Saturday, 30 November 2013

REVIEW: Scaleauto Pagani Zonda GR

Scaleauto Pagani Zonda GR
SC-6045, 'Force One Racing', Le Mans 24hr 2004, test car

"This car can be vicious, but in an amusing way, like a shark in a funny hat." - Jeremy Clarkson on the Zonda


From 'The heart of the Zonda is a carbon-fibre composite monocoque chassis. Although this chassis was one of the car's biggest, it prevented it from racing in its first years of production and racing is where car's of the Zonda stature can really prove their worth. The international racing's governing bodies finally stepped up and allowed carbon fibre chassis in GT-racing at the start of the 2003 season. Although Pagani themselves have not yet started racing program, one of the customers readied a Zonda for the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

Long time GT-racing team Carsport America was the customer, who formed Carsport Modena to develop and built the race car. Most of the Zonda's features were retained, with the drivetrain being the exception. The AMG derived engine was decreased in size to displace six litres. The gearbox was a Porsche 911 derived unit mounted reversed and upside down. Further modifications include minimal changes to the bodywork to have it comply with the regulations. The above photo is copyright

In its debut season the Zonda GR, as it was dubbed, was dogged with many problems. Although the car appeared ready for the race, the Zonda GR's outing at Le Mans turned out to be a disaster. Minutes into the race gearbox problems forced the Zonda to visit the pit to retire. Clearly not used to be mounted upside down, the gearbox proved to be the car's achilles heal for the remainder of the season.

Over the 2003/2004 winter, the Zonda was completely revised; the 2004 car only shared the front subframe with the debut variant. Most importantly the gearbox was replaced by the commonly used and well proven Xtrac unit. The engine was increased in size and displaced just under 7 litres. To prevent the 2003 debacle from happening again, the drivetrain was tested for well over 24 hours on a test-bench prior to the Le Mans test days in April 2004.

Entered by Force One Racing, the Zonda covered 18 laps in the 8 hour Le Mans preliminaries test session. It is pictured here at the Le Mans preliminaries.'

The above photo is copyright

This history on the GR variant from Wikipedia: 'Development of the Zonda GR started in December 2002. At this stage the Zonda was nearly four years old, but had yet to be entered in major motorsports. Tom Weickardt, owner of American Viperacing, Toine Hezemans, owner of Carsport Holland, and Paul Kumpen, owner of GLPK, created a new company, Carsport Zonda, to build a racing version. They secured exclusive rights to develop, build and sell competition Zondas from Horacio Pagani, and the first GR was completed at Carsport's facility in Modena within months.

The Zonda GR is based on the Zonda S. It was built on the same carbon fiber chassis, with tube frames in front and back. The bodywork was modified to include front and rear diffusers and louvers for improved aerodynamics.

The above photo is copyright

'The car was 2 meters (6.6 ft) wide, in accordance with the regulations of the FIA and ACO. The car's weight was reduced to 1,100 kilograms (2,400 lb), and a new suspension was designed. New wheels and brakes were also specified. The engine was equipped with an enlarged radiator, and the engine and gearbox also had new oil coolers.

The performance of the Zonda GR is well beyond that of the stock car. The car sprints from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.3 seconds and the engine produces around 600 PS (440 kW; 590 hp) at 5,800 rpm and 580 lb·ft (786 N·m) of torque at 4,300 rpm with a redline increased to 7,500 rpm.

The car was entered into the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans, but retired after 10 laps due to a gearbox failure.'

The above photo is copyright

The below YouTube video shows the 'Rock Media Motors' Zonda GR (which is also available from Scaleauto) to give you some perspective on the car racing, a mind blowing motorcar.


This is only the second Zonda race livery (the first is the 'Rock Media Motors' green livery) to be released by Scaleauto and from what I've been informed, it may be the last.  You heard correct, this is likely to be the last Zonda released by Scaleauto so get in quick if you're as big a fan of this motorcar as I am.

Unlike a lot of manufactures, Scaleauto has developed their own unique slot car packaging.  As you can see from the photo below, the packaging is a plastic frame with a cardboard and clear plastic outer sleeve.  The packaging is easily openable, unlike some other manufacture's cardboard boxing which you almost destroy when attempting to remove the slot.    Scaleauto boxes can be easily stacked if you're lucky enough to own several of these beauties in your collection.

