Hitachi “Hemi” Confusion, De-confused…

June 21st, 2010 · 1 Comment

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:

Tags: News

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jon // Apr 13, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Awsome collection, those Hondas must rip.
    I posted on the HEMI variations article and need a few HEMI brush parts, brushes(4), brush spings (1), brush spring retainer (1), retainer screws (2 or size to buy).
    Thank you for the article, Jon.

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