AUTOart Ford Mustang FR500C

AUTOart Ford Mustang FR500C

Postby wixwacing » Sun 27 Jul, 2008 10:14 pm

AUTOart Ford Mustang
FR 500C Grand-Am



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By Phil Wicks

Being born and bread in the northern hemisphere on an island anchored off the western shores of mainland Europe I developed a keen affection for some of the products rolled out by the mass of European manufacturers in the sixties. Great sportscars which today have classic names and classic lines. People would be foolish to deny the mythical status and success of some of Europe’s leading bespoke manufacturers of the period. Even today, fifty years later, their products are lovingly restored and displayed at local rallies and international events alike.

These cars were a culture in their time (and for most, probably still are) and when it came to motor sport, very few would dream of entering any of the products from across the pond. They weren’t gauche, or they weren’t fab and least of all, they weren’t competitive on the tortuous circuits of Europe. With their huge empty body mass and their growling power plants they struggled to keep up with the local product, especially when it cam to corners. Whilst they might have bored down the straights (what little there were) they lumbered quite inelegantly round the corners with nifty red cars and blue cars and green cars passing either side of them and leaving them to wallow down the field.



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Even in their place of origin, they were being acutely embarrassed by the European upstarts at there own game. The SCCA ran a little known series (in Europe) called the Trans Am series. This contained some huge cars with huge engines and it was a bit of a wake up call to the US motor industry when a couple of European marques racing in the two litre series embarrassed them to say the least by taking overall series wins. But this wasn’t to be for long and eventually a few dedicated US drivers who had braved the European race tracks in their own machinery cottoned on to what was required of the home product. One of these was Carroll Shelby who raced notably an Aston Martin at Le Mans and sports cars in general for a period in the late fifties. At the turn of the sixties he decided that if the locals weren’t going to make a chassis he could use, he’d ship one in. This was to be an anassuming racing car known in Europe as the Cooper Monaco. Shelby shoehorned a V8 into this, renamed it the King Cobra and proceeded to win a bit. Not satisfied with this modicum of success it wasn’t long before some manoeuvring, and with the aid of the Ford Motor Company, he shipped out to the US a series of AC Cars from Thames Ditton in the UK. AC’s claim to fame at that time was the little blue three wheeler invalid carriage. AC had been making a little Italian styled sports car with a six cylinder Bristol engine and it had a moderate degree of success and was keenly being taken up by club racers. But the engine supply ran out and it seemed that the car would finish too but for the efforts of an enthusiastic Carroll Shelby



2007 Ford FR500C


Shelby turned this car into a monster! And moving on he got another UK sports car manufacturer to design and supply another monster. This was the GT40 designed and built by Eric Broadly of Lola fame and his team in Slough. Shelby then looked to the home market and decided that Ford were good for something at least and chose the then latest mediocre offering from them. The so call Mustang. Until now it might have been any car but at the time the Mustang presented itself as modern styling and a departure from huge cars with rear ends shaped like jets and rockets and several other forms of transport. Before long, Shelby’s new baby was on the track. The 350 GT Mustang was out to do business and very few were going to get in the way. This was the start of a Legend that was to outlast Shelby and will out last many of his successors to come.



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Shelby, along with a few others, grasped the principles of modern motorsport which were, stuff as many horsepower as you can under the bonnet and make it handle like a go kart! Because the 350 GT was based on a production line model, it wasn’t long before his emulators were doing all sorts to the model. Shelby was to stay supreme icon when it came to Mustangs and the legend was created. The legend lived on over the years and although it doesn’t officially carry his name, the Legend lives on in the FR 500C. The colour scheme alone is a Shelby trade mark and anyone over forty knows what this car is about.



Ford 500 GT 2007



AUTOart have been producing diecast models for some years now and along with other mainstream producers have built a reputation for quality products. Their slotcars are no exception. The Rally cars are probably the finest detailed rally cars you will find and along with their exotic models like Lamborghinis and Ford GT’s to name a couple, you’ll not be wanting for a better finished model, but slotcars? What are their slotcars like to drive?

Well, you could look in the AUTOart section of the site and read up on the models, they are varied and if anything is true to character, they are over geared. Not only this. In their pursuit of true scale they have endeavoured to reproduce true scale tyres. Not the best. The tyres are comparatively hard and narrow. The rally cars handle well but the tyres and overall model weight let them down a bit. The Porsche GT-R is a fine model, two magnets too, but it is over geared and as a consequence, has poor acceleration and a woeful lack of brakes. The Mustang falls into this category too, a pity, but it’s not terminal. There is lee way in the chassis to be able to do something about it without ruining the chassis or the model.



