May 5th Concours at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills was a very successful event despite the freezing and dreary weather experienced over the Los Angeles area, one of the coldest on record for the city.
Beautiful automobiles were displayed all over the former residence of the Doheny family.
Greystone, also known as the Doheny Mansion, is a Tudor-style house set on a landscaped estate with distinctive formal English gardens, located in Beverly Hills, California. The architect Gordon Kaufmann designed the residence and ancillary structures, with construction completed in 1928 at a cost exceeding 3.5 million dollars, an astounding amount in its day.
The estate was a gift from “Big-Oil” magnate Edward L. Doheny to his son, Edward “Ned” Doheny, Jr., and his family. Following the purchase of the estate by the City of Beverly Hills in 1965, the property became a city park in 1971 and was subsequently added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 as Doheny Estate/Greystone. The house and grounds are often used in film-making and television production. The house’s descending staircase is one of the most famous sets in Hollywood.
The LASCM was invited by the curators to display a sample of their immense and colorful collection of vintage slot cars, possibly the finest toys ever made in America since the end of the 19th century. Scott Bader had some of the museum’s showcases transported to the mansion, the display set in the main hall facing the dramatic staircase leading to the second floor rooms. Artist Sean Robinson produced large posters representing a brief history of the hobby, enlarged period photography and composite pictures of Cox and Classic box tops.
Original box art from Monogram, Classic and GarVic slot cars was also on display, the original painting by Bob Cadaret of the Classic Gamma Ray gathering much interest and several large, cash-on-the-spot offers, which of course were denied as it it certainly not for sale.
At the same time, Electric Dreams showed currently available slot car models by Scalextric, Fly, Ninco, Slot.It, Carrera etc. from their store, that has the largest inventory of slot cars and parts in the United States.
The display was visited by several hundred interested viewers, men, women and children and attracted huge enthusiasm from the young and the eternally young alike.
Some of the younger collectors could not understand why they could not grab displayed pieces, as glass is not yet familiar to their young minds, which did not stop them from imprinting the silica based material with their personal markings.
The LASCM personnel on site kindly responded to all questions and inquiries, and a good time was had by all.
Don’t forget to visit the LASCM regularly for added information, new exhibits and simple longing nostalgia at www.lascm.com
A few years back while collecting for the LASCM, I ran across these, basically display prototypes devised by Ron “Von” Klein for the company’s “new products meeting”, and that never made production as things were beginning to unravel in those dark days of 1967.
Fortunately these models survived, and I was able to acquire them as they became available shortly before we lost Ron to illness. All are of course in the 1/24 scale. A few bodies can still be found as Ron distributed some to MESAC club members, especially the Porsche 907 Spyder.
Russkit Alfa 33 “Periscopo”, body by Ron “Von” Klein and prototype brass chassis:
Russkit Elfin, the body itself had a very short run but the RTR or kit never came out:
And better pics of the 1/24 scale PAM-Chevy:
Another pair that were never issued (the 907 Spyder was distributed to a few MESAC members by Ron, but the production model was canned). The Bergspyder actually existed as a real car!
Another that was unfortunately never issued: a Russkit Felday-BRM with brass chassis, seen here with the Elfin…
Tags: Vintage Slot Cars
November 25th, 2011 · 1 Comment
Building a museum from the ground up is quite a difficult proposition, but Scott Bader has committed vast resources and energy to this project. At this time, while the main building is completed, much work is still necessary as the actual museum room for the slot cars is not yet quite built. It will be located between the residence and the new building, in a space currently being dug, and I cannot tell you how much of a mess it is. Indeed, vast amounts of concrete had been poured by the original residence builders and it has been a huge effort to dig around them, then remove them.
In the meantime, visitors are given tours of specially selected items on display in the building’s vault that serves as the temporary museum, and a second-floor display has many other goodies, such as retailers displays produced in the day by Revell, Strombecker, Monogram… as well as a few slot car kits and RTR models. Below are a few pictures of this display, located behind the 4-lane LASCM Raceway.
Besides its vast slot car collection, the LASCM has a large collection of boxed plastic kits produced in the 1960′s, and is looking for more factory assembled retailers displays such as the ones show above and below.
Those dealers displays were given to retailers when they were purchasing a certain number of kits. They are difficult to find today as most were used up and thrown away.
