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Scalextric C4146 Ford RS500 'Graham Goode'

I confess that I rarely buy a Scalextric car because:
a) they require too much work before they will run properly on a wooden track. A Scalextric representative freely admits on SFI that their cars do not run well sans magnet so it is not just my opinion.

b) I find their quality control to be verging on the abysmal. The last ones I bought were the four body shapes of the current BTCC cars, three of them needed work before they would even turn a wheel and the fourth stripped its gears within ten minutes. I would sooner spend an extra tenner for a Slot.It car and get one that works reliably straight out of the box.

Why did I buy this one then?
Nostalgia basically. I loved this era of the BTCC and the RS500 was an awesome beast. The current incarnation of the series is alright with plenty of close racing but give me the 500bhp plus of the Cosworth any day. I had a passenger ride in one at the Snetterton British Heart Foundation day way back when and it was the closest I have ever come to being scared in a race car. The kick in the back from the turbo was like a plane take off and the lack of decent brakes as we approached the esses at full speed was a definite buttock clenching experience.

This particular model is the Graham Goode, Listerine sponsored car from 1987 with Clifford the dragon decorating the bonnet and side panels. At every race some poor mechanic would draw the short straw and be forced to wear a dragon suit on the grid for the crowd's entertainment. Graham was actually the very first driver to win a race with an RS500 but he was never really a contender for the championship and eventually left the series to concentrate on his car preparation business.    

Scale accuracy
There have been at least four different versions of the car over the years, Scalextric themselves made one back in the 90s and SCX and Ninco made some  as well. Every one has been a different size but this latest one is claimed to be the most scale accurate of the lot. On first glance I thought it looked quite small and narrow especially when lined up against a current BTCC Honda but this just demonstrates how bloated cars have become over the last 40 years. As far as I can tell the Scalextric car is pretty close to scale and the RS500 was definitely thinner than a modern BTCC Civic with a narrower front and rear track.
The decoration seems to be  spot on and I couldn't identify any major livery howlers but Scalextric continue to blot their copybook by using incorrect driver helmets and have given Mr Goode an open face version which he never wore. Easy enough to change if it bothers anyone but why they continue to make the same basic error is beyond me.

Quality control
A pleasant surprise as everything fitted and worked correctly with the exception of the front wheels which failed to touch the track. This was easily fixed by my usual practice of unfolding the braids into an SCX pattern thus lowering the guide and the wheels then made contact with the track. This is a useful modification for all Scalextric cars as it also increases the contact patch for the braids.
    Standard on left, unfolded on right.

Removing the body reveals the normal inline chassis:
Note that the wiring for the rear lights is routed under and touching the rear axle. I didn't think this was a great idea as friction would eventually wear through the insulation so I rearranged it over the axle and took care to make sure it was out of the way when I replaced the body.

In a couple of words - fairly rubbish! My modern BTCC cars aren't that great but they do just about manage to get under 6 seconds for a 50ft lap. This thing struggled to get near 6.5.

After the normal lubrication and running in I gave it a couple of laps on the stock tyres before throwing them in the bin and fitting some Slot.It F22s. As the car's track is quite narrow I was expecting a certain degree of tippiness but this thing took it to a higher plane. Any attempt at taking corners above a crawl produced a classic barrel roll:    
I figured that the F22s might be giving too much grip so I swapped them for a pair of urethanes which allow a bit more slide. This improved things but I then experienced the other Scalextric nightmare - terminal understeer. Instead of rolling over on the bends it just came out of the slot and headed straight to the scene of the accident.The worse thing about this handling defect, which is common with the brand, is that it comes at random. You can take the same corner at the same speed for a few laps without mishap and then it launches itself at the scenery for no apparent reason. I am not the world's greatest slot racer but I can normally do plenty of consecutive laps on my home track without a single off. The most I managed with the RS500 was five, any attempt at posting a time ended in disaster.

Please bear in mind that I write these reviews from my own experience and from the point of view of the average user who just wants to race the car without too much mucking about. Yes, this car could be improved, not least by fitting a decent guide blade instead of the standard item. If you run on proprietary plastic track the magnet should hide the handling deficiencies and it could be worth buying if you like the look of it. If you have a wooden track I think it will need a lot of modification to make it a good runner although I have seen a club racing video with standard cars running well on such a track so what do I know?

It is a very good looking car and I really hoped it would perform better than it did. I realise that I am not Scalextric's target market and I don't want to be too negative as they produce some desirable models but I won't be buying another in the near future.

All is not lost though as it came with a free PCR chassis so I will have a rummage in the spares box, see if I can improve things with some decent quality parts and give it another go.

And Finally.........
did I mention quality control? I gave it a run this morning and a rear wheel fell off! Plus ça change.
[+] 6 members Like CMOTD's post

(26th-Jul-20, 01:44 PM)CMOTD Wrote:  I figured that the F22s might be giving too much grip so I swapped them for a pair of urethanes which allow a bit more slide. This improved things but I then experienced the other Scalextric nightmare - terminal understeer.
such a track so what do I know?
Many thanks for your report.
It's a shame they don't do any rally version of that beauty (for instance the Sierra of Jimmy McRae or Russell Brookes).

Maybe adding some weight to the front of the floorpan could help swinging the car around the corners?

rallyhub Thumbup

Tried a bit of weight Hub but it didn't make much difference. However, have been mucking about with it so an update on things:
When I glued the errant rear wheel back on I noticed the other one was wobbling as well so some of the problems might have stemmed from them working loose. While gluing the second one I saw that part of the mounting for the front lights was missing and they were rubbing on the front wheel so the lights needed gluing as well. I also took the opportunity to replace the braids with thinner, more flexible stuff and nail varnished the front tyres. I don't usually bother doing anything with the front tyres as Scalextric ones are virtually zero grip on my track anyway but I thought I might as well see if it gave any improvement.

Back on the track and performance is somewhat better, can now lap at close to 6.2 seconds which is 3 tenths better than before but nowhere near a competitive time. It still understeers off at random but not so often and I can usually manage 10 or so laps before it crashes.

Performance assessment is therefore upgraded from 'fairly rubbish ' to 'not very good'. Bigsmile
[+] 3 members Like CMOTD's post

I mentioned in the review that the car came with a free PCR chassis so I have now tried it out.

A rummage in the dead car box turned up a complete Scaleauto chassis that once belonged to a GT3 Mercedes. I used its pod complete with motor, gears and wheels, trimmed it slightly with a craft knife and it fitted perfectly. The spares box provided some shorter axles, a Slot.It wood guide and some Wasp urethane tyres.

On to the track and I had a half decent slot car. Terminal understeer gone and lap times improved by half a second. It now laps consistently in the 5.7 second range without any major dramas. It could probably be improved further with some better gears and wheels than the standard Scaleauto ones but it will do for now.

It can therefore be made to perform reasonably well but, if you had to buy all the upgrade components from scratch it would become exceedingly expensive. I have added up the cost of the relevant bits from the list on Pendle's website LINK and it comes to just under £45! This would put the total price of the car above that of an NSR or Thunderslot and you would probably need more money than sense to do it.
[+] 1 member Likes CMOTD's post

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