Scalextric Police Force

Quote: “So I was like, ‘I want to be either an undercover cop, or I want to race cars!’”
Well, you can do both with Scalextric.

For many years Scalextric have produced models of police vehicles often with working lights and sometimes (to parents’ annoyance) a working siren. Enjoying Scalextric is not always about racing and the addition of these cars can add more play value with car chases and other ‘cops and robbers’ games, perhaps as an alternative using the 4×4 Trucks and Articulated Lorries that have been available in the past. The ‘super resistant’ bodies with no interiors are very suitable for this type of fun. Many set circuits feature a crossover, or the section can be purchased individually, so that skill and judgement are necessary to avoid or possibly to force your opponent off the track. The use of chicanes and sideswipes will add even more excitement. Add Scalextric Digital in to the equation and the game-play options are endless.
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The Scalextric models range from the recently produced 1960s Mini Cooper ‘Panda’ car, the Rover 3500 of the 1980s to a Lamborghini Gallardo. An attractive model is the Range Rover used by many traffic police departments, this comes complete with working siren and lights. The Range Rover from the set has a 360 degree guide blade assembly instead of a standard guide blade. Other models include the Ford Sierra Cosworth, Subaru Impreza, Vauxhall and Opel Vectra, Ford Focus and Ford Crown (Batman), the BMW and Audi of the German Police and the Alfa Romeo 159 used by the police in Spain. The C3149 Alfa Romeo 159 of the Guardia Civil Trafico is particularly noteworthy in that the siren is a digital sample of the real car’s siren recorded as it drove through the streets of Madrid. The sample lasts for a long time and transitions through the multiple sound voices used on the real car. The Italian police are also represented by an Alfa Romeo 159 and the previously mentioned Lamborghini Gallardo! – One lucky police driver. Two quite rare models are the Vauxhall Vectras of the Jersey (Channel Islands) and London Metropolitan Police. The Lamborghini Diablo is a rare beast hand-decorated and fitted with the lights and siren at the factory to prove that the electronics could be fitted within such a confined area. Alas, it was never released.
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Terms for police cars include (police) cruiser, squad car, area car and patrol car. They may also be informally known as a cop car, a ‘Black and white’, a ‘Cherry top’, a ‘gumball machine’, a ‘panda car’,   ‘jam sandwich’ or ‘battenburg’. But what of these markings; 24 – 46 TD18 – D8 – A 06 – 20 173 – 679 – 12 641 – 20 641 – 44398 – HH01 – HH15 – HH18. What do these mean? Don’t worry this isn’t a keyboard malfunction or a secret code used by the police but they should seem familiar. They are the references printed on the police car roofs. The police forces reflected in the Scalextric range were quite happy not to have their cars replicated too accurately and would usually request deletions or amendments from the real-life cars. So, often, shortcomings in the various constabulary’s insignias and car markings were left to the discretion of the model decoration team.
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The roof markings would often seem random but actually reflect the birthday, age, and initials of the decorator, family or friend. However, the latest Audi R8 police car (C3932) follows a new rule – the year of release. The roof number is HH18 which simply equates to Hornby Hobbies 2018, the same is true for the HH15 QuickBuild car but not for the very first Audi police car bearing HH01 on the roof which was simply the first basic reference in the HH name convention. We will have to wait to see if the format continues.
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Which to collect, then?
“The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it!”

Police cars are all collectable and will always be popular. Throughout the past thirty years the standard production releases have never commanded high values despite their theme popularity. Whether from the 1980s or from this decade the Scalextric models can always be purchased at a cost near their original retail price. Pre-production or production errors can be found for all examples of Scalextric police cars and standard production items are always available. Collecting police cars is an achievable objective at a reasonable price or treat yourself to a jam sandwich or a slice of battenburg. Tough choice!
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Reference: Scalextric Ultimate Guide, 8th Edition.
If you believe you have a yet unrecorded variant and seek confirmation of its authenticity, please contact me at slotcarportal.com.

“Scalextric – The Ultimate Guide 8th Edition” book, with over 700 pages, is available from the Internet. Search online!

Technical developments of Scalextric

Inventor: Fred Francis of Minimodels Ltd.

1957       Introduced as Scalextric at the Harrogate International Toy Fair between the 12th and 19th January. The track was made of rubber with an inset twin-rail for each lane into which the car’s gimbal wheel rested. Electricity passed through the twin rails, through the two-piece insulated gimbal wheel and onward to the electric motor. Initially, an On/Off button was the only means of controlling the amount of electricity sent to the motor – and therefore, the speed of the car.

1960       Introduction of the plastic range of cars; production of the tinplate cars ceased.

In the 1960s the first plastic track system was introduced, called ‘flexi-track’ then it is now known as the ‘classic’ track system. Around the turn of the century the ‘Sport’ track system was introduced. The race track surface was smoother in texture and offered less grip than classic track. However, although not perfect, it was flatter due to additional support walls on the underside and doesn’t suffer from the warping that affected classic track. The track connections were changed to make it easier to assemble and the rail electricity connectors were changed to improve electrical continuity. The whole system is nicer to look at and easier to assemble. Alas, the nett result is that the grip is less (arguably the most important element), track connections are less positive leading to electrical breaks, the rail connections are not an improvement and still lead to electrical discontinuity – power loss or complete power failure! On top of this many iconic track pieces were not converted from classic to Sport resulting in a track system which is a shadow of its former self.
In the 2000s, a new track system called ‘Start’ was introduced. It was innovative in that its geometry was designed in such a way that only 8 pieces were required to make a figure of ‘8’ layout where the normal Scalextric system needed 15 pieces in Sport track and 17 in the Classic system. However, one huge flaw existed – it was designed with a completely different geometric system where by it was not compatible with the current Sport system! It only had a 90 degree standard curve (R2) and this was of a radius somewhere between an Inner Curve (R1) and a Standard Curve (R2) and the straights were not standard. Consequuently, it was withdrawn from the range after three years.