The Renwall displays are especially rare. Enjoy!
Down in the vault, many cars and kits patiently await the day when the building is completed…
By Philippe de Lespinay
February 1967 was a very bad month for the slot car racing industry in America. After two years of uncertainty, the business was now rapidly vanishing as thousands of franchised and independent commercial slot car raceways were closing their doors after experiencing declining interest and sales.
Slot car racing had experienced the biggest bubble ever seen in the history of any hobby, and it would take nearly 30 years for it to regroup and be prosperous again.
Classic Industries of Culver City, California, had seen its sales growing from virtually nothing in 1964 to millions of dollars by the end of 1966, boosted by the sales of one of the most successful slot cars ever produced, the Manta Ray. Designed by stylist John Power, the rather odd-looking model vaguely based on the Dean Jeffries show car appealed to younger enthusiasts. It was fast and rugged, handled reasonably well and was available ready to race with no need for assembly like most other models produced in 1965. Its success was simply prodigious and over one million of them were sold.
After a business dispute with John Power, causing his departure from the company, Classic continued on their success by hiring Robert Cadaret, a former General Motors artist who worked under Bill Mitchell at the GM Design Studio. Cadaret delivered in the form of truly awesome models that again, were targeting the young, while frowned upon by grown-up scale enthusiasts. But sales success was soon followed by increasing difficulty to gather new orders from distributors who themselves had a problem collecting receivables from raceway owners now in trouble. By the end of 1966, Classic, as many other slot-car manufacturing companies, was looking at bleak revenues and had no ideas for new products able to reverse the trend.
Classic president Sam Bergman and general manager Ilmars Kersels needed something new to save the company from impending financial ruin, and looked to Japan for quick help. Inspecting reports about the evolution of the hobby, they saw their possible salvation in what was supposed to be the new big thing, radio controlled model cars. With no manufacturing capability of their own since Classic had always been an assembler of subcontracted parts, they analyzed what was available and could be quickly turned into a Classic product without actually investing in new tooling. It just happened that the Masudaya Toy Company of Tokyo, Japan, had been producing a large 1956 toy of an Oldsmobile “88” made of pressed steel, and controlled by a non-proportional remote system named “RadiCon”. Masudaya was later absorbed by another Japanese toy maker also involved in slot car racing, Nichimo.
By the late 1960s, the large tin car had given way to smaller 1/20 scale models of American cars, especially Chrysler products for which Nichimo had obtained a license. These radio controlled models were now made of plastic material with a tinplate base, fitted with basic features such as non-proportional steering as well as forward and reverse command buttons for the on-board electric motor. The “RadiCon” name was changed to “ProCon”, and the large cardboard boxes were now smaller plastic cases featuring a carrying handle.
The Nichimo people were all too pleased to make a deal with Kersels, who ordered a small number of display models for the oncoming 1967 Chicago Hobby Show. The clear-plastic boxes of the sets included the control unit, a receiver wired to the unit, a long coil of insulated wire necessary to limit the car’s travel inside a circle formed by this wire and the car. These were identical to that marketed by Nichimo, but with the Classic name embossed on the top of the boxes in black letters, in the manner of the previous Classic clear-plastic boxes. At least four samples were produced, and one of the samples bodies, that of a Plymouth Barracuda, was vacuum plated with aluminum powder deposit. Other identified samples were of a 1966 Mercury Marauder of which body was molded in white plastic.
Picture: The Classic booth photographed the day before the 1967 Chicago Hobby Show
Classic received the samples just in time for the show, and period photography obtained by the author clearly shows the new product, one of the new Mercury Marauder models being actually run on a small track fitted on a specially built table, and at least three racing sets displayed on the walls of the built-up booth. Things were looking up again, that is, until an attack from nature ruined their hopes.
The Nichimo Mercury Marauder ready for demonstration to distributors and retailers.
The three samples on the Classic display shelves. From left to right: a Mercury Marauder, a Plymouth Barracuda and an unidentified model.
