Monday, 19 October 2009

HOW-TO: Scalextric V8

How-To Create a
Scalextric V8 'Hunter Killer'

The Aussie V8 series is a no holds bar "biff and barge" muscle car racing series like no other, it's therefore little wonder the Scalextric Aussie V8 releases have a strong following within our hobby.

Scalextric V8 releases are typically limited runs and can sell out very quickly depending on the race livery/team popularity. It's not unusual to see older Scalextric V8 releases selling for 2 or even 3 times their initial value after a few years.

This from Wikipedia: "V8 Supercars is a touring car racing category based in Australia and run as an International Series under Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) regulations. As well as enjoying popularity in Australia, it has a considerable following in New Zealand, and is steadily growing in popularity across the world where television coverage allows.

V8 Supercar events take place in all states of Australia, as well as rounds in the Northern Territory, New Zealand and Bahrain with Abu Dhabi joining the calendar in 2010. V8 Supercars have drawn crowds of over 250,000 spectators. The 2007 season was held over 14 race weekends on various purpose-built racetracks and street circuits in the aforementioned countries. Race formats range from sprint races, with either a 100 km or 200 km race on Saturday and one 200 km race on Sunday or two; 250 km races over the weekend (Adelaide and Sydney), or endurance races such as Bathurst which is run over a 1000 km race distance, and Phillip Island which is run over 500 km."

Cont. "The V8 Supercars themselves take as their basis either the Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore. Although they bear some resemblance to the production models outwardly, they are highly modified to suit the motorsport application. They are strictly governed in all aspects of performance in an effort to keep all the drivers on an even footing to create closer, more exciting racing. Because of this, entire fields of 29 drivers are separated by just one second over qualifying laps at some events.

Historically, the Falcon and Commodore are the two most popular passenger cars in the Australian car market. Rivalry between the two makes is a major aspect of the sport's appeal."

Firstly it should be said that this is a product designed primarily for the Australian market with limited appeal and as a result Scalextric are forced to cut a few corners when it comes to model detail, inclusions and overall finish. I'm a huge Scalextric fan but when directly compared to other Scalextric releases, the Aussie V8 isn't getting enough Scalextric love.


If you have a close look at the above photos it isn't too difficult to quickly identify some of the details areas Scalextric have cut back on when compared to a standard Scalextric release.

Perhaps the most obvious cost cut to the Aussie V8 is the absence of clear windows. For as long as I can remember Aussie V8 releases the lack of windows and therefore interior detail has been a huge bone of contention for the V8 fans. Hopefully as the motorsport gains popularity and size of production runs can be increased, we will see Scalextric address basic detail issues like clear windows.

The above photo also shows a pretty basic front grill, a moulded wind screen wiper and painted lights, all Aussie V8 slots come without lights, (front and rear).

In the above photo you can see the basic moulded refuelling points and a little rear window detail, exhausted detail is black plastic and forms part of the chassis sticking from the side of the body which unfortunately prevents body roll if you loosen chassis/body screws.

The rear end is pretty much more of the same with rear lights being stickers and rear splitter detail being basic. The rear tail is quite rigid and typically doesn't typically survive too many heated races. The rear vision mirrors are made from moulded plastic and will survive even a heavy of knocks. Decal levels are good and clear, (even the smallest of decals are legible) and some decals on tires and wheels is a nice touch.

Unfortunately there are far greater problems with the Aussie V8 than just the abundant lack of detail. My major gripe is the overall model build and clearances which greatly affect the way the model looks on the track. In the above and below photos you can see an example of this, the front wheel (right-hand side) sticks out 3-4mm past the body guard which looks poor.

The below photos shows the rear wheel/tire and body clearance is also excessive (2-3mm) and makes the rear of the slot look silly, the rear wheels should be tucked up inside the rear wheel arches.

The above photo highlights how far above the track's surface the body of the slots is, I had ample space (approx 5mm) to place several coins under the front spoiler. By know you might be picking up that I'm not a huge fan of the detail and model finish levels on the V8 releases?

