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1/20 Tamiya Ferrari F1-89

1/20 Ferrari F189 Portuguese G.P. – Available at HobbyLink Japan

Formula One is known for its grace, beauty, wealth, and supremacy among other motorsports. One marque of car that has aligned itself perfectly with the F1 persona is Ferrari. The wide slicks, large wings, and scarlet red cars have made an imprint on race fans’ hearts for decades. The 80s’ and 90s’ eras of the sport ushered in some of the most famous names in the sport, and produced some of the most exciting racing that F1 has ever witnessed.

Tamiya is no stranger to the 1/20 scale Formula One world, and has a long lineup of beautiful Ferrari F1 cars. One of the classic kits they have tooled is that of the F1-89 which ran in the 1989 season. It was driven by Britain’s Nigel Mansell, in his first season with the team, and Austria’s Gerhard Berger. The engine was a 3.5 litre V12 engine which produced up to 660 bhp, and was an aural pleasure for fans around the world.

The kitset

The F189 kit comes cast in three colors: black, red, and white. A bonus is that all the bodywork comes in Italian red, making for a simple paint job. I was surprised at the seemingly scarce amount of parts, but also a good level of detail within the kit. The tires come with slightly heavy casting lines, but some sanding takes care of those leaving you with realistic slicks.

Instructions are exactly as you would expect from Tamiya: brilliant illustration and painting explanations. The kit starts with the engine assembly, then suspension, monocoque, and finally bodywork and trim.

The engine and monocoque

The V12 is beautifully reproduced and provides a great base for additional detailing to be added. For those who wish to display it with the body on, you can happily skip the extra work and just keep the engine simplistic as per these images.

Monocoque assembly

The cockpit on this kitset is simplistic yet very appropriate. It only consists of four pieces: the dashboard, steering wheel, shifter, and the seat. The set comes cast in red and with the harness cast into it. I simply painted the whole seat in matte black, then painted the belts and buckles silver. Once that was dry I then overlaid it with red. The kitset includes decals for the harness straps and the end result is very good.

The cockpit and engine on the modern formula cars come courtesy of a floorplan that makes assembly very easy. The engine and cockpit are fitted to the floorpan giving the model great rigidity ensuring the bodywork fits on snug with no gaps upon final assembly. Almost all the monocoque is either a matte or gloss black so painting is very quick for this kitset.

This kit allows for a lot of scratch building and detailing. With the top cowling removed from the model, the entire cockpit is open as is the engine bay. For those who do not wish to add extra detail, the kitset looks just as impressive with the body installed while sitting in the display cabinet.

Wheels and tires

The best part about this kitset is that it is from an era when the rear wheels were very wide, giving the F1-89 an aggressive stance. The tires are very realistic after the lines are sanded out of the middle, and the big bold white Goodyear logos really finish them off perfectly. The Speedline wheels are painted in a gloss black with some small red decals applied on the lips of the wheels.


Once the sideskirts are applied the final form of the car really starts to show. The body was the step I worried about most, but with little to no sanding to ensure a tight fitment everything worked very well. The side skirts are one large piece on each side which assists in ensuring the best possible fitment.

The final assembly really shows off the sleek lines of the car, I have left the body merely sitting on the side skirts. The fitment of everything is a true testament to the quality of the Tamiya kitset. The red is so unmistakeable that even without a livery you automatically know it is a Ferrari.

The livery

One appealing part of building this kit is the minimalistic livery. The decals are predominantly laid onto flat surfaces, and the white is thick stopping any color-bleed from the red and black bodywork beneath.

The kitset allows two variations to be built: the 27 car piloted by Nigel Mansell, and the 28 car which was driven by Gerhard Berger.

Finished kitset

The finished product really transforms once the livery is applied to the body. The combination of red, black, and yellow accents makes for a timeless classic livery.

My overall impression of the kit is a 9/10. The fitment was perfect throughout all stages of assembly, and despite having a minimal amount of parts the final product is a beautifully detailed example of the F1-89. The 1/20 series is excellent for adding detail and a timeless classic such as the F189 is a must for any Ferrari fan.

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