The big advantage of building old cars is, of course, the simplicity of the body shapes; and also the lack of fancy colour schemes.
In fact, producing the cars proved to a little more difficult than I envisaged, because I wanted the radiator intake at the front to be a complete oval. This entailed bending an extra piece of plastic and fitting it to the underside of the nose thus forming the intake. A similar process was required on the tails of most of the cars, although the Lotus 18's have no tail to speak of, and were therefore very simple.
When I looked at the shells available from Patto, I thought I would have to make a pattern for the works 1960 Cooper T.53 'lowline'. Happily, Patto came through just on cue with an Indianapolis Cooper, which was close enough, with modifications to the car I wanted; and hence, these 2 cars were produced. Here is an image of one of them.
You will notice that the car is standing on a box. All my modern cars have a box each, but I needed boxes for my Historics, so I surfed around and came up with a company called Swift Cartons & Packaging in Aldershot, U.K. who made me some brilliant boxes to my precise specifications, and at a very reasonable price. If that sounds like advertising, well, I suppose it is, but I would recommend them to anyone.
Deciding to produce a series such as this did present a couple of problems which could have wrecked the whole idea. For power, I decided to use the older Scalextric motors (E.9 Johnson - small can) as they are a little less fierce than the current motors.
I have searched all over the world wide web but have been unable to find ANY supplier of slot-race bodyshells who produces this rear-engined 1960 Ferrari. So... you may be looking at the only one of its kind in the world....!
It was in the area of wheels and tyres that my problems could have occurred. As an inveterate hoarder, I had a box full of old wheels from the early 1960's; spoked, cast alloy and wobbly-web type. So that got me started. Luckily, a friend told me about B.T.S Mouldings in Hastings, U.K. who produce a wonderful range of accessories for Scalextric, as well as many makes of die-cast models too. (Sorry, no Internet connection for them - no computer !!) They make all the wheels anyone could ever need, plus things like exhaust systems and windscreens. Quite by chance they had a stock of rear-tyres, (brand new) which suited the age of my cars perfectly. I bought their whole stock.
It was front tyres that stumped me for a while. I am able to make my own tyres, with a re-usable moulding rubber. (The sharknose Ferrari in the image on the previous page has all 4 tyres made in this way.) I was prepared to make 48 tyres for the cars, until Bruce Paterson put me onto a guy named Ed Sourbeck in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A (again, no Internet) who has an amazing range of slot-race accessories. I found a suitable size tyre and ordered some.
Until they arrived, I never dreamed that they would be MALE, as opposed to FEMALE; i.e. the tyre goes into a recess in the wheel, rather than the Scalextric way, where the wheel goes into the tyre. This meant I had to modify 48 wheels to suit the new tyres. It was a bit of a pain, but worth it in the end.
As you can see from the images, the tyres look impossibly narrow, and indeed the cars are quite difficult to drive. Relatively speaking, there is far too much power for the grip levels achieved, so the cars are very squirrely to handle. In fact, it is not unusual to see them fishtailing down the straight if I have applied a little too much power to soon in the previous corner.
What has been the biggest plus is the fact that different types of car have totally different handling characteristics. The Ferraris handle by far the best. Over a race distance they are easy to lap consistently quickly with. The B.R.M's are pretty good, while the Scarabs are not quick, but are very smooth - like F1 Cadillacs. The lowline Coopers are twitchy, but fast, while all the other Coopers - T.51's (7 of them, so far) give the impression of being a bit 'top heavy' and are always lifting a rear wheel into corners.
The nightmare cars are the Lotuses. To begin with they were so light that they spun their rear wheels ALL the time. I ballasted them with plasticine, which improved the situation sufficiently for Moss and Clark both to have won a race so far (against very little Italian opposition - I should add) but the cars remain a terrible handful to drive. One or two quick laps are always possible but ten in a row is a tall order.