations in the prototypes’ appearance means that modelers will have no trouble creating a unique and personal yet realistic model. In short, it’s a must-have kit for both the discerning model collector, and Ford Granada / Mercury Monarch enthusiast.
Thanks for reading my review. If you would like to share any constructive comments, corrections, or suggestions, I would gladly welcome them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I do hope to get better pictures for this document in the near future. My digital camera has been having major focusing problems lately.