The 10 Best Engine Model Kits

Updated September 22, 2017 by Steven John

10 Best Engine Model Kits
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Building a working scale model of an engine is both challenging and rewarding, and is one of those few activities that truly can be called fun for all ages. These kits offer step-by-step instructions that help you construct a miniature motor that will look great as a curio on your desk and that can serve as a valuable teaching tool for a budding mechanic or engineer. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best engine model kit on Amazon.

10. Porsche 911 Boxer Engine

With the Porsche 911 Boxer Engine kit you can create your very own one-quarter scale model of the motor that powers one of the world's most recognizable sports cars. The comprehensive set includes more than 280 individual components.
  • great gift for automotive enthusiast
  • text and diagram instructions
  • too complicated for most youngsters
Brand Haynes
Model 911
Weight 5.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Wilesco D9 Steam Engine Kit

When you complete the Wilesco D9 Steam Engine Kit, you will have a better understanding of, and a greater appreciation for, the first effective motors the world ever knew. Just also know that running it requires the additional purchase of specialty fuel and oil.
  • handsome conversation piece
  • very expensive option
  • company has customer service issues
Brand Wilesco
Model 00009
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Minicraft Models Visible Rotary Engine

This Minicraft Models Visible Rotary Engine is both inspired and endorsed by Mazda, the automobile maker that pioneered the highly efficient (though infrequently used) rotary combustion engine. It is a challenging, but exciting, motor to make.
  • parts molded in multiple colors
  • unique stick shift on-off switch
  • annoyingly small components
Brand Minicraft Models
Model 11201
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Perisphere and Trylon Games

From Perisphere and Trylon Games comes this diminutive four cylinder engine. Its see-through plastic housing allows the observer to see all the inner workings of a motor, offering an easy understanding of the same type of engine that powers so much of our world.
  • lubricated with common vegetable oil
  • easy for most kids to build alone
  • occasional pieces fit improperly
Brand Perisphere And Trylon G
Model HM01U
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Smithsonian Institution Motor-Works

The Smithsonian Institution Motor-Works kit is a great project for a child and parent (or other older friend or relative) to work on together. Assembly requires nothing more than a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, and an hour or two of free time.
  • large poster of motor included
  • produces lights and sounds
  • many components break easily
Brand Smithsonian
Model 49013
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Airfix A42509 Engineer Combustion Engine

Make sure to block out a solid chunk of time before you build the Airfix A42509 Engineer Combustion Engine, because this real, working motor uses more than 100 pieces during its construction. When running, you can watch the pistons rise and fall and the crankshaft spin.
  • easy step-by-step instructions
  • effective as instructional model
  • batteries sold separately
Brand Airfix
Model A42509
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Hawk Ford Flathead V8

This Hawk Ford Flathead V8 kit allows you to create a 1/6 scale model of one of the automobile industry's most successful engines. The detailed replica motor comes with pre-painted components that assemble easily into a great-looking finished miniature motor.
  • solid diecast parts
  • stand emblazoned with ford logo
  • fun for hobbyists aged 10 and up
Brand Hawk
Model 11081
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. ELENKER Mini Hot Air Stirling

This handsome ELENKER Mini Hot Air Stirling engine is not only amusing and rather easy to build and operate, but it looks great as a decoration for your desk or shelf once it's completed. Its basic design makes it a good introduction to mechanical engineering.
  • great low price tag
  • powered by alcohol
  • nonskid footpads on base
Brand ELENKER
Model pending
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Revell 85-8883 Visible V-8

This Revell 85-8883 Visible V-8 kit helps you create and then operate a "working" eight valve engine, much like you might find under the hood of a powerful truck or sports car. The set uses a sturdy rubber fan belt and vinyl ignition wires.
  • illustrated assembly instructions
  • screwdriver comes with kit
  • great reviews from owners
Brand Revell
Model 85-8883
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Scale Models

Building scale models is one of the oldest hobbies known to man, as humans have been constructing miniature versions of the world around them ever since they created the tools to do so. Of course, when the practice started, it was purely for its functionality, as very few ancient kings saw the value in hanging a scaled-down version of the Death Star over their desks.