Two days before the show, the winter skies opened and Chicago experienced one of its worst blizzards in over 50 years. Deep snowfall, ice and wind forced the entire city and a good part of the state of Illinois to a grinding halt. No flights could land or take off, no trains or road vehicles were able to provide any transportation. Only a few local distributors and retailers were able to attend the show, and the repercussions upon the entire hobby business were huge. With no new orders, dozens of already financially wounded slot car companies went bankrupt, while others with other product lines pulled the plug on all slot car production.
A few months later, Classic also called it quits and sold its remaining inventories at pennies on the dollar to RehCo, a large distributor in Cincinnati. Classic then concentrated on other hobby product lines, some of it already on display the the same trade show such as this “Classic Art Forms” sculpture set:
The new radio controlled cars never made it past those few samples. At this time, a single survivor is known to exist, that more than likely was given to Trost Hobbies in Chicago by Classic at that very show as it was common practice. Trost was one of the largest hobby distributors in the country and one of Classic’s best customers. In 1995, Trost Hobbies began liquidating their remaining 1960s inventories and created a bonanza for collectors, who were able to obtain pristine slot cars sets, parts and cars that had been dormant in the company’s vaults for decades. This Classic/Nichimo Plymouth Barracuda is suspected to have come from there. Brokered to the LASCM by a well-known toy dealer, it is now one of the stars of the world’s largest slot car museums on the face of the earth.
The sole known survivor of the four samples on display at the LASCM
Below are pictures of one of the few examples known of the Nichimo Mercury Marauder radio controlled models to have survived. The body molding is excellent and probably copied from an American AMT model kit. Classic had two of these models at the 1967 trade show.
A surviving Nichimo Mercury Marauder and its control unit.
We have taken for you, the true enthusiasts, detailed pictures of the models that recently surfaced at auction, and acquired by the LASCM.
One of the cars is indeed an early factory test shot of the most celebrated slot car thingie on the planet.
It was located in Tustin, California, only a few miles from its place of birth, a 440-ton injection-molding machine right off Warner Avenue in Santa Ana, in March of 1966.
Designed by a lady engineer by the charming name of Fredrica M. (for Millie) Naef, it was inspired by the Lola T70 and approved by Cox vice president Bill Selzer.
Several prototypes were built, including some with a specially produced clear-plastic vacuum formed body. Recently, Millie as she likes to be called sold original prints of the body and one of the clear bodies, as well as a very early production model and various paraphernalia.
The injected clear car came from the son of a former employee at the R&D department. Below is part of the body design, one of the very few such drawings that survives today:
Without further due, here is the beast:
And yes, it is translucent, but not quite as much as a vac body!
The chassis is standard early fare, except in few details.
The front axle cross tube is nickel plated. Was it supposed to be produced that way? Both ends are machined, not simply hacked with a Dremel disk, so one wonders… Cox of course introduced a whole rack of nickel plated brass tubes and shapes the same year. The LASCM will pay good money to anyone who will sell such a rack in excellent condition.
Note the early chassis with no body-mounting side tabs, machine-screw affixed pivot, ball-bearing (VS later needle-bearing) front wheels and very narrow gray sponge tires.
Now we have these three early models:
From left to right: the early vac body, a translucent orange early test shot in the as yet to be complete mold (there are no holes yet for windshield, roll bar, gas caps and under the chrome injectors) and the “Tupperware” body.
More and clearer pictures of the vac body for the usual “body snatchers”.
The LASCM Museum curator was able to interview Millie Naef on October 11, 2010. Now 76 years old, Millie was amazed and impressed by what she saw, was able to drive (and quite well at that) a modern slot car on the LASCM great track, and is seen here holding the very toy she designed in 1966:
An agreement between Scott Bader, the founder and guardian of the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum (www.lascm.com) and John Cukras, one of the greatest of all 1960′s professional slot car racers and the1967 F1 National Champion, has been reached.
John had kept over the years, some of the cars with which he won some important races, as well as trophies, plaques and various other documents.
This, along with the existing pieces acquired from other sources, bring the total of surviving Cukras-built 1960′s cars to six, that include the Ferrari used to win second Car Model race winner, the 1967 F1 national Champion Honda, one of John’s early angle-winder chassis, “Old Faithful”, a car with an incredible succession of wins in 1968, and the 1967 Arco race winner in Memphis, TN.
Also included is the almost intact body used on the Gilbert-built car which John drove in his last pro race in 1973. The recently acquired items will be added to the website as soon as possible.
