SCX Abarth1000 – Small Car with a BIG Heart
Review by Scott
In real life we treat small cars differently, their infant-size making us feel a fondness unlike that we feel for the typical family hatch-back or saloon. Being budget cars they usually mean a lot to their owners too, giving access to the great wide world through the mobility and cameraderie even the smallest car offer. What they are not meant for is competition, but inevitably they appear liveried up and ready to embarrass the big boys.
Minis, smart cars and probably Isetta ‘bubble cars’ too for all I know, get plucked from their intended urban environment and rammed onto the race track by enthusiasts who love the idea of racing something that might otherwise be condemned to a life as a shopping trolley. Perverse? Definitely, but fun too.
This is a re-livery of SCX’s lovable little Abarth so mechanically there is nothing new. The RX-41 motor is squeezed in with only just enough space left between the front end of the motor mount and the rear of the guide flag for the whole used to mount the car to the base. Ah, the SCX mounting system.
Is there a more annoying way to hold a slot car in a plastic case? I doubt it, unless someone is using super glue. On most SCX cars the pin and lug system (I can’t think of anything nicer to call it) can require a good deal of brute force to prise the car free, but when dealing with something as small as the Abarth the box damn nearly won the battle of wills.
Fortunately I had a pair on long nosed scissors handy (the car arrived with me at work so it was stationery items only) and I literally levered the car off the base, using a level of effort way beyond where I thought was good for it and certainly more than many children would have been able to apply. Time for a re-think on the mounting system, TecniToys. Long past time, actually.
The new livery is an odd one. There are no competition numbers on the car, so it can’t be a race or rally car (no co-driver either) and only four small ‘Texaco ‘ words, not even the company logos, as sponsorship.
There are a couple of nice Abarth badges and four tiny FIAT logos. As these are in the modern style it makes me think this is a retro rather than a vintage racer, if indeed a competition car at all.
The simple colour scheme looks typical of a privateer racer, but I can find no real life images to prove this is other than a fantasy by the designers at SCX. Maybe this is the car of someone who works at TecniToys and they have been lucky enough to have it immortalised as a slot car. Whatever, it looks much better in the hand than in the images I had seen before.
I won’t be so arrogant to suggest my pictures are doing it any more justice, but the simplicity of the livery, particularly the white stripe down the side, accentuates the little car’s lines, especially the bulging rear arches. Nevertheless, I will be adding to the livery next time I’m guddling in my box of spare decals. At the very least it needs some competition numbers and a few Texaco logos.
The body is typically SCX, by which I mean all the detail is there but perhaps not as crisp and fine as from Scalextric or Fly. I am advised by those who know the real car better than I that the overall size and shape is about right, but it may be a touch too wide for strict 1/32 scale. Overall, there is nothing wrong and for a toy race car that costs less than half the price of a PS2 game it combines looks with ruggedness – not necessarily an attribute of other makes.
The wheels, always the crucial part of any model car looking right, are just great with loads of fine detail and a good aluminium alloy finish. I was very pleased to find that this SCX car had true tyres, wheels and axles out of the box. On such a small car with such a relatively brutal motor smoothness is much appreciated. The ribbed tyres, slightly wider at the rear, grip only so well on my mix of Sport, SCX and classic track, but more of the handling later.
First, a quick mention of the metal windscreen wipers and neat little chrome headlamp bezels before we flip around to rear and smile at that crazy kart-style exhaust hanging out the engine bay. Having recently been to a modified car show I can’t help but wonder what today’s big bore exhaust loving youngsters would make of being able to have your engine on show - on the move! I hope people thought it was cool back when the Abarth was new.
As well as being nicely done by SCX – again both detailed and sturdy – the engine bay is just another reason to feel fondness for this little FIAT.
Okay, on the track. As ever with me there is no truing, oiling or anything else. Flick the switch, car in groove and floor it. Magnet in this thing is a projectile around my twisty track. Through the Goodwood chicane the red, white and blue blur reminds me more of a tropical fish darting away than a car.
If you’ve ever wondered how much a car’s performance is due to the motor, the tyres, the chassis or the magnet consider this – the Abarth was doing virtually identical lap times to the also new out of the box SCX Toyota F1. You can either view magnets as great equalisers or unwelcome hunks of iron. Mine go in a box with which I one day hope to bend light…
Back on the track with only gravity to pull it down the little car still flies, but grip is soon overcome and acceleration is merely wheel spin in varying degrees, cornering one endless tail slide. Great! I am even more at a loss to know why the driver appears to have such a grumpy face.
The car still whips through the chicane, but now the blur is caused by the tank slapper, lock-to-lock oversteer going on. For such a little, narrow car it is easy to control and fun to drive. Whither consciously made that way or not, the low grip of the tyres help make this a stable car as it will slide rather than tip. Anyone who recalls a Scalextric Escort Cosworth will know that tipping is not a welcome characteristic in a slot car.
I put a lot of laps under the little car’s wheels, all good fun and I only wished I had a friend round to race with. Being so small the Abarth frees up acres of track so side by side dicing should mean less banging and bumping than with just about any other slot car. That is something to look forward to.
P.S. Reassuringly, magnets out the Toyota F1 laps comfortably quicker, it’s wide rear track and length translating into higher cornering speeds.
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 18th May 2013 - 22:50|