Carrera Volkwagen Golf GTI 24

Carrera Volkwagen Golf GTI 24

Postby wixwacing » Mon 28 Jan, 2013 6:40 pm

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Carrera
VW Golf GTI24
Nurnburg 24 hour



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by Phil Wicks

Volkswagen history is pretty much well documented already and as currently the second largest producer in the world and it didn’t get there by accident. Risen from the ashes of the second world war it was offered to western manufacturers in an attempt to get the company back on its feet after the end of hostilities. During the war years, the company that made the ‘Peoples Car’, was run by a group of engineers, one of which was Ferdinand Porsche. He went on to become famous for other reasons and whereas the Porsche company remained in private hands for many years. VW teetered on the edge of oblivion.



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VW was taken over first by the allies, and since the factory had been producing military equipment for the duration, it naturally followed that the factory continued to be used for building and repairing military equipment. The ‘beetle’ was also returned to production and after a period they were sold to those Germans who could afford them and especially the occupying troops. Many cars returned to Britain with their soldier owners and eventually the first Volkswagen dealership was established. With no other motor company interested, the factory was then established as a trust and run by the state.



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There were several attempts to sell the company as a going concern but the technology in use and its location in the east deterred several potential purchasers. Slowly, the trustees established a basic market for the car and although the underlying shape didn’t change for many years the technology improved until such time as VW built more modern cars like the type three and the Karmann Ghia.


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VW went from strength to strength and, protected by German ownership laws , itself became large enough to acquire the Auto Union company in 1965, another company which had struggled post war from a lack of materials and market. This coming together of ideas and resources eventually saw the new VW –Audi group become a European force.



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At the time of this review The Volkswagen Group are the worlds largest producer of sedan cars and the second largest producer of motor vehicles behind General Motors. Some brands either fully owned or are under the control of the Volkswagen group are Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Porsche, Ducati, MAN, and Scania. Volkswagen Group are also a 19.9% shareholder of the Suzuki Motor Corporation.



24h Nurburgring - Volkswagen race report




The rest of VW’s achievements is modern history except to say that the Golf first arrived on the scene in 1974, and inevitably it would be tweaked and tuned by keen enthusiasts until in 1975 the factory ‘tweak’ was produced; the Volkswagen Golf GTI.



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This model is a continuation of VW’s involvement in specialist cars, cars that appeal to the enthusiast rather than the family person, much in the same image as the Mini Cooper did years before; and although VW have not entered the world of motorsport very often (that has been left to Audi), they have been cooperative with those who have, on occasions, chosen to race their product. This model and the real cars celebrate thirty five years of Golf GTI’s, and in 2011, VW assembled three cars to pit against the rest in the notorious Nurburgring 24 hour event.



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But these weren’t ordinary GTI’s..... Each car sported a five cylinder 2.5 litre turbo charged Audi TT engine producing 450 bhp. Power was delivered via a six speed sequential gearbox and four wheel drive! So have Carrera managed to capture the same air of mystique and awe that the GTI24’s did? Lets have a look.



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First up is the quality of the model. I was a little disappointed with the finish of the Ferrari D50 but there is none of that disappointment here! The paint job is almost faultless; no pimples, fingerprints or other blemishes in this model, and the tampo is little short of faultless; and the body has the best clear lacquer shine you could wish for... You can not look at the exterior of this model and be disappointed..... anywhere!



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In keeping with other Carrera models this only has a half drivers tray, but Carrera have made sure the bits you do see are first class. Driver and helmet detail are great and there is a roll cage inside which would shame a lot of makes. Carrera have even bothered to reproduce the fuel filler neck inside the model, all the way to the fuel tank! And from the outside there is a very three dimensional representation of the air vents in the clear parts.



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Wheels are excellent and when I removed a tyre to check the hub detail it is plain that before assembly someone has gone to the trouble to fettle the flash from the hubs, and almost needless to say, the wheels are almost imperceptibly concentric, front and rear, and the tyres too are almost that good too, but there is a very small degree of eccentricity in the tyre moulding which could do with a touch up on the tyre truer.



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Carrera usually go to lengths to make sure the vulnerable parts are taken care of, i.e. wings and door mirrors are usually removable. In the case of this model the door mirrors are removable (and there are spares in the display case compartment), but the rear wing is fixed, so you’ll need to pick you spot and moment for deslotting! Light detail is good and an initial glance tells me this model is set up for lights?



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Four sturdy screws hold the body and chassis together and the screw heads look to be pozidrive, so a plain Phillips is at risk of spinning in the screw head if the screws are tight (which they are). A simple solution is to grind or sand down the tip of your Phillips screwdriver until the pointy end is reduced. This will help the drive flanks go deeper into the screw head.



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Once inside we see some standard Carrera engineering. The wheels have extra gussets on the axle hubs. I don’t see these coming off mid race! All the axle bushes are brass and compared to other market leaders are quite snug in their fit. Gearing is standard Carrera and as usual has minimal sideplay against the pinion.


