Intoduction from the editor:
I've known Bob Ward for more years then I can can even remember, so it's only fitting that I finally twisted his arm enough to get him to let me showcase some of his 1/32 scale works of slot car vintage art here. Bob is an avid 1/32 scale enthusiast, and has quite a collection of vintage slot cars. Some purist collectors cringe when Bob voices his creedo that in his view, vintage slot car kits are merely "raw materials". To those into the building and modeling aspect of the hobby, Bob's creations represent a painstaking attention to detail, a talent for quality craftsmanship, and a vivid imagination.
Here then, are some of Bob's collection from his showcase... enjoy! - Paul K.
1. A pair of Monogram Lola T70 bodies on different chassis. The #7 car, a model of the car in which John Surtees won the 1966 CanAm championship, rides on a modified Champion Thumper with a Mura C-can motor. The Green and yellow #32 has a semi-scratchbuilt chassis with a Dynamic center section and a brass front end / pan assembly. The car is powered by a Russkit 22. Both cars have Cox Ford GT magnesium wheels, Plastruct roll bars, and sheet styrene front spoilers. The green car has a set of"big-block" injector stacks made from Plastruct tubing. The interior trays on both cars are sheet styrene with modified Cox driver figures.
2. An Auto Hobbies Cobra Daytona Coupe with an original Auto Hobbies brass chassis and Russkit 22 power. This Daytona Coupe body is thought by some to be the most accurate Daytona Coupe model ever produced. It was quite advanced for its day, around 1965, featuring lightweight vacuum-formed windows in the injection-molded body.
3. A 1957 Lister-Jaguar. The body is an Auto Hobbies fiberglass shell. The mechanicals consist of a Strombecker Scuttler motor and brass chassis, Cox 1/24 scale BRM formula one car wheels, and a modern guide, braid, and lead wire. This car was painted entirely in flat colors and then finished with several coats of Testor Glosscote to give a deep, even, glossy finish.
4. An Eldon Porsche Carrera 6 body mounted on a Revell chassis with Revell can motor and CorBen wheels. Eldon bodies will mount directly to Revell chassis, as the relationship between the body mount posts and the wheels is the same.
5. This 427 Cobra was made from a Monogram snap kit an a 1965-vintage Monogram chassis and red can motor. The side pipes are brass and are soldered to the car's pan assembly. The roll bar is Plastruct and the wheels are from a Cox BRM formula one car. The Body is painted Testor Boyd's True Blue Pearl over white, which yields a great "electric blue" color. The driver figure has a Revell body and a head from a Monogram Lola T70.
6. The Cobra's chassis. The brass pan assembly replaces the original flimsy wire drop arm and adds weight down low for handling. The wheels have been converted to set screw mounting and the guide, braid, and lead wire are all modern units. The car now resides in the collection of Russell Sheldon in Dubai.
7, 8, 9. First of Three views of the Sabertooth Special (see article below)
One of the more intriguing possibilities in the vintage slot car hobby is the building of "phantom" slot cars. These are cars that look like they could be models of real cars but aren't.
The Sabertooth represents my idea of what might have resulted if some early '60's hot rodders had created a V-8 - powered road race special by stuffing one of the first Chevy bigblocks into an old Costin-bodied Lister. Of course, all that horsepower would require a lot more rubber on the road and some aerodynamic refinements; hence, the radiused and flared fenders, the rear spoiler, and the front air dam. The modifications also reflect what I believe would be necessary to adapt the car from its original configuration, suitable for the long, high-speed courses of Europe such as Spa or LeMans, to one optimized for the much shorter, tighter courses typically used in American road racing.
I started with a Classic fiberglass Lister-Jaguar body, really a Costin Lister, which is still available from the manufacturer. I believe they sell for around $20.00. I got mine as part of a trade with another collector.
