Slot machine addiction
Can-Am Slot Cars
With Can-Am being a big part of the last two AMC issues, we thought we’d take a look at what Can-Am machines have been produced in slot car form. Especially since the golden retro glow surrounding the original Can-Am era only seems to be growing – if the increase in magazine stories and the magnetism of surviving machines at Historic race meetings is any guide.
Although once a popular slot car body shape due to their low centre of gravity, their scarcity in recent years would, at first, suggest they fell out of favour with consumers. Yet the real reason behind the lack of new releases in recent years most likely lies in the decline of American slot car manufacturers. Where Revell/Monogram would once have produced a range of home grown racecars, their split and later re-merger with the German-owned sister company Revell AG, has meant a contraction in their range. Not all their cars have disappeared, however, as keen shoppers can still find discounted stocks of Monogram’s McLaren M6As and Lola T70s, as raced by Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, and other stars of the era.
German slot manufacturer Carrera, on the other hand, has a keen eye on the huge potential of the US market. For some time now they have been making a large range of Shelby Cobras and Mustangs, custom hotrods, as well as historic NASCARs. For a while they also gave a nod to German participation in Can-Am by producing a range of the mighty Porsche 917/10s as well as McLaren M8Ds.
Again, hunting around online slot shops can lead to old stock, sometimes at cheap prices.
For those who are keen to hunt for something a little more obscure, Spanish brands Flyslot and Sloter also dabbled briefly in Can-Am cars, producing models of the Porsche 908/2 and Lola T260 respectively. The Sloters are a rare bargain, having high quality parts for reasonable prices, but not having really sold as well as they deserved.
This all sounds like grim news, but there are signs Can-Am cars have made a bit of a revival in recent times. Italian manufacturers Slot.it and Thunderslot have recognised the low centre of gravity potential in these open sports racers, producing some new models. For Slot.it there has been a large range of the awesome McLaren M8Ds, and to their credit they also pursued the quirky Chapparal range of cars. Thunderslot are new onto the market and are about to diversify their range to include the Can-Am versions of the Lola T70 and McLaren M6A.
For those after something a little on the rare side there are some boutique kits available from Protoslot and Racer. As they are not likely to sell in great numbers, they are relatively expensive, but if you want something unique, they are there. Protoslot have produced the Shadow DN2 and more recently the March 707, neither of them being particularly graceful shapes.
From Racer, and having caught my eye for this issue, is the Ferrari 350 P4 kit – and in particular the car once owned by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce, with its distinct Australian connections. The Racer range of historic Ferrari sports prototypes has always been attractive, but they are almost too expensive and fragile to race. Although still not cheap, it is possible to buy lessexpensive Racer kits to build and paint yourself. When this Can-Am issue was looming, I decided to invest in the 350 P4.
It would be no surprise if you hadn’t heard of the 350 P4. It was never very successful in any form of racing, being not fast enough to beat its Can-Am-derived contemporaries. The 350
P4 owed its origins to the enclosed 330 P4 that was out-muscled by the seven-litre Mk IV Fords at Le Mans in 1967. Both the P4 and the Mk IV were banned after Le Mans changed the rules to limit engines to 3.0 litres. Ferrari had already lightened the P4 by removing the roof with the Spyder version that was driven at various times by Chris Amon and Lorenzo Bandini. With the P4s now banned, Ferrari decided to convert two of them to 350 P4s for use in North American sports car racing. Although lighter still and with bigger engines, the P4s were no match for the Bruce and Denny Show.
Ferrari was keen to dispose of the unsuccessful 350 P4s when David McKay approached them to buy a used racer to compete in sports car racing in Australia. McKay’s Scuderia Veloce outfit had a great relationship with Ferrari and were regular customers and hosts to the Italians during the Tasman series. The car McKay ultimately purchased had in fact been rebuilt from the P4 that came second at Le Mans. The bonus in the deal was that works driver Chris Amon would be available to drive, and then handover the car. Unfortunately for Amon and McKay, they were up against Frank Matich and his Matich SR3, which had also been racing in Can Am and proved to be more potent. McKay later on-sold the Ferrari to Paul Hawkins, who managed to obtain the only significant success for the car in South Africa wearing the orange and brown colours of Gunston cigarettes.
The Racer kit contains all the required parts to assemble a complete car, including Slot.it running gear and detailed parts. The resin body comes unpainted and supplied with decals to build the Hawkins version of the car. This was no problem as it had to be painted in Ferrari red and David Pedwell helped out by supplying the required decals. The icing on the cake was a Chris Amon driver figure custom made by Lynne Haines.
The Ferrari P4s have always been among the prettiest racecars and this 350 P4 is no exception. On these pages you can see the Scalextric P4 #21 which in real life was the car used to create the Scuderia Veloce 350 P4, and a conversion of a Scalextric P4 into the #20 Spyder. For those who also love P4s, Scalextric will be reintroducing the P4s as part of a Le Mans 1967 commemorative box later this year.