The car is secured in place via 2 plastic coated black wires (see below photo) which are feed through the chassis ensuring the slot will not come away from the base during transit. If you've ever experienced what I term a 'slot car milkshake', (where a slot comes away from its base during transit) you'll appreciate these black wires.  Where I don't like the wires is when I want to put the car back into it's box.  There is no alternate way to fix the slot to the box so you are forced to either sit the slot in the box or thread the wires back through the chassis.

One thing I do like about the packaging is that there is a raised platform in the centre of the base which keeps the slot's wheels from touching the packaging which is a great idea.  The car comes with a spare front splitter and rear wing (and 6 grub screws - long and short).  The grub screws can be used to adjust the front axel ride height, but more on that later.


The following slot specifications are from the Scaleauto site:
  • RT2 Chassis
  • Motor mount: In-Line
  • Motor: SC-26 Long-Can (22K)
  • Pinion/Gear ratio: 9/27 (aluminium and nylon)
  • Floating motor-pod (6 point adjustment)
  • Front Rims: 18x9mm plastic hub
  • Rear Rims: 19x10.5mm aluminium hub
  • Height adjustable front axle 
  • Twin magnets fitted (forward and behind motor, on pod)
The RT2 chassis fitted to the Zonda comes with numerous upgrade options, including angle-winder configuration.  You can find details about them from Scaleauto 2013 catalog here


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 the 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?’

From a straight comparison perspective, Scaleauto slots are a little more expensive than your average slot release, say a Scalextric, Flyslot,, SRC or a standard Ninco but they are cheaper than Black Arrow, NSR or Le Mans Miniatures.  Scaleauto are more comparable with a 'Lightening' Ninco, MR Slotcar or Cartrix and when compared with these manufactures, Scaleauto represents fair value for your slotting dollar.

 While not the cheapest slot car on the market, they are far from the most expensive and as you can see from the below photo, Scaleauto engineering is impressive.  Another thing worth taking into account is the highly desirable and unique 1/32 models Scaleauto has been clever enough to release; Zonda, HSV, BMW Z4, Spyker, DeTomaso - epic slots you just NEED in your collection. 


Finish levels on the Zonda are of a high standard, paint and decal finish are top-shelf.  I'm particularly impressed with the beautiful deep high gloss metallic finish on the dark blue paint.
Decal lettering is of a high standard and when compared to the 1:1 race car, very accurate.  Drivers names are displayed on the roof and are so small that I can hardly read them.  The orange 'Bouygues Telecom' art work looks accurate and impressive against the dark blue colour of the 'Force One Racing' livery.

The curves and lines of the front end of the Zonda look accurate enough, there are a few differences with the actual 1:1 motorcar.  The Scaleauto model has some lower fog lights which aren't present on the race car and has a different indicator configuration and the window wiper is in the wrong position.  I'm impressed with the Pagani logo which is not just a decal and can be seen at the top centre of the bonnet. 

Another small thing you may have noticed in the above photo is that the Scaleauto slot has 6 spoke wheels unlike the 1:1 motorcar which has 5.  A small thing in my opinion but I know there are some purists out there that will be interested.  You will also notice the missing took hooks from the front and rear of the slot although on the actual motorcar they are very small.

I can appreciate the effort Scaleauto have gone to in replicating the different colours (orange and silver) that are behind the front lights, a detail that would be easy to miss.  One of the most important aspects of the Zonda is it's 'bug like' rear vision mirrors.  These look perfect in form but I have to be honest with you, these are fragile and may not survive a decent shunt on the track.
You can see how beautiful but fragile the rear vision mirrors are in the above photo, they protrude from the slot 2-3mm and are made from hard plastic making them susceptible.  I know I tend to go on a bit about rear vision mirrors but they should be made from rubber as standard on all slot cars.  There is nothing worse than loosing a rear vision mirror on the first running of your new slot.  I can tell you I made sure I had finished reviewing this stunning slot before seriously racing it in anger!

Post review comment: I have been driving the Zonda now for several hundred laps and despite several good 'offs', ironically the mirrors are still in place (I'm touching a piece of wood right now BTW).

There is a fair degree of play in the rear wing so it should survive all but the most serious crash and Scaleauto have thoughtfully included a spare just in case.  Unfortunately the slot does not included a roof aerial which is a little disappointing as many of Scaleauto's models do.

The rear splitter, cooling intakes, lights and the central exhaust detail looks great, you have to love the originality of the Zonda's central exhaust outlets - the model captures this character well.  Side detail is good with brake cooling intakes and indicators.

