Has Drifting and Street Racers saved the Touring Car?

Ok, ok, I know that touring car racing is not dead, but there has been a significant increase in the number of cars designed to either cater to those wanting sideways action, or some social street driving or racing.  Much like their crawling cousins, scale accessories and scale detail are also king in this arena of public opinion. However this new brand of on road driver has certainly resurrected some interest in On Road chassis.

Today’s release of two muscle cars from Kyosho on the Fazer platform, a 1970 Dodge Charger and a 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat are further evidence, and while I don’t know how these vehicles are selling, I certainly see a few around the place, and there is certainly a lot of chatter generated by them.  Heck i’d be quite happy with one the the offerings on the Vaterra V100 platform or the new HPI RS4 Sport 3 platform (and I almost forgot the Team Associated Apex cars).  All of these platforms have a number of attributes in common, great looking scale bodies, scale tyres and rims, basic shaft driven platforms and affordable pricing.  This is fast turning into a what RC car to buy for street fun article, but I will resist!

Now none of these are what you would call drift vehicles despite being labeled as such and coming with hard tyres.  Yes they do a decent job, but in my mind a drift car has to at least have an optional set of gearing to allow a Counter steer (or CS) conversion.  What does that mean?  Well the rear wheels turn faster than the front ones.  Why?  Because it’s easier to keep the car sideways, and who doesn’t like a bit of sideways action sometimes.  None of the cars mentioned before have much in the way of adjustment either with all having fixed suspension links, but most have aftermarket or factory adjustable ones available to allow for some adjustment.  That said, this keeps the price of these units down, and there is nothing like a car that is fun to drive, a decent price to buy and looks great as well.  Personally I love how the BMW M3 and Subaru BRZ models on the HPI Sport 3 chassis look, but the 1969 Corvette from Vaterra looks amazing as well.

Many of this new breed of street cars also come with waterproof electronics, so even a rainy day isn’t able to keep you off the streets.  About the only feature that I am a little disappointed is still on these cars is the ubiquitous post body mounts.  Yes, they work well, but there are some great magnetic body mounts available today which eliminate the posts and give the car a much clearer look, but are still strong enough to stop the body coming off easily.

There is a whole range of chassis and bodies out there, and there are some offerings from Yokomo, MST and Sakura which are true drift chassis, but expect to be paying more than the cars we are discussing here today.

I guess what I am saying is don’t be a chassis snob, grab one of these budget street brawlers, grab some mates and go outside and have some fun!  And because everybody loves some eye candy, here is a slide show of some of the offerings on sale at the moment.

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PS, yes, I completely missed out on the Tamiya TT-01 and TT02 platforms, I could say I was focusing on new platforms, but the TT-02 is a new platform, Maybe i have a bit of tunnel vision, but check out the Tamiya cars as well as they have a huge range of cars and bodies available.

Vaterra Low Roller 1968 Ford F100 Truck

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NEW from Vaterra, this 1/10-scale recreation of a slammed ’68 F-100 is all attitude. From its aggressive, low-profile lines to the power and poise of its V100-S chassis, it looks and drives like the big-block muscle trucks that inspired it. Its potent Dynamite® power system and shaft-driven 4WD provide a perfect blend of speed, traction and control that make this truck fun to drive right out of the box. It comes completely ready to run with everything you need to hit the streets. You can even trick it out with aluminum option parts and different style wheels, all sold separately.

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Sat on the V100-S chassis this is a make your own hot rod truck with a range of hop up parts and accessories available.  I’m not sure i’ve seen anything quite like this from any of the major RTR players in recent times, and it is certainly refreshing to see something different!

For more details visit http://www.vaterrarc.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdId=VTR03028

GCM Racing improving the Vaterra Ascender

It didn’t take long for aftermarket parts for the Ascender to start appearing. This combo is from GCM Racing

Scale trucks require scale looks, and this includes interior details. The Ascender kit already has a frame mounted servo, and great body details, but only the GCM Combo Kit allows the builder to include a full custom interior and still retain the stock Ascender components.

Each Ascender Combo Kit includes a front motor/trans mount that replaces the stock motor plate, and re-uses the stock hardware. The front motor plate mounts between the front shock towers, replacing the crossbar that’s included in the stock kit. The transmission screws to the frame on the left side with a new screw (included) through the left back shock tower hole, making the assembly super strong and ready to take any beating. The re-location of these components easily clears the stock suspension links for full travel. The Ascender 86t spur gear requires a very small frame notch between the right side shock tower (as shown in this picture) but the Twin Hammer 78t spur gear does not require this modification (if you’re using a 2 speed transmission swap).

The center of the truck needs a Transfer Case when the transmission moves up front, and for this task we’ve added the tested-and-true GCM 1:1 Transfer Case for maintenance free long lasting operation, and common 5mm output shafts. The Transfer case mounts to a new cradle, which clips into the left frame rail, and attaches from the bottom with 2 of the stock transmission screws in the original holes. It’s a very simple cradle, with rock solid mounting, and even includes a mini servo mount so you can mount a shift servo for the 2 speed option!

Center driveshafts from the Ascender are too short, so we’ve added an option (when available) to add a package of VTR232070 driveshafts so you can extend your plastic stock center shafts. This is done with a female-male-female setup, where the female ends are on the axle and T-Case, and the male slider fits in between the 2 female ends for a complete setup.

If you’re looking for high performance, then we recommend the MIP14295 steel shaft set, which do work well on the GCM Combo Kit parts, but works even better with a slightly shorter shock extension (100mm). The stock 109mm shock extension does make the shafts a bit wobbly at full droop, but they won’t fall out.