1960       The first Lap Counter was announced in catalogue 1, 1960, although it was probably not available until 1961 when it was advertised for either electrical or manual operation. Since then there has been a variety of lap counters marketed both mechanical and electrical, some more successful than others, all relying on the car operating a mechanical switch in the slot. However, it was not really until the ‘Sport’ track was announced that the system worked really well when not only did it count the number of laps but could also record fastest lap, including various race and practice modes. By 2014, technology had moved forward a pace and a Scalextric APP for use with smart media such as mobile phones and tablets enabled a much better and more reliable way to count laps and display lap times and other in-race data.

1970s     Autostart, Think Tank, Sound Track, Fuel Load Gauge, a working Public Address system, Supersound and Hazard (track pieces with rows of flashing LED lights) were all electronic analogue devices to provide, for their time, exciting real world-like.

1991 saw the release of Permalite Control, an accessory designed to keep cars’ lights full on when racing instead of varying intensity when the throttle was released, including when they were standing still on the track.

1992       A major improvement in 1992 was the availability of Power Base, a simpler and more efficient method of fixing the current supply to the track, transformer and hand controllers.

1993       Following on from this in 1993 was Supersound which featured in many of the sets that year; three different racing sounds came from a separate unit. The same year Megasound was to be found in the more expensive sets, this had a sound unit built into the controller itself so that an engine sound actually worked in conjunction with the speed of the model. This system lasted for some four years when Pole Position Sound was announced.

2002       New CD-driven RMS Race Management System programme for use on a personal computer. This features race times, fastest laps, lap counting, start lights, pit stops, a track design facility and much more. It will accommodate up to six lanes.

2004      ‘Digital Scalextric’ introduced– the invention to take Scalextric into the future.

Sport Digital:  A separate lap counter/race position unit C7039 was added to the range as an accessory, this unit counts up to 999 laps, pre-set as required and will show the lead car on each lap finally displaying the winner at the finish, it can handle up to 6 cars.  Catalogue 49 (2008) illustrated the new Pit Lane game (C7041) adding more play value. 6 cars can be accommodated with up to 3 random pit stops and penalties if a pit stop was missed or entered at the wrong time. This new unit was accompanied by a new 6 car (digital or analogue) Powerbase (C7042), including 5 skill settings, various game modes and even individual hand controller calibration.

2007       The Sport World System allowed Scalextric racers worldwide to race against each other by connecting their layouts to the internet via a PC or laptop. The hardware comprised a control unit incorporating a LCD screen connected to the circuit through a half straight. 9 different race modes were available and the software also included 3D circuit design with buildings and landscapes, pit stops and even weather strategy.

2008       The Gadget Show set a Guiness Book of Rcords record for the fastest Scalextric car.

2008       Whilst earlier games generally were independent of the track the advent of the digital system now allows far greater scope. With C7041 ‘Digital Pit Lane’, introduced in 2008, the game play is actually attached to the circuit layout itself.  Up to six cars can be accommodated and the object of the game is to select and complete up to three pit stops throughout the race. Enter the pit lane when the randomly applied ‘open’ light shows; leaving the pit lane extinguishes the ‘pit’ light for that particular car, enter the pit lane at other times and a pit lane penalty is imposed. The winner is the first to complete all the selected number of pit stops, adds more play value. Additional to this game play device is the C7042 6-car Advanced Power Base which allows full race parameter set-up, race time variable such as Yellow Flag and Penalties. Full power can be lowered for individual cars to either better balance cars against each other or balance the driver abilities.

An important policy decision was taken by Hornby that it would encourage the slot car community to develop its own independent firmware and software options for enhanced race control. C7042 was, therefore, developed and built with a output port for such Open-Source activities. Indeed this led to the active participation of experts from the community to give substantial input in to the systems development. The decision to make the 6-car powerbase compatible with a computer was a sensible idea and has proved to be so with enthusiasts and slot racing clubs taking up Scalextric Digital software systems.

2011       Apps: The advent of digital ‘Smart’ media devices such as iPhone, iPad and similar tablets created more possibilities with Scalextric to create tracks and race cars by oneself.  An ‘App’ (application) software program could be downloaded from the iTunes App store (59p in 2011) called simply SCALEXTRIC.

2013       A new APP called SCALEXTRIC DIGITAL was launched.

2014       A new product was announced in the catalogue – ‘RCS’ –  Race Control System! During 2014, before it was released, the product was renamed ‘ARC’ – APP Race Control to reflect the important point that it used blue-tooth technology that required smart devices such as an I-Pad or similar notepads and smart phones and from which an APP could be downloaded. The APP, called ‘ARC’ allowed the owner to set up races, penalties, driver names, number of laps, etc., etc., from the smart device. When the race was in progress all the race time information would be displayed on the smart device. This enabled a huge step forward in that the need for electronic lap counters, hand controllers with wires and plugs and such ‘cumbersome’ devices such as computers would be a thing of the past. How quickly technology becomes redundant!

2017 saw the introduction of the high-end ARC-PRO system. Essentially a digital version of ARC-AIR featuring many more game play scenarios, wireless hand-controllers and the ARC-PRO APP.

Scalextric Figures: Girls in Scalextric.

Meet the fairer sex in the Scalextric family – or do I mean the female gender or feminine genre?
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No, wait! No need to be overly politically sensitive here. We’re only reviewing plastic toys.

