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QUOTE I'll bet a scratchbuilt Xylon that Mr Pea doesn't have the answer to THIS one!

And you lost.
The first known vacuum formed bodies for model cars were pulled in the 1930's by a French company (Marchand & Villette) which issued lots of pretty toy cars in celluloid with wooden wheels, some of them (specifically an approx 1/20-scale Opel sedan with a sliding roof) which were used on Fleishmann and Marklin rail cars in Germany. I have seen a pair of these cars in the collection of the late Peter Ottenheimer in Zurich.

You may send the scratchbuilt Xylon to Electric Dreams at anytime by registered mail please.
Regards,

Dr. Pea
 

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Howmet,
just to save you time and aggravation, please send TWO Xylons now to Electric Dreams.
Regards,

Dr. Pea
 

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QUOTE when did racers move over to them in a big way from injection moulds, carved wood, etc.?

The British were in fact quite behind the 8-ball when it comes to vac-forming. If it is correct that MRRC was one of the first companies to produce clear plastic vac-formed (and rather crude) shells and sold them confidentially to a few British clubs, Jim Russell of Russkit fame, Bob Braverman, Shark and other small outfits were selling clear and white-styrene vac-bodies in big numbers as early as 1962. The "big" transition to vac-formed bodies for the general public did not happen until late 1965. At that time, the British were still carving balsa-wood bodies or making fiberglass ones. By 1967 the Brits had caught up and several companies (GT Models especially) were cranking clear plastic like no tomorrow.
Regards,

Dr. Pea
Xylonist.
 

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QUOTE re-reading tx question Dr pea is disqualified as tx asked who built the first slot car with a vac body and P's answer was a rail car which as we all know is not the same thing. So I won't be building a Xylon after all.

Not so fast, Jeff: you are the one who talked first about rail cars and Super Shells. I was merely pointing out that earlier examples where known on QUOTE model cars. I did not make the distinction as you answered Howmet's question with talk of RAIL cars.
As far as the first vacuum formed bodies for SLOT cars, I have to give it to MRRC as early as 1961 (but NOT before as I have an advertisement about "revolutionary new heat-formed bodies" dated March 1961). As far as the first COMPLETE, ready-to-race car with a vacuum formed body, it is the Classic Manta Ray of 1964.

Where is my Xylon please?
Make it snappy.
 

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QUOTE I've never seen anything else by Darnell - does anyone know anything of this manufacturer?

Darnell briefly made styrene vac-formed bodies from early 1964 to mid 1965. I have several including a Repco-Brabham sports car. Ugly things they were...

And yes, "behind the 8-ball" is a derogatory term and means that someone is lagging and rather late. My meaning was that yes, the American invented rail racing with Lionel on 1911, later copied by Marklin and Fleischmann, then by the Brits in the late 1950's. And yes, an American invented and patented the slot car and the slot track before WWII, while apparently not doing anything with the patents. And yes, this was revived by the Brits in the late 1940's then the late 1950's (patents expired and new patents wrongly afforded to Scalex-Startex), but when the Yanks got interested, they made all the main technical advances in the hobby and industrialized vacuum-forming, dwarfing the cottage industry practiced in UK and creating the most beautifully crafted bodies ever seen from this technology (Lancer-Monogram-Pactra-DuBro-MPC etc..)
And yes, I lost the Xylon(s) because Jeff is correct, I answered the wrong question, so sue me. I believe that there MIGHT have been predecessors, but commercialisation has to be fist by MRRC, even if on confidential quantities.

Dr. Pea
 

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QUOTE Damn...and here was me thinking you were being polite, Doc.

TX, have you ever met a polite doc? I am just trying to fit the mold.


Thanks for da Xylon, we will add it to the collection of Brit oddities we collect, that includes a piece of fossilized boiled veal with chips and a cricket bat.

To get back to the Birkin system, I could not find any patent on it, but patent search is not an easy task. The American 1936 patent on what amounts to the modern slot racing system is of course well known by now since the grand-son of the inventor made it public through the Internet a few years back. It appears that only the Brits picked up the ball after WWII and without the rail racers and the pioneers from MRRC, things might not have developed quite as they have today.

As far as the vac-formed bodies, I also recall that Jim Russell began making white styrene pressings as early as 1961 to fit over Strombecker cars, which by that time were vastly superior in performance to the Scalextric offerings. Some other US pioneers MAY have produced some vac bodies before this date to supply private clubs, but it is kind of doubtful at this time.
MOST of the British early vacs were manufactured in confidential quantities after 1961, simply by looking at the vintage of cars they represented, and the first available clear plastic sheet (butyrate) was available at about that time. The MRRC Auto-Union was available in late 1961.

GT Models and Wonderland Raceway had the most extensive line of vac bodies by 1968-69, but the masters, produced byt the dozens, lagged in accuracy compared to what was produced in the US at that time.
Of all companies, Lancer has to be the best, their 1/24 scale Chaparral 2G body being the finest in detail and accuracy ever produced as a clear plastic vac body in my opinion, unsurpassed ever since.
Regards,

Dr. Pea
 
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