The LASCM has now the world’s largest collection of 1960′s and 1970′s pro-racing cars and parts, that will be preserved for future generations. This collection is housed in a new, 17000 sq/ft building of stunning architecture and construction, that will be completed sometimes in 2012.
The LASCM is a private organization of which purpose is to preserve the history of the hobby and of the sport derived from it in the Classic Era.
September 10th, 2010 · 1 Comment
The success of pro-racing in the United States in 1967, culminating in the Rod & Custom magazine racing series, caused a revolution in the type and style of product selling over the counter in the thousands of already struggling commercial slot car raceways. Thousands of kids in the United States and abroad, slot car racing enthusiasts all, embraced the “pro” racers as their new heroes and tried to emulate them. This started an era where serious racing culminated in national championships, stable rules at last, and a streamlining of what efficient slot cars should be. At the same time, it simply eliminated the conventional large manufacturers from the picture. The last stalwart will be Pactra, as you can read on the threads consecrated to the history of this famous company.
Jim Russell and Team Russkit are in part responsible for this, a denial to the big companies of racing viability for their offerings, more than often cosmetically superior but track toads.
By 1967, most wise teenagers had noticed that purchasing a Monogram, Revell, Cox or AMT kit or factory-built RTR slot car only led to disappointment, and had begun making their own cars first from available components, then building their cars outright from raw materials.
The period magazines reflected the trend, offering how-to articles on building better cars, most featuring the available lightweight vacuum formed bodies proposed by about two dozens manufacturing outfits.
Thing is, most of these cars still could not compete with the “pro” machinery, as the young men members of the various racing teams nationwide simply kept their machinery evolving literally from day to day.
Most celebrated in 1966 was Mike Morrissey, the Captain of Team Russkit. As speed got up and after realizing that open-wheel models did not present the aerodynamic qualities of the wider sports cars, Mike had, along with the other team members, evolved the inline “jail-door” chassis, using mostly rewound, balanced versions of the Russkit “23″ motor, based on the Mabuchi FT16D motor.
Tires were “Tiny’s” gray donuts glued and trued over the Russkit setscrew wheels, using straight axles. Bodies were mostly by Russkit, the Lotus 40 and McLaren MK2 being favorites.
Oscar Koveleski was a USRRC and Can-Am racer and had acquired an ex-works McLaren MK2, wrenched by Jack Deren, and had been doing reasonably well in regional and national events. Oscar was also the president and owner of Auto World, and as the conventional product lines began to falter, he proposed his own kits, using the “Team Russkit Style” moniker to peddle them. Russell did not see any harm to it and neither did the young Morrissey, because they profited of the publicity. Oscar had a fellow in Scranton, PA, to build the chassis, and the rest of the kits parts were standard available bits, some actually used by Morrissey, such as Russkit bodies, Cox crown gears and guide flags. But the similarity stopped there.
In fact, the chassis in these kits (available with either FT16 or FT26, commercially available rewound motors), were much simplified versions of the Morrissey design, and their performance was nowhere near the genuine article. But the advertising looked good on the 1967 catalog, and quite a few (hundreds according to Oscar) were sold. The author doubts this claim because if this would have been the case, more than a few would have surfaced by now, even if in bad condition. It has simply not been the case, so what could have happened? Is it a question of race cars being… raced, ans subsequently modified into something else or destroyed, or is is a question of lack of commercial success on the part of Auto World?
This is a page of the 1967 catalog, showing the available kits as well as a picture of the genuine Morrissey Lotus:
Note that no picture of the sports car chassis is shown, but further catalog inspection reveals its actual looks (see the AW-5 frame design):
And here comes the issue: in 25 years of collecting, we have only run into a grand total of 3 genuine open-wheel models (catalog number TAW-1 and TAW-3), but no sports car ever appeared on the open market, not even a bare chassis, that is until now.
An online auction at last showed the genuine article, and to boot, with complete original paperwork!
The LASCM will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to get a rare model, so not only did it win the auction, but the seller greatly reduced the price to a very fair level after hearing of the ultimate destination of his childhood memory.
The model was delivered in a plain shipping box, un-assembled. The body in this case was a clear Lancer Ford MK2. The customer had to paint it in his choice of colors, and a full interior and decals were supplied.