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Firstly, as previously mentioned is the quality of the finish. The model’s lacquer coat is free from bubbles and dust and has a sheen as good as the real thing. The tampo is first class and the decals are depicted immaculately. The window masking is picked out very accurately and the door mirrors are sturdy and have silvered reflective surfaces. This model has lights and very directional lights too. They are lit by a couple of LED’s mounted directly to where the lights might be. There are a couple of fine detail driving lamps complete with Freznel lenses and the front indicators are distinct in the front bumper. The most pleasing sight is the wild ‘mustang’ trademark in the centre of the grill. Almost perfect!


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The rear, too, is another classic example of good modelling. As well as the rear LED’s shining through the centre lenses, the other lenses are crystal clear and reflectors are easily discerned. Wheels have ventilated discs behind them and the tyres are four grooved racing tyres. The outside is finished of with a couple of chrome exhaust tail pipes appearing at the outside edges of the rear. A very nice touch.


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Being a front engined model, the interior detail leaves little if anything wanting. The model has the full roll cage which has to be seen and other interior detail like extinguisher, wiring, drivers window safety webbing, gear shift and finely detailed dash gauges and facia vents. The driver, too, looks more lifelike than most and is wearing a fully marked Ford Racing drivers suit and helmet and sits in a full race bucket seat.

There are three screws holding this gem together. Two at the front and one rear. Short screws too, so not too much of an opportunity to run them loose. The traction magnets are fully visible under the model. Two neodymium bar magnets mounted either side of the contrate. Strong beggars too. I fully expect this model to sit down on a magnet track. The motor is visible through the grille on the chassis underside. A Mabuchi ‘S’ can no doubt, of respectable power. This model is driven by a fairly long drive shaft to the rear, but it’s well held in and unlike some other leading makes that jump out, I would be surprised if this one was to. The guide is 6.5 mm deep and a short 17.5 mm long, sprung too, but it has much more than its fair share of slop. Far too much. The guide is a departure from earlier models were the braids rubbed against a couple of metal strips on the chassis. AUTOart have decided to emulate some of the leading manufacturers and hard wire the guide to the motor. Not a big deal, but a woeful attempt. The chassis hole is plainly too big for the guide shaft. This model will need to have the guide hole sleeved, or a different guide fitted. I would be inclined to go for the second alternative.



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Inside, the model lives up to expectations. A very neat layout with light circuits mounted inside the upper body behind the drivers tray. The front lights as mentioned before, are LED’s mounted directly into the headlamp backs. The wires are neatly channelled around the body from front to rear clipped into tiny clips on the drivers tray and there is a tidy little plug for detaching them from the chassis when it is opened up.


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The motor has its fair share of noise suppression. At a time when even Carrera are reducing their anti interference electrics, AUTOart seem to have increased theirs? Three capacitors and two inductances seem maybe a bit of overkill? But they do work!


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The motor is clipped in well and doesn’t move, partly due to the bottom of the motor resting on the grill in the chassis. Front wheels are ‘a la Fly’ by having stub axles either side of the motor, allowing independent rotation and reducing front end drag in corners. These pass through brass bushes which sit in a type of ‘saddle and clip’ arrangement similar to the back wheels. The makers obviously don’t want these items to come loose! At 52 m.m, the distance from the motor to the pinion has to be the longest I have seen. The tail end is mounted through a brass bush and is clipped firmly into the rear clamp.


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The pinion has ‘straight through’ valleys on the teeth. In the past, models like Pro Slot and Scalextric have come unstuck with this arrangement as the tooth valleys present a weakness to the pinion and inevitably split. The crown gear or contrate is a two piece gear. The crown being of a white material and the collar of black plastic. The pinion is a ten tooth and the crown has twenty eight giving it a final drive ratio of 2.8 to 1. The rear wheel diameter of 20.5 mm gives the model an overall travel rate of 23.0 mm per motor rev. The high side of ideal. This will reduce acceleration and reduce breaking on smaller circuits.