When the Great Wall was being considered in China, it was first conceived as a wooden miniature. Likewise, Greek warriors used models to design fortifications before starting the arduous process of constructing them. However, it would be an Italian who would truly perfect the art form.

Leonardo da Vinci built models of most of his inventions before realizing them in their final forms. He even created dummy versions of ideas he could never get off the ground — quite literally, in the case of his flying machines. Considered by many to be the most gifted modeler of all time, da Vinci proved that miniatures could be as useful as they are interesting.

It wasn't until the mid-20th century that the art form would begin to be seen as a hobby, however. In the 1930s, the British company Frog began manufacturing plastic flying models. Frog would put their skills to use for the Allies in WWII, building models for targeting purposes, but they got right back into the toy business after the war's conclusion.

On the American side of the Atlantic, companies who designed miniatures for car manufacturers discovered a rabid audience of hobbyists who wanted to build their own versions of the Chevy Bel Air or Ford Gasser. Businesses like Revell, Aurora, and AMT soon sprang up to fill this demand, and a new pastime was born.

While modeling has never been a mainstream pursuit, interest in the hobby has held steady over the years. There have been technological advances within the pastime as well, with a variety of high-tech tools and fillers replacing the old-fashioned tweezers and putty of yore. The subjects have also become varied, with figures from pop culture proving to be as in-demand as the traditional cars, planes, and military vessels.

It remains to be seen where the hobby will go from here, but one thing's for certain: buying one of these kits is the only way I'll ever be able to take a model home with me.

Benefits Of Building Scale Models

If you're looking to get the most bang for your buck, few other hobbies can compete with scale modeling. Assuming you're the type who enjoys really digging into the details of your favorite subject, you can get months of enjoyment out of assembling one of these plastic collectibles. If you boil that down to the cost-per-hour, it gives you the kind of value that most other entertainments can't possibly match.

Constructing these miniatures can also teach you valuable skills that will translate to your other endeavors. If you're the impatient type, you'll quickly learn to curb those impulses, as models do not respond well to being rushed. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to finish a kit, as well, and exercising your willpower muscles will pay dividends in all areas of your life.

Beyond that, it's a tremendous stress reliever. Allowing yourself to really focus on the intricacies of the model takes your attention away from any other problems in your life, giving you the chance to set your worries aside for a few hours at a time.

While building the miniatures is fun and relaxing, the benefits don't stop there. Once you're finished, you'll have an attractive conversation starter that you can display in your home or office. It can offer a creative rush similar to showing off your own artwork — and some models truly are works of art.

You'll also learn about the subject as you build it. Many of the model engines on this list actually run, giving you first-hand experience in the inner workings of a motor. That's something that could potentially pay off big down the road, especially if it spurs interest in doing your own auto work.

Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Model-Building Experience

While putting a model together can be extremely rewarding, it can also be frustrating — which is why you need to take every precaution to ensure that your experience is a fulfilling one.

First off, designate an area in which to work and protect it with your life. If you're sharing space with someone else's stuff, or if you're constantly being interrupted, you'll find it hard to focus, and that's when you break something (and that's when the cursing starts!). Keep the area quiet and serene, and maybe even set the mood with peaceful music and aromatherapy.

Make sure you get the right tools for the job, as well. Using old, clunky tweezers or the wrong kind of glue will set you up for failure before you even begin. As noted above, building models can be a very inexpensive hobby, so don't be afraid to splurge a little on your equipment. You'll be using it for many hours, so make sure you're comfortable with it.

Ultimately, though, just remember to have fun. Don't allow yourself to rush, and if it stops being enjoyable, walk away for the day. The whole point of the hobby is to eliminate stress and take your mind off of your job, so don't let this replace one tension with another.

Oh, and if you have kids, look into soundproofing, because trust me: there will be cursing.



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Last updated on September 22, 2017 by Steven John

When not writing or spending time with his family, Steven tries to squeeze in some mountain climbing. In addition to writing for several websites and journals, Steven has published multiple novels.


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