Slot car ad­dic­tion

with Brett Jur­mann

Australian Muscle Car - - My Muscle -

Scalex­tric XW gets the ’Gong

With Scalex­tric’s re­lease of a Di­a­mond White XW Falcon road car, I just couldn’t re­sist the temp­ta­tion to trans­form it into a race­car.

The prospect of cre­at­ing it made for an in­ter­est­ing project, as the non-works GTHOs were plas­tered with all man­ner of spon­sor graph­ics and hi-vis stick­ers to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them from their show­room ap­pear­ance. Th­ese were the early days of ad­ver­tis­ing on cars and the re­sults were cer­tainly dis­tinc­tive of the pe­riod. You can just imag­ine the vol­un­teer crews fes­toon­ing their cars in ways that would have made to­day’s graphic de­sign­ers cringe.

Do­ing a bit of re­search, it ap­peared to me that there were only two Di­a­mond White XW race­cars wear­ing GT stripes at Bathurst, both in 1969. Nei­ther were fac­tory cars, both be­ing dealer en­tries: one each from Row­ell Thiele Ford and Byrt Ford. As the Bathurst 500 had be­come a tele­vi­sion spec­ta­cle by 1969, deal­erentered cars were very pop­u­lar. The deal­ers were rightly con­vinced that with set-up ad­vice from Al Turner and his fac­tory crew, their cars had a gen­uine chance to win outright, IF the works en­tries tripped up. The re­sult­ing pub­lic­ity for the deal­er­ship could be enor­mous.

Un­for­tu­nately, many of those dealer en­tries suf­fered from the teething prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with the in­tro­duc­tion of the GT-HO. Pos­si­bly be­liev­ing the GT-HO was more of a race­car than it re­ally was, many pushed too hard, as wit­nessed by the mas­sive rst lap pile-up. At the top of the moun­tain, two of the dealer en­tries driven by Mike Savva and Bill Brown, were jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion as they ap­proached Sky­line. Brown started through on the in­side and Savva never saw him. The gap be­tween them closed and Brown was forced up the em­bank­ment and then rolled in front of the fol­low­ing eld. By con­trast, the Kloster Ford en­try of Bruce McPhee/Barry Mul­hol­land started out con­ser­va­tively, and could have won the race if not for an early stop which threw out their re­fu­elling sched­ule.

Savva’s en­try was the ear­lier men­tioned GTHO from the Row­ell Thiele Ford, a deal­er­ship in Cam­per­down in Sydney’s in­ner west that was a reg­u­lar Hardie-Ferodo 500 en­trant dur­ing the GT-HO era. In 1969 they en­tered a Di­a­mond White Phase I for Savva and his co-driver Bob Wilkin­son. From ’70, Trevor Mee­han be­came some­what of a reg­u­lar for the deal­er­ship, when it en­tered a metal­lic green Phase II, and then a yel­low Phase III the year af­ter.

Although Bryan Byrt was fa­mously known as a Queens­land Ford dealer (af­ter buy­ing out McCluskey Ford at Mt Gra­vatt), Byrt be­gan as a Wol­lon­gong (NSW) Ford dealer. In 1969 Byrt Ford en­tered a Di­a­mond White Phase I for Martin Chen­ery and Ernie John­son. Then in 1970 they en­tered a dark blue Phase II for Gary Rush and Chen­ery. Byrt then en­tered the fa­mous pur­ple GTHO Phase III in 1971 that Bob Skel­ton and Phil Barnes brought home in sec­ond place.

As I call Wol­lon­gong home, I de­cided to go with the lo­cal Byrt Ford en­try. Once again Bruce Pater­son of ‘Patto’s Place’ makes it all pos­si­ble by pro­duc­ing a wide range of GT-HO Bathurst de­cals. How­ever, he has pre­pared them for clear Lexan bod­ies in­clud­ing the whole-of-car body colours. Bruce will delete colours on re­quest to give you the bits you need.

First, though, I tack­led the trou­ble­some piece – the wheels. The rst model GT-HOs came with 12-slot wheels, while the ve-slot wheels on the Scalex­tric model make it a Phase II. Un­for­tu­nately, I couldn’t nd any ready-made 12-slot wheel in­serts. I did have some re­ally nice 1:24 scale 12-slots from a Mus­tang GT model kit, but they were way too big, and came with cast-in cen­tre caps, which were not used on the race­cars. What I did nd though was the Oz Leg­ends diecast 1:32 range of cars. Although their Phase I GT-HOs also have the cen­tre caps, their ‘GS’ range do come with more ac­cu­rate ex­posed nut cen­tre caps.

I drilled out and re­shaped the front ones to model the bear­ing caps vis­i­ble on the GT-HO race­cars. The Oz Leg­ends plas­tic chrome coat­ing doesn’t take paint very well, so I soaked them in bleach to re­move it. Cut down to t in­side Slot.It race wheels, they do the job nicely, although I had to buy a whole car to get them.

One item I re­mem­bered dur­ing my re­search was to x the driver’s win­dow. Ac­cord­ing to the Bathurst rules of the time, the car had to race with the driver’s win­dow down in case the driver

had to be res­cued af­ter a crash. I re­moved the win­dow shell and care­fully cut it out with a hobby saw and le.

Once that was done, it made the in­te­rior of the car more vis­i­ble. Be­ing a road car, Scalex­tric pro­vided a driver with­out hel­met, but left in the roll-cage used in the pre­vi­ous XW (race­car) re­lease. Check­ing his­tor­i­cal pho­tos, the Byrt Ford car had no roll-cage, a safety item that was not com­pul­sory at the time. I also took the op­por­tu­nity to add some ex­tra depth to the shal­low in­te­rior tray, added de­tailed seats, and swapped over the driver for a race ver­sion I had from Pi­o­neer spares.

With that done, it was easy to add the de­cals, although sev­eral were miss­ing from the sheet. Some I found some amongst spares I had stored away. All in all, I was re­ally happy with how the pieces came to­gether. It’s a sat­is­fy­ing re­sult and I’ve got a unique slot car.

While we are on the topic of GT-HO slot cars, Scalex­tric has a cou­ple of Phase IIIs com­ing up for re­lease at the end of the year. One is the much sought af­ter Bathurst win­ner from 1971, #65E, which was pre­vi­ously only avail­able in a track set. They’re likely to sell-out quickly, so if you want one, put in a pre-or­der with your lo­cal slot re­tailer. The other is a plain red road car, and per­haps this is the way for­ward for Scalex­tric with th­ese low-vol­ume Aus­tralian re­leases – sell them in road­go­ing colours, and let buy­ers add their own de­cals. This for­mula would work a treat if Scalex­tric de­cided to pro­duce GTS Monaros from the same era.

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