Wednesday, 11 November 2009

REVIEW: Gold Leaf Lotus 49

Scalextric C2964 Lotus 49
‘Gold Leaf Team’
Graham Hill No. 5, 1968


The Gold Leaf Team Lotus 49 No.5 was driven by Graham Hill in the Tasman Series, Australia in 1968. Some history on the 49 from Wikipedia:

“From its introduction in 1967 the Lotus 49 was painted in Lotus's traditional British racing green with yellow centre-stripe. Over the following 16 months the design gained increasing numbers of sponsor patches and large driver name strips, while retaining the traditional base scheme. However, from the 1968 Monaco race, the 49 was painted red, cream and gold, the colours of Gold Leaf cigarettes after Chapman signed a lucrative sponsorship deal. It was the first sign of big money entering the sport."

"In testing, Graham Hill found the Lotus 49 easy to drive and responsive, but the power of the Ford engine difficult to handle at first. The V8 would give sudden bursts of power that Hill had reservations about. However, Jim Clark won its debut race at Zandvoort with ease and took another 3 wins during the season, but early unreliability with the DFV ended his championship hopes."

"It had teething problems in its first race for Graham Hill, and it had spark plug trouble at the Belgian Grand Prix, held on the 8.76 mile (14.73 kilometre) Spa-Francorchamps. Jim Clark and Graham Hill fell victim to the reliability issues at the French Grand Prix, held at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit (a smaller circuit using only part of the track used for the Le Mans 24 Hours), and lost to Jack Brabham. Jim Clark then ran out of fuel at Monza during the Italian Grand Prix. Mechanical failures cost Lotus the championship that year, but it was felt that 1968 would be a better year after Cosworth and Lotus perfected their designs, which were clearly the way forward."

“Clark won the first race of the 1968 season, the South African Grand Prix and the Tasman Series in Australia, but was tragically killed in an F2 race at Hockenheim. Graham Hill took over as team leader and won his second World Championship title, after clinching three Grand Prix wins - including the fourth of his five Monaco Grands Prix.”

Above is a fantastic movie of Graham Hill putting the Lotus 49 (British racing green with yellow centre-stripe) through some testing.


The Lotus 49 comes in Scalextrics relatively new crystal presentation box with flip top lid. The box reminds me of the crystal boxes Scalextric produced slots in during the 70s. I'm a huge fan of the packaging, slots are displayed at a 10-15% forward slope improving model visibility, (for those of you that store them in their box when not in use) and the boxes vertically stack together well. The model is well secured with a single screw thread and is easy to quickly remove.

A British Racing green sticker has been applied to the rear of the box detailing the slot to be a ‘Classic Team Lotus’ product approved and licensed by Classic Team Lotus Ltd. – a nice touch.

As this is a limited edition model, Scalextric have placed a ‘Special Edition’ number sticker on each box depicting each slots release number. My Lotus 49 is release number 1407 of 1500, it makes you wonder which Scalextric manager or representative has release 1-10 of 1500?


Let’s face it; we will never have enough funds to buy all the slot cars we would like and unfortunately there are times we are forced to let one slip through our collection. So I thought I'd add a new section to my reviews regarding the value the slot car represents as a way of helping with the dilemma of, ‘Should I really get this slot?’

As this car is a ‘Special Edition; limited to only 1500 it was a little more expensive than the usual Scalextric release. Scalextric slot car pricing has risen (as with most slot manufactures) over the last 6 months from $AU50 to $AU59. At the old $AU50 Scalextric slot cars represented great value for money, at $AU59 they are still competitively priced against Carrera, SCX and Ninco.

As a ‘Special Edition’ the Lotus 49 was unfortunately priced between $AU69 and $79 (store dependant) which puts it in direct competition with slot manufactures with higher levels of finish, detail and engineering. Specifically slot manufactures such as, Avant Slot or MB Slot. This meant that when you could purchase (or pre order) the Gold Leaf Lotus 49, the decision became one of emotion rather than one of value for money. But then this was a very special release, particularly for Australian motor fans.

