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What's in a Carrera car?
#1

Johnno posted in another thread that he hadn't tried any Carrera cars because he is "just not sure about them". Well, here's a quick look at some that I have and that I race...

   

What you get from Carrera is a beautiful model in a pretty hefty display case. I guess a lot of people never take the cars out of the cases (which stack very nicely, by the way), but I think they are fun slot cars to run - not super-quick, but handle well and race well against each other and in some multi-manufacturer grids (think Scalextric, Fly, Revell etc). And they are ridiculously good value. There are distinct themes in the Carrera range -  F1, GT3, DTM, retro Group 5 /DRM, retro sports prototypes, road cars, police cars, Pixar Cars and some US specials - the classic Nascars are particularly awesome.

Carrera currently produce cars in 1/43, 1/32 and 1/24 scales and in both analogue (1/43 and 1/32 scales) and digital (1/43, 1/32 and 1/24 scales). The BASF BMW M1 and all the other cars here are 1/32 scale analogue models - what Carrera call their 'Evolution' range. The digital cars are designed to work only on the Carrera Digital 124/132 system, but I'll show how I have converted an Evolution car for racing on Scalextric Digital.

Here's what you get top and bottom - and spares...

         

The chassis layout on all their models is pretty similar - a fairly flat chassis, inline motor, one neodymium traction magnet just in front of the rear axle and a second (hidden) one in front of the motor. The guide is long and thick for the big 1/24 scale Carrera track system. Every car comes with a spare Carrera guide and a smaller red one for use with other makes of track (Scalextric, Ninco etc) - it's a pretty east swap. Of course, the red guide doesn't work with Scalextric ARC powerbases, so the options are to paint the red guide black, whittle down the Carrera guide to red guide proportions or buy the BRM S-126 'Carrera (shallow blade) guide'.

Behind the guide you can see a direction switch, which changes the direction of the car. Just to the side of the switch is a small panel where the digital LED would be on a Carrera digital car. Otherwise there are four body screws (two front and two back) and a big hole for the car to be screwed to the display plinth. In the spares bag are a pair of wing mirrors - a very welcome addition that comes with all Carrera cars.

   

Inside, the body holds a nice flat (and light) cockpit interior, giving plenty of space for digital chips and all the internals. In the chassis, you can see brass axle bearings on all four corners and plastic gear in a standard 9/27 ratio. The circuit board holds the direction switch in place and is linked to the pick-ups and the motor via JST connectors. To convert to Carrera digital, the connectors are simply unplugged, the board and LED cover removed and then the correct Carrera decoder screwed in place. It is a neat system that requires no soldering - truly plug-and-play. The motor is an E200 motor which performs about the same as a Scalextric Mabuchi - maybe slightly less powerful - and with the usual manufacturing variation.

Just in front of the motor you can see a screw holding a plastic plate - underneath this is the other strong neodymium bar magnet. The magnet behind the motor is also held by a plastic plate. Access to change the guide flag and the pick-up braids (what Carrera call 'grinders') is via the bottom of the car, but the top can be accessed by removing the two screws near the front axle bushings. Inside you'll find a spring that keeps the guide straight. When running without traction magnets, I like to remove that spring.

Here is another car - a BMW M6 GT3 - that has been prepared for running non-mag on Carrera track...

         

As you can see, the magnets and the plastic panels that hold them in the chassis have been removed. It's an easy process and straight-forward to re-fit them, if required. No weight has been added to the chassis and the rear wheels and tyres have been lightly trued. It gives a fun car to drive and power-slide round the corners. A little weight and some Paul Gage urethane tyres would improve things even more - as would removing the guide spring, which can cause the car to 'understeer' in the corners and de-slot.

The Carrera GT3 cars look superb, but are heavier and slower than their Scalextric contemporaries - that's why the Digital Slot Car Association (DiSCA) suggests in its GT4 rules that either Scalextric or Carrera is run as a class. I think that is sage advice and the basis for some great GT action.

