It is no secret I like vintage slot cars, and especially replicating pro-racers from the mid-'60s to the early '70s. However, there’s a serious problem.
Building these cars as period correct replicas depends heavily on the ability to acquire actual period correct parts. Some period correct parts have been easy to find, while others have been more difficult, but lately even the once more plentiful parts have become scarce, and their prices have risen considerably.
As if this is not enough, there is the reality that some parts just cannot be had at any price because they simply no longer exist (or never did exist as a product with a part number). As a result I find there are some vintage replica project cars I’m simply never going to be able to finish. It’s been frustrating me for too many years.
Despite my frustration, I have always avoided using a mix of vintage and modern parts. It is not heresy to mix vintages; some builders do that with great success and that’s perfectly okay with me. It’s just my own personal choice not to do it that way.
A Different Approach
For me this leaves only one other reasonable solution; if I cannot acquire and build with all vintage parts, then I go the other way and use no vintage parts at all. The result is a category of cars I will call “vintage-style”.
Vintage-style cars are intended to look and perform like vintage pro-racers but could never be called period-correct vintage replicas because they will not contain any vintage parts.
Vintage-style cars are not intended to be racers and in any case will not interfere with any established racing series because they would never conform to any current rule sets and thus never pass tech.
Vintage-style cars should in general be built for the fun and exercise of building and intended to be run hard without worry because all the parts will be easily replaceable.
Modern Parts, Vintage Rules and Self Discipline
It is historical accuracy in technical detail, not vintage parts, that defines a vintage-style car. To build them you will need a working knowledge of slot racing history, or at least a good resource to look it up, and the self discipline to do the research and apply that knowledge to your builds.
Each vintage-style car should be built with modern parts that conform first to vintage rules in a specific year (your choice), and also state-of-the-art chassis and motor design and construction for the month in that year your car represents.
Examples of Historically Accurate Technical Detail
1966 sports and coupe cars will have, among other things, inline drive, rod or tube drop arms, outrigger style body mounts, endbell drive D-can motors with 29 gauge wire, 1/8” axles, 15/16” rear and 7/8” front tires, and bodies available during 1966 or a few years earlier.
1967 sports and coupe cars will have, among other things, inline drive, built-up rod drop arms but no hinged body mounts until October, endbell drive D-can motors with 28 or 27 gauge wire, 1/8” axles, 7/8” rear and front tires, 1967 or earlier bodies.
1968 sports and coupe cars before April will have, among other things, inline drive, slab drop arms, side pans, endbell drive D-can motors with 27 or 26 gauge wire, 1/8” axles, 7/8” rear and ¾” front tires, 1968 bodies.
1968 sports and coupe cars between April and August will have, among other things, anglewinder drive, slab drop arms, side pans, endbell or can drive D-can motors with 26 or 25 gauge wire, 1/8” axles, 7/8” rear and ¾” front tires, 1968 bodies.
1968 sports and coupe cars after August will have, among other things, anglewinder drive, slab drop arms, plumber hinges, side pans, endbell or can drive D-can motors with 26 or 25 gauge wire, 1/8” axles, 7/8” rear and ¾” front tires, 1968 bodies.
And the list goes on. By now you should be getting the idea; vintage-style cars are built to look and perform like the originals did, but with all modern parts. Putting some work into it to achieve a reasonable level of historically accurate technical detail is what gives the whole effort a sense of purpose – for me, anyway.
Summing it all up
Here’s a new approach to building vintage-style cars that neatly avoids the problem of rare, fragile, irreplaceable and ridiculously expensive vintage parts.
I will be building a series of vintage-style cars and posting pictures and descriptions.
If anyone else wants to participate and build their own vintage-style cars, feel free to post pictures and descriptions in this sub forum.
Questions, comments or constructive criticism and always welcome.