Reminders are needed, from time to time, of the pure joy of driving, and Volkswagen’s Jetta is just the thing to pleasantly jog one’s memory.
The conservatively styled Jetta’s exterior has been slightly smoothed and refined for 2016, but its mechanical workings needed no tweaks. The Jetta feels much like the small nimble BMW’s of years past, before they became power hungry heavier brutes as they grew ever larger.
Jetta is a near perfect blend of compact family sedan and sports sedan and lucky for most of us, continues at a modest price compared to that of today’s SUV-laden market. But even at a slightly higher price tag the Jetta would be a bargain, if, and it’s a big if, today’s drivers knew what they were missing by driving crossovers and SUVs.
In short, Jetta is quick with lively handling made all the more fun by VW’s fine 6-speed manual transmission. Call it sporty, call it a blast, but also call it practical because as a compact sedan it will easily seat four average sized adults and carry their luggage too with its generously sized trunk.
Another bonus, Jetta also delivers excellent fuel economy. I got 28.6 miles per gallon in about 60% city driving. The EPA rates the car at 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. Read more
I hate to brag but…..
This car blog has presented me with opportunities I might not have had. I have gotten to drive cars that many of you dream about like a Ford GT40, Chaparral 2F, TransAm Javelin, and an Indy car. Ok, time to fess up. The cars I mentioned are actually 1/32nd scale slot cars.
Like a lot of you guys, I started out with HO stuff, then lost interest, flipped the track and cars on eBay. So I’m good, right? Until I started to work for a publisher who published a magazine targeted to the hobby shop owner. My co-workers did reviews on 1/32 slot cars and had tracks to race them. Being a car guy, they invited me to a race night to watch and even let me race a car. Boooom, that was it, I was in again. I was buying cars like….well I don’t know….deliveries were almost daily at home and work. Like a slot car drug house. I’ve slowed down quite a bit now. Below are some of my cars. There’s a lot more where that comes from.
Designing the cars of your dreams Read more
Ninco, now being distributed exclusively by Professor Motor in the U.S., is reintroducing a series of five somewhat generic Formula 1 cars to its lineup, a good product for clubs or groups that enjoy racing identical cars.
These racers resemble the former SCX F1 cars in that the front suspension looks real, with A-arms and wheels that are steerable, being controlled by the slot’s movement. The body resembles a Team Jordan F1 car from the late 1990s to early 2000s and in fact is labeled Jordan on the chassis.
This racer is sturdy and likely the body will hold up well in heavy use. The nose wing is thick and well attached to the body shell as is the rear wing, which is molded into the bodywork, so less likely to snap off when the car de-slots. Its mirrors are the most likely body part to be lost over time.
That said, as with the former SCX models with steerable front wheels and a more detailed suspension, I suspect the thin suspension parts will snap after several heavy hits into other cars or during a serious de-slot. The good news is the cars will run even with damaged front suspensions, they just won’t look as realistic while on track.
Ninco uses its normally peppy NC-14 Speeder motor that generates 20,600 rpm. Straight line speed should be good, but on my test track the car was more than a full second slower than a similar Scalextric open-wheel car, with silicone tires. Silicones usually will cut a half-second off a lap time.
The standard tires here are a very hard rubber and grip is minimal. They also are quite stiff, so hard to remove from the wheel, but you’ll want to purchase proper silicones to give the car more grip. That helps in turns, but also in putting power to the track in a straight line.
The magnet Ninco uses is small too and sits in front of the inline motor instead of behind it, as in many other slot car chassis. That placement doesn’t help give it good rear tire grip or balance, so likely with slicks the Ninco will still be a hair slower that competitors. Again, if your buddies are all racing the other Ninco F1 cars, that won’t matter.
For gearheads, literally, the Ninco F1 has a 2.48mm axle and 9-tooth pinion and 24-tooth crown gear. The car weighs 73 grams and feels quite solid.
The test car was red with white and black trim on the wings and car’s sides and engine cowling. This is car No. 3, while the other cars in this series are No. 5 in black with slight yellow trim, No. 2 in blue and white, No. 15 in yellow and black, and an all-white model you can decorate yourself.
