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Auto Transport Truck with Ford LNT9000 Tractor by Walthers Review

Please note: The opinions expressed in our reviews are the views of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the 1/87 Vehicle Club.

model critique by Bob Johnson

This long awaited model has finally made it onto your hobby dealers' shelves recently. We would like to give you our first impressions. As far as assembled models or kits of North American prototype automobile carriers goes, this is it! This is the only model currently available. As such, it is far from perfect but so much better than nothing! The tractor is the Ford LNT9000 model from Atlas. The particular model I picked up is unpainted with a red plastic cab and black everything else. The tractor has generally excellent cab and chassis details but suffers from the same poor wheel details as the official Atlas version. The only modification or change I could identify is a plastic insert that fits between the frame rails at the rear to allow the fifth wheel to mounted farther back (toward the rear). I think you can see in the above photo that the trailer is mounted farther toward the rear of the frame than a normal trailer.

 The big news is the trailer. While I don't know the intended prototype (if any), this model captures the overall "feel" of North American prototype car haulers in an admittedly clumsy fashion. While the majority of new automobile transport trailers currently used by the volume new car haulers are of a different configuration (a "tag-along" setup with a low mounted fifth wheel at the rear of the tractor frame below bumper level) this particular setup is commonly seen used by the larger moving and storage companies (Mayflower, Allied, Graebel, North American, et al) and used car brokers and auction centers for moving automobiles. It will look fairly prototypical with a load of mixed make and year model vehicles!

All the major trailer components are molded way too thick (Herpa, A-Line, Busch, and Lonestar have definitely spoiled us!). Much of the hydraulic cylinder detail is fairly well done though somewhat oversize. It will be interesting to see someone convert all the hydraulic cylinders to operational status with moveable upper deck ramps! The "doughnut" trailer wheels and tires lack specific detail but captures the general feel of these miniature truck tires. The trailer measures a scale 48.5' (50'+ with extensions out) but is much too tall to be truly prototypical. With no autos on the top deck it scales over 11 feet tall at the upper trailer floor. With a sedan it scales about 15.5' tall (about 1.5'-2' too much) and with a Walthers' Ford Explorer, over 16.5'! I'd speculate most of this is to compensate for the thickness of the deck components and allow a sturdy model. This is not a "hands off" model as shipped; it appears it will be very durable. This model begs for etched steel ramps and deck components from Plano Models or Automobilia. Check it out at your dealer to see if "it'll do" for you!

Bob Johnson