WHAT'S YOUR ISOLATION AUTOMOTIVE FIX?
THIS ISOLATION ISSUE IS TOUGH FOR ME. I'VE CLEANED MY CARS, LOTS AND I MISS GOING FOR A DRIVE WHEN I WANT. BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO ADAPT IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES - AND FOR ME THAT HAS COME IN THE FORM OF RADIO CONTROLLED CARS!
My passion for cars started as a kid, as I am sure it did for most of you too... I had a poster of a Porsche 959 and Ferrari F40 on my wall and my 'driving' came in the form of a Tamiya Hornet. Being from a working-class family, I had to buy the RC car myself - my uncle paid for it and I gave him my pocket money each week and did little jobs for the family to pay it off. Because I was working to fund my passion, it somehow made me really appreciate that little car. I would modify where I could and even managed to buy a second car off a mate - a Tamiya Wild One. That car was a proper mongrel made up from found parts and panels I made in Design Technology classes at school. Different aero ideas, lightweight aluminium panels, etc.
That hobby pretty much ended when I discovered girls, but it was rekindled a little when my wife bought me a Tamiya Cayenne Transsyberia 1:12 scale RC car about 10 years ago. She was obviously stuck for present ideas and bought me this as we'd just bought a Cayenne as a family car. We would take it to the woods with my two young boys and they seemed to enjoy driving it too. After a while it was put on the shelf though and left to gather dust.
Fast forward to last year and I bought my son a Tamiya Hornet for Christmas, the exact same car I'd owned as a kid. I think I was more excited about rekindling my childhood than he was, but he pretended to be happy all the same. What we did discover was that our dog - a 50kg Giant Schnauzer - absolutely LOVED it. She chased it and chased it, never wanting to break it, just catch it. This actually became a form of daily exercise for her, but the daily wear and tear caused the Hornet to have various breakages and failures. So, I decided to see if there was anything quicker and more robust on the market. For the dog you understand, not for me. I'm a grown man.
Traxxas Rustler 2WD VXL
I still didn't really know much about the hobby as I had only bought cars that I knew of from the early 1980's. A little Google'ing and an American company called Traxxas seemed to have some cool cars that boasted fast speeds. A quick search on eBay and I came across a Traxxas 'Rustler' that boasted some upgrades and a brushless motor. God knows what that was, but it sounded good. I bought that for £200 and it arrived a few days later. The scale of the car surprised me - it was massive compared to the Tamiya Hornet and Cayenne. And fast? My goodness it flew. To be honest, it scared the shit out of the dog too. When I'd take it out, she'd hide. But it was too late, I'd found my way back in to the hobby.
This Traxxas Rustler 2WD VXL is capable of 50mph+ with the brushless motor, upgraded pinion and running a 2S Lipo battery. Ah yes, batteries, that's something else I learnt - modern batteries eclipse what was about for the Tamiya's. They're way more expensive too, but the performance is worth every penny.
Next RC car to join the stable, a 2WD Brushed Traxxas Ford Raptor.
The Rustler is awesome, but its characature styling is not really my thing, so I wanted to get something that looks more realistic next, and that came in the form of another Traxxas model - the Ford Raptor. Another 2WD model, but this one is brushed. Instantly fitted the high-speed pinion, but the brushed motor is nowhere near as fast as the Rustler VXL, even on 2S Lipo. The dog loves this one though, much slower, much more sedate. This is basically used by the kids now because I've managed to, erm, get something a little quicker. Introducing the 4WD Brushless Traxxas Slash, Fox Edition...
1:10 scale Traxxas Slash with the tiny 1:28 scale Team Associated RC28
This is the Daddy. I drive it mostly on our equestrian menage, which is sand based. I've bought paddle tyres for this and it's simply insane. Well over 50mph speeds off road - the menage is 60 meters long and that's not long enough - but considering I'm home isolating, it'll do just fine = I'll have to wait to go the beach. I bought this car last week on eBay too, lots of upgrades but a shitty body and crappy wheels. I have bought the new Fox body you see here and those paddle tyres and it looks as good as it goes now.
This car came with 'realistic sound', which all sounds a bit Disney, but the sound of a beefy V8 from this thing flying along at 50mph though sand is nuts. Too funny. I've blown the steering servo already this week and had to replace that; plus I'm in the process of fitting a new rear cage that will give it a true Trophy Truck look with two spare wheels on the back. I do plan on creating some films for these, but haven't really got round to it. What I did do is create a new dedicated Instagram channel for sad people like me to follow - link here or search up '@DakarRC'.
What's next? Well I have my first Losi RC car on order, and it's been on order for some time – apparently there's a pandemic that's delaying delivery - the Losi Tenacity DB Pro buggy. This is also the Fox Edition and is supposed to be even more advanced than the Traxxas Slash, with Smart Batteries, stability control (even in the air!), brushless motors, etc. It's over £400.00 plus you still need to buy the Spektrum Smart 3S Lipo battery and smart charger - another £200 - so it's not a cheap toy this.
COMING SOON! Losi Tenacity DB Pro, Fox Edition.
No this doesn't compare to driving my Porsche GT3 on winding Welsh roads, but I can tell you that it's helping to keep me sane during this period of isolation. When things break, I'm enjoying fixing them. When I spot upgrades, you can order online and still get them in the post (for the moment). And when I just need to get away from sitting with the kids for home-learning, this is a welcome distraction. If you have an RC car up in the loft, or on a shelf in the garage, I thoroughly recommend dusting it off and getting it going again! Just be warned, it's a slippery slope - in twelve months I have gone from one RC car to eight. Yes, I need help.