I think I’ve shared my story about my beloved UT Ferrari 550 with the missing wheel before. I finally found another 1:18 550 cheap enough to attempt a repair. Halloween weekend makes for a fitting time to share the story of my Frankenstein experiment.

Long story short: there used to be a local diecast model wholesaler many years ago that would have warehouse sales every now and then to purge their inventory. All of my summer job money used to get spent at these things! On one trip while I was in line to check out, I spotted this silver 550 out of the corner of my eye. It looked amazing in its original box, which had a sticker on it for $15. The Ferrari 550 was my favorite car in the whole world when I was a teen, so I grabbed it without hesitation. Sure enough, when I pulled it out of its box at home, I found out why it was only $15. It was missing it’s front wheel, conveniently on the other side of the model that I could see die to the packaging. These warehouse sales had a strict no returns, no refunds, no exchanges policy. I was stuck with it.

My first course of action was to do a complete tear down of the Maisto Ferrari. I was hoping this was going to be a simple process of just swapping the bases out. Keep in mind, I’ve never modded a 1:18 before, so this whole endeavor was going to be trail and error.

It quickly became clear that a base swap wasn’t going to happen. The fender wells on the Maisto were huge compared to the UT, pictured here. I contemplated chopping up the Maisto base to get it to fit under the UT body, but ruled against that because the margin for error was way too high. I only had one good base to work with.

The second alternative was to just swap out the steering boxes and leave the rear tires alone. Here’s what the damage looked like on the UT after I removed it’s base. The driver’s side lower control arm was broken right off, so it wasn’t like I could pop the Maisto tire right on there and call it a day. The Maisto had a working suspension too, while the UT did not. It would have been sweet if I could have swapped that into the UT, but those giant fender wells on the Maisto were equipped with posts which the springs and wheel hubs rode on. I thought about cutting them out and then somehow tacking them on to the underside on the UT’s fenders, but the alignment process afterward would have been a nightmare.

I took a break before I fired up my Dremel and just destroyed both models into little diecast slivers. The Maisto had some great warning labels under the hood, so I switched those over to the UT. Now I’ve got a warning label on the fender and the radiator housing of my silver 550. I wanted to switch the headlamp assemblies over as well, since the Maisto had better units, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to the UT’s headlamps without irreversible damage. I was being real conservative so I didn’t end up with zero 550’s.

I tried cutting the base of the Maisto in half to accomodate the UT body, but the side sills didn’t line up properly and I didn’t want to grind off the metal tabs that held the UT base in place. Just in case I couldn’t get the front part of the base to line up properly, I wanted to be able to reuse the UT base.

Ultimately, I decided the safest way for me to get four tires back on my 550 was to pop the Maisto wheels off their hubs and tack them on to the existing UT front suspension assembly. I used my Dremel to clear some of the damaged components to get the new wheels where I needed them. I used two big globs of Green Stuff and stuffed the wheels into position. I used a level to check the alignment side to side but had to use my eyeballs to check the offset and camber, if you will.

The finished product can finally stand up on its own!

There’s only a slight variation in the wheel styles on the front and back of the car. Yeah the center caps aren’t yellow and there aren’t any calipers up front, but the rotors still match. All of the underbody ground effects still line up because I reused the damaged UT base.

All four wheels touch the ground, so I guess my alignment job was spot on

If I get brave enough, I might try to swap out the back wheels too. The problem here is that the UT wheels are fixed while the Maisto’s are suspended. I’d have to pop off the UT wheels, cut back the UT assemblies to get the Maisto wheels under the body, and then use copious amounts of Green Stuff to stick them on. I run in to the potential problem to mess up the alignment too. I figured it was much easier to get the two front wheels to match the fixed back wheels, rather than trying to get all four wheels to match each other.

My goal here wasn’t to make the UT Ferrari perfect, I just wanted to be able to display it on my shelf again. This car won’t be presented at next year’s LaLD Car Week Concours, but it still can make a nice picture.

Bridge a diecast trailer: Maisto Ferrai 550. Missing front wheels and smells like cigarette smoke. Repaired side mirror needs to be rebroken and reattached properly. No low ballers.

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