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Whatever happened to kits?

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  • Whatever happened to kits?

    A recent post got me wondering whatever happened to slot car kits, so I decided to ask you guys. Who made the first RTR cars using high end parts as opposed to simple replacements for broken set cars? Or which company was most influential in driving the popularity of RTR’s?

    When I started the hobby, we all got excited about building the latest kits from Monogram or Revell. We learned what made a car work, how to modify it for better performance and later began building them from scratch. Just before I drifted away from slots I bough my first RTR, a 1/32 scale Cox Lola coupe with the iso-fulcrum chassis. Pretty impressive little car, but not really up to enthusiast level.

    Fast forward 50 years and everyone it including serious racers are running tuned RTR’s in their clubs. After rooting around on the internet a good while I found out that there are still people building beautiful cars from scratch, but they were no longer the core of the hobby.

    So what happened while I was away?
    Mike V.
    Western North Carolina

  • #2
    Our whole 1/32 Showdown Series is scratchbuilding. Plenty of it still happening. Not even sure how you missed it being here? lol

    Times simply change. Instant satisfaction.

    Even back in the 60's we had sets and ready to run cars.

    These "ready to run" models are also primed for tuning. Again...I just did a series on both the Carrera NASCAR and Pioneer Legends.

    There are all sorts of aftermarket parts today to tune and learn about these models. Many folks have extreme knowledge of these cars and how they work. Most of them get a new or NSR and tear it down and go through it.

    If you really look at the cars these clubs are running...they are FAR from just taking out of the box and racing.


    • #3
      I can't remember what my first RTR car was when I got started with slot cars in the early 60s and my cars were all from racing sets. I think the first kit I bought was a 1/32 Cox Ford GT which I loved. When I got back into slots 15 years ago the level of detail on the cars was amazing to me. I saw a Revell-Monogram Greenwood Corvette in a hobby shop and bought it even though I didn't have a track to use it on. After building a routed track I discovered Pioneer and Scalextric vintage Trans Am cars and began creating a series. I built a few of my own but they've all been replaced with much more realistic looking RTR cars.

      I had 4 dozen of them before doing the same with mostly Fly classic Le Mans type cars. Then came CanAm cars and now I can accurately recreate races between the best cars and drivers in those types of cars from the mid 60's to mid 70's. I interpret Fly's business model as 'if the cars look good enough people will buy them despite wonky running gear'. Considering how many of their 'classics' I have and how much I paid for them it seems they were right.


      • slothead
        slothead commented
        Editing a comment
        I need to add that I'm an extremely noncompetitive slot car racer now gone solo so that tuning one car against another has no value to me. I only tune cars to get them closely clustered around the class average so simulated races based on lap times are competitive. As Harry points out above, most guys on HRW are tuners and builders as seen by the Showdown and numerous proxies this community participates in. Generally speaking, stock RTR cars are ideal for an entry level class newbies can participate in or where the primary focus is on the social aspect of getting together to race and no one wants to spend the money needed for better cars. My first experience with club racing was through a stock Womp series at a commercial track decades ago.

    • #4
      Sorry, guys. Obviously I eventually found this and other sites that feature a lot of scratch building and “blueprinting” of RTR cars. I love that a lot of this is still going on , it’s just not obvious when first getting started these days. I was more interested in finding out what happened historically to bring such high quality RTR’s to the market.

      Mike V.
      Western North Carolina