Saturday, June 28, 2008
SCX seems to be on a roll as far as releasing some cool rally cars from the 70’s. The appeal to me is that a lot of these same cars also took part in road racing series back then as well. A good example of this is SCX’s retro/cool Alpine A110. It’s 1:1 counterpart was a LeMans competitor as well as rally car. The latest release in the SCX Classics Series brings us the SEAT 131 Abarth (Ref. #62970). The 1:1 scale SEAT 131 was a Spanish re-badged twin of the Fiat 131. The 131 Abarth would go on to win 3 World Rally Championships (WRC) in 1977, 1978, and 1980. How this car would go from its humble roots as a 3 box family sedan to world beater on the international rallying scene is an interesting story.
The oil crisis of the 70’s set the stage for a series of events taking place in Italy: Fiat had a newly formed rally team, and had recently acquired tuning specialist Abarth. Some of Fiat’s marketing gurus could see the halo effect the Stratos rally cars had for Lancia, and wanted Abarth to do something similar for Fiat with a performance model of their own. Abarth’s mandate was to find a rally car suitable to replace the outgoing 124 (also the subject of an SCX model) that had to be as fast as the Stratos. Several prototypes were developed including the 124, X1/9, and 131.
By 1976 the Stratos had won it’s third consecutive WRC championship. Ford was coming on strong with its own rally program. Abarth had been using the 131 as a test mule for the X1/9 program. The 131 was ideal for this role since it had a spacious engine bay, roomy interior, and rear wheel drive. This allowed engineers to explore a variety of motor and driveline options. For a time it looked like the X1/9 would be the car chosen to be Fiat’s rally standard bearer. It looked the part as a sporty mid-engined car reminiscent of the Stratos. Unfortunately this was not the image that company brass wanted to portray in the midst of an oil crisis. The wanted a car the buying public could relate to. Since the 131 had been used to test various drivetrain components for the rally program and its passenger roots were clearly visible it was chosen as Fiat’s new rally combatant. In 1975 Bertone was tasked to produce 400 special models for homologation of the 131 in the WRC. Abarth took 50 cars from this allotment to build its 131 which is the basis for SCX’s model. Among the modifications Abarth made to the Bertone allotment were weight saving Perspex side windows, aluminum doors, and additional lighting. Engine performance was pumped up from 65 bhp in stock form to over 215 bhp in rally spec. If you’d like to learn more about this car, check out The Sporting FIATs Club web site.
At first glance, SCX makes a nice presentation of their models in the clear plastic box they currently use. As nice as the 131 looks sitting inside it, I think it will look that much better on the track. Out it comes for a few laps of the 22m Scalextric Sport test track I use at Mini Grid. The finish on the model I’ve been given to test is flawless. The livery depicted is the 1981 Rally Costa Brava. The fender flares and air intakes are nicely rendered. The tampo is sharp and opaque. There are a few nice details like mirrors, wipers, mudflaps, roof spoiler and antenna.
The interior is a partially recessed half tray. The flat portion is below the level of the windows which allows for decent interior detail in the form of a driver, navigator, and roll cage. A bit more paint on the dark plastic interior would have helped some of the molded in details pop. The half interior does leave tuners plenty of room for adding weights to the chassis. Another detail which shows that SCX is listening to what racers like is the molding of the window ‘glass’. In many cars the window part typically includes clear material up in the roof where it serves no purpose. This excess material is the first thing I usually cut out of my race cars as a weight saving measure. By molding a piece just for the car’s windows SCX was able to save few grams of weight from where they are needed least: the roof of the car.
On the Sport test track the traction magnet keeps the car solidly in its lane. While SCX motors are not the fastest, the motor chosen for this car is appropriate given the size of the original car. The voltage at my test track is set to 11V. As I ran lap after lap with the 131 I only had to blip for the R1 curves on my test track. Otherwise I could take R2 or larger radius curves at full throttle. In stock form the traction magnet gave a reading of 279g on the Magnet Marshal. The traction magnet can be adjusted to give even more downforce if desired. Homeset voltages will make this car a great mag performer on just about any track. My fastest lap was 8.875s with the traction magnet in place. A few magnet car lap times for comparison:
- Scalextric Mercedes-Benz SLR (7.949s)
- SCX Alpine Renault A110 (8.713s)
- NINCO Porsche 550 Spyder (9.019s)
My only complaint about this car out of the box is that the tires are not concentrically molded. Since the wheels and axles on my test car run straight and true the out of round tires made a thrumming sound as the car ran around my test track. Truing the tires on my sanding block knocked another .5s off my magnet test times.
The SCX Seat 131 has functioning headlights, fog lamps, and tail lamps. The body is held onto the chassis by five screws. Removing them allows the body to be easily separated from the chassis revealing the plastic tubing used by the lighting system.