Here is a third car - a Ferrari 365 P2 - that I have converted to non-mag running on Scalextric Sport Digital for our WHO/digital Goodwood Revival class...

         

Although smaller, it's still a very similar layout to the previous two cars. On the underside you can see I have replaced the Carrera guide with the red one; drilled a central 3mm hole for the Scalextric digital LED; I have also removed the direction switch, the Carrera LED cover and the rear traction magnet. There is also evidence of digital racing scars - one broken exhaust pipe and one missing (I have it somewhere...).

         

Inside the car, a Scalextric C7005 'Retro-fit' digital chip has been fitted (with blu-tack) vertically across the chassis just behind where the direction switch board originally was. I have soldered the track-side wires of the chip (yellow & green) to the wires coming from the guide assembly. The motor-side wires (black & red) are soldered via a ferrite man to the motor. The ferrite man acts as a filter to prevent interference affecting the digital chip. The LED is pushed through a piece of black plastic sheet which is glued to the chassis.

Also inside, you can see some lead either side of the motor. My trusty notebook says it is 2g each side, 4g in total. What you can't see in the chassis is a front traction magnet - because I removed it! All the pieces I removed - including the magnet clamps and guide spring - are in the second picture. The stock rear rubber tyres have been replaced with Paul Gage XPG urethanes and these have been trued on the axle. The front tyres have been coated with nail varnish.

On track, the Ferrari is not the quickest of the Goodwood cars - particularly on big tracks with long straights. But it is very nimble round the twisty stuff and is awesome on a home track. It did feature as one of six cars in our recent Goodwood Revival club car rotation race and everyone agreed it was one of the nicest to drive. Another of my Carrera cars on that grid - which split opinions rather more - was the fabulous Wendell Scott Ford Torino...


   

The Torino is a huge car, running non-mag with Paul Gage urethanes on the back and the BRM S126 guide on the front. It is enormous fun on my ARC Pro home track. It does compete well both on a home track and the big WHO/digital tracks against the Scalextric and Pioneer Trans-Am cars. It is a very different beast to drive, but there's a few of us that really enjoy that...

Anyway - I hope that quick guide to Carrera Evolution cars is useful.
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#2

Thanks Andy, an excellent summary. 

An even briefer one:
Carrera Plus
Built like a tank so difficult to break.
Lovely choice of bodies that other makes don't do.
Reliable.
Virtually zero quality control problems.
Reasonably priced.
 
Carrera Minus
Built like a tank - therefore cannot compete with other makes that are a lot lighter. Acceleration is not great and braking near non-existent.
Rubbish tyres although not as bad as Scalextric.
 
Horses for courses - put a decent set of boots on them, race them against each other and they are great fun. I just love racing my Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona.
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#3

(11th-Oct-19, 02:35 PM)CMOTD Wrote:  Virtually zero quality control problems.
I wouldn't go that far.
On the German language forums and the stuff I see on shelves there are sometime problems, usually with the paint.
For example we had to go through 4 Huracan to find one whose windows and paint were fine. Some of the ventilation on the back was warped on others.

Others have been complaining about problems as well.

Still, I have not seen many problems with swapped wires, warped axles etc.

The tires are tuned to Carrera track with magnets which is very different to running on any other surface...
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#4

Maybe Carrera export all the good stuff to the English-speaking world?

Like Brian, I've not had anything to complain about with any of the Carrera 1/43 and 1/32 stuff I have bought over the years. Although that's probably tempting fate...

Poor acceleration is easy to cope with, the Carrera braking (or lack of it) can be rather more alarming. I once shared my Torino with a racer visiting WHO/digital from a serious analogue club. At the end of the long 20+ foot straight he blipped off the throttle as he would with a nicely set-up angle-winder Mosler, expecting the car to brake on a sixpence so he could power through the corner... The Torino kept straight on, hit the Scaley barrier, back flips up and over, the car somersaulting through the air until it hits the floor a good six feet away from the corner. Apart from one rear axle bushing popping out, not a scratch on the car. Any other make and we'd still be finding pieces two and a half years later. However, I think there is a slight indentation in the parquet flooring...

