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Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

I enjoy some jobs that I do so much and they leave me so satisfied that I think "I would do it again." Sometimes it is to improve some aspect that could be improved, other times because I like the car itself, other times because a specific model lends itself to various decorations that suit it and other times because of all the above, such as this case.

When I finished the Lotus Elise GT1 "Team Lotus", and although the car does not seem particularly beautiful, it was a good base for me to make other decorations. A brand with the history of Lotus has a few mythical liveries that all racing car lovers remember, the green and yellow of Team Lotus, the liveries of their F1 sponsored by JPS, Martini or Camel, and one of those that personally I like the most: the white and red decoration with gold lines of Gold Leaf. Regarding this livery, Graham Hill and Jackie Oliver's Lotus F1 cars were not the first cars in F1 history in their sponsor livery. Until 1968, F1 cars were painted with the colors corresponding to each country of origin of the specific team (red for the Italian teams, green for the English, blue for the French ...), but in January 1968, the cars of John Love and Sam Tingle, a private team that participated in the F1 championship with Brabham single-seaters, raced the South African Grand Prix with their cars decorated in the Team Gunston color scheme. Five months later Colin Chapman closed a sponsorship agreement with the Imperial Tobacco company by which he decorated his cars with the colors of the tobacco brand "Gold Leaf" and for that reason the Lotus 49B from the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix showed that mythical and precious, for my taste, livery. Therefore, if it was not the first F1 team to wear the colors of its sponsor, it was to reach a long-term agreement with a sponsor that had nothing to do with the motor world.

This is an image taken from the internet of Graham Hill's Lotus 46B racing the 1968 Monaco GP with the "Gold Leaf" livery.

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

As I said, I really like the Gold Leaf livery of the Lotus, but also, being a decoration in two colors, it allowed me to practice masking on a body with many curves, projections and recesses, which was a challenge. From my point of view, masking is one of the decoration techniques that I think is the most important to master. Painting a car in a single tone is fine, it has its complexity, you can do very good and colorful jobs but many decorations have several colors and some are impossible to do with a single tone of paint and decals, apart from maybe not very good results if you do it that way. That is why I think it is very important to master this technique and this particular body allowed me to practice a lot. And it is that when I do some work I always try to kill two birds with one stone, or three brids...

The fact is that in a slot street market I bought a body of the Lotus Elise GT1 from Avant slot that had slight errors in the paint, they were really minimal, with the intention of reproduce the 1968 F1 Lotus "Gold Leaf" livery . This is the body from which I started:

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

Obviously the car was fully assembled so before removing all the paint I had to carefully disassemble the bodywork. I have quite a bit of experience in disassemble Avant Slot bodies so the process was pretty quick. With an electric soldering iron that I have for these tasks and the modeling knife in case any part resisted, I disassembled the body completely, paying special attention to the grilles, so as not to spoil the black paint that covers them (and thus save time avoiding to paint them again). I stripped the bodywork and rear spoiler by dipping it in 96° alcohol and rubbing it carefully with a used toothbrush, and it was quickly completely clean, although I did have to sand lightly in some spots to remove paint residue and burrs from the mold and thus leave it fully prepared for the painting process.

After cleaning, I applied a white primer coat of Zero Paints reference ZP-3023. According to the manufacturer, the Zero Paints white primer is prepared for direct use in the airbrush, but it seems to me that it is too thick, in fact even with a 0.4 mm. needle it is difficult for the airbrush to pull the primer with looseness, so I dilute it quite a bit with universal solvent. Zero Paints paints are solvent-based and can be diluted with a universal solvent without problems. This primer covers very well but leaves the surface of the car a bit rough, nothing to do with Tamiya's white spray primer, which leaves a perfect smooth finish, so when it dried completely on the Lotus I gave a very soft pass of sandpaper to the entire body, with a slightly worn 800 grit sandpaper to leave a smoother surface.
Regarding the Zero Paints white primer I have mixed feelings, and that is that with the correct dilution it applies and covers very well, but the rough surface that it leaves forces us to sand the bodywork to leave the best possible surface for the paint and that is a extra work to do, and there are also parts where it is quite difficult to remove that roughness. For example, on this car, it was quite difficult to clean the air vents in the hood, where some more primer had accumulated. It is not an excessively difficult job but it is a job (and time) to add to the whole process. For those who do not want to complicate so much, the white Tamiya spray primer works perfectly, in terms of coverage, grip over the surface, resistance and smoothness in the finish, but with a higher price and a more uncomfortable application.

As I mentioned before, the chosen decoration was the combination of white and red with golden details of the tobacco brand Gold Leaf. First, I painted the bodywork with Tamiya gloss white X-2 reference. With the white paint well dried (I left the body in storage for a couple of weeks to make sure the paint was completely dry and I could stick the masking tape without problems, although it really doesn't take that long, 48 hours is enough) I masked half lower part of the car to paint the upper half of red X-7 reference also from Tamiya. In both cases I applied the paint with an airbrush.

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

In previous tests I had done of masking on cars, I made the mistake of using a wide tape, trying to cover most of the surface that did not have to be painted, but it is a mistake. Over smooth and wide surfaces, such as the hood of a 1/24 scale car may be worth it, but in cars as small and with so many nooks as these, this method does not work well, since it is very difficult to adapt well the tape to the body shapes and thus avoid as much as possible paint seeping under the tape. So what I did was to delimit with a thin masking tape (2 mm. wide) the cut line between the two colors. With a thin tape it is easier to adapt to the shapes of the bodywork and thus get it to stick well so that no paint passes underneath and also to perfectly define the cutting line. Then I covered the rest of the surface with pieces of wider tape checking that it was well attached on the thin tape that I had sticked in the previous step. That way I get well placed the masking and I was able to paint the red part without fear of staining parts that should be white. Prior to this work, I had covered all the holes in the bodywork on the inside, in the images you can see all the holes covered with blue masking tape. This is very important, since it is useless to make a perfect cut in the parts to be masked if the paint then leaks through a hole in the bodywork.

