Thursday, 17 December 2009

REVIEW: hpi Skyline R32

hpi-racing 8503 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)
'Godzilla Street Racer'


Some basic background on the R32 from Wikipedia: ‘The HCR32 Skyline debuted in May 1989. It was available as either a 2-door coupe or 4-door hardtop sedan, all other bodystyles were dropped. The R32 featured several versions of the RB-series straight-6 engines, which had improved heads (the twelve port inlet was gone) and used the ECCS (Electronically Concentrated Control System) injection system. Also available were an 1,800 cc 4 cylinder GXi model.’

‘Most models had HICAS four-wheel steering, with the rear wheels being hydraulically linked to the front steering. The 2.5 litre version became one of the first cars made in Japan to feature a 5-speed automatic transmission. The GTS-t Type M included larger five-stud 16 inch wheels, four piston front callipers and twin piston rears. ABS was optional (except for the GT-R), viscous LSD was standard on all turbo models and optional on all but the GXi.’

‘Nissan also produced 100 Australian models of the R32. These were the only non-Japan only Skylines ever produced. There was also a 4WD version of the GTS-t Type M, called the GTS-4. There was also a RB26DETT powered gts-4 known as the gts-4R in both sedan and coupe utilizing the GT-R running gear but not the body modifications.’

The R32 dominates the Australian and Japanese Touring Car Championships: ‘The R32 GT-R was introduced in to the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1990 and promptly ended the reign of the previously all-conquering Ford Sierra Cosworth, winning Bathurst 1000 classic in 1991 and 1992, (driven by Jim Richards and Mark Skaife).

This success led to the Australian motoring press nicknaming the car Godzilla due to it being a "monster from Japan". As Australia was the first export market for the car the name quickly spread. Such was GT-R's dominance that it is seen by some as a significant factor in the demise of Group A Touring Car racing, the formula being scrapped soon after’

‘JTCC was similarly blighted by the R32 GT-R, and splintered soon after, leading to the switch to the Supertouring category and also indirectly to the GT500 category of today. The R32 GT-R dominated Japanese Touring Car Championship (JTCC), winning 29 races from 29 starts, taking the series title every year from 1989-1993. It took 50 races from 50 starts from 1991-1997 (latterly R33) in the N1 Super Taiky.’

The above movie shows the first few laps of the epic battle between Dick Johnson (Ford Sierra) and Mark Skaife (Nissan Skyline) at the Bathurst 1000 classis in 1992, the R32 went on to win the race.


As this is the first slot car hpi-racing have produced I was eager to see how it was package and presented. Forgive me as I’m going to go into a little more detail than usual as this is a new slot manufacture and many of you may not have seen a hpi-racing slot before. If you just want to find out how this baby goes on the track I’ll understand if you skip this section.

If I was to compare the packaging with any other brand I would say it would be packaging. The crystal lid box comes with a cover sleeve which is impressively coloured black and silver. The sleeve has hpi-racing branding and the words ‘High Performance Slot Car 1:32 Scale’ on the top. As we would expect the rear of the sleeve has a sticker detailing the model and also a ‘Nissan Official Licensed Product’ sticker.

The bottom of the sleeve has some cautionary notes, ‘This product is not a toy but a precision scale model intended for indoor use’ and ‘The product is not intended for children under 14 years of age’.

As with most slot car manufactures, slot model details are neatly labelled on the base just in front of the slot. The R32 is securely attached to the base using a plastic screw similar to what is used with Fly slot cars. I’m always very interested when a new slot manufacture comes along to see how they will package their product. Hpi-racing are not new to the world of model cars and it shows with the professional presentation of this new slot product.



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?’

Hpi-racing slot cars are priced just shy of the $60 mark here in Australia. This makes them the equal second (with Scalextric) most affordable slot car available on the Australian market with SCX leading the way on cost. As they are priced the same as Scalextric slot cars (in most instances, let’s forget the Lotus 49) it’s only fair to compare them with the heavy weight.

In terms of presentation, model detail, paint finish, decals levels, inclusions (i.e. front and rear lights) and track performance, hpi-racing have done their research and placed their product very well. Hpi-racing slot cars are considerably more affordable than the big brands such as, Ninco, Carrera or Fly. It’s exciting new manufactures like hpi-racing and Pioneer that will keep the big well-established slot manufactures competitive and looking over their shoulders and that’s great for us.

So should you purchase a hpi-racing slot car and do they represent value for money? Yes and YES!


