Slot car addiction
with Brett Jurmann
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.