Wheel detail and the red brake callipers look fantastic, I particularly like the effort Scaleauto seems to put into the wheels on all their models.
  Driver and internal detail is pretty basic as you can see in the above photo but does the job well enough.  One advantage of this is that the interior is light weight, although I personally would have like a bit more internal detail from the Zonda.  You can see the underside of the interior in the below photo, obviously allowing for the long-can configuration and the option of reconfiguring to angle-winder.  The driver's helmet is plain blue though this isn't a big issue for me when it comes to roofed cars.

All things considered, the Scalauto Pagani Zonda is a well presented and detailed slot car.  Paint finish and decal quality and accuracy are of a high standard.  The slot is let down a little in the detail department but all in all, an impressive looking slot car I'm sure you'll agree.


Starting from the front, the first thing you'll notice is the red guide, I'm not sure why it's red but I like it.  The guide is 7mm deep which works well on my Carrera plastic track and the front guide moves very freely allowing the slot to corner well.  From an aesthetic perspective the guide is set at a good height and the front of the slot sits naturally and realistically on the track.

Be careful if you need to remove the guide from the chassis as it is very tightly installed and I recommend you remove the body before trying as you may do some damage to the finer body detail (insert those stunning rear vision mirrors here) as a slot friend of mine recently did to his Zonda. The front axle is height adjustable via 4 small grub screws, 2 are accessible from underneath the chassis and 2 from inside.  These grub screws do not come installed but are included with the slot.  The front wheels sit nicely on the track and as the grub screws are not installed, there is plenty of vertical play in the front axle.

One thing I always check for straight away is clearance between front/rear rubber and the body/chassis of the slot.  In this case I was concerned by the front wheels and upon running the slot for an initial track test, my concerns were founded.  The front wheels are push-on plastic rims and the front axel is slightly too long resulting in the front rubber rubbing on the inside of the wheel arches.  This seriously impedes the slot preventing it from running smoothly through corners - the rubbing acts as a break.

I installed the front axle grub screws (top two only) and played around with various heights but I had to restrict the axel run too far to prevent body rubbing.  The only option was to slightly reduce the length of the front axle by replacing it with a slightly shorter one.  I also shave a little from inside of the front wheel arches, you can see the results below (I'll talk about the reason for the rear arches later).  Unfortunately the slot still didn't run smoothly, the front wheels were still rubbing on the body and although not as badly as before, this still prevented the slot from completing a lap.

The problem was that the chassis was preventing the rims from moving away from the aches despite the shorter axle.  I decided to sanded the inside of the front rims removing the moulded spacer which reduced the overall width of the front axle/rim by approximately 2mm.  You can see a sanded front rim to the left in the below photo and the moulded plastic spacer on the inside of the right rim (the one with the axle).  Unfortunately this meant that the inside of the wheels will now rub a little on the chassis so I needed to carefully shave a little off the chassis and even the front axle posts.

Reinstalling the front end with the 2 top grub screws installed, the Zonda was a new car!  Where previously I found it difficult to complete a lap, I was now able to drive the slot without any impediment although lap time were not amazing at around the 8 second mark.  Noise levels were a little high but after lubricating the from axle, these significantly reduced.

The Zonda comes setup as an in-line motor pod configuration with Scaleauto's SC-26 'long-can' 22rpm motor.  Like with all Scaleauto releases I own, the equipped motor is powerful enough without being ridiculous for home track purposes.  I had read that Scaleauto slot cars were not really suited to home track racing as they were too powerful, I'm happy to report that this is not the case and that the Zonda is well suited to decent sized home track racing.

The slot behaved responsively down the longer straights when I open up the throttle while not being too powerful to control through the more technical sections of my layout.  My track has a good balance of technical elements like reverse curves while still having several long straights up to 4.5 metres allowing slots to stretch their legs.

For more specific information on the track used in this review please have a look at my track layout here.  

In terms of gearing, the pinion is 9 tooth and the spur gear is 27 tooth, a classic combination.  The long-can motor is well housed (fixed with a pair of small screws at the rear) in the motor pod resulting in zero motor rotation under power, necessary with a 22,000rpm motor.