An entire ‘family’ have existed in the Scalextric range snce 1961. Unfortunately, the individuals concerned didn’t age a day for over forty years or changed their dress sense. So, let’s look at how the fairer sex was represented in the Scalextric range since the Scalextric-man first set foot in this World.

The Ascent of Scalextric Wo-Man: In 1961, two ladies appeared in the first Scalextric figure Set F301 Spectators & Press Photographers which contained six figures. One lady is sitting and often painted in blue and green. The other lady stands holding aloft a white pamphlet. Let’s christen them ‘Sita’ and ‘Pammie’! The figures were moulded in pink plastic and remained in the official range throughout the 60s until 1971.

A second Set of figures, F305 Press & Vendors (6 figures) was also released in 1961 that only contained one standing female figure decorated in a green outfit and green hat. I’ll call her ‘Hattie’. She appears to be selling programmes or similar.  This accessory set is harder to find. The boxes for F300-301-302-303-304-305 came with blue or yellow inner cards. The ‘F’ series figures were produced in pink plastic and pre-painted at the factory. Be careful today, though, as the paint is prone to flake off very easily.

 

In 1963, F306A Grandstand figures kit (5 figures as one piece and unpainted) and F306B Grandstand figures kit (5 figures as one piece and unpainted) entered the range. These pair of Scalextric ‘Famous Fives’ figures were intended for the grandstands, you would imagine, and offered in the range as plain unpainted pink plastic figures for the enthusiast to decorate in whatever colours the enthusiast preferred. Unfortunately, they do not ‘sit’ well on a grandstand bench and would fall forward as a group. They could of course be used anywhere on a circuit that seemed appropriate but ‘empty Grandstands’, as is the case to this very day, was the eventual outcome.

F306A’s group of seated figures had a lady resting her head on the shoulder of the man to her right. Let’s refer to her as the ‘Lena. F306B’s group has a lady at the end of the group sitting next to, perhaps, her son and husband. I’ll name her ‘Endora’.

 

In 1971, Scalextric figures appeared to have been made extinct, none were in the catalogue! Further releases of F301 and F306A & B in rebranded packaging appeared during the next 25 years to ‘top up’ thinning retail stocks. Easily confused with the earlier soft pink plastic characters the later range was produced in a harder cream-coloured plastic but painted in the same colours! The seated grandstand figures appeared in both painted and unpainted forms in white, cream and brown base colours – as did the standing spectators.

 

On the top row sits ‘Lena’, leaning on her boyfriend and at the end of the lower row is ‘Endora. Second picture: ‘Pammie’ holds a programme aloft and ‘Sita’ sitting pretty, both with full ‘make-up’ – being pre-painted. On the right, the unpainted grey/brown versions sold in accessory packs.

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Here’s a family album photograph of part of the 20th Century extended Scalextric family!

By the 21st century demand for figures to adorn a scenic Scalextric layout was growing with the recent introduction of modern trackside buildings and in 2004 the next evolution of Scalextric man appeared modelled as pit crews were introduced and dressed in the style of modern F1 overalls and helmets in silver, blue and, for only two years, red crew liveries – but no female crew.

As far as figures of the fairer sex were concerned the tooling from the 20th Century was stuck in time…but then came Woman from Tokyo! “Talk about her like a Queen, Dancing in an Eastern Dream.” (Deep Purple lyric) Despite the need for modern figures for track layouts or dioramas this, all too brief, appearance from the Far East would be the last manifestation of female figures in the Scalextric range.

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The grid girls were only produced, under license by Takara, in Japan along with their Japanese GT C car range and branded ‘Quattrox’. The ‘Scalextric Digital – ready’ cars were produced under license from Scalextric and sold principally in Japan in their TAKARA-Quattrox packaging. Each car came complete with a grid girl clipped in to the plastic base next to the race car. The SCALEXTRIC branded equivalents, sold in the UK and around the world, came WITHOUT a grid girl posing next to the car in its presentation case.
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“Fly into the rising sun, Faces, smiling everyone. Yeah, she is a whole new tradition…” In the 1970s, Deep Purple seemed to have predicted what should happen in the next century – but ‘No’, Hornby decided that the girl figures weren’t politically correct! Imported by Scalextric to the UK market, the race car models didn’t have the grid girl figurines on the plinth.

Quattrox Grid Girls a
From left-to-right:
Roku is the grid girl for the QX06 Toyota Supra GTC au Cerumo 38 car,
Shi is the grid girl for the QX04  Honda NSX GTC Takata 18 car,

Go is the grid girl for the QX05 Toyota Supra GTC Esso 6 car,

Ichi is the grid girl for the QX01 Nissan 350Z GTC Xanavi 1 car,

Ni is the grid girl for the QX02 Nissan 350Z GTC Calsonic 12 car,

San is the grid girl for the QX03 Honda NSX GTC Raybrig 100 car.
Whites, blues and greys are the principal decoration colours of these women from Tokyo though none were dressed in Deep Purple!

So, the female family tree is as follows:

1962 Pammie, Hattie and Sita

1963 Lena and Endora

2006 The six Japanese grid-girls: Ichi, Ni, San, Shi, Go and Roku.

Please refer to the Scalextric Ultimate Guide Edition 8 book, available from Pendle Slot racing and Scale Models, and the accompanying website slotcarportal.com for more information.

SCALEXTRIC From Russia … probably!

It is often impossible to ascertain what Russia has been responsible for despite ‘evidence’ or conjecture. So it is with the story of Scalextric produced in Russia! Did they or didn’t they?
Many Scalextric enthusiasts are aware of the NOVO branded Scalextric sets. BUT! Were the Sets made and sold in the UK, Russia or somewhere else?