The Torino, Superbird, Dodge Chargers (500 & Daytona), Plymouth Fury, '57 Chevy, Bel Air and the Blown 'Bird are all sensational cars to look at and to drive. Always described affectionately as 'The Tank' when any of them take to the track at WHO/digital or the digital rug racing that preceded it. Despite the very different handling characteristics, they can always give the Scaley and Pioneer cars a good battle in the right hands.
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#5

ok, some serious reading in these posts. Thank you everyone that posted, all the posts have been very interesting to read, so much so I have read them all three times.

In my original decision making for slot cars I had nailed it down to Scalextric or Carrera, I loved the idea of stainless steel track on Carrera, that was a massive plus for me there, in the end I chose Scalextric. 

Scalextric won pretty easily on the basis that it was the manufacturer that most people associate with slot cars, and my local hobby shop, now closed down Sweating , stocked Scalextric items and cars, not to forget there are lots of collectors in my area, apparently, though I have not seen nor heard of any, I will see how many come out when I throw up some signage around town.

I think Carrera could do a much better marketing job as their product isn't really marketed properly nor in a way that gives it the credit it deserves. Carrera is not just a kids toy with the funny cars that they advertise over actual brand liveries e.g. Ford, Holden etc.

I am still happy that I chose Scalextric today, though I am looking at going in another direction with a routed MrTrax system. Eventually there will be a digital module for the MrTrax system which will be great, a hybrid. 

There are a few tracks out there that have been converted to hybrid already, but they are fully routed, massive boards to move, the MrTrax modules will simply split apart and then you install the digital piece/s and away you go (though I am sure there will be some other tinkering such as power, do not know as yet on this.)
[+] 1 member Likes Johnno's post
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#6

Carrera are huge across Central Europe and in North America and certainly have wider global reach than Scalextric. The latter are established in the UK, Spain (although that is complicated), France, Australia and New Zealand. In our parts of the world the colloquial term for slot cars is Scalextric, but in Germany and Austria it is Carrera. Maybe that’s why Carrera don’t make a big push in ‘Scalextric’ territory - and vice versa...

Definitely don’t ignore Carrera cars - they are especially good as highly robust ‘loaners’ or cars that are a little slower but a lot of fun to drive and race against each other. That’s true whatever track system you use and whether it is analogue or digital or both.
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#7

I haven't bought many Carrera cars, for the simple reason that I set myself some strict boundarys regarding the type and era of cars I wanted to collect. But judging from the only two I have, the Mercedes and Auto Union AVUS streamliners which I was forced to buy because I love them, they seem like very good cars.

I like the fact that they're well modelled, I like the spare parts provided, I like their robustness, and I don't mind in the slightest that they're slightly slower than some other cars, because that doesn't matter if you race like with like.

I just wish they made some classic rally cars.
[+] 1 member Likes JasonB's post
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#8

(11th-Oct-19, 10:35 PM)JasonB Wrote:  I set myself some strict boundarys regarding the type and era of cars I wanted to collect.

Very wise Thumbup 

I think Carrera do a good job along those lines too - their range is very coherent and if you buy a car it will have a selection of natural running (or shelf) mates. Not all brands manage this and some models can be dead-ends for racers and collectors.

The Carrera ranges are also focused very much on the home market - plus some fabulous American cars for their biggest overseas market. And all those 1/24 cars too...

The last eight Carrera slot car catalogues are in the SlotRacer Online Library: https://slotracer.online/library/carrera/index.html

   
[+] 1 member Likes woodcote's post
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#9

Actually I find that Carrera cars stick to Scaelxtric Sport track more (with magnets).
I use them as trainers a lot.
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