The front tires were K&B hard compound, a model that was favored by the pros and will be well after the advant of the angle-winder. The rear tires are Riggen on threaded 5-40 axles. The crown gear and guide are Cox items.
One would think that a “Team Russkit Style” kit would have included the very popular Russkit motor bracket, but this one is not and remains to be identified.
It appears that this chassis design is from an earlier Team Russkit example, as the LASCM has in its collection something similar in a genuine works example built by Morrissey.
The kit was supplied with an Auto World warranty on the rewound motor, of the 30-yard or 30-second type, in which the cost of sending it back to get a new one once it had blown was simply not worth the aggravation. In this case, luck was that the seller hardly used the car, as the wear on the tires and braided contacts shows. A case of a few laps and back in the box, only to return to the raceway to find it closed.
Oscar was into inundating the hobby world with advertising material, and this was included with the kit, from decals to new order forms, catalog pages, even a model contest entry form!
This rare survivor is now protected from further decay in the LASCM’s vaults. Where are the others? It is easy to grasp that few survived, because they were used hard by the customers and their basic construction and lack of bracing for body mounts and other tender areas rendered them vulnerable to serious crashes, so it has to be assumed that few survived track use.
Tags: Vintage Slot Cars
This article offers some visual help to figure the various versions of the “Hemi” motors manufactured in the 1960s by Igarashi. First, it is important to say that there is absolutely zero connection between Igarashi and Hitachi or even, HIT, which is a Marusan sub-brand.
Before manufacturing can-type motors, the Japanese Igarashi Electric Co. founded in 1952, built frame-type motors exclusively for Strombecker. Indeed, Strombecker used Mabuchi motors in all their models from 1959 through 1962, when they concluded an exclusive motor supply in full partnership with Igarashi. After this Strombecker used the Igarashi motor shown in this kit in various plastic and aluminum chassis until the 1966 year:
When Igarashi issued their can motors in 1966, their manufacturing quality compared to that of Mabuchi’s was quite superior, but it had several engineering flaws that reduced its appeal to customers, besides having a higher retail price.
The armature stacks were made of better silicone steel material with thinner laminations, and had a better quality commutator than that of its Japanese competitor. Its magnets were also quite superior to that of the Mabuchi motors. Its endbell was made of a more brittle but much more heat resistant material than that of the Mabuchi.
Unfortunately the cylindrical brushes wore more rapidly than that of the Mabuchi motors, and the sintered bronze-powder can bushing, at least on the smaller motors, was retained by a riveting process that broke the material and caused many failures, the bushing simply and often falling off the can. However, Mura and at least one other rewinder used many “Hemi” motors as basis for rewinds, often mixing Mabuchi and Igarashi components.
STROMBECKER Igarashi Motors
TC32: sized like a Mabuchi FT16D. Pinion on the can side. Introduced in 1966 for the new 1/32 scale Strombecker kits using the 2-piece brass chassis. Chrome plated can, green wire on armature, royal blue endbell marked “Strombecker”. The endbell is retained by four tabs stamped in the one-piece drawn can, folded in cavities molded on the Bakelite endbell. 1967 “Hemi 300″ versions have red endbells and hotter armature specification with larger orange wire and were never sold in the 1966-only boxed kits, only in bagged kits or semi-RTR models. Motor discontinued by late 1967 but still sold until the end of 1968 from existing inventories.
TC24: sized like a Mabuchi FT36D. Pinion on the can side. Introduced in 1966 for the new 1/24 scale Strombecker kits using the 2-piece black-anodized aluminum chassis. Chrome plated can, orange wire on armature, royal blue endbell marked “Strombecker”. The endbell is retained by four tabs stamped in the one-piece drawn can, folded in cavities molded on the Bakelite endbell. 1967 “Hemi 400″ versions have red endbells and hotter armature specification with larger orange wire and were never sold in the 1966-only boxed kits, only in bagged kits or semi-RTR models. Towards the end, other endbell colors were produced: light orange, light blue, white, purple… Motor discontinued by late 1967 but still sold until the end of 1968 from existing inventories.
Motor kit: Strombecker sold the Hemi 300 with red endbell as a kit, with a blank armature and rewinding wire, sold in a plastic tube with a cap.