The body is held on with 3 screws but due to the body/chassis design, loosening these will not permit much in the way of body roll.  Speaking of body roll, the floating motor pod is adjustable via 4 screws to the chassis although you can add 2 more if you wish via 2 long arms which extend perpendicular to the motor.  You can see these 'arms' in the above photo.  I ended up cutting these additional arms from my motor pod to allow for increased rotation.

I loosed the front motor pod screws a full turn, the rear screws a turn and a half.  Its always a good idea to test motor pod rotation (or looseness) by gently twisting the rear axle with your fingers and observing the pod's freedom of movement in the chassis.  The first thing I noticed was that on one side, the inside of the rear rubber was rubbing on the chassis, actually the rear splitter body work that's attached to the rear of the chassis (the top side of the Zonda in the below photo).

Solution, again shave a little off the inside of the wheel arches allowing the rear wheels to be moved away slightly (1mm) from the chassis which solved the problem.

I also noticed that the Zonda's pod was slightly catching on the rear screws, I took a small diameter rat tail file and slightly increased the size of the holes in the chassis.  This did the trick resulting in good pod movement or rotation.  Testing the Zonda again resulted in lap time improvements, consistently around the 7.6 second mark.

Its worth noting that motor pod movement can add to noise levels on all brands of slots, a little lubricant can help with this and also assist with freedom of movement.
  You'll note that the Zonda comes with 2 magnets, one in front and one behind the motor on the pod, these are held in place by screws.  Initially I was alarmed that this would mean a slot with a significant amount of magnetic downforce but this is not the case.  In fact the Zonda has significantly less magnetic downforce than the Scaleauto HSV I reviewed last month.

The standard rear rubber is soft and gave the Zonda a decent level of grip on my plastic track.  The rear hubs are aluminium (19x10.5mm) and the standard rubber is pretty 'true' requiring very little attention.  As I was intending on getting the most from my Zonda, I upgraded the rears to some P6 rubber.  Back to the track and my Zonda was now consistently lapping around the 7 seconds mark.  Best lap time was 6.94 but I know this slot will improve with more track time.

So in terms on on-track performance, how does the Zonda perform?  Well once I'd ironed out the bugs (I'm sorry to say that mine had a few) that have been discussed, fantastically!  The light magnetic downforce allows the rear end to step beautifully when pushing through corners, it's only when you really push the envelope that the rear end completely steps out causing a deslot.

As you would expect, the 22,000 rpm long-can motor is a strong performer allowing for  brisk acceleration on the track, especially on long straights.  Perhaps if your going to run this slot in club events with 10 metre straights and huge sweeping corners, you might consider changing the gearing ratio.  For home racing on tracks of my size, I have always been a fan of the 9/27 gear combination.
Cornering is smooth but even with a rear rubber upgraded, you'll need to be respectful of the 22K motor.  In terms of slot running noise, once I had lubricated the front axle and pod, noise was at more than acceptable levels.

While there were times that I found diagnosing the various running issues of the Zonda frustrating, in the end I gained a sense of achievement from seeing the car perform well on my track.  The Scaleauto Zonda reminds me of some of the old Fly offerings, from-the-box they presented some serious performance issues but with a little TLC they became some of the best slot cars made.

For a more detailed lap time comparison, have a quick look at the 'lap times' page.

In terms on non-magnetic performance, this slot is smooth on the track but as previously stated, it does require a decent rear rubber upgrade.  As standard magnetic downforce is light, removing the magnets doesn't change the overall performance of the slot a great deal.

So does ManicSlots recommend the Scaleauto Zonda?  The Zonda is a great slot car with a high degree of detail and finish that is unfortunately let down somewhat by build and quality control issues.  If you're new to the hobby or if you're not into modifying slot cars, then I would say no, this slot is not for you.  However, if you enjoy (as I do) the modification element of our hobby, (and of course love the Pagani Zonda) then absolutely as no other manufacture offers this epic motorcar and with a little TLC, you can make it your own.

It's worth noting that the Force One Racing livery will potentially be the last Zonda released by Scaleauto.


  • Sex Appeal: 7th gear
  • Collectability: 6th gear
  • Build Quality: 4th gear
  • Attention to Detail: 5th gear
  • 'RTR' Performance: 3rd gear
Overall Manic Slot Score: 5.0 Gears

For more photos of the 'Force One Racing' Zonda, head over to the Scaleauto website by clicking the below link.

Scaleauto Slot Cars

Want to find out more about Scaleauto slot cars?
Be our guest and CLICK HERE


No comments :