This system routes the light from 2 LED sources to each of the 8 lights on the front of this car. There is very little spill from the lighting system inside the body thanks to this light tube arrangement. To conduct power from the front lights to the rear SCX uses bus strips which travel the length of the body. These contact similar strips in the chassis which transfer power from the guide to the motor pod.
I wouldn’t normally expect to find a sprung floating motor pod and spherical bushings on a car at this price point. The motor pod has a very clever floating arrangement which is dampened by the power connecting strips. Two limiting pins at the front and another pair at the back of the pod prevent it from rocking too far.
These pins in turn keep the tires from contacting the fenders and allows for excellent float in the driveline - something racers of non-magnet cars will appreciate. Since I count myself among the non-magnet crowd, I loosened the two screws holding the traction magnet to the chassis and removed it.
Without the magnet in place and the body reattached this car weighs in at 94g. I put the car back on the track without its traction magnet and started cranking out the laps. The SEAT is a blast to drive without a traction magnet. It stays in the slot and drifts nicely through the corners. The floating motor pod allows the car to lean in the corners giving it a great aggressive stance. The car lifts the front inside wheel when driven hard.
The drivetrain on my review example featured straight axles and true wheels. The tires gripped well enough on the slippery surface of my Sport test track. I was able to turn a best lap of 10.293s. For comparison this puts the 131 in the zone with these non-mag cars:
-NINCO Ferrari 250TR (10.119s)
-Fly Porsche 911 (10.163s)
-Pink Kar Ferrari 250 GTO (10.228s)
-NINCO NC8 powered Porsche 550 Spyder (10.398s)
-TeamSlot Lancia Stratos (10.629s).
In magnet trim I’d say the 131 is a great car for kids: it sticks to the track, and has bright lights which is an appealing feature for the younger set. If you don’t believe me, just ask them!
Pull out the traction magnet and you’ve got a car that non-magnet racers will love. In testing this car I noticed that the motor seemed to loosen up and rev more freely with each passing lap. With a smooth drivetrain, rocking motor pod, and lots of room for adding weight there’s plenty of tuning potential here.
Kudos to SCX for bringing out such a great looking model that doubles as an excellent non-magnet racer.
I rate this car at four power sliding sports sedans out of five. The out of round tires are the only thing holding an otherwise excellent car back.
Friday, June 27, 2008
PRESS RELEASE SLOT MINIAUTO 45 – JULY Slot MiniAuto magazine of July, presented in his cover four very special models. There are cars made in large series, but there are great cars made in resin. Featured, the Slot Classic Jaguar MkII, the new reference to this Spanish manufacturer. They also deserve a prominent place in the Facel Vega HK500 MMK and the Hobby Classic Mercedes Benz 220 SE. And finally, another masterpiece, the new Racer Ferrari 330 P3. These cars and their manufacturers can retrieve historical memory of motorsports. In the interior, also the track test of the Porsche 908, in 1:24 scale, of Cursa Models, and the expected comparative on the eternal discussion: 45 or 90 degrees. Also find an extreme preparation of C4 WRC of Ninco. Also showed in exclusive preview, the pictures of the Power Slot Nissan 350Z.
COMUNICATO STAMPA SLOT MINIAUTO 45 – LUGLIO La rivista Slot MiniAuto del mese di luglio, ha presentato nella sua copertina quattro modelli molto speciale. Ci sono automobili realizzati in grandi serie, ma ci sono grandi automobili realizzati in resina. In primo piano la Jaguar MkII di Slot Classic, il nuovo riferimento del costruttore spagnolo. Essi hanno inoltre meritano un posto di rilievo la Facel Vega HK500 MMK e la Mercedes Benz 220 SE Hobby Classic. E, infine, un altro capolavoro, la nuova Ferrari 330 P3 di Racer. Tali auto e loro produttori ci permettono di recuperare la memoria storica dil mondo del automobil. Per l'allestimento interno, anche la prova di pista della Porsche 908 in scala 1:24 di Cursa Models, e la comparativa sulla eterna discussione: 45 o 90 gradi. Anche trovate una preparazione estrema della C4 WRC di Ninco. Esclusiva antepima con la prima foto della Nissan 350Z Power Slot.
COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE SLOT MINIAUTO 45 – JUILLET Le magazine Slot MiniAuto de Juillet, présente dans la page d'accueil, quatre modèles très spéciales. Il fait des voitures en grande série, mais aussi il hi ha de grandes voitures faites en résine. Repérage en premier lieu, le Jaguar MkII Slot Classic, la dernière référence à ce fabricant espagnol. Ils méritent aussi une place prédominante la Facel Vega HK500 MMK et la Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Hobby Classic. Et enfin un autre chef-d'œuvre, la nouvelle Racer Ferrari 330 P3. Chacun d'entre eux, pouvez récupérer la mémoire historique de la voiture de sport, avec ses éditions limitées. A l'intérieur, également l'essai de la Porsche 908, à l'échelle 1:24, Cursa Models, et un comparatif attendus sur l'éternel débat: 45 ou 90 degrés. Également trouver une préparation extrême de la C4 WRC de Ninco. En avant aussi les premières photos de la Nissan 350Z Power Slot.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
These are strips of thin white rubber which wrap around the tyre walls. Each is long enough to go around two lengths of tyre wall, making a section half a straight long. The front has two red or blue blocks so that the overall effect is very like many circuits.
Sponsors logos and advertising boards are very much part of motor sport and therefore they can really add to the realism of your circuit. These are often along the side of the track but are sometimes also projecting across the track on panels supported by stanchions. Sometimes they are simply placed on the grass areas beside the track. We can provide all of these.
If you watched the Australian Grand Prix this year you can not have failed to notice the amount of safety fencing around the circuit. Australia is not alone in this although, as a ‘street' circuit, it is particularly noticeable there. We have therefore made some Safety Fencing to allow you to reproduce this effect on your own circuits.
These come in sections of five stacks of tyres with six tyres in each stack. They are injection moulded in synthetic - though extremely realistic - rubber. This means the detail is great and also that they are flexible enough to bend around curves and to flex a little bit if a car runs into them. Our customers tell us that they do actually work in sparing the cars!
Brake Point markers
Brake Point markers (BP 1)
These signs give racing drivers help in finding their braking points by indicating how far it is to the next corner. Sometimes they may count down 300, 200 100; sometimes it may be 150, 50. You can now add these to your circuit. (You never know, if you are in the habit of going off at certain corners this may be the answer to your problems!)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Some spectator embankments from Slot Track Scenics to show this weekend. These are a really cool idea! From their website:
Our embankments give you somewhere to put your spectators other than the grandstand. Now they can sit or stand around the circuit and get a really good view of the action. Also, because the spectators are raised up they are more prominent and can give added realism to the look of your track. By adding that bit of height they bring an extra dimension to it. Their very natural appearance makes these embankments suitable for various types of racing from F1 to Rally stages. More pictures of the first production models will be posted soon. Prices are:
Pair of ends : Unfinished (SE 1-U) £14.95; Finished (SE 1-F) £19.95
Straight Middle : Unfinished (SE 2-U) £14.95; Finished (SE 2-F) £19.95
For an article about finishing these yourself look at this link on the Slot Track Scenics website.
If you'd like to come to Lime Rock Park and race against the team please make a comment below...On July 11th at Lime Rock Park during the weekend's American LeMans Series race the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche team will have an SCX Digital track set up to race against slot racers! Approximate race times for racing against the drivers are around 1:00 pm to 1:15-1:30pm and again from 4:00pm to about 4:15-4:30. Each session will be about half an hour.
Come to Lime Rock and test your slot car driving ability against the real drivers!
Discussion of this race and coverage will be on SCXWorldWide.
Photo used with permission from Flying Lizard Motorsports.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Gene's Slot Car Place kindly sent two samples of the new H&R Racing Hawk Motor I. This motor is intended as an upgrade for standard Scalextric and Fly motors. It has long shafts on both ends, for universal fit; it will also fit Carrera cars.
On the 12.00 volt tachometer test, with a drop of oil on each bearing, I obtained readings of 18.9k to 19.0k, in either direction of rotation. Both motors ran the same RPM. There was no clearly faster direction of rotation with one motor, but the other seemed to favor endbell drive, CW rotation (Scalextric inline and SW style). Although one motor was balanced and the other was not (blue epoxy on the armature), neither motor seemed to vibrate more. Both were fairly smooth.
Using a torque-arm tester, I measured the twisting force the balanced motor develops at stall. Readings indicate an average of 70 gcm at 6 volts, which equates to about 140 gcm at 12 volts. One pole was pushing harder than the others, which may cause vibration under load.
Based on stall torque and no-load RPM, power output was computed with the formula Slot.It uses, resulting in 6.6 Watts power output at 12 volts. In comparison, a standard Scalextric/Fly motor puts out only 3.9 watts; although no-load revs hit some 21k, it develops only 75 gcm stall torque at 12 volts.
Magnetic down force on the Magnet Marshal is 10 grams, with the motor .042" (1.5mm) above the track.
The Hawk motor tests out as a more powerful, torquey, but slower revving motor than the motors it replaces. Torque is nearly twice the Scalex/Fly standard. Geared in the range of 2.6 through 2.8:1, it should push those slot cars faster. It looks like a good performance upgrade.
You can buy the Hawk at Slotcarplace.com
Cost is a mere $8.95. Pinion not included!