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i thought i would show some photos of some vip cars made before their slot car sets of 1957.the first is a very rare 1956 roadedge set.it contains a triumph tr2,metal rails & the 2 different antennas.you could hook up 2 cars 1 on either side of the rails,the cars were battery operated.i also included a photo of the mighty midget motor which powered these cars.also a picture of the pathfinda kit for converting any of the vip cars to the roadedge set.there were 2 different kits 1 for the sportscars & 1 for the sedans.i think these sets were made for only around 1 year because the slot car sets came out in 1957.the last photos show a red triumph which i believe was used on a 2 tier alpine roadway display at the british industries fair in 1956.the cars ran on a metal track & were controlled by controllers.the power came not from batteries but from a transformer.this car came from a former vip employee who imigrated to australia.you can see the railcar like metal contracts for the electrified road surface.hope you enjoy a little known vip history.bernard sampson
 

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Wonderful, Bernard. Not only because of the history but also because VIP slotcars were my first and because my wife had a full-size TR2 in the 1960s. It's an unusually good model for the time. The part behind the seats looked strange at first but I suppose it's a tonneau cover, whereas my wife used the hard-top and the space behind the seats.
An on-line VIP history gave me the impression that the remote control system via antennae was used only at the fair, so it's interesting to hear more.
Apparently Fred Francis described these early VIP cars as one of the main inspirations behind his Scalextric system.
Rob J
 

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Great stuff Bernard, these may really have been the inspiration that kicked off the whole movement, as Rob says.

There were also all the experiments reported on in the early Model Cars, then Model Maker magazines, but I wonder if the manufacturers were aware of these, and how much they were influenced?

I do remember Charlie Fitzpatrick of Betta & Classic telling me some years ago that Fred Francis was aware of the early rail racing clubs and came to visit them, which would have been logical, since they had a very practical, functioning tabletop racing system.

Kind of funny that VIP would still come up with something as complicated as the "roadedge" as late as 1956, when rail racing was already established... still, that Triumph with the pickups is rather fascinating...

Don
 

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A photo of one of the VIP demos at the 1956 fair shows another early slot-car personality, Ralf Burgas. His involvement in the Roadway/Roadedge systems is not clear, but he was presumably present as one of the creators. He next did much of the design work on the VIP slot cars, later moved to MRRC in the early 60s (when he designed the famous 4WD chassis) and then on to Airfix.
This is in Malcolm Parker's VIP history at http://www.madmalc.screaming.net/victoryindex.htm
As Don says, it's "kind of funny that VIP would still come up with something as complicated as the 'roadedge' as late as 1956, when rail racing was already established", but it probably seemed an advance on rail, having a flat track surface (admittedly with a "Roadedge" strip between lanes).
On the battery-powered Roadway cars sold to the public, the antennae were apparently simply part of the mechanical steering operation. Bernard's track-powered TR2 seems to have two pickup contacts, but in Malcolm P's description of the BIF show cars an antenna was used in the electrical circuitry, which seems logical if the track surface was all one polarity.
"The cars at the show were powered by an independent power supply rather than their internal batteries. Current was collected by contacts beneath the car which brushed against the electrified road surface. The current was returned via the antenna that protruded from the front of the car to the insulated metal Roadedge strip alongside the track..."
The system brought VIP a lot of publicity, but it probably wasn't great for aggressive driving. VIP apparently didn't follow up with a version for sale and marketed just the battery-powered cars while it developed the slot-car system over the following year.
Anyway, great that these cars have survived and are in Bernard's good hands.
Rob J
 

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Lindberg had a similar setup using two Jaguar D-type cars (one vacuum plated in shiny chrome, the other red) but I believe that their set, also battery powered, was issued later like in 1960.
 
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