In 1975, a British company called Novo Toys Limited was founded and were based at Maxey, near Peterborough, England. Novo Toys was part of the Dunbee-Combex-Marx Group of companies which owned Scalextric. An announcement of that year from DCM explained:

 

“Novo Toys enjoys and exclusive agreement with the Soviet Union to supply moulds and tooling to enable them to help satisfy a growing internal market of some 70 million children. Payment for these moulds is made in products moulded from them and this form of compensation trading is unique in the Britih Toy Industry. Novo personnel are constantly travelling within the Soviet Union and our engineers ensure that high quality standards are maintained. Our range this year covers pre-school items and construction kits and features the successful Big Big Train. New to Novo is our G.T. Racing set together with twelve new additions to the kit range. Shipments from Russia arrive by road trailer from six different locations situated from Moscow to Tashkent and all merchandise is received and inspected in our warehouse in Maxey before being shipped throughout the UK and around the world. Novo Toys is a part of the Dunbee-Combex-Marx Group of companies and is therefore able to draw from an ever increasing supply of moulds and tools which in turn should ensure that a continuing range of attractive products at competitive prices wll be added to the Novo range in the years to come.”

Another Novo leaflet, printed in 1978, in English with Spanish translation, announced:

“New for 1978 Novo introduces “G.T. Racing”, a super value slot racing set. Over 4 metres (420cms) of dual lane flexible track with high speed curved banking ensure record breaking speeds from the Lamborghini and Mirage Ford which are included in the set. Variable banking supports and crash barriers help keep the cars on the track and speed is controlled by the pistol grip hand controllers.” G.T. Racing set was catalogue item 78001.

The Novo set was NOVO, of course, but all tooling still had the Scalextric logo and patent information engraved in to the steel so the resulting plastic products had the well known Scalextric logo and information moulded in to the plastic. The Sets were made with the very tooling that DCM owned and used at the Margate factory so the Sets were genuine Scalextric products made in the USSR under license. Paperwork in the Set was in Engish entitled “Auto racing”, “Test-experimental (proof) Office of Moscow”, ”220 volts”, “The toy”. “Electronic toy assembly. “The training path”, “Guarantee education” and also a note showing a production run of 15,000. The set had two cars; C15 Ford Mirage and C17 Lamborghini plus various track sections. This was made in St. Petersberg and had ‘Made in USSR’ stamped underneath. The Ford Mirage was made in a drab green colour and the Lamborghini in a pale yellow.

In addition it is possible that a Ferrari P4 was made but in a dull red colour. The C13 Tiger Special was also produced, with ‘Made in USSR’ on the underside, and sold in bright green and yellow versions – two very rare colour variations to collect. All cars appear to have been fitted with yellow wheel hubs.

The second version of the Set was manufactured in Moscow, and possibly at several other Russian locations, for the Russian market. The Set card box is made of a heavier card with the set artwork very similar but the text and titles were all in Russian. The cars and track also varied considerably from the St. Petersberg made items. The engine and axle carrier/chassis used a different moulding without the ‘U’ shaped aluminium bracket, the guide blade is larger. The driver pan is different because of the new rear axle/motor assembly but the motor is the same as the Novo motor. The track and barriers were also a new tooling. The track had a sleeved slot, metal rail pins to connect one track piece to the next and a yellow plastic links which hooked on to the track edge corners to physically hold the track pieces together. The barriers had a ballastraded design and the controllers no longer featured the name Novo. The car bodies of the Lamborghini Miura and a Ford Mirage were moulded in red and blue colours respectively. From the descriptions it can be seen that the Set wasn’t a copy of the Novo Set but a re-engineered product to suit production methods or requirements of the Socialist countries.

So, at first glance, the Soviets did make Scalextric sets in Moscow for Russian and the Eastern Bloc countries which, whilst NOVO exported Sets made in St. Petersberg, Russia to the UK. The statement from DCM infers that there was an agreement with the Russian State to make slot racing Sets using tooling and intellectual property (IP) supplied by DCM. It would appear that NOVO, having the tooling for the car bodies and wheel hubs and a supply of motors, produced a quantity for the Russian producer(s). However, as all components (with the exception of the car bodies, motor and wheel hubs) have been re-engineered the resulting slot-racing product can’t be called Scalextric at all, although it is a distant comrade.

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Other products involved in this international arrangement with NOVO included FROG plastic kits and BIG BIG TRAIN – also produced in the Scalextric factory at Margate.

In 1977, Novo Toys applied to Peterborough council for approval for factory and office extensions and for retention of temporary office buildings but both were not approved by the council. Novo ceased trading in 1980 and liquidation was completed in 1985.

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So, ‘No!’, Russia didn’t make Scalextric products… technically! …probably!