  • Length: 140 mm
  • Width: 55 mm
  • Height: 41 mm
  • Wheel Base: 82 mm
  • Gearing: 13 pinion /34 crown
  • Glide: Spring screw mounted (20mm length)
  • Lights: Front and Rear LED
  • Motor: Mabuchi style 20K sidewinder configuration; Rear 2 wheel drive
  • Magnet: Bar 2.5 mm (2 positions and reversible)
  • Rubber rear vission mirrors
  • Full internal detail and driver
  • Country of Origin: Made in China


The paint finish is impressive, I opted for the ‘red pearl metallic’ R32 and the slot’s paint finish has a deep rich red glow to it. I have no doubt hpi have actually used a red pearl metallic paint to finish the slot. There is no sign of paint runs or defects in the finish.

As this is a street car there is little in the way of decals present on the car. However hpi have done an excellent job with the Nissan GTR branding and emblems (front and rear) along with Skyline GTR branding on the front and rear number plate. The decals are VERY sharp and even the smallest is legible, there is a small GT red and white logo just behind the front wheels that is so small you could almost miss it. There are also incredibly small decals within the centre of each wheel that tested my fading eyesight.

Before we go any further it should be pointed out (if you're not already aware) that hpi are not new to building model cars. HPI have been producing stunning precision die-cast models for many years including a wide selection of classic sports cars, from modern rally machines to Le Mans-winning Group C cars and terrifying World Rally Championship monsters.

So you would expect that if a company that has its origins in highly detailed die-cast models turned its attention to producing slot cars, the result would be outstanding and that’s exactly what has happened. The model detail on the R32 is of a very high standard. The R32’s proportions, sleek body lines and shape, ride height and stance have been faithfully reproduced resulting in a perfect replica. If I didn’t know the car in front of me was a slot car I would assume it to be a 1:32 die-cast model.

Starting at the front of the R32; head lights, grill, spoiler and splitter look impressive and accurate. There is mesh detail inside the lower radiator cooling intake which is a nice touch. The bonnet has hand painted washer nozzles and the front wind screen has wiper detail.

Side rear vision mirrors are to scale which is to say they are small and look fragile. Not to worry as hpi has made these from a rubber compound which allows them to bend almost flush with the body in the event of an accident. Typically rubber components (the Scalextric Aston Martin DBR9’s rear vision mirrors for example) have to be left unpainted but the R32s have been painted in a matching colour to the rest of the car.

One thing I’m particularly impressed with is the R32’s wheel detail, wheel/body clearance and ride height. This is something that even the most experienced of slot car manufacture can completely mess up. hpi have done a fantastic job in this department with fantastically detailed and metallic coloured wheels complete with break disc detail that reflect the 1:1 R32 wheels perfectly. The R32’s tires come with a tread pattern and have a low profile. All four wheels sit just inside the body shell with minimal body clearance.

Detail at the rear of the slot is no different with the iconic round rear lights accurately modelled. Unfortunately their effect is a little lost on my red R32 as they blend in, I knew I should have ordered the silver! Reversing lights, exhaust, number plate, rear spoiler and boot lock detail are done well. hpi has moulded ‘SKYLINE’ across the boot which must have caused issues when it came to painting. The rear window comes with wiper and demister detail, (see below).

The internal detail level is also excellent with dash detail, rear vision mirror, bucket seats, full driver figure (with 5 point harness) and rear seats. The driver looks good with both hands on the steering wheel and what I’d call a ‘cool’ hair style.

Impressively, the slot comes with front and rear lights and I’m happy to report they aren’t crazily bright. One thing I don’t like about the lights is that the second you get off the power, the lights turn off. So even as you back off the power through a corner for a fraction of a second, the R32’s lights turn off. This means that on a lap of my track, the R32’s lights flashed up to a dozen times which I found distracting. This represent a simple fix for hpi if they are inclined.

Upon examining the front and rear lights, hpi have attached the circuitry to the body along with the internal detail using no less than 8 screws (see photo below). There are also 4 more screws that connect the wiring (front) and secure the front axle. In total, the slot has 17 screws if you count the glide screw and the 4 that attach the body to the chassis.

While this is quality at its finest, this many screws along with lighting being attached to the body will result in raising the models centre of gravity and increased its weight. Given that the R32 is a street car with a relatively high stance combined with narrower street tires, I was starting to worry.

Which brings us to the issue of the R32’s weight and perhaps it’s Achilles' heel? Given hpi’s background it’s obvious that one of their primary goals when producing this slot was a zero compromise policy on detail. As a result hpi has produced a wonderfully detailed and scaled slot car but the compromise has been weight.

This prompts the obvious question; does the excess weight hinder the R32’s performance? Let’s find out.


The R32’s body is attached to the chassis via 4 screws, the body is quick to remove and put back together. One advantage of the lights being attached to the body is that the wiring, etc. are completely out of your way when you want to make adjustments on the chassis. There is sufficient space within the body of the slot allowing you to add weight if so desired.

Magnetic down-force is provided by a 2.5mm bar magnet similar to what you find in most Scalextric releases. There are 2 positions for the magnet, just forward of the motor and just behind the glide. Hpi have been a little clever here, they have made the magnet housing reversible which allows you to control the amount of down-force used via 4 different magnet positions.

