Monday, August 09, 2010

Carrera Chevrolet Dekon Monza – IMSA 1977 (model #27266)

The Dekon Monza was a competitor in the GTO class of IMSA’s Camel GT series during the 70s. Chevrolet initially intended the Monza to be the first production car powered by its Wankel engine. Since that engine never made it into production a V8 was one of the available powerplant options used in place of it. In late 1974 Chevrolet provided several examples of the Monza to Dekon for conversion into racecars. The car was designed by Lee Dykstra and Horst Kwech (the D and K in Dekon). This race car was one of the first to use CadCam as part of its design and manufacturing process. Powered by a 600hp fuel injected V8 and blessed with near perfect 50/50 weight distribution the car was destined for success on the racetrack. No easy feat for what started out as a grocery getter when its competition consisted of thoroughbred racing machines from the likes of BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari.

Carrera’s Dekon Monza is a model of chassis number 1004 as campaigned by Tom Frank in both Camel GT and Trans Am during the late 70s. This car looks the business with its massive rear wing, cow catcher air dam, and monster fender flares. Carrera did a great job on the tampo of this car reproducing even the smallest contingency sponsor logos. Even the Camel GT’s “Smokin’ Joe” logo makes an appearance though the cigarette manufacturer’s name is abbreviated to ‘C M L’ since the Carrera is after all a toy car. This car is fitted with functioning rear lights. Carrera also included an extra guid blade, braids, and rear view mirrors.

On track the Carrera Dekon Monza proved to be a solid performer straight out of the box. I had to fit the optional Carrera thin/short guide (part # 85309) in order to run it on my 22m Scalextric Sport test track where it clocked a respectable 7.036s lap time. This car’s chassis uses the two magnet design whereby the magnets can be adjusted or removed from the bottom of the car. While the car would step out in the corners if pushed, the 109g of magnetic downforce available in stock form was sufficient to put it on a par with many of its Camel GT/Trans Am slot car competitors:

6.654 Revell BMW 320i
6.687 Fly Porsche 934
7.036 Carrera Dekon Monza
7.059 Fly Porsche 935K3
7.076 Carrera Porsche 935/78

I expect that lap times could be further reduced by lowering the stock magnets and/or by fitting lower profile aftermarket tires.

Non-magnet performance was a big surprise. The rear tires have some crowning so the contact patch is not as large as it could be with some truing. Even so the car clocked a respectable 9.879s lap time without the traction magnets in place. The car’s nose got a little light in the corners deslotting and going wide if pushed, but could be driven predictably at the limit. The car exhibited no undesirable handling traits thanks to round and concentric wheels mounted straight onto the axles. Aftermarket tires, lead weight, and elimination of play in the bushings are tuning options that will bring the lap times down.

Carrera is the only manufacturer save for Fly to take on the subject of silhouette racers from the 70s with gusto as their previous releases of the Porsche Carrera RSR, 935/78, Capri RS3100, Opel Commodore Steinmetz, Ferrari BB512LM, and now the Dekon Monza demonstrate. The out of the box performance of the Carrera Dekon Monza is in the same league performance-wise as their 1/32 scale competition.

Thank-you to Carrera USA for the opportunity to test this car, and to Mini Grid in Toronto for the use of their track.

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