Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Carrera Digital 132 Ford Capri RS3100 – IMSA 1974 (30506) and Evolution Ford Capri – Group 2, 1975 (27369)

I was pleased these Carrera Evolution Capris arrived in my mailbox for review as they hearken back to my favourite era of motorsports. The first races I ever attended were IMSA events in the mid-70s. What impressed me at that time was seeing big block Detroit iron duking it out with small displacement European machinery. One of the competitors from this era that Carrera has chosen to model is the Ford Capri RS3100. Carrera currently has 3 racing liveries and 2 street paint schemes of this car so it’s always easy to find a suitable racing mate.

The Capri started out as Ford of Europe’s response to the American built Ford Mustang. It was first sold in European markets in 1969. The Capri was designed to appeal to European sensibilities in that it was slimmer than the Mustang and emphasized sporty handling over straight line speed. The Capri RS3100s modeled by Carrera represent those originally built by the works team in 1974 to defeat BMW’s CSL in the Group 2 Touring Car Championship. The factory prepared RS3100s extensively employed weight saving technology like magnesium in the wheels and gearbox case, fiberglass body panels, and Perspex glass. Considerable work went into the aerodynamics of the RS3100 and it was the first race car to use side mounted radiators – there was no radiator in the engine compartment at all. After winning the Group 2 championship, the Ford factory team was disbanded and the cars ended up in the hands of privateers. They went on to compete in European endurance races and in North America’s Camel GT Championship.

The cars Carrera sent me for review are a Digital 132 model from the Camel GT series (though the offending title sponsor is spelled ‘C M L’), and a Euro Group 2 machine. Carrera has done a great job on these cars in terms of finish and paint. These cars are painted two or three different colours and the lines in between are all clean and sharp. They same could be said of the tampo on both cars. Since I was checking the magnet racing performance of these cars on Scalextric Sport track, I swapped out the stock guide flag with Carrera’s Special Guide Keel (85309). Both cars feature a detailed tray interior and independently rotating front wheels. This setup helps in terms of packaging the Digital 132 circuitry and allows the analogue cars to be more easily retrofitted for D132 racing. To use a D132 car on an analogue track just flick the switch located on the bottom of the car, place it on the track, and blip the throttle three times. Since these cars use a common chassis, both have substantial bar magnets mounted from the top of the chassis. The D132 car weighs in 6g heavier than its Evolution brother. The difference is accounted for by the extra circuitry and working headlights in the D132 model. The D132 Capri stuck to my Magnet Marshal to the tune of 330g vs. 266g for the Evolution model. On the track the Evolution model lapped my 20m Scalextric Sport test track in 7.841s vs. 7.869 for the D132 car in analogue mode. It’s great to see that even with the disparity in downforce levels thes
e cars would still make excellent running mates.

A trip to my favourite 22m wood test track gave me a taste of how these cars run in non-magnet trim. Under hard acceleration or extreme cornering both cars would hop at the limit. The stock tires worked well on the test track’s flat latex track surface and propelled the D132 car to a best lap of 8.621s vs. 8.698s for the Evolution car. A tuned Scalextric Trans Am car can lap the same track in around 7s. Tightening up the play between the rear axle and the bushings will do a lot to tame the non-magnet handling of my test cars. Both Capris featured Carrera’s plastic ribbed wheel design. One of the Evolution car’s wheels had a bit of a wobble to it, but since it isn’t too excessive tire truing can help compensate.

Out of the box, neither of the Capri RS3100s disappoints. I only had to fluff the braids on both cars to get them running great on plastic track. Carrera also provides extra braids and mirrors to keep these cars running and looking like new. The lap times between the Capris and other Carrera models are very close so they will make for great competition partners. I’m looking forward to further exploring the non-magnet racing capability of these cars.

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