There’s a need for an intermediate shaft from the Trans to the T-Case with the combo kit, and we’ve added an option (when available) for a dual universal rock solid center intermediate shaft to connect the drivetrain with all steel parts. If you want to make up your own center shaft using Vaterra or SCX truck parts, then you’ll need a shaft that’s 67mm long, or this RC4wd shaft works well.

Please see this assembly video (coming soon) for more details.

Each Kit includes the following parts:
Front motor/trans mount-Black finish
Motor mount hardware and trans attachment bolt
Center Cradle and servo mount-Black finish
Servo mount screws
GCM 1:1 Transfer Case Complete Kit-Black finish
Mount hardware for T-Case

Source: http://gcmracing.ca/viewitem.php?productid=141

Vaterra Ascender RTR details released

Perhaps unsurprisingly Vaterra has released details of an RTR version of their Ascender after releasing it as a kit earlier this year, in fact the very first kit from Vaterra. It looks like having a list price of around $400 US and for that you get the same metal ladder frame chassis, a metal gear single speed transmission, CV front shafts, a painted K5 Blazer Body, Waterproof Dynamite electronics, 35t brushed motor, Spektrum DX2E radio and Interco TSL SX Super Swamper® tires.  A pretty good deal to my mind, and it looks to be price competitive with the SCX10 line of vehicles on price at least.

Source: http://www.vaterrarc.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdId=VTR03014

Vatterra Ascender First Impressions from RC Car Action

I have to say, after handling a Gelande 2 for the first time the other week, and looking at the first impressions of the Ascender, I am seriously thinking of getting a crawler, anybody got a spare one for me? Anyway, have a read of RC Car Action’s first impressions here on their website  http://www.rccaraction.com/blog/2014/10/28/kevs-bench-vaterra-ascender-sneak-peak/ .  Another impressive vehicle from industry newcomers Vaterra.

However as sneak peeks go it’s a good one, so I’m reproducing it below, remember copyright belongs to Radio Control Car Action.

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The Ascender is the latest vehicle to come out of the Vaterra Garage and like others before it’s very well detailed and is a performer. This scale truck is the only Vaterra model to be released exclusively as a kit. I just finished putting together my Ascender and am working on a review for the February 2015 issue of Radio Control Car Action Magazine. Here’s a sneak peak of the truck and some first impressions.

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The stamped steel ladder frame chassis and suspension are unique. They are designed to allow for major wheelbase changes that will let you put just about any body that is available on it and it will change how the truck performs. The frame members are channeled and the thickness of the front rails are slightly smaller than the ones used in the rear and this allows the front to slide into the rear. All the hex screws that are used to assemble the chassis pass through the rails and thread into plastic cross members.

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Check out those tires! They are scale replicas of Interco Super Swampers and come with foam inserts to support the rubber. They sure do look good and I am sure that they will find their way onto custom projects everywhere. The included 1.9 inch wheels are chrome plated and the tires are glued to them. Chrome plating can be found in the bead area and I recommend that you remove it before gluing for a better bond between the tire and rim.

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The rear suspension is your typical 4-link deal. See the spacers on the links? That is part of the changeable wheelbase. The drive hexes are standard-size at 12mm, so there are endless wheel options for the Ascender. Inside the axle you will find a one piece spool/gear that is unlike other trucks where the gear is screwed onto the spool. The rear axle use a straight shaft to get the power to the wheels while the front has universals to do the job.

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The front end suspension features a 3-link setup with a panhard bar. The shocks are molded out of plastic and smoother than some aluminum shocks that I have run in the past. The shocks are 108mm long (from mounting screw to mounting screw), have a body diameter of 11mm and 3mm diameter shafts for scale appearance. Having the servo mounted in the chassis gets it out of harm’s way but having it there does move the tires slightly through the linkage when the suspension is compressed and extended.

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The transmission is packed full of metal gears and it can be modified to become a 2-speed. There’s even room and mounting holes on top of the housing for a shifting servo. The transmission was easy to assemble and felt very smooth once complete. A slipper clutch is used to protect the gears and driveshafts when put into high stress situations and needs to be set at 6 turns out instead of the kit recommended 5. Out of the box the single-speed transmission is geared for torque and delivers a top speed of about 3MPH with the 35 turn motor that I installed.

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The battery is securely fastened to a floating battery tray. The rear of the tray pivots on bushings (circled) while the front is attached to the front axle and moves with it (as arrowed). This allows the tray to be mounted as low as possible and it puts more weight on the front axle which will increase the traction of the front tires.

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Look at how much steering you get out of the hubs on the front axle. This truck easily has the most steering throw available in the 1/10-scale trail truck class. Yes, all that travel can be used. The servo is mounted on the left side of the chassis and the right side is left open for anyone who wants to build and use their own winch servo.

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Vaterra includes a very well detailed 1986 Chevy Blazer body with the truck. Great stickers and an injection molded grill really add to the look. The body is however about an inch or more wider than your average scale crawler. Combine that extra Lexan and the injection molded grill and you have a pretty heavy body.

For the full review and to see how the truck performs you’ll have to wait for the Febuary 2015 issue of Radio Control Car Action Magazine to hit the news stands. So far, the Vaterra Ascender does not disappoint.

Vaterra do it again with the 2015 Mustang

Yes, Vaterra have released another stunning model of a modern day muscle car, this time the new 2015 Ford Mustang to sit alongside the 1967 Mustang already in their lineup.  That makes four modern muscle cars, four 1960’s muscle cars and three modern sports cars in their fast expanding, very realistic, on road lineup.

Not much is news in term of platform for the new Mustang, sitting on the existing V100-S platform with all the usual goodies, it just has the body from the sexy new mustang draped over the top, and that’s not a bad thing in my book.

For more details visit the page for the 2015 Mustang at the Vaterra website here http://www.vaterrarc.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdId=VTR03024 or check out the video of the car below.