SCX 64270 McLaren MP4/6. A convoluted tale.

This is another case of SCX being economical with the truth but, before we get into that let's have a look at the most successful single season for an F1 car to date - 1988 and the total dominance of the McLaren Honda MP4/4.

The car took 15 victories from 16 races, including ten 1-2 finishes and Alain Prost finished 1st or 2nd in the 14 races he finished. It also set pole position in 15 of the 16 races (including a record 13 for Ayrton Senna), locked out the front row in 12 races and also set 10 fastest race laps. It would have been 16 wins out of 16 if Senna hadn't tripped over Jean-Louis Schlesser while lapping him at Monza. Prost ended the season with more points but, due to the quirky scoring system at the time, Senna became world champion with 8 wins to Prost's 7.

At the time of writing it still holds the record as the most dominant single season car with a winning percentage of 93.8%. The Mercedes W07 came close to it in 2016 with 19 wins in 21 races (90.5%) and we should not be too surprised if the record finally falls to Mercedes this year.

The Models

In 1990 Exin Scalextric released a model of the MP4/4 catalogue #8326. It carried race number 11 which was the Prost version. Hoorah! a successful F1 car to race. As usual cigarette branding was omitted which was a pity as the real Marlboro livery was second only to the JPS one in eye catching appeal. They even wimped out of using the barcode livery which was used in the German GP at the time and just put fictitious McLaren branding on it. Apart from that it was a cracking model and highly competitive in its day. In fact, together with the same make's Ferrari F1 87 it was the mainstay of non magnet club F1 racing for a very long time.

During this period the Spanish and English firms, although separate entities, would often work together. They would swap bodies and each would then fit the wheels, motor, guide etc for their own country. So it was with the MP4/4, the bodies were sent to the U.K. and it was announced in the Scalextric catalogue #31 with a list number of C462. It was tampo printed rather than stickered as the Spanish ones were and carried Senna's #12.

Licensing Problems?

At this point things took a bizarre turn. The Spanish version was available for less than one year while the English version was never officially released at all and the bodies were (allegedly) either returned to Spain or destroyed. Now why would a sought after version of the most successful F1 car of all time be withdrawn from sale so soon? There are several theories about this but the most popular and credible one is that somebody forgot to ask McLaren's permission and/or neglected to pay the license fee. Exin were notoriously cavalier in this department and had a long history of sailing close to the wind.

Exin were loath to junk the expensive moulds though so they just repainted it as three different, largely fictitious, Indy cars and retrieved their set up costs that way. As for the 'destroyed/returned' English version, within six months large numbers of them surfaced at swapmeets around the country! One Scottish dealer of my acquaintance had more than 100 of them for sale at Milton Keynes the following spring. The back door at Margate must have been very busy that year.


Now, to return to the original title of this thread - SCX 64270 McLaren MP4/6. In 2009 SCX launched 'a tribute to a legend' in their vintage range and released the MP4/6 of 1991 in which Senna won his third and final world championship. It was complete with the correct #1 on the nose and a Senna liveried driver's helmet and came in the obligatory fancy box at an eye watering retail price of £67.99. Slot cars in general hadn't even reached the £30 price level at that time! Perhaps they had paid the license fee this time.

Unfortunately it was nothing more than a re liveried MP4/4 from 1990. Why couldn't they just leave well alone and label it as the original? It was a pretty good car in the first place so why tell porky pies? Presumably they were trying to cash in on the Senna mystique but few people were fooled and it mostly languished on shop shelves before being sold off at a discount over the next few years. The originals from 1990 are still relatively plentiful and well worth purchasing if you come across one. The Scalextric version does carry a price premium but don't pay too much though, they are nowhere near as rare as some folks would have you believe.