By now we all know that this release has completely sold out world wide and is destined to become a very collectible slot car. Hypothetically, if you did decide (against better judgement) to part with your Lotus 49 you would probably more than double your outlay. The Scalextric Lotus 49 goes to prove that just like their 1:1 counterparts; the whole of a slot car doesn’t necessarily equal the sum of its parts. There is more to slot cars than just paint finish, decal quality, engineering, detail and accuracy or model features.

Does the Gold Leaf Lotus 49 represent value for money? No. Do I have one and wish I could get another? YES!


· Length: 130mm
· Wheel Base: 75mm
· Crown Gear: 27 Tooth
· Pinion Gear: 9 Tooth
· Easy change Pick-ups (2 spare pick-ups provided with model)
· Motor: Mabuchi FF 18000
· Chassis: Rear Mounted In-line; Rear 2 wheel drive
· Magnatraction: Round 2.5 mm; Down-force 235 gm
· Axle/Hub width: 56 mm Front; 60 mm Rear
· Tyre dia/width: 19(ext): 12(int) x 8 mm Front; 20(ext), 12(int) x 11 mm Rear
· Weight: 51 grams


As with all modern Scalextric releases, the Lotus’s paint finish has been done very well, of particular note is the gold finish on the nose of the slot. The bodies red paint has a lovely deep richness to it as well. Decal level is of a high standard and when compared to the 1:1 car, pretty accurate. The Lotus emblem is clear on the nose of the slot as is the ‘Lotus Ford Australia’ writing. Ford branding on the engine is also very legible although being no more than a 2mm font.

One noticeable omission is the ‘Gold Leaf’ sponsorship from the side of the slot, due to the fact that Gold Leaf is a tobacco company. As a parent I appreciate Scalextric efforts regarding a potential child’s toys and the issue of tobacco. However I would like to see them do something similar to what does by covering up the decals with blank stickers which can be removed thus allowing you the option of displaying the slot accurately if you wish. Even if they provided the buyer with a small pack of the missing decals that could be applied which is a practice Fly used to do.

The model detail on this slot is beautiful but as with most things beautiful, a little fragile. Due to the notoriety of this slot, I doubt if too many will be fiercely raced. The rear exhaust detail extends well past the rear of the slot and would not survive even a small knock. The drivers head seems well fixed in the event that the slot may roll through a corner. The drivers head should protect the finer rear suspension, engine, rear view mirrors and roll bar detail.

Can I just reiterate that the detail on Lotus 49 is very impressive! By way of comparison, Scalextric’s Lotus 49 is almost as detailed as Fly’s March 761 and that is saying something. The 761 wins the contest due to its suspension and working steering but then it’s a more expensive model.

Front detail is relatively simple but well done, there is a mesh grill air intake within the open nose and the front suspension is nicely detailed, wheels having brake discs and venting. These front suspension assemblies are a little prone to damage and once damaged can seriously affect the handling of the slot. I once damaged the front suspension of a Scalextric Ferrari 156 resulting in the front axle not being perpendicular to the cars body and digging into the track through corners resulting in deslotting. Fortunately Scalextric provide replacement parts and I was able to purchase a new front suspension assembly for a few dollars. I haven’t checked but I’m sure Scalextric will provide parts for the Lotus 49 as well.

The driver figure, steering wheel and dash detail are excellent; the driver is clearly making a left hand turn which is a nice touch. Detail abounds, there is a Lotus emblem in the centre of the steering wheel that is so small I didn’t even see it for the first week I had the slot. Side mirrors are plastic and are attached to the front windscreen, they are well enough protected by the wheels and drivers head in the event of an ‘off’.

Moving on to the rear of the slot you can clearly see the moulding (in the engine) to accommodate the crown gearing - This doesn't detract from the model. The rear end is where the detail on the Lotus really shines, the rear suspension, exhaust and engine look just fantastic! The toe hook, refuelling pipe and cap, engine rivets and leads, roll bar and extractors look terrific! Scalextric have done a really good job of cramming in as much detail on what is a tiny model, it only weights 51 grams and is 130mm long!