Lamborghini Diablo

Lamborghini Diablo
One of Lamborghini’s most intimidating supercars, the Diablo had an 11-year production run (1990-2001) including six generation revisions. It was named after one particularly infamous fighting bull. Scalextric released the Diablo in 1990 and added a rear wing (an optional addition for the full-size car) in 1991 with the final release in 1999 being the only tooling amendment to the Scalextric car body despite many real world car revisions. This is normal in the world of toy and model cars – no need to make expensive tooling amendments if demands don’t dictate. It is very unlikely that the tooling will be used again so that fact makes the Diablo a good candidate for a concise and achievable collectable Scalextric range with a few ‘specials’ as tantalising options.
The full size cars were raced in GT1, GT2, Lamborghini Supertrophy and JGTC series essentially as factory backed teams.
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Scalextric models:
In 1990, the Diablo was first introduced as a business-to-business incentive to boost sales in the Spanish market via Spanish wholesaler Hisinsa under Hornby’s ‘SUPERSLOT’ brand. SUPERSLOT is the name under which Scalextric was sold in Spain due to ‘SCALEXTRIC’ already being a separately owned brand name in Spain. The C360 & C361 brown and white liveries bearing the ‘Palau’ slot shop’s name, a major Spanish retailer in Barcelona, were released in Spain via the retailer and are now quite hard to find. They would from the basis of a collection quite nicely as being the only single-colour livery Diablo cars in these colours together with their standard black windowed card box with red pin-striping with individually numbered limited edition certificate inside!
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The first general release Scalextric Lamborghini Diablo arrived in 1991 and, confusingly, carried the reference C127 which had already been used for the McLaren M23 in 1978. (Note: C360 was also a reused number!) The 1992 release, the black Diablo, also doubled-up on the reference of C283 which had previously been used on a Rover 3500 in 1981. Why reference numbers were duplicated, a practice that still occurs to this day, is a mystery. Human error, probably! In 1991 the black C283 road car was released in Set C770 Road Racing and as a solo car and without a rear wing and then quickly followed up by another black solo version with a rear wing fitted – but still sold as C283. So, C283 has Type 1 – no wing, Type 2 rear wing versions. The winged version was thought to be a limited release at the time but has since been found to be just as common with or without a rear wing. Plain red (C411, no wing) and green (C452 with wing) versions followed.

The annual Scalextric Range Presentation of 1998 saw the Diablo (C2069) used as the representation model for the year despite having been in the range for eight years. This limited availability car, only given to Hornby business account holders, was sprayed gold but due to a paint or body preparation error the paint finished soon ‘crazed’ on most examples to a lesser or greater extent.
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The Diablo was also produced as a clear plastic model to be part of a ‘Crystal Classics’ range which was abandoned due to lack of retail interest. This interesting model allowed all internal parts of the car to be seen. Having the appearance of glass crystal the intention was that it would be more of a decorative retail item aimed at high-street stores selling presents and cards, etc. There were also clear cars for the Brooklands slot-car swap meets and Barry Potter Auctions. They were available with or without lights but as they were not released in commercial quantities they were not assigned official ‘C’ references – though I have assigned references in the Scalextric Ultimate Guide book to help in recording these and similar such releases.
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Due to the lack of real world Diablo race cars most of the Scalextric range is dedicated to road liveries and ‘event’ cars and just three pseudo-race liveries.
Part of the licensing requirements from companies such as Lamborghini is that they do their utmost to protect their brand image. A privately owned Lamborghini race car is of little importance to Lamborghini’s branding department so their main focus is on encouraging a model/toy manufacturer to make a car that represents their official factory cars. That is why most Lamborghini Scalextric models simply reflect their standard house colours of orange, green and yellow. Other colours take a distinct back seat. Liveries bearing the raging bull outline or the letters ‘SV’ (one of their models) make regular appearances throughout the range of Lamborghini in addition to the Diablo model.
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Special one-off liveries have appeared over the years such as a Police car with working flashing roof light but was never released. Brand tie-ups with Premier League football were launched with a range of Ferrari F40 ‘football’ cars. In the initial stages a range of test liveries were created and offered to the respective licence holders. Some were supplanted on to the Diablo and a Manchester United and an Aston Villa decorated car have been recorded. Neither were released as part of the football range and therefore are rather collectable. Another football connection may have been considered with a Brazilian CBF decorated football liveried Diablo. It’s only one more step to another Brazilian connection with a range of cars, not just Lamborghini, celebrating F1 World Champion Senna. Chromed cars used as official competition road show prizes exist as do various coloured body shells. These are always very rare with only a handful or single examples known to exist. Examples of the engineering process in adding the rear wing to the car also exist. Some body samples, usually in different shades of green, exist that show round pin holes for the planned rear wing. However, the design was changed at some stage before production so that the rear wing slotted in to larger, stronger rectangular slots.

The ‘Senna’ collection range included Audi A4 touring car, Williams F1 car, Subaru Impreza rally car and the Lamborghini Diablo. This brand tie-up worked well and saw two Diablo cars in blue/white (F2223) and yellow/green (F2224) liveries as solo cars and a Set F1037 GT Championship. This range of Senna items were all prefixed with ‘F’ rather than ‘C’. I believe the ‘F’ should have been a suffix, not a prefix, and so should have been C2223F, etc. These solo Diablo cars are packaged in a plastic base, crystal box lid and card sleeve fully branded with SENNA graphics.

Variety; plain road livery, race livery, chrome, with and without lights, football, police, clear, licensed, dual-branded solo cars and Sets. Something for everyone!

Lamborghini has a tradition of naming its cars after breeds of fighting bulls. The Diablo was named after a ferocious bull raised by the Duke of Veragua in the 19th century, famous for fighting an epic battle with ‘El Chicorro’ in Madrid on 11 July 1869. In this day and age it is not necessary to go to such lengths in achieving such a collection but to be the conquistador of this herd of bulls would still be quite a challenge but a devil of a collection.

References: Ultimate Guide, 8th Edition,
If you believe you have a yet unrecorded variant and seek confirmation of its authenticity, please contact me at slotcarportal.com.
“Scalextric – The Ultimate Guide 8th Edition” book, with over 700 pages, is available from the Internet. Search online! Also see http://www.slotcarportal.com

NASCAR – “Start your Engines” with Dale Earnhardt Snr.