AT-300: This 16D-size motor used a modified TC24 can with more endbell-side clearance so as to fit a system of brushes with adjustable timing. A new red endbell had an inner black Bakelite drum supporting the cylindrical brush holders. The endbell was affixed to the chrome plated can by folding tabs.
AT-400: This was the larger version of the AT-300.
Strombecker, partner with Igarashi, allowed the sale of similar motors to Pactra and Russkit.
In 1966, Pactra issued a series of kits and RTR models , followed by a much smaller second generation in 1967 and an even smaller third series early 1968. These models were all, at the exception of one car, powered by Igarashi motors. The Hemi X88 was a slightly hotter version of the Strombecker TC32, using a red endbell and larger orange wire in the same chrome plated can. It was sold at first separately in an orange box with two motor-mounting plates, then found in some late-edition 1967 kits and RTR models so as to use existing stocks. Other X-88 motors exist with black or light blue endbells.
Hemi X-88: This is the same motor as used in the 1967 Strombecker 1/32 scale RTR cars, and also used in many Pactra kits and RTR models also issued in 1967. However the markings on the endbell are different.
Hemi X-98: This was Pactra’s version of the Strombecker Hemi 400 with red endbell. It was only sold separately in an orange box with two motor-mounting plates.
Super Hemi X-88 MK2: This was a 16D-size motor with epoxied green wire and a new can that retains the orange colored endbell no longer with tabs but with a small 2mm metric machine screw on top and bottom of the can. The pinion is on the can side. Many Pactra kits and RTRs as well as a few Russkit export models, utilized this very pretty motor also sold separately in the same orange box fitted with an additional gold sticker.
Here is a rather rare one with purple endbell and no vent hole:
Super Hemi X-88 MK2 motor kit: Offered in a clear plastic rectangular box, this kit had everything to build a complete motor. Chrome can and orange endbell identical to that of the standard MK2.
Hemi X-99: This ultra-rare motor used an improved armature with twin shafts fitted in a modified chrome plated can with 5 venting slots and the same retaining screws as seen on the X-88 MK2, but now fitted on the sides of the can, allowing the motor to sit lower in the chassis. It is almost certain that seen the very small number of them around, they were on the market in some form for a very short time. Some of these motors were used by Mura as a base for their rewind jobs. They are equally as scarce.
Hemi X78 “Black Streak”: This was a rewound version of the Hemi X-98 now with a black endbell and what appears to be a Mura rewound armature featuring a larger commutator reminiscent but not identical to that used by Champion on their rewound “700″ series motors. It was dynamically balanced and “electronically tested”.
Hemi X98 “Rewind”: This was a rewound version of the Hemi X-98 now with a red endbell and what appears to be a Mura rewound armature. It was dynamically balanced and “electronically tested”.
Pactra also used a Mabuchi FT16DBB in their Meyers Manx Dune Buggy model, but we have so far only seen ONE example of this hyper-rare car, as well as ONE loose chassis! Pactra also had a motor produced in Hong Kong called the “Eliminator”, but it does not appear to be made by Igarashi, so is not included here. It looks almost like an early Parma 16D from the early 1980s, and was issued in 1968.
Pactra’s little mysteries
Pactra had several products in their line that appear to have never been issues. Besides a sidewinder chassis illustrated by a line drawing on all the back their RTR boxes, they also had the following motors described on the back of their larger motor boxes:
Tornado X-66 with 10T pinion
Tornado X-76 with 16T pinion
These two motors (one assumes that there was a smaller and larger one) are described as having “3-pole arm, epoxied stack, oilite bushings, ring type ceramic magnet, cylindrical brushes with single screw removal”. The “ring-type magnet” sounds like these would have been cylindrical-shaped motors, maybe from Wilson’s motor line? The mystery today is simply that, a mystery.
Russkit “28″: This twin-shaft motor was identical to the Hemi X-99 at the exception of its finish, the can being zinc plated in a dark gold, almost green finish. It had a black endbell and two machine screws to retain its endbell.
Russkit only issued a few RTR with these motors in 1968, all in the 1/32 scale. Parma took over the production of these models in 1970 and sold 3 cars using this motor until stocks were exhausted.