The wheels look accurate and impressive and the overall sleekness of the Lotus 49 has been captured very well. The 49 reminds me a little of the Scalextric Cooper, just sleeker. If you watch the above movie of Graham Hill putting the Lotus 49 through testing you would have noticed just how wide, low and sleek the 49 was. I’m very happy to say the Scalextric release does the 1:1 Lotus 49 justice.


The 49’s body is attached to the chassis via 5 small screws and like most classic Scalextric offerings, the body is a little tricky to pull apart and put together.

This is a VERY light slot car weighing in at a tiny 51 grams. Combine this with the Mabuchi FF 18000rpm motor in rear-wheel drive configuration and you have an impressive power to weight ratio. Adding to this impressive figure is the Lotus’s low centre of gravity. Magnatraction is provided by Scalextic’s faithful 2.5mm round magnet resulting in 235 grams of down force. Like most slots in the Scalextric classic range, there are only two locations for the magnet, in or out. So on paper the 49 has all the right ingredients but enough talk, let’s see how she actually goes on the track.

As you would expect acceleration is lightening quick, catapulting the 49 to its top speed rapidly. My fist impression of the slot, (once I stopped grinning that is) was that the Lotus is smooth, very smooth and free flowing. Above all else, a smooth flowing slot is a pleasure to drive/race and the charastic I always look for most. On my Carrera track, the Lotus 49 does not have too much magnetic down force resulting in the rear end being able to slide a little through the corners although grip levels are pretty high from the rear rubber. When I pushed too hard, the small button magnet would let go resulting in the rear end giving way and the car deslotting.

The 49 noticeably improved the more it was driven with lap time steadily falling from low 7s to high 5s within approximately 100-150 laps. I became so confident with the performance of the slot through corners (even through a difficult reverse curve section) that I began to really push the slot. It was inevitable that I was headed for heartache. Pushing through a reverse curve section I put the 49 on its roof or should I say gave Graham Hill a headache? I felt quite ill as I picked up the Lotus expecting to see some small piece of detail broken or completely missing but after inspection I was relieved the slot had sustained no damage what-so-ever. The drivers head works well to protect the 49’s small and delicate detail.

For this review I raced the 49 against a Scalextric Ferrari 156 F1 for comparison. I was never greatly impressed (performance wise) with the 156 on my track achieving a mediocre lap time of 6.52 seconds. The Lotus 49 however is a different story churning out consistent high 5 second lap times and I KNOW this car is capable of faster times. I always felt the Sharknose Ferrari 156 was a very impressive looking slot, (still do) but when side by side with the Lotus 49 there is no contest – The 49 is a very impressive looking slot car that makes the 156 look almost chunky!

The front wheels of the 49 just touch the track, (on a flat section) which lends itself to the perfect tripod for the front steering. The downside of this is you will notice that the front wheels may not be rotating which looks a little strange. Given the noise levels of some of Scalextrics recent releases, I happy to report the 49 is a relatively quite slot.

Some tire truing was required, (easily done with Scalextric’s rubber compound) I'd say that 75 percent of the rear rubber was in contact with the track FTB. As you would expect, track performance improved post truing. I would be very interested to see if a high performance rubber tire (MJK perhaps) is available for this slot. Best track time ended up being an impressive 5.84 seconds making the 49 one of the fastest Scalextrics on my track.

Manic Score Breakdown

· Sex Appeal: 7th Gear
· Collectability: 7th Gear
· Build Quality: 6th Gear
· Attention to Detail: 6th Gear
· 'RTR' Performance: 6th Gear

Overall Manic Score: 6.4 Gears.

There are a few desktop wallpapers of the 'Gold Leaf Team' Lotus 49 which you can find on the Wallpapers 2 Page Here

For more about Scalextric slot cars, see the Scalextric Website Here


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