Experienced slot car racers will recognize this as a somewhat simplified F1 car, but a good looking car for a newcomer. But you’ll need silicone tires and likely an additional magnet to keep it firmly planted on the track and able to use its power.
Product: Formula 1 (red)
Maker: Ninco (now available from Professor Motor and hobby stores)
Stock No.: 150697
MSRP: $64.99 (you can usually find this for sale in the $40-45 range)
It’s official my and Mark’s slot car tracks are crap
When I worked with Mark at Kalmbach Publishing he and a couple of other guys there got me into slot car racing. They gave me one crappy car and I was hooked. What car guy wouldn’t be? I was sucked in and started buying more cars off eBay. Most of the other guys I raced with had tracks and of course I had to build one. Mine is a much smaller replica of Road America, a track Mark and I both love and have driven on multiple times. I was happy with it until I saw this track pictured on the left. Read more
Slot.it creates a fast, good-looking Can-Am McLaren
I Always have loved Can-Am cars, their shape, their power and the fact that many of the best drivers from the late 1960s and early ‘70s ran them.
So for slot car racers it’s happy news that Slot.it is extending its stable of Can-Am (Canadian-American Challenge Cup) cars with a new McLaren M8D from 1971. Slot.it has been producing highly competitive slot racers for 10+ years and this McLaren is as fast as its past models.
Slot.it cars have lightweight chassis with strong magnets and are well balanced to begin with. Add in a 21,500-rpm sidewinder motor and they are fast and easy to drive right out of the box. The real racer’s engine cranked 680 horses, so it’s appropriate that Slot.it gives the model a high-revving motor.
There aren’t a ton of Can-Am cars available, but this is a nice addition with its crisp paint and tampo printing job to create a stunning glossy black racer with yellow rear wing.
With the addition of just one larger magnet atop the standard bar magnet, the well detailed test car was turning laps within 0.1 seconds of my best current Can-Am racer made by Revell Monogram. With the proper silicone tires, this will easily be among your quickest, best-handling cars, and with little prep time. Read more
Ford’s Mustang was the Boss of Trans-Am racing in the early 1970s with the likes of Parnelli Jones and George Follmer winning regularly to put Chevy, Plymouth and AMC on notice.
Scalextric has been mining that popular muscle car vein with is fast and furious 1:32 slot car lineup for several years. Racers in our slot car group have been buying Scalextric Mustangs and Camaros for years because they are fast – period. They also stir our memories of Trans-Am races from the golden age of muscle and pony car racing, the 1970s.
The latest Scalextric offering is a Grabber Green 1969 Mustang fastback driven in part of the 1972 Trans-Am season by little known Mike Folsom with Libre Racing International. Team results were nothing exciting, but this slightly turquoise leaning green Mustang was a hit with fans. One reason, it was the only factory-Grabber Green Mustang created by the factory for racing.
It also looks great in action on a slot car track. Read more
Detail, performance mark new Porsche as a winner
Slot.it is known for its strong lineup of LeMans and GT racers and this one is from the 1998 Oschersleben 500, the opening round of the FIA GT Championship season, in Germany. This white and red beauty run by the Zakspeed team finished fourth overall with German drivers Alexander Grau and Andreas Scheld at the wheel.
The car was all new in 1998 to take on the likes of the uber successful Mercedes-Benz CLK GTRs on their better Bridgestone tires. Zakspeed was running less competitive Pirelli tires that season. But none of that will matter with the Slot.it version. Read more
Special Audi LeMans racer looks great, fast on track!
I first ran into Slot.it racers in while walking the exhibits at Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, 10 years ago and was impressed with the firm’s detailed car bodies. But I have to admit, at the time I thought, “Good luck. Hope you make a go of it.”
There’s plenty of competition in the slot world, with well-established players. … BUT Slot.it DID make a go of it, and now celebrates its 10th anniversary with the reissuing of its original Audi R8C LeMans racer. When first launched it was rare for a slot car maker to have such a new model, as the car had raced at LeMans in 1999.
