Scalextric AMC Javelin

Scalextric AMC Javelin

Postby wixwacing » Sun 02 Apr, 2017 5:35 pm

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AMC Javelin – Watkins Glen 1971
Penske Racing – Mark Donohue



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by Phil Wicks

It’s always difficult to say what is the biggest contributing factor towards a motor racing team’s success. The unbiased purist might say, and rightly so, that it is a well balanced combination at least three components. The fan might fix on either the driver or the car, maybe even the team orgnisation! But the case with the Penske Team is definitely a well balanced combination of all three. Roger Penske was a budding racer himself up until 1965 when he retired from competitive mainstream racing to run his own Chevy dealership. But with racing in his blood he retained an active association with motor sport, forming the Penske race team and teaming up with Mark Donohue to race A Lola T70 in sports car and Can Am racing.

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In 67 the team fielded a now legendary blue Sunoco Camaro. In 68 and 69 they won the series championship on each occasion. They introduced their first AMC Javelin in 1970, and by 1971 they had won that years championship also, then the team withdrew from Trans Am racing and as we all know, successfully moved on to other forms of motor sport. The Trans Am (Trans American Sedan Championship) series was devised by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) in 1966 and was aimed at two categories. The first being sedans up to 5.0 litre capacity and the lesser Under 2.0 litre capacity mostly for European Sports cars. Following years saw some adjustment to the rules and also ushered in what can only be described as the Trans Am golden era. With it came the Mustangs, Camaros, Mercurys, Plymouths and Dodges .

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For two glorious years race tracks across the US hosted the traveling circus which was Trans Am. At the end of the 71 season the leading manufacturers pulled the plug on their support and with only private entrants making up the field, Trans Am languished in an air of uncertainty and loss of direction. Further tampering with the rules saw the class languish further as just another series on the North American motor racing scene.





AMC (American Motors Corporation) began life in 1954 with the merger of two auto engineering companies, at the time being the largest merger in US history. The AMC branch was formed and Rambler became the orphan child. After some restructuring and a desire to shed the ‘small car’ image, AMC produced the Ambassador range. After further administration change rounds the AMC brand was established and with a new chairman at the helm, new models were produced which shared tooling and eventually AMC clawed back its lost popularity with such models as the AMX and the Javelin.

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The Javelin was a deliberate attempt at building a Ford style ‘pony’ car and was recognized to be a game changer on its release. The designers deliberately aimed the styling at the then current Mustangs and Camaros market. There were numerous innovations to its design and by the time it made it to 1971 it was renowned as a ‘bullet proof’ race car which was totally reliable and driver friendly on the track; to back this up the AMX Javelin and its variants were winners of the Trans Am series in 1971, 1972 and 1976. In the 1971 season alone Mark Donohue achieved seven wins with his AMC and George Folmer made it eight for the marque out of ten rounds contested.

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The version that Scalextric have created is a replica of the 1971 Mark Donohue Javelin which was raced with such success. And have they done it justice? I can only say that I am still smiling sitting here typing this review. The car is not perfect, which we will touch on but to me its damn close for a slotcar!.


The Javelin Story


This car shines well and looks good for it as all race cars of repute shine, and some of the fine detail is exceptional too. The Penske Sunoco livery is unmistakable and has been tampo’d to perfection and I feel like giving the body 10/10 but for a defect at the rear. Where the rear body mounting post is moulded to the boot/trunk lid, there is a blatantly obvious blemish in the plastic which to me is attributable to material shrinkage during the moulding process, A pity, as with the exception of the missing screen devices (air scoops?) attached to the ‘A’ posts on the track car, the rest is more than acceptable

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Again, around the model there is an uncluttered sleekness about it which some modern race cars could do well to emulate, who needs sponsors! Wheels are replica Minilites of the era. Front tyres are a couple of mil smaller in diameter but this seems to run with the other Scaley Trans Ams. Rear tyres are a useful width too. As with the Scalextric Passat, the tyres are an unusual compound, at first they feel like rubber but they resist sanding and give off an eerie black dust when trued. But if they are the same material as the Passat there will be enough grip to go round, even on Carrera and Magnabraid tracks. Best of all, wheels and tyres share a good concentricity which will be quite usable. Inside is very basic with half an unnamed driver at the wheel The driver is white, the inside is black! That’s about it. Again, the more adventurous might feel inclined to rescue Mark from his lonely position and perhaps apply a few more colours just to liven the interior up. There is almost no interior detail as it comes.

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Underneath is much as you would find most Scaley models of the modern era. Unfussy and functional! But there is a glint of non conformity; I swear the motor end bell is green! Not just green but a very distinctive green! With a brief tour of the exterior concluded, I ventured into the inner workings of the model. Once again just the three screws holding the chassis in place; and when removed we can see the stout chassis reinforcing which does a good job of keeping the chassis rigid.