NASCAR – “Start your Engines” with Dale Earnhardt Snr.

1997: Dale Earnhardt’s famous No.3 Goodwrench sponsored car was to be the first NASCAR car to be released by Scalextric. In the 1990s, Dale Earnhardt Snr was the man to beat on the NASCAR oval and circuits. Earnhardt, known as ‘The Intimidator’, was a hard charger and had a huge fan base through winning the NASCAR ‘Winston Cup Series’ championships between 1975 and 1994 a record breaking seven times. Scalextric took the decision to go with a new racing theme and Dale Earnhardt’s car was to be the first one to market.

In 1997, SCALEXTRIC released their first take on North American Stock Car racing with a range of Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Ford Thunderbird cars. It was a ‘toe-in-the-water’ moment for Scalextric as they had not previously released NASCAR model racing cars. There was, rather obviously, a large market potential waiting to be tapped. NASCAR racing has always been a huge spectator sport in the USA but, for the rest of the World, the final decades of the 20th century began to see widely available   broadcasting of NASCAR races. Our awareness of the cars and drivers grew with such manufacturer names as Pontiac, Dodge, Chevrolet, Ford and drivers Earnhardt and Gordon – and, I’m sure for many fans, this list would more-or-less be endless. Drivers and cars were deeply associated with commercial branding such as Dupont, Valvoline, Kellogg’s, etc. so one’s allegiance may be with a driver, car or brand. Would SCALEXTRIC find a fruitful market? The answer was ‘YES’ but it wouldn’t be an easy road for Hornby Hobbies even though the commercial feedback from the USA and European retailers suggested that NASCAR slot cars would be good for 32nd scale racing.

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From 1997 to 1999, SCALEXTRIC released the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Monte Carlo in a one-piece body format and generic chassis with stronger ‘down-force’ magnets. They were not particularly refined or accurate, indeed they used the F1 front hubs and tyres from the ‘Team’ single-seat range, but they did provide a racing theme that had not been available before. The well-known brand names were there; Ford, Chevrolet, Valvoline, Kellogg’s, Kodak, Exide and their drivers. There were already different versions of the same ‘C’ number which caught the interest of the serious collectors with the Kellogg’s chicken ‘looking left’ or ‘right’ on the famous number ‘5’ car of Terry Labonte. With as many as fifty-plus cars on the famous US ovals and road courses, SCALEXTRIC would find it impossible to meet demand so plain black and white versions were also released to allow racing or modelling enthusiasts to decorate their own cars with 1/32nd scale waterslide decals. There were some car liveries that never made it to market including the one that everyone wanted – Dale Earnhardt’s famous No.3 Goodwrench sponsored car! Due to licensing issues the car was never released and the plain black or white issues were eagerly seized to allow fans to decorate their own ‘Intimidator’ car livery. Business-to-business activity had also begun with a ‘BRYAN’ #30 sponsored car which was sold in sets in the USA by the sponsor and team. This red and black liveried SCALEXTRIC car is very hard to find. Other proposed liveries included sponsors such as PEPSI and CARTOON NETWORK amongst others. This first clutch of NASCAR cars were part tampo-printed and came with an additional sticker sheet. This was partly due to keeping the cost of dozens of tampo-print operations down to a minimum so that the car could be recognized with a basic livery and a single sponsor decoration and with an accompanying sticker sheet with the many minor sponsor logos. They were robust and colourful cars though they may not have survived this initial arrival to the slot car market-place if it hadn’t have been for the arrival of a new slot car manufacturer called FLY. This new manufacturer from Spain raised the bar in terms of design, handling and decoration. SCALEXTRIC had to respond. They did, quickly!

1999: The on-coming ‘Tide’.
SCALEXTRIC released the FORD TAURUS and PONTIAC GRAND PRIX and, this time, the car was much more detailed with a driver pan and driver, NASCAR wheel hubs and a switch-over to full tampo printing and stronger bar magnets. For the NASCAR fan, and with nearly twenty different liveries issued during the next two years, the favourite cars were on the grid with liveries from McDonalds, Valvoline, Home Depot, DeWalt, Exide, Tide and others. If this wasn’t enough to feed the insatiable appetite for US stock cars then there were a further re-liveries of these cars each year.

2001: Not enough?
The 1999 TAURUS model was replaced with the 2001-shape TAURUS car with a further ten liveries but now with a full driver interior and a side-winder motor configuration. The side-winder chassis layout was another foray in to the unknown as Scalextric were normally ‘in-line’.

For the collector, the Pfizer #6 car is difficult to find. The CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO, released in 1999 spawned an incredible fourteen liveries with STP #43 and LYCOS #10 being particularly hard to find now.
There were multiple versions to collect if following the driver, the sponsor or the car brand. The most prolific liveries are of Tide, Exide and Valvoline. Plain white models were released with the introduction of every model release to offer the option of decorating cars – replicating the real-world liveries or one’s own creations.

2005: ‘Tide’ floods the market.
Other slot-car brands couldn’t let Scalextric have the pie all to themselves and quite predictably slot car manufacturers SCX and Carrera released NASCAR cars over the coming years very successfully at first. It wasn’t too long before the market was saturated with 1/32nd scale slot cars and all three manufacturers were struggling to sell through and bargains were available for slot fans.

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On track, driver Jimmie Johnson was challenging Jeff Gordon for the championships and the Lowes #48 and Dupont #24 became a CHEVROLET staple in the SCALEXTRIC range – and the final pickings in a decreasing market affecting the hobby in general. The 2005-shape TAURUS was released with only a further two liveries.