I would like to see the magnet housing mounting posts made a little longer or perhaps a different design as the housing can detach from the chassis quite easily. This never happened while I was running the car but did while I had it apart for adjustment.

This is a simple but excellent innovation that gives you control. Down-force applied by the magnet in FTB form is significant and hinders the top speed and acceleration of the R32. This makes the R32 very predictable and a little boring for my taste but great for kids. Reversing the magnet in the rear position allows you to better manager the compromise between speed and down-force resulting in a higher top speed. Move the magnet to the front position and hpi have created a ‘drift’ car that slides wonderfully through the corners, something I think is very appropriate given the R32’s nature.

Note the empty magnet housing just behind the glide, also the glide length and tire tread detail shown below.

I’m happy to report that the R32 runs quitely and there is minimal (approximately 1mm) rear axle lateral movement which I decided to leave unadjusted. The sprung glide has a good length (approx 20mm and isn’t too deep) and is attached to the chassis with a screw, excellent work! One of my pet hates is inadequate glides that must be replaced if you want any resemblance of decent performance from the slot car. The R32’s glide will however not need upgrading as it works very well and handles the vertical drop sections on my Carrera layout perfectly.

Upon placing the R32 on the track for the first time I was awed with the appearance of the car. hpi have put a lot of work into the detail of the R32 and it has paid off with dividends; this is one of the most beautifully detailed and finished slot cars I have ever seen.

One of the first things I do with non independent motor pod slots is to loosen the rear body screws a few turns allowing the body to roll a little on the chassis. The exhaust detail is attached to the chassis of the slot which prevents the body from rolling on the chassis freely; still there are performance gains to be had by loosening the body screws.

The front wheels of the R32 touch the track slightly and do not seem to interfere with the running of the slot. A quick check revealed some excess mould flashing on rear plastic wheels. Flashing can be removed through carefully sanding the wheels; I completely trued the rear wheels using sandpaper.

Upon removing and replacing the tires I noticed that the rubber compound used on the R32 is quite hard, making them a little difficult to true. I always clean tires post sanding with a small amount of WD40 sprayed onto a few paper towels. You’ll be amazed at how much dirt and rubber ‘muck’ can be cleaned off what looks like a clean set of tires.

As I have said, the default position of the magnet makes the R32 a little too stuck to the track making it feel a little stiff and boring to drive. I reversed the magnet in the rear position and just like flicking a switch; the R32’s personality came alive! The slot felt great to drive, very smooth on the track and while it’s probably not as smooth as your favourite, I’m beating it's close.

Initial magnetic lap times (pre adjustments with magnet in the default position) were in the 6.6 second range which is much quicker than I was expecting.

After making the previously mentioned adjustments and running a good 100 laps with the R32, laps times dropped 0.4 of a second and the R32 was consistently running in the 6.2 second range. Any lap time around the 6 second range on my track is a competitive time.

One thing I think the R32 could benefit from is a faster motor (it comes standard with a Mabuchi style 20K motor) and better rear rubber. Being a street car hpi has accurately made the tires thin and treaded (see above photo). If hpi was to release the R32 in race trim (and that’s what we ALL want hpi) the rear rubber would be more significant and provide better grip levels.

The R32’s chassis is quick and handles well, the only thing holding it back from being super quick is a beefer motor, better rubber and perhaps a few less screws. ;)

I’ve had my R32 for about a week now and after doing several hundred laps with it I have to say it’s an impressive slot car. I have always been a big street slot fan and like most motor heads absolutely love the R32 Godzilla which is a cult car here in Australia.

The R32 was always going to be a bit hit for me unless of course hpi-racing had mucked it up. Let’s face it, that’s something that is more than possible with the maiden slot car from a new manufacture. Fortunately for us hpi have done a fantastic job with their first release.

By now you will know I love a slot car to accurately reflect the 1:1 car in every way possible but not at the expense of track performance. hpi-racing has managed to produce a very accurately scaled slot car that combines high levels of detail with great handling and performance.

Well done hpi-racing and I can’t wait for some of the R32’s racing liveries, I think you know which one the Australian market is keen for?

Manic Score Breakdown

  • Sex Appeal: 5th Gear
  • Collectability: 4th Gear
  • Build Quality: 7th Gear
  • Attention to Detail: 7th Gear
  • 'RTR' Performance: 5th Gear

Overall Manic Score: 5.6 Gears.

I've published a desktop wallpapers of the R32 on the Wallpapers 2 Page Here

For more about hpi-racing slot cars, see the hpi-racing Website Here


1 comment :

Anonymous said...

ilove the r32 too--i replace the rear tyres with slot it c1 9.5mm wide ones