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Again a familiar layout but some subtle mods to make the model more economical to produce without compromising quality. With the green motor now on full display I decided to remove it and test it. IS it the same old 18,000 rpm motor we are used to and know and love?; same dimensions, same speed, same everything, so the reason for its change in colour remains a mystery known only to Mr Scaley and his cohorts in China. One other thing caused me to wonder, the motor is not super smooth as of old and seems to have a bit too much out of balance vibration? Mmmmmm? Hope this is not a cost cutting measure!?

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The motor mounts, like the Passat are quite flimsy, and like the Passat and as already mentioned, there is a raised reinforcement from front to rear on both sides which does a good job of keeping the thinner chassis rigid. On this model the motor is not tight, neither is it loose but it would nag me to not do something with it only to find out it pops out of the mounts during a racing iincident! The problem here is that the front motor mount has distorted during the moulding stage and I suspect during cooling the two gussets on the front of the motor mount have shrunk and pulled the front mount away from the vertical leaving the front mount precariously half open, So, I have just convinced myself to glue the motor in before racing it.

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Some dyed in the wool racers have voiced their disappointment with the model having an in line drive configuration rather than it being a sidewinder. An in line configuration requires the motor to transfer torque through a 90° angle; there is greater mechanical loss to achieve this than there is with a sidewinder configuration where the pinion and spur are in line, and transferring torque in a straight line. In theory the anglewinder will appear a better set up (and probably is), but remember that a tool is only as good as its user; and what is lost on the swings can be gained on the roundabouts. Blueprint your model and analyse your driving style and drive steadily, and you will prevail. I have spent many years racing against Scaley, Fly and other makes with SCX cars almost out of the box……and winning using this mantra!

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Further on with the chassis there is a bit of an issue with the rear axle mounts. Number one, the axle bushes are loose in their mounts, and two, the axle is loose in the bushes! Again, as with the motor mounts we are dealing with some thin plastic parts here so plan ahead, keep removal and refitting to a minimum as too much handling is going to see these parts crack, split or break off altogether!!. Some more plusses are the lead wires being directly attached to the guide braid plate contacts. Front axle play is minimal for an RTR model and I would have liked to see an independent rotating front end, Again the rear light board is secure, but wait a minute, there is no front light board Mmmmm? So the rear board is for brake lights?? No it isn’t? So we have one set of working lights on the back and nothing on the front? Not only that, Mr Scaley has not masked the inner boot/trunk area, and as a consequence from the outside the rear body area flashes an eerie pink when in motion…..especially in the dark!

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Again with current Scaley policy I presume, there is position only for one traction magnet, this is between the rear axle and the motor, also the magnet is a 1.5 m.m. strength but the magnet recess will not allow a 2.0 m.m. to clip in, so it looks like a glue job! And one of the last checks reveals the slot in the contrate has two fine moulding lines; the armature shaft strikes these twice per axle revolution and act as a governor. I usually run the model at three quarters speed and carefully scrape as much of the line off as possible. The final drive becomes audibly faster the more it is trimmed. The only alternative if this does not work is to replace the crown gear with a metal hubbed type.

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Before final reassembly it is always advisable to lube all those parts you can’t reach once the body is on. A drop of light oil on the motor shafts and a smear of Vaseline on the gears should be enough. At this point I noticed the front light/grille detail was loose, and sure enough a light tug saw the front detail assembly become detached, being adventurous I decided to test the rear valance and voila, it too was simply detached. I don’t know if this was supposed to happen but there is no sign of any type of adhesive on either part, so you’llneed to draw your own conclusion!

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While this was going on you might have noticed four black vertical strips stuck to the insides of the body. These appear to be the body assembly alignmernt guides and the idea is that these four guides help with body/chassis alignment during assembly. They also hold the body and chassis seamlessly together when assembled.

Javelins on eBay

So what’s it like on the track?? I can’t tell you. When I get a chance to go head to head with some of the other Trans Ams I’ll let you know. So stay posted!

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When a company like Hornby Hobbies goes to the expense of having a series of moulds created to produce a model, it isn’t unusual for them to plan several liveries for that model to help them maximize any return on their investment. This usually appears in the form of several liveries ie Gulf, Warsteiner, Rothmans, Mobil, Shell, Vodaphone etc. etc. At this stage I can’t think of many well known liveries that the Javelin has appeared in but I’m sure Scaley have one or two tricks up their sleeve??.......Mmmmmmmmmm?

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Again, another great model from Mr Scaley which has generated the same buzz as when the Camaros were released all those years ago, and body styling aside it is very much of the BTCC school in layout; so, on and off magnets I would expect it to run and handle much like models from that class. But, in line drive train, especially non magnet? The jury is still out on that one.
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When I'm not racing slotcars,
I'm out in the back yard, burning food!!

When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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Re: Scalextric AMC Javelin

Postby denny » Sat 22 Apr, 2017 1:47 am

I've always liked the Javelin
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