Mirage" by Jeff Davies
is a story of men consumed by obsessive passion, two of which would build
some of the worlds fastest cars, the third would build with no less
passion some of the world finest slot cars. First, the tale of one of
Spain's most charismatic car companies:
The story of Pegaso is the story of a man whose actions, it could be
argued, led to the founding of two legendary sports cars companies. One
lasted a mere six years, and the other still does battle on the racetracks
of the world. Wilfredo Ricart left Spain during the Civil War and sought
work in Italy, taking a position at Alfa Romeo to replace the departed
In 1938 the
Milanese company was set to re-enter motor racing under it's own name. The
Alfa Corse organization would absorb the Scuderia Ferrari operation,
transferring the Tipo 158 development - which was essentially a Ferrari
design and concept - back to Milan. It was the belief of some of the
directors that the racing effort would gain the technical capacities of
the entire company only through its direct control. Ricart by that time
was head of the special projects division and backed this approach.
Ferrari felt that the key to success could only come through a small and
agile structure, with himself at the head of course. Ferrari and Ricart
had already had some run-ins: on one side the trained engineer, and on the
other a self-taught ex-driver. For Ferrari this was the final straw. In
1939 Ferrari would leave Alfa Romeo and eventually start his own firm.
Their animosity continued with Ricart feeling that the first cars from
Ferrari appeared to have "borrowed" some of his design ideas and
Ferrari would later comment that:
had smooth greasy hair. He dressed elegantly but looked rather oriental,
with long-sleeved jackets, which hid his hands. When he held out his hand,
you could feel inert flesh, rather like that of a corpse. He used to wear
shoes with enormous rubber soles. When questioned, he answered that an
engineer had to take certain precautions; a well-sprung step prevented
disturbances and vibrations from going to the brain!"
With the end of the Spanish Civil War Ricart returned to his native
country and established the Empresa Nacional de Autocamines (ENASA) for
the production of buses and trucks. The new company was located in the old
Hispano-Suiza factory in the Sagrera district of Barcelona. Ricart wanted
to expand into sports cars and for this he established the Pegaso marque -
the name was based on the winged horse of Greek mythology.
The car was tested at Jabbeke motorway in Belgium and clocked 250kms
(160mph). It was at that time the 'fastest production car in the world',
beating the fastest Ferrari by 20 mph - a small revenge. However, to be
truly compared to the cars of his bitter rival meant meeting them on the
racetrack, and to this end a Pegaso was entered in several international
racing events. One of the car's initial successes was the La Rabassada
hillclimb in the hands of Joaquín Palacio, driving a Pegaso Z102 Spyder
From that race onwards, that Pegaso model was to be known as the "Rabassada".
Later in the year, during practice for Le Mans, their lead driver Juan
Jover Sañés suffered a serious crash causing the team to
withdraw from the race. At the 1954 Carrera Panamerica another accident,
at over 120 mph, nearly killed both of its drivers. A hit in the showroom,
the world's fastest production car was a flop in racing competition. For
all its great engineering feats the brutally fast Pegaso was plagued with
technical problems, its failing brake drums being one of the worst
problems. This caused a wag to remark: "When a car goes like a bat
outta hell then it should be able to stop quickly!"
Lack of company funds coupled with technical and mechanical problems, and
$15,000 dollar price tag doomed the cars. Finally, the Pegaso marque
ceased automobile production in 1957 after producing only 86 cars. The
remaining unfinished cars, tool castings, dies and spare parts were
destroyed or sold as common scrap. Yet, as a sign of its enduring appeal,
85% of the cars originally produced still survive lovingly maintained
As a Slot
Classic fan I was very pleased when the company agreed to send me a sample
CJ20 Pegaso Spyder to write about. The car itself is from one of my favourite
periods in motor racing history, when the cars could still be used on the
road and were often driven to the races like Le Mans on trade plates. Sports
cars like the Jaguar C type, Cunningham CR4 and other beautiful sports cars
of this period were usually painted in their country racing colours, or
comparatively simple colour schemes which perfectly suited the elegant
flowing lines of the cars.
Many years ago I was driven down to Lydden hill racing circuit in Kent in a
"D" type to take part in a program that Top Gear were filming at
the circuit. This was a wonderful journey with the very loud exhaust only
inches from my head (I was in the passenger seat) - the performance of these
cars has to be felt to be believed, with around 265-300 BHP and weight not
that much more than a Mini.
The in-gear performance between roundabouts was incredible, and it really was
a magic experience. In a way, it was like travelling back in time on the
quieter minor roads we used for most of the journey. Later that day I raced
the car around the Lydden circuit as well as the Lynx Performer - a much
modified XJS which Lynx were selling. I really tried hard in this car when I
had the circuit to myself later that day, with everyone waiting on the pit
gate watching and waiting for me to destroy the car.
Ever since then I have had a real passion for 50/60 racing sportcars. Slot
Classic, being a Spanish company, (Run by César Jiménez who I really admire
for his passionate commitment to slot and rail racing) have made
a reasonable number of Pegaso slot car models (this was a Spanish supercar
after all) starting with the first model they produced. I really like the
shape of the Pegaso, being in profile like a larger model of an MGB
convertible. The front of the Spyder back to the rear edge of the doors is
very similar to the "B".
The Le Mans Spyder has a lot of vents and grills to disperse the heat from
the supercharged, quad cam, dry sumped V8 engine and each of these is
captured in the model. I would have loved to have driven one of the Pegaso
Spyders as the ballistic straight line speed and appalling brakes combination
really appeals to me as a driver.
the Pegaso slot car arrived though the post, I was ecstatic. I always find it
very exciting to unpack a model from this company (yes, I must have a sad
life but not really). It really was everything I had expected it to be,
beautifully painted with an incredible level of detail, even extending to the
most wonderful bonnet mascot in stainless steel and all the hinges for the
boot and bonnet.
The Pegaso slot car has great headlights, spotlights and has the best looking
exhausts I have yet seen on a slot car. The wheels on these cars are a really
good example of how they should be made. This car has a new adjustable
Slot Classic chassis made out of resin so that the wheelbase can be altered
with a standard Ninco NC1 type motor. The guide is recessed into the body so
that the car sits very low on the track, giving it a most purposeful stance.
This model isn't any heavier than a Fly or similar slot car, weighing 83g.
The gearing is 8/27 and the performance reasonable for this kind of slot car.
The model is 130mm long, 51mm wide and 40mm high and looks just wonderful.
This is a really classy model from a great company which is run from the
heart and not the head as are all the great car companies which ever scale
their cars are manufactured in. I could go on but I won't - just buy one and
see yourself how good they are. I think every slot car collector should buy
at least one really good resin slot car from a company like Slot Classic.
These models are available from dealers like Pendle Slot Racing and are sold
in kit form as well as RTR.
(AKA: Rail Racer)
Dennis David for his input.