I began the project by grinding off the body's long, tapered tail. I just fed the body tail-first into my bench-mounted disc sander until I had it ground down to the right length. Then, I turned it around and did the same thing to the nose, opening up the radiator inlet to a size more appropriate to the cooling needs of a 427 cubic inch V-8. Next, I used a sanding drum attachment on my Dremel Moto-tool to radius out all four wheel openings. On the standard Costin body, the fenders come down to about the centers of the wheels, and the contours of the body place severe constraints on tire and track width.
With the grinding done, I epoxied sheet-styrene fender flares in place. The flares only come out as far as the maximum width of the original body, but they allow the tires to use every bit of it. I bent another strip of sheet styrene into a half-oval shape and epoxied it into the nose of the car so it not only forms an air dam but also fills up the radiator opening. The rear spoiler is a big piece of sheet styrene epoxied over the gaping opening in the rear of the body and filed and sanded to shape, leaving a healthy amount of spoiler area above the rear deck. I gave the spoiler some thickness by adding another piece of styrene at an angle in front of it with small triangular pieces to fill in the ends.
The last major piece of bodywork to be added was a hood hump that looks big enough to cover up a pair of 4-barrel carburetors on a high-rise manifold. The hump, carved out from two layers of .060 sheet styrene, is similar in shape to those found on bigblock Corvettes and helps to convey the impression of a lot of Chevy prime mover under the hood.
One of the reasons why the Sabertooth looks so much like it could be a model of a real car is that I spent a lot of time carefully blending the fender flares, hood hump, and rear spoiler into the overall shape of the car so they look like integral parts of a coherent design. This involved a lot of work with body filler, emery boards, and sandpaper to get the contours just right. With the fender flares, especially, it is important to make them flow into the original lines of the body so they don't look tacked on.
The other key to realism is adding details that fit in with the car's "story". The wheels, for instance, are Cox 1/24 scale BRM formula one car wheels. On a 1/32 scale car they look a lot like the classic American Racing Equipment 5-spoke magnesium wheels that were used on many American race cars in the '60's and '70's. The wheels are exactly the sort that an American team, going to radically wider rubber, might use to replace the Lister's rather narrow original wheels. The car even has a Sabertooth insignia on the nose, made by taking an old Exxon tiger decal and painting enormous curved fangs on it.
The driver figure is from a Monogram Lola T-70 body and has a correct helmet for the period. (Speaking of helmets, I would love to devise a reliable way of being able to snap alternate drivers' heads onto my vintage cars. That would enable me to portray a car either as originally raced, with a driver in an old open-faced helmet, or in a present-day vintage car race with a modern full-face helmet.)
The roll bar and its diagonal brace which runs forward to the dash are made of 1/16" Plastruct tube with wire inside. The exhausts are made of brass tubing and are soldered to the chassis. I chose rear exhausts over side-mounted ones because side pipes have become almost a cliche' on V-8 engined specials. The tailpipes help give the rear of the car a Ferrari-like look.
The chassis is pure vintage slot with the exception of the modern jet guide, braid, lead wire, and crown gear. The motor is an open-frame in-line Tradeship (a Japanese-made Pittman clone) and the chassis is made up of Auto Hobbies components. The car runs and handles very much like several of the cars I raced on my Strombecker layout and at the local hobby shop when I was in high school. Like almost all of my vintage cars, it is built the way I would have built my cars back in the '60's if I had had the skill and equipment to do them the way I really wanted to.
One of the best parts of designing a "phantom" car like the Sabertooth is that I can have fun with people by incorporating subtle styling cues from various well-known cars. This is another trick that helps fool people into thinking they are looking at a "real" car. The Sabertooth has elements resembling the Jaguar XKE, early '60's Ferraris, '68 - '73 Corvettes, famous road racing specials such as the Scarab and the Chaparral I, and, of course, major elements of the original Costin / Lister body.
I have shown the car to many people and asked them to tell me what they think it is. Their guesses have included every car named above and several more besides. Only one, however, was able to identify it as a modified Lister.