As with many sports such as F1, there is a ‘silly season’ in NASCAR when drivers, teams, sponsors and manufacturers end and begin new contracts. This presents problems for all merchandisers in the form of licensing with huge corporations involved in NASCAR, legal machinations can over-run. This can have a domino effect reaching down to the comparatively small minnows in the pond. Toy and model manufacturers may have worked on models and decoration over the Winter on the assumption that the teams would continue as per the prior year. Minor sponsor changes can be accommodated but sometimes mid-season changes can scupper plans as happened with the 2005 Chevy Monte Carlo teams of National Guard, Kellogg’s and US Army (C2892 and C2895) which were announced in the catalogue but were not released.

2008: …and now a drought!
Having had such a good run with releasing these cars in recent years the slot car manufacturers were finding it difficult to sell the remaining stocks around the World. Carrera and SCX jumped out of the game. Collectors and racers enjoyed a bonanza for nearly a decade and after a two-year drought of new releases from SCALEXTRIC, demand for the cars was still evident and, surprisingly, a final model was released in 2008 in the form of the CHEVROLET IMPALA.
The model was released in the form of the ‘Car of Tomorrow’ (COT) shape CHEVROLET IMPALA with nine releases. Familiar names, sponsors and car numbers appeared; such as Gordon, Johnson, and brand names Kellogg’s, Lowes, Dupont and National Guard.

2009: Ending the race with Earnhardt Jnr.
Perhaps, the most notable and quite coincidental name to appear in final batch of releases is the famous racing family name of Earnhardt. Son of Dale Earnhardt (Snr), Dale Earnhardt Jnr drove the #88 IMPALA with the National Guard livery. The car of father Dale (Snr) was the first livery proposed for release back in 1997 but was cancelled at the beginning of the bountiful decade of NASCAR releases.

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2011: The final flag:
Amongst the final SCALEXTRIC NASCAR models issued featured as part of the PRO PERFORMANCE kit range. The kit provided a plain white IMPALA body, glass, chassis, driver tub, driver and all the running gear, motor, wiring and guide blade parts to complete the kit with, of course, the option to decorate as required.

2012: Return to the garage:
From the first NASCAR releases, credit has to go to SCALEXTRIC USA who were principally involved, naturally, in recognising the demand for decorated and plain white cars. Since NASCAR grids in the real world were huge, not every fan was going to be catered for even though SCALEXTRIC released over 50 liveries plus many variations during the period. Plain white cars were popular for replicating cars by modelling with spray painting and water slide decals. Many NASCAR liveries (real world) were one-off decorations. In fact, it is common, not only in NASCAR, but from F1 downwards, cars will often have sponsor and decoration changes from one race to the next whether they are minor sponsor amendments or complete livery changes. Using the plain white-bodied releases, slot-racing fans can decorate a car body in a very specific livery such as STAR WARS, SUPERMAN, SCOOBY-DOO or from an incredibly wide selection of alternative water-slide decals available around the World.
For now, with no slot car manufacturers producing NASCAR car, fans will have to be satisfied with creating water-slide creations, collectors can finally complete their collection and racers & clubs will have to be satisfied with the diminishing availability of models and liveries. Racing NASCAR slot cars is great fun as they are generally very robust models whilst collecting the models gives a very colourful presentation to display of the famous drivers, cars and brands. Sadly, though, not Earnhardt #3!

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“Scalextric – The Ultimate Guide 8th Edition” book, with over 700 pages, is available from the Internet. Search online!

BENTLEY 4.5 Litre – ‘Well I’ll be blowed, a RED one?!’

BENTLEY 4.5 Litre – ‘Well I’ll be blowed, a RED one?!’

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Let’s do the history first! We all know, don’t we, that any Bentley is a high value prestigious vehicle aimed at high society. Well, they were but that didn’t excuse them from being (ab)used on the race track. Bentley had a 3 litre model and a 6.5 litre model. The 6.5 litre model had the potential to win but needed something extra. W.O. Bentley didn’t approve of forced induction systems but, nonetheless, Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin made five blower Bentley’s for the Le Mans race. Two cylinders were removed from the 6.5 litre engine reducing it to 4.5 litres (or thereabouts) and a supercharger, otherwise known as a ‘blower’, was fitted to the front. Fifty-five copies were made by Bentley to comply with Le Mans homologation rules. Tim Birkin was one of a small group of racing enthusiasts, to later be known as the ‘Bentley Boys’, who would go on to help the team see the Bentley 4.5L ‘blower’ cars to victory at Le Mans over a winning streak from 1927 to 1931. The rest is history, including the sale of Bentley Motors to Rolls-Royce during the 1930’s financial recession post Wall Street. The racing successes made this car a famous British icon carried in the hearts and minds of a growing public awareness of motor sport.

When collecting Scalextric cars one will undoubtedly come across the between-the-Wars Bentley or the current Continental GT3 cars. Both handsome beasts and certainly both are monsters on the race track. Not to everyone’s taste but they can’t be ignored as Scalextric models as there are standard issues and some very, very rare pre-production   models as well as very, very rare fully decorated models.

Bentley 4.5 Litre

In 1962, catalogue 3 displayed the new Scalextric 1929 Bentley 4.5 Litre race car complete with a blower in front of the famous radiator grill. Referenced as C64, it was available in black or green. There are some quite delicate parts to the design of the model. The headlamp stalks, the four mudguards and the fan-tail exhaust would very likely be the first components to break or go missing. Pretty much the same as the real race car! Today, a second-hand in a far worse state than this can be found but the fun is in the chase for a nice boxed and unspoilt model. They can be found, at a price usually, but they were produced in goodness knows how many thousands in green but the black Bentley is the hardest to find. The black version was only released once, hence the rarity of this livery.
A Scalextric Set was the place to begin one’s fascination with electric model car racing and Scalextric were quick to also release a Bentley set. Referenced ‘V3’ and named ‘Vintage Motor Racing’, the set contained both black and green Bentleys.