Testor Turbo MK1: This Igarashi motor had a zinc-alloy (Zamak) die-cast endbell, and Pittman-style brushes. The chrome plated can with intricate detailing around the screw holes retains the endbell with two machine screws. Testor used it in their late-production RTR models, the most famous using this motor being their glorious Ferrari 330P4 Spyder model, one of the prettiest slot cars ever produced, as well as the second (and rather scarce) version of the Harrison Indy car.
Blown Hemi MK3: This motor marketed by a company called “Thunderbolt” was a rewound Hemi X-88 with red endbell, on which the armature was epoxied but neither polished nor balanced. Aluminum blade-style heat sinks were fitted on each brush holder, covered with a sticker with the name of the motor:
Last but not least, the truly rare Mura rewind over the X99 can, shows a silver wound arm similar to that used in other Mura motors such as the Magnum 44 and 88 models. Not sure what magnets were used.
Igarashi made many other motors for Strombecker, but we are here only talking “Hemi” and derivatives, so this should be it.
For many years, slot car collectors have wrongly believed that “Hemi” motors were the product of the Hitachi company. This is not correct, and this article will attempt to de-confuse the confused.
Hitachi produced a rather cheap copy of the Mabuchi FT16, featuring a can with 3 oval slots and a somewhat different brush-holder arrangement. This motor was used in quite a few kits and RTRs, from the Marusan HIT series, Atlas Lotus 30, Alfa Canguro, to Russkit (after they told Mabuchi to go fish after a dispute, and actually they were not that polite), BMW Models in the UK, RIKO in the UK and some Japanese kit makers.
The confusion between Hitachi and Igarashi goes way back, to the late 1960s when an article was published in a British magazine, there the then-new Russkit 27 motor (the one with 5 slots for can venting) was attributed to Hitachi as well as other “Hemi” motors. I got myself caught into this for a long time until I discovered an article in a financial newspaper, describing the connection between Strombecker and Igarashi, and their ensuing business. Also, the mysterious Pi or P1 Japanese Lola T70 and Ferrari 330P3 models fitted with the large Hemi motors were called “HIT” by many collectors, and before I knew any better, I accepted this. Then, a reader of a forum on which I was discussing this woke me up and make me question the whole thing, and I thank him for that. I then researched the matter and found that Igarashi was not Hitachi, that the whole sequence of Strombecker motors since 1962 and the new frame motor they used was made by Igarashi, and then the whole series of can motors in their cars, then those of Pactra, then of Russkit.
Not only did Russkit purchased the Russkit 27 motors from the Strombecker/Igarashi group, but they also used some of the Pactra Super Hemi X88 in RTR versions of the Honda F1 for export. I did not believe at first that they were ‘factory”, but more of them came in and I had to accept the evidence as it stood, since we obtained several mint and boxed models.
A quick demonstration, look at these two, mint and boxed “export” Hondas:
Note that one used decals form the large Russkit decal sheet with “shadowed” numbers, while the other is using lower-quality decals produced by Russkit in 1968 after they had run out of earlier and nicer ones. You will find the same decals in the strange K&B and Russkit “bagged” kits with a beige tag that were sold in department stores in 1970, the most common being the white K&B Cooper-Climax 1.5-liter RTR model.
Now look at the bottom of both. This one has a Russkit 28 (Hitachi motor):
This one has the Super Hemi X88 (Igarashi):
And look at the motor in both these export versions in the two known colors:
Got the picture? Took me a while to put all this together, and to concoct the scenarios in which this would have happened. But a quick discussion with Jim Russell sorted things out for me. Please note that ALL the Igarashi Hemi motors (either Strombecker, Pactra, Russkit etc.) have the Igarashi logo (an I inside a G) molded on their endbell, the Testor Turbo MK1 being an exception, but no doubt about where it came from. End of discussion right there…
One last pic to make you smile:
1960s slot car heroes Terry Schmid (1966-1967 USRA Champion), Howard Ursaner (former Team Russkit and Team Cobra top-notch racer), Keith Tanaka (Team Rolling Hills) and Dave Fiedler, all now competing in the D3 retro races, were given a tour of the museum by Electric Dreams owner Scott Bader on January 13th. A really nice illustrated report with videos has been published by Keith Tanaka. Please CLICK HERE to access it.