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The reverse polarity switch is removable and the remaining plug ends will allow the guide wires to be reconnected directly to the motor loom. the expected lighting didn’t materialise but inside, the model has obviously been prepared for this eventuality as there are places for 3 m.m. LED’s to fit in the back of the light units. Not only this, the body has been painted flat black around the front and rear lights obviously to prevent light bleed through the body!



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The heat welds which hold the interior in place are very tidy and it is difficult to get the body to ‘creek’ when handled, unlike a lot of others I could named. The body mounting screw posts are also substantial, and also have reinforcing up at least two sides.



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If I had to be disappointed with this model it would be with the guide system. No doubt it is the optimum set up for Carrera track, but, Carrera obviously intended this model to be used on a variety of tracks as they supply a shallower, shorter guide in the spares pack! The issue? firstly, the return spring! To me, if this model is to be raced on non magnet tracks or tracks with banking or camber changes in the corners, I would be inclined to detach the return spring. Why, I hear you say? Well......



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On banking and in cambered corners a model with a fixed front axle will see the outer front wheel ride higher than the inside wheel, causing the inside wheel to come off the track surface. This has the effect of lifting the guide out of the slot at least half the distance the wheel has risen. Late braking will see the guide ride up the slot, and with spring tension on the angled guide increasing it will pop out in an attempt to self centre and eventuate in an understeer deslot, which this model does when pushed!



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The solution is one of three options, convert the front axle into a floating axle which will ride out the camber change without lifting the guide; vertically spring load the guide so it ‘drops out’ in corners, or remove the spring tension. To confirm if this is the cause of the deslots, just remove the front tyres and do a few hot laps, this will reveal all!



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The other disappointment is the sheer magnitude of the guide and braids, especially the braids. I prefer my braids to be tinned but not soft and not stiff. The Carrera braids to me are just a little too stiff for the racing I do. In non or low magnet racing uneven stiff braids will see the model ‘stutter’ in tight and cambered corners, once again as one braid is in contact with the higher rail, the other side can lift off the lower rail in sloping corners. I would even consider opening up the braid plate and either changing the braid for softer material.....or even extend the front braid and cut off the remainder of the rear, leaving a conventional two braid set up. Mmmmmmmm!



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But enough of that, this detracts almost imperceptibly from the general quality of the model. All is good and the next step is to see what it can do! So, arriving just in time for a meeting at the paint and magnabraid Caloundra mega track I took it along, and in early practice pulled it for the first time from its box and placed it on blue lane!



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The first lap was a little bit stuttery and on completing it I messed with the braids and got them as smooth as I could and lifted them a bit to allow them to track the conductor braid a little better. The initial laps saw the model a little better and as the laps increase the tyres started to work a bit better. Settling in to a steady rhythm I eventually lapped in the mid nines. Not brilliant as this is the sort of times a good NC1 will do, but remember, this is fresh from its box!



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I got the model down to low nines and decided to clean the tyres, this immediately clipped the lap time to nine dead and no amount of cleaning or fiddling would improve it, but that’s not bad as mid eights are a race winning time for most classes! With a tyre review and some other adjustments I would fully expect this model to circulate in around the 8.7 mark! I was pleased with the tyre performance even though it was not impeccable but hey....it’s fresh out of the box!



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Further testing was available on the LCR sprint track south of Brisbane, this is a fierce adventure as good laps on the Ferador and Magnabraid track are below four seconds and with no corner run off points the average deslot will normally collect the rest of the field if you aren’t paying attention. I ran the model moderately for five minutes then inspected the tyres, sure enough, although quite concentric, the tyres could do with a minimum of truing.



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I managed some respectable times in the low fours and of the few deslots which did come, most were oversteer. Yellow lane has a notorious (according to some) inner bend at one end of the track and I have to admit that even with the deep guide fitted, on a couple of occasions the model did demonstrate the notorious understeer deslot. Again, I suspect this was almost entirely due to the spring return on the guide blade, but I didn’t worry about it as this was review testing and not racing.



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Lastly, the model has the current Carrera dual magnet set up and at one hundred and two grams certainly needs it for some of the plastic tracks it might be asked to race at. As for magnabraid, it feel’s just right. The Magnets are clamped into position so it’s not such a big deal to remove them. The front is held in by a single screw and the rear has a clip which pushes into place and presumably can be carefully levered out.



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Other than that the model drove well, and the fact that I could get it up on two wheels in some bends shows the Carrera tyres had enough grip even in their untrued condition. But Carrera tyres are still a bit of an enigma; they have a firmness about them which feels like natural rubber, but some model’s tyres will not sand well, and once cleaned with Shellite (lighter fuel) or similar a few times, will turn into a soft gel which will see the tyres eventually fall off the rims if you can drive them that far?



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In case you haven’t already gathered by now, I quite like this model, and it should sit well amongst other hot hatches in its motor class on the more flowing higher speed tracks, but it may just be a little too bulky for some of the more technical tracks to be a race winner. I think Carrera have made a fabulous model here and I can’t understand why Mr Carrera doesn’t go that extra yard and make a ‘Collectors’ range of models, much like all the other leading makers do. By this I mean , also bring it out in a presentation pack, and, with a full interior! I’m sure that for the few extra dollars it costs per model there would be more than enough subscribers!!
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