I'm not going to fool you, a masking of this type is very boring to do and takes a long time, I don't remember it well, but I think it took me about an hour and a half to get the body ready for painting, but these jobs are of anything but fast. You have to be patient, calmly sticking the masking tape and make sure that it is properly adhered in all parts to avoid annoyances in the form of a color stain where it should not be.
The application of the red paint was done carefully, especially in the part close to the tape, avoiding swamping the surface with paint that could slide under the tape. The moment I finished painting I began to remove the masking tape from the bodywork. It is important to remove the tape when the paint is still fresh to achieve a perfectly defined cut line. If we let the paint dry excessively, it will stick to the masking tape and when we remove it it will strip a bit of body tape from the body, making a kind of frankly ugly sawtooth. I do it immediately after applying the color because Tamiya paint dries quickly.

After removing the masking tape the car looked like this:

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

With the red paint completely dry, I masked the nose of the car and painted it with Tamiya X-12 gold. As you can see in the images, the color combination is frankly pretty, at least for my taste.
To finish with the painting, part of the decoration had to be over a white background (the numbers, some sponsor´s logosr and the United Kingdom flags) and I have usually done it by printing it over white waterslide decal paper, but on such dark colors, the white color of the paper is not solid enough and it shows the color of the surface a bit, and this time I wanted to do it differently. Therefore, I masked and painted with Tamiya X-2 white the circles where the car numbers and the rectangles where the flags would be placed. In the following images you can see how the car was after the whole painting process.

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

The paint process was finished and I began the placement of the decals. All the decals are home-made printed on transparent waterslide decal paper except for the golden stripe that separates the white and red colors, which comes from a commercial waterslide decal set with golden lines of different thicknesses. From the first moment I decided to make that decoration, it was clear to me that the gold line would be a decal. Masking such a fine line to paint it with the aerograph is very difficult in a such small car with a body with so many recesses and projections. On the other hand, my inkjet printer (a Canon Pixma i4850) cannot print metallic colors, and therefore cannot print gold, so it was inevitable to use commercial decals. The placement of the homemade decals did not pose any difficulty, since they were loose numbers and logos, but the placement of the golden stripes was much more complicated since the decals were quite rigid and it took a lot to adapt them to the curved lines of the surface. The process was quite slow, because to adjust the golden lines I had to use a lot the Microsol and Microset to make them well adapted to the curves of the surface, but the result was worth it.

To protect the decoration I applied two coats of automotive varnish. After the first coat, I gently sanded some imperfections and the occasional speck of dust that had remained, and applied the second coat, slightly more diluted than the first coat to leave the surface perfectly leveled.

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

With the varnish well dried, I painted the interior of the body with a matt black Vallejo color applied with a flat brush to simulate the color of the bare carbon fiber (it can be seen a little in the previous images). The idea came to me while watching car races, when the hoods of the cars were raised, the inside of the body is seen in the dark color of carbon fiber and I wanted to simulate it in the cars that I decorate. It is something that does not make much sense to do in a slot car for racing, but this was not the case and also I always like to go a step further in my work.

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

Of the rest of the body parts, I left the grilles as is since they were painted in matte black, while the rear spoiler and the mirrors were painted the same red color with which I painted the body. And just like the bodywork, I varnished them with automotive lacquer.

I assembled all the components of the bodywork, headlights, grilles, rear wing, including the interior that I did not decorate in any way except to paint the driver´s helmet because it did not want to leave it white as came in the car.

Regarding the rims, I painted the front rims that were plastic and the original inserts satin black with Humbrol enamel reference 85 applied with the airbrush. The intention was to achieve a bit of contrast between the satin rims and the shiny body of the car.

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

For the mechanics I used the following components, some used but in perfect working order (engine and transmission) and others brand new (chassis, cradle, axles and guide):

  • Soft Avant Slot type 4 chassis reference AV20522.
  • Angle winder Avant Slot motor pod.
  • Sloter black guide with Avant Slot silicone sleeve cables.
  • Used Ninco NC6 motor. It is a long box motor that delivers about 23,500 rpm at 14.8 V. and with a good magnet effect.
  • Anglewinder transmission with 9-tooth pinion and 29-tooth crown from Slot.it to have good acceleration and make the car more easy to use on home tracks.
  • Avant Slot front axle shafts.
  • Avant Slot hardened steel calibrated rear axle.
  • Brass bushings from Avant Slot.
  • TM-2 stainless steel screws.
  • Spirit rear and tyres and turned Scalextric front tires.
  • Home-made suspension springs for the motor pod, as I did with the Escudería Repsol Lola T290.
Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

And to finish I assembled the chassis and the body with this result:

Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf" Lotus Elise GT1 "Gold Leaf"

With this car I have achieved everything I wanted. I wanted to practice a complicated masking and do it well, I wanted to do the classic Gold Leaf decoration on an Avant Slot Lotus, I wanted to go one step further in the decorations by introducing new things like painting the bodywork on the inside and above all I wanted to do it well and enjoying the process. And I have succeeded. It is probably not the last Avant Slot Lotus I decorate, I like this car more and more.

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