First time customers often inquire about the differences, advantages and disadvantages of the varied slot car manufacturers, so we have decided to dedicate a page to the subject and we will do our best to explain and define the characteristics of each slot car company.
The oldest of the slot car companies, Scalextric has been producing quality slot cars since the 1950’s. We believe that the modern Scalextric slot cars offer the best value to performance and looks ratio. For under $45 Scalextric offers cars with excellent detail inside and out, earth shaking performance right out of the box, and many of them have working headlights. They also offer an economy line of cars that look great and perform flawlessly for $19.95 – $29.95.
Great Scalextric cars to consider: MG Lola, Ford GT40s, Formula One cars, IRL cars
Fly, a Spanish company, has been around since 1996 and is largely responsible for the growth in the slot car market as it stands today. Fly was the first company to introduce the extremely detailed (diecast quality) and extremely fast slot car. In a single stroke Fly became the premier 1/32 scale slot car maker. Since that time, however, the other companies have caught up to Fly and Fly’s standards in performance and detail have lagged as their prices have gone up and up. Retail prices for new Fly cars start at $64.95, however, we do still carry a large variety of older Fly cars at the retail price of $44.95. Many out of production Fly cars have become desirable collector items (check Ebay) and this trend continues to this day as older cars go out of stock.
Carrera is most noted for their track system, which is the favorite of many slot car enthusiasts. Their cars are a great value usually costing under $35. They do not perform at a Scalextric level, and they tend to look a bit toy-like in overall appearance but they do have a quality all their own and are very fun in their own right. All Carrera 1/32 scale cars feature one adjustable magnet and their new releases feature two! Carrera is also the only company at present producing 1/24 scale slot cars.
Some cool Carrera cars: D-type Jaguars, vintage Stock Cars
Another Spanish company, Ninco is also famous for its track system. Ninco takes pride in producing slot cars that are very “loose”, thus delivering very realistic driving characteristics. The cars in their “Classic” line have no magnets and are a hoot to drive as they are very easy to slide out, or “drift” in the corners. Ninco is continually improving in the detail department and their latest releases are quite handsome. Their Formula 1 cars with front steering are very popular. Prices usually range from $44.95 to $59.95.
SCX is an independent offshoot of the Scalextric company, hence the name S-C-X. SCX was the first company to deliver the 4 wheel drive slot car, present in their rally car models. They also offer very realistic Formula One cars with front steering. At $39.95 SCX cars offer quite a value, and with proper tuning they can compete with the best of them. All SCX cars also feature an adjustable magnet.
Anyone who raced slot cars in the 60’s will remember this brand name. Having re-entered the slot car market, Monogram is producing some of the most beautiful slot cars available today. Focusing on vintage American endurance racing, their performance and detail just keep getting better and better. These cars have a very “old school” vibe and are reasonably priced at $44.95.
Choice Monogram cars: Daytona Cobra Coupes, Grand Sport Corvettes
A premier maker of 1/18 diecast models, Autoart has entered the slot car market with some stunning releases. Autoart’s focus thus far has been on exotic street cars (Lamborghini Countach and Murciëlago), and WRC rally cars. Their cars are beautiful and feature working headlights and are a steal at $34.95. You won’t get Scalextric grade performance but with this much detail and at this price who’s complaining? Look for a much larger selection in the days to come.
Slot-It makes highly detailed ready-to-run slot cars along with an assortment of upgrade parts of the highest quality. Their cars are built to be very tunable and upgradeable and in top form will no doubt be the fastest cars in your stable. They retail at $49.95.
Formed by ex-employees of the Fly company, Vanquish has been the topic of much controversy since their inception. To start, their cars are closer to 1/28 scale than 1/32 (much to the chagrin of scale purists) and they offer a working rear differential that has not fared well in the public eye. Their focus has been on reproducing the Can-Am cars from the late 60’s and early 70’s and they have recently introduced the vintage 1970’s Formula One theme. After attending to the problems of the rear differential (which has become an easy fix) these cars do come to life and are quite fun to race with the magnet removed. They are in the $55-$60 range.
All of the cars offer up a great deal of fun and we recommend having at least one car from every company for you to compare and contrast. We also recommend buying similar cars in pairs (i.e. same car in different color schemes) as this will not give the advantage to one driver or the other. All brands of car work on all brands of track systems (Carrera, Scalextric, and Ninco), plus they are very durable and require minimal maintenance. So let the fun begin.
For the Kids (and beginners)
As the slot car hobby presents a great gift idea for children we do have some recommendations. There are several economy priced cars especially geared for the kids so that the dads don’t have to worry about their $65 Fly cars being wrecked by junior (or that annoying neighbor who likes to drive your cars harder than you like him to). These cars have minimal body extremities (wings, side mirrors, etc.) and that makes for an extra durable car in the event of a crash. These cars range in price from $25 to $35 (Scalextric and Carrera have many examples) and would make perfect stocking stuffers.