Review: A Bad Williams from Minichamps

The passing of Carlos Reutemann the other week reminded me I have a model of the Williams FW07C that he drove in 1981, the year he almost clinched the Formula One World Championship. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the worst F1 models Minichamps has produced.

Like the original FW07 and the ’07B from Minichamps, FW07C has the top bodywork as a separate piece that comes mounted to the display card, revealing chassis and engine detail on the model. It comes packaged in Minichamps’ “tall” display case.

The Car

The model is of the 1981 Belgian Grand Prix winning #2 Williams of Carlos Reutemann. This is a ‘ground-effect’ wing car with curved underbody tunnels, side skirts, aluminium monocoque and 3-litre Ford Cosworth V8 engine – but without the Ford badging due to the team’s Leyland sponsorship.

It is what I call the ‘early version’ of the ‘07C that featured the full width front wing and ran on Michelin tyres. The team refined the car during the season to run on Goodyear tyres, the ‘late version’ reverting to small front wings either side of the nose (or in the case of Reutemann at Monza, no front wings at all) plus at some events, twin air intakes atop the engine. As at the current date, the late version I believe is only available in kit form.

Engine detail is an adequate representation of the Cosworth V8 with nice injection trumpets and exhaust pipes curling up and exiting above the gearbox. Suspension is also representive of the real car – upper rocker arms operating coil-over shocks mounted inboard close to the gearbox with wide bottom A-arms. The big circular holes in front of each rear wheel are to locate the model’s bodywork and were not part of the real car…

The Model

Having been announced years prior, I think it was 2016 that this 1:43 scale model finally hit the market. There was also an Alan Jones version that depicted the Long Beach Grand Prix winner. Both versions had a production run of 1,008 pieces worldwide.

The model can still be found on the second hand market, but usually at a premium price. With the recent passing of Reutemann, there are now several of his on eBay at crazy high prices. Profiteers in the UK are charging the equivalent of AUS $500, while someone in Japan wants $430 and $340 from Italy – plus postage, of course. Just nuts.

Crazy eBay prices, 17/7/21

Unlike most other Minichamps’ F1 releases of the time, this is not a diecast model. Most of it is injection molded plastic. This is true also of the earlier FW07 and 07B versions. And, like the previous versions, it has a lift off body to reveal chassis and engine detail. While this sounds great, I feel it’s detrimental to the overall quality of the model, for two reasons:

  1. there are compromises made to the chassis detail and the body to allow the body to fit
  2. despite these compromises, the body still does not fit and therefore does not represent the shape of the real car.
This is ridiculous – the body fit as the model came from the manufacturer is terrible.

Years ago, Quartzo made the same mistake with their 1/43 Renault RE30B replica – the internal detail was made under scale to ensure the body fits over it, and it just doesn’t work – what should have been a great model, looked ridiculous. Only the boutique kit manufacturers and skilled builders can get away with lift-off bodies in this scale…

The plastic bodywork is painted matt black on the inside. This mounting stub is to locate the body on the monocoque. Problem is, it does not even fit in its designated hole!

There are significant profile and shape issues with the front of this model.

The front of the model poorly represents the real thing. The nose shape is way inaccurate, as are the top suspension pickups (mine also has bent LF suspension) and the mirrors are oversized.
The real car, on its way to winning in Belgium. Note the shape of the upper suspension mounts and how the nose smoothly tapers from the top and the bottom of the car to a point, which is the front wing mounting post.

Outside of that, the shape of rest of the model is not too bad and is a decent representation of the 1981 Wllliams.

Top body fit, from new.
Body fit after modification and removal of the stub mentioned previously. The fit is better, but nothing like the real thing.
While I got the front to snuggle down half ok, it soon became evident the top body was actually twisted as well. The right side won’t sit down and has this massive gap. Also, there is decal damage on the TAG logo and missing signage from Carlos’ crash helmet. Apart from the damage above, paint quality and decals are good.
In my opinion, Minichamps should have concentrated on creating an accurate one-piece replica and not gone down the path of modelling all the extra parts to represent the chassis that doesn’t look accurate anyway. It has severely ruined the overall shape of the model when assembled.
Also, check out the “a” character in Saudia on the wing end-plate: it’s the wrong font! (all the other “a” characters on the model are correct.)

Video Review

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