I decided to run a cursory glance over the wheels and tyres before screwing it back together. The wheels are very narrow. Just under 7.5 mm narrow to be more precise. The tyres are also very narrow. Again, 7.5 mm. The hubs do have excessive flashing on them. A left over from the moulding process, and little care has been taken to remove it. There are four bumps on each wheel and stripping with a modellers knife was the only course of action available. Next, the tyres were very difficult to get sitting level. Here, the problem was the groove moulded into the tyres. The groove is too narrow and placing the tyres casually on the wheels would leave them sitting askew. The tyres had to be coaxed over the edge of the locating ridge before they would look anything like OK. Even when on, they did not instil confidence in the suitability.

Other than that, the heat welds are good but the body does creak a little when handled. I would expect it to creak on the track too but that will be later. Overall the model weighs in at 97.0 grams and the body on its own, with lights is 45.0 grams. No lightweight and on a short track it will be hard to get it moving.


Track Test


The track test was to be on two surfaces. Firstly, on painted board. I took the model along to a friends on a race night and between races I tried it ‘out of the box’ almost on one of the centre lanes. Not good, far from it. The model hobbled down the track, a victim of poor tyres and goodness knows what else. There was also a rhythmic rattle from the model and I suspect something somewhere is touching something else? After several laps I called it a day. Out of the box on a non magnet track was disastrous and without carrying out a post mortem I wasn’t going to find out that night what was up. So, I placed it back in the box and later the following day I arrived at a friends large Carrera track early before racing to test it (and others) once again.

In the mean time I had trued the rear wheels and reversed the tyres on a dremel sanding drum and opened up the slot a bit. It was quite inconsistent and the tyres themselves weren’t the best moulding. The tyres were refitted and the model trundled off on its merry way. This time the model was more smooth and lacked the rhythmic chatter it had to start with. Acceleration as expected was laboured but once up to speed, you could keep the momentum going. The magnets were pretty good and cornering was quite hair raising, solely because of the rear tyres. The magnets did their job but the tyres would let go in an instant, unannounced. Much like the rally cars do.

Straight line speed was half respectable and as good as most but the braking distance was also as expected, almost one quarter of the back straight. I could see other models zipping past on the inside and outside while I fought to keep the model on the track and get maximum speed into the corners. But no, it wasn’t going to happen. Plenty of power in the motor but I suspect that anything other than a ‘Blue King’ track was going to be insufficient. It’s a great looking model and it wasn’t bought to be a race car, that could be reserved for the Scalextric Mustang coming out later this year. But it is nice for a model to look spectacular AND drive well. This model has the grunt to do well but like others from its stable, it has been set up for far grander things than my local tracks. I would need to replace the rear axle completely. Fortunately, the BBS style wheels are readily available from several makers and a selection of Slot.it parts in the gear department would make it a lot more tractable. Probably somewhere around a 3.2 : 1 FDR? A nine tooth pinion with the 28z crown would do well. The crown gear pitch looks a bit small so it may have to be a total change at the back.

So there it is. In its box it is luring you to your doom and out of it, it is more gloom than doom, but not irreversible! At some time in the near future I will play with the back end and get some wider tyres on it and change the FDR. I’ll keep all the standard parts in its display case should the day come that it needs to move on, but for now, I will sit it along side the Peugeot, the Xsara and the Porsche!



Statistics

Wheelbase 84.5 m.m.
Front Axle width 56.5 m.m.
Rear Axle width 57.5 m.m.
Overall weight 97 grams
Front axle weight 43.0 grams
Rear axle load 54.0 grams
Front Rear weight dist. 44.3% / 55.7%
Body weight 45 grams
Body height 45 m.m.
Guide depth 6.5 m.m.
Guide flag length 17.5 m.m.
Pinion 10z
Crown gear 28z
FDR 2.8 : 1
Rear wheel Diameter 20.5 m.m.
Motor type Mabuchi ‘S’ Red Stripe.



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Still, a very attractive model even though I half expected it to have real faults, which it does. Impeccably finished and first class detail but strangely enough, no rear wing?? The simplest solution to make it a good runner would be to fit one of the current range of after market chassis, but this would mean hacking into the interior detail and as Meatloaf once sung “I won’t do that!” No, I’m quite happy to admire it along with many others, and as with the Carrera Bentley Speed Eight, I will get round to making a new rear axle for it and fitting a new pinion. There’s no rush. I also have the Lamborghini Miura in a mint and boxed condition. I won’t even bother to stick that on the track!
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When I'm not racing slotcars,
I'm out in the back yard, burning food!!

When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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