The second Scalextric factory, located in Calais, France was also producing the entire Scalextric range as fast as it could to meet the incredibly high market demand during the 1960s. Tooling moulds were often shared between the UK and French factories. In France, the Bentley was issued in the green livery as well as a lower number of black versions. These can be identified by the light brown tonneau covers (grey for the UK) over the rear seats and red spoked wheels (black for the UK). The underpan may be embossed, using an interchangeable insert inside the steel mould, as ‘Made in England’, ‘Made in France’ or simply a blank space where the ‘Origin’ stamp wasn’t available ((or forgotten!).

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The more common green variant was also released in 1982 (C305) as part of the ‘Vintage Collection’ series, a little know release in 1986 (C839 but identical to 1982 C305) and then again in 1992 as part of a ‘Power & Glory’ collectable range following a TV programme called ‘The Power and the Glory’’.
A dark blue version was released in 1995 (C242), and in Spain as H242 under Scalextric’s Superslot brand created for the Spanish and Mexican markets, as part of another collectable range called ‘Racing Classics’. Why blue? As far as I know, it didn’t reflect any of the full-size race cars but at least it was something other than ‘another green one’! The guide blade, motor and entire underpan evolved as the decades rolled past. A complete specification of each model is in the ‘Ultimate Guide’ book.
Note: On a black Bentley, beware of replacement mudguards or head lamp stalks painted black!

For something different turn to the pre-production and other factory prepared models such as the chromed Bentleys giving to guests to the factory, to race competition winners or for other special occasions. It had always been quite normal for Scalextric to use the technique of chrome-plating components such as bumpers and lights to provide a rather unusual prize or gift of a car completely chromed and, usually, mounted on a wooden plinth with a plaque marking the occasion. Chromed Bentley’s are interesting items especially if the provenance of the plaque or story from the recipient accompanies the model.
Pre-production models are very rare but they do turn up. Models in white, blue and red have been seen and are photographed in the ‘Scalextric – Ultimate Guide, 8th Edition’ (see page 398). There are only two recorded models of the red car. One of these and had been painted green when it was produced at the factory and decorated as a display example for its forthcoming release in to the Scalextric range and had remained undiscovered for thirty years before it was realised.

These Bentley models were presented in a variety of boxes from the original card light blue with black & white chequer, the French version of this has a striking pink to one end of the box. The Power & Glory, Vintage and Classic collectable ranges have raised backing cards with attractive graphics.

Bentley Continental GT3

Coming up to date, 2012 saw the introduction of the Bentley Continental GT3 to the race tracks of the world – a welcome return for the famous Le Mans winning brand name. The 4 litre, V8, twin-turbo, 550bhp GT3 race cars are still being developed for racing after 120 podiums and 45 race wins. Pretty impressive.

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Scalextric began with the fully detailed white and green Works liveried car (C3514) and the ‘super-resistant’ ‘Generation Bentley’ team car (C3515) in 2012. All GT3 Bentleys are fitted with a DPR chassis. Since 2012 the white/black M-Sport (C3595), a green No85 (C3713), white ALD No84 (C3714), a white 60th Anniversary celebration (C3813A), a red/black ALD No84 and a blue ‘ONLYWATCH’ No84 cars have been released. Perhaps a few more will follow these.

A Bentley race Set was released with ‘road’ versions of the car. The Set, C1349 Bentley GT3 Racers, contained a black/red car and a black/white car. Both cars had no other decoration and might, perhaps, be typical of ‘play things’ the rich and famous might commission direct from the Bentley factory!

Once again, an anomaly has been thrown up with a particular model. C3515, the Generation Bentley car, should have a white body with blue, silver and grey Union Jack flag on the roof and flanks. A few incorrectly decorated pre-production samples were released by Scalextric to the collector’s market via various fund-raising and marketing events in the UK. These variants have a silver body instead of white.
More variants include GT3 Bentleys used for testing decoration techniques. About ten bodies were sprayed and painted in several techniques to create some interesting designs at the Margate factory. A number of these samples were issued as prizes or samples for feedback. There are only two known body types, one of which was only part of the engineering process when it was discovered that early pre-production samples have two air-jack connectors on the rear boot valance instead of the eventual (and correct) single connector. Tooling differences can be interesting to collectors.
Finally, just as there was a very rare plain red 1929 Bentley 4.5 Litre there is also a very rare plain red Bentley Continental GT3 out there somewhere.
The GT3 cars come in three packaging styles; blue base, grey base and card boxes.

Which to collect, then? Both super-cars of their days, the Bentley range of Scalextric cars is a definitive and achievable collection if sticking to the mass produced standard range and enough to fill a very presentable and modest display cabinet. On the other hand, where thee fun is in the chase, seeking the rarer 4.5 litres or GT3 cars will be an enormous challenge. The cars described here are NOT a definitive list. There are at least twelve 1929 Bentley 4.5 Litre variations and twenty-four GT3 variants! Whichever the preference, they are probably a ‘must have’ in most collections.

References: Ultimate Guide, 8th Edition,
Bentley 4.5litre: pages 82, 393, 398, 411.
Bentley Continental GT3: Page 82.

If you believe you have a yet unrecorded variant and seek confirmation of its authenticity, please contact me at slotcarportal.com.

“Scalextric – The Ultimate Guide 8th Edition” book, with over 700 pages, is available from the Internet. Search online!