For each of my vintage cars, and especially for each of my phantoms, I am creating a fictional "history". It's fun to make up little stories to explain the car's features. For instance, the Sabertoth's oversize rear view mirror is explained as being installed when the car ran at the test day for the 1963 LeMans race. One of the drivers was paranoid about the possibility of not seeing another car overtaking him on the Mulsanne Straight. To humor him, the crew installed a huge mirror, even though the car's bigblock horsepower made it the first car ever to exceed 200 MPH at LeMans, beating the Ford GT cars by a year. As one crew member, a Georgia boy recruited from a NASCAR team, said, "Hayull, there hain't nobody goin' t' pass him nowhere but in the piyuts!"
Alas, the French organizers of the race were faced with the tres horrible prospect of an American "backyard hot rod" burying the lap record and perhaps even winning the race. They disqualified the car from competing on the grounds that its builders were not a legitimate car manufacturer, but the "Mulsanne mirror" has stayed with the car to the present day.
My cars' "histories" are tied together by an overall story. Each of my cars is part of a vast collection owned by a family of wealthy American enthusiasts with a taste for the unusual. The curator of the family collection is an expatriate Brit who is not only well paid for managing the collection but also gets to drive the cars regularly in vintage events. (Did someone say dream job?) He also has one adventure after another, a sort of automotive Indiana Jones, as he tracks down and purchases rare and exotic race cars for the collection.
One of my future projects is a McLaren M20 with a story that has our curator kidnapped at gunpoint by a Colombian drug lord and taken blindfolded to a warehouse in Bogota' where a treasure trove of CanAm McLaren parts sits in the middle of billions of dollars worth of cocaine. How our hero gets out with his life and the makings of several priceless CanAm cars... well, that's the rest of the story.
All this serves to illustrate the multifaceted nature of the vintage slot car hobby. Vintage slot cars can be a way of giving expression to many kinds of creativity and imagination. The hobby can incorporate almost any skill or interest a person may have. That's why it has become an enduring lifelong passion for a growing number of enthusiasts.
Daytona West Raceway
send email c/o: email@example.com
(Bob's not online yet - but I'll be sure to forward any comments to him! - OWH)
The Above article appears in cooperation with AmBrit Glyn Newsletter, where much of it appears in the Jan. 98 issue.
AmBrit Glyn Newsletter is a monthly newsletter dedicated to the preservation of SCALE MODEL CAR SLOT CAR RACING, with it's primary focus on 1/32nd and 1/24th scales. It has been in publication for four years, starting off as a quarterly nsl and later going to nine issues a year when Vintage Slot car Racing News announced it was ceasing publication at issue #100. AmBrit Glyn Newsletter now publishes 10 issues a year from August through May. In 1999 it will expand to 11 issues and hopefully more pages.
Editor/Publisher, Tom Moye says of the publication, "We feel that we fill the void left where both of the other American slot car publications primarily focus on commercial slot car racing. We also support mail order for the racer/builder/collector who does not have a local hobby shop or commercial shop to buy parts and cars. We are also on the look out for new cottage industries to support the hobby/sport of slot racing. While many slot racers are computer wise today there are just as many who do not own a computer and some who will never own one. We hope to serve both the web head and the non-web head.
While we cover much of the same materials there are differences too. Besides it's nice to have your information already pre-packaged for you as a hardcopy. The more we spread the word about scale building and racing the stronger the hobby/sport becomes. Which in turn means that the American companies may just sit up and take notice of us."
Subscriptions to AmBrit Glyn Newsletter are: $18.00 US; $24.00 CANADA; and $30.00 for Europe and the Pacific rim. All funds must be in U.S. currency.
Checks payable to:
Tom R. Moye @ 244 Memorial Drive, Barnesville, GA 30204-1924
Tom Moye, Editor
AmBrit Glyn Newsletter