While that is true, the Scalextric V8 is what it is and we have to be grateful we have them. If these areas of reduced detail are the difference between Scalextric being able make V8 Supercar releases cost effective and viable then give me the reduced detail.

Still, are there some things we can do to improve the overall look and performance of the Scalextric V8 without spending a small fortune? Absolutely!

So how can we turn this ugly duckling into a 'V8 hunter killer'? Grab you trusted Stanley knife or Dremel and follow me. Firstly you can cut the exhaust from the chassis, lose of detail isn't going to be a problem and the exhaust prevents the body from rolling and won't allow us to lower the body onto the chassis which is exactly what we are going to do.

You also need to trim the front corners from the chassis as these sit on small plastic shelves on underside of the body on the front spoiler, see the below photos for trim locations.

In the below photo you can see the chassis with removed exhaust and reduced/trimmed front left and right chassis sections, the small plastic shelves (red) on underside of the body on the front spoiler. Note that the body now sits 3-4mm lower on the chassis.

It is also necessary to either trim the outside edge of the chassis or shave a little off the inside of the body as the body becomes thinner higher up towards the roof. This also allows the body to roll easily when loosened on the chassis.

Before your slot will look like above you will also need to reduce the length of the mounting posts and supports around the motor area (there are 3). Be careful when trimming them as they can be broken if you are too rough. It's important to trim the posts/supports a small bit at a time and replace the body back on the chassis to check progress. Removing too much length from the posts would cause the wheels to rub on the underneath of the body, etc.

As the front wheels protrude from the body you will need to also fix this for both appearance sake and as the wheels will rub on the lowered body. You will not that the front axle length it too long so trim this bit first make some small amendments to the wheels and front axle chassis mount holes. Trim the width of the outside of the chassis at the front axle mounting holes, I removed approximately 1mm each side by shaving the black plastic. Be careful not to make this area too thin.

You will also need to reduce the width of the front wheels by shaving dome of the inside detail from the wheel, this will allow it to sit closer to the chassis. Now that you have amended these areas you can cut or file the front axle to size, you will be reducing its length by 4-5mm. Of course if you have a more suitable axle then use that instead.

Make sure the front wheels are not rubbing on the body, I also shaved a thin layer, (less than 1mm) off the inside of each wheel well which gives the front tires a little more space.

There is already a little sideways movement in the rear axle so reducing its width is not too difficulty, using a Dremel or a file eliminate the sideways movement. You may have to move the spur gear slightly to distribute the extra clearance you will now have between the rear tires and the body. The photo above shows the desired outcome, the body should over hang the rear wheels/tires slightly while not touching them.

Ok so it's a messy process but the end result is worth it, your V8 should be looking something like the photo above. You can go lower but I need to leave at least 1-2mm clearance for the hill Carrera sections on my track.

An obvious benefit of running a slot with a lower centre of gravity is it performs better, due to the modifications I was also able to have a fair degree of body roll. From the box the Scalextric V8 is an average performer lapping at around 6.7 seconds on my Carrera plastic track. This time is comparable to slots such as; Fly Lister Storm, Revell March 83, Fly Porsche 934 and a Scalextric Mercedes SLR McLaren. Once the modifications had been made the V8 was performing consistent 6.1 second laps with a fastest lap time of 5.99!

While a 0.7 a second improvement on a 6.7 second lap isn't a monumental improvement, every tenth counts. A sub 6 seconds lap on my track is a very competitive time resulting in the V8 being on par with the likes of Scalextric Chevrolet Impala SS Nascar, Fly Porsche 935 K3, Fly BMW M1 and Scalextric Sport TVR T400R. Additionally the V8 has become a real pleasure to drive, seldom deslotting or flipping onto its roof.

The main reason for the modifications however was from a cosmetic perspective and the lowered V8 looks much meaner and sleeker than before. Now if we can just get Scalextric to put windows and lights in these babies we will have true killer V8s!


If you're after more speed and have a little cash to burn, you could always upgrade the motor to something meatier, replace the rear rubber and upgrade the guide.

You can return to the 'How-To' Page Here


No comments :