But that’s just the start of how Slot.it has pushed the envelope for 1:32 scale slot cars. Its chassis and wheels are light, some models using hollow aluminum wheels, and its motors are tightly wound for power. Most enthusiasts consider these to be the top-level cars on the market, in looks, and performance. Read more
OK, show of hands. Who’s a Star Wars geek? OK who’s seen the movies? OK, who has ever heard of Star Wars? You know, “May the force be with you”. Big guy in black that has trouble breathing. This movie clip should help. Well if you haven’t, you’ve been stuck on some tropical island for the last 4o years. And you didn’t invite me? I am definitely built for warm weather. Anyway back to Star Wars. I was standing in line as a kid to watch the first film in the series released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars. I paid to watch the movie 14 times before getting a bootleg video copy. Only kidding. Call off the FBI. Then I saw the next two although, not 14 times, but a lot. Hey I had extra time on my hands just graduating from college with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Those jobs didn’t exactly grow on trees then. Fast forward about 30 years or so where I’m now a dad with a 13 year old daughter, who just like dad, is into Star Wars, but bigger than me. Getting my drift here on how this Star Wars thing is big and transcends generations? And it will only get bigger because the planets, in this case Dagobah and Coruscant, have aligned. With Disney’s recent purchase of Lucasfilm, the Star Wars brand will become even stronger especially because new movies are coming out. Read more
The Ferrari F430 is a champ on the track and a popular racer in the American LeMans and FIA GT championship series, and also has raced at the 24 Hours of LeMans. Plus who the heck doesn’t like a Ferrari?
So it’s natural enough that noted Italian die-cast car model maker BBR has jumped into the slot car world with an F430.
In the real world the F430 goes for upward of $225,000 in the U.S. market and its 4.3-liter V-8 cranks out an a stout 483 horses with a top speed of nearly 197 mph. No wonder these are racers.
The interesting part here is that BBR’s first slot car is a kit, not pre-built, so BBR fans will get to build their own Ferrari. Read more
Noted Ford GT and Formula 1 car designer Eric Broadley was instrumental in the Lola T-70 sports car design. This was a semi-monocoque racer made of light steel and alloys with a Fiberglas and reinforced plaster body featuring the soft sweeping curves that made racers of that era so visually exciting. Read more
The pre-1966 Mk I was probably the most beautiful, but the Mk II was the model that got Ford into the fabled LeMans’ victory lane, with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon handling the driving.
Scalextric, which earlier created beautiful versions of the Mk I also offers the 1966 version of the Mk II, which features larger air scoops just behind the doors, plus two long scoops just behind the rear window edges on the rear deck, and one mid-deck. Read more
Back in 1967 stock cars weren’t anything fancy, in fact, they were pretty much just that, stock cars with headlights taped up and numbers painted on the sides. They still had stock bumpers and bodies – no templates!
There were a select group of top drivers then, just as now. But long before Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt there were Richard Petty and David Pearson. In the mid- to late-1960s they were the top dogs, by a long-shot.
So Revell-Monogram’s offering, Pearson’s No. 17 Ford Fairlane will be a popular model among slot car racers who enjoy vintage machines. 1967 was the year Pearson switched from Dodge to Ford mid-season, jumping to the successful Holman-Moody Team. That meant he only had 22 starts in 48 races, but still finished 7th in points. Pretty impressive! Read more
Aston DBR9 packs power, nice detail
Long-time exotic sports car maker Aston Martin returned to racing in 2005 with its sleek DBR9 racer modeled after its DB9 street car. The intent was to challenge the likes of Audi and Porsche on the road courses of Europe and the United States.
The car, racing in the GT1 class, used a lot of carbon fiber and aluminum to meet weight requirements and its 6.0-liter V12 created a massive 600 horsepower. First race out was the 12-hours of Sebring in the U.S. and then the 24-hours of LeMans in France. Aston Martin finished fourth at Sebring, but first in class, edging Team Corvette. In LeMans the DBR9 finished 9th, third in class.
The Scalextric slot car version is the No. 57 with full team markings for Aston Martin Racing, complete with yellow nose trim, a Union Jack on the hood and side doors and decked out in a modified metallic British Racing Green that the team chose as its new color. This is the car as it appeared in the 2005 Sebring race, driven by David Brabham, Darren Turner and Stephane Ortelli. Their names appear on the car’s roof. Read more