Slot ma­chine ad­dic­tion

Can-Am Slot Cars

Australian Muscle Car - - Slot Mucle - With Brett Jur­mann

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 and Thun­der­slot have recog­nised the low cen­tre of grav­ity po­ten­tial in these open sports rac­ers, pro­duc­ing some new mod­els. For 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 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.

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