Carrera ’69 Camaro Chassis Transplant

by Bob Ward, June 12, 2015

Here’s an easy kitbash that can be done with any Carrera 1969 Camaro body.  By mounting the Camaro body on a Scalextric 1969 Mustang chassis you can create a Camaro TransAm car that has a better-proportioned body than the Scalextric 1969 Camaro and also gives any Carrera 69 Camaro a much better-performing chassis that lets it sit low to the ground like race car should.

NOTE:  Since this article was published Scalextric has announced that it will be producing its 1969 Camaro in this livery.  It’s supposed to be released in the latter part of 2016.  

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I’ve always particularly liked one aspect of the Carrera 1969 Camaro body better than Scalextric’s body of the same car. Carrera got the proportion between the greenhouse and the rest of the body much closer to that of the 1:1 scale car than Scalextric did.  It makes a huge difference in the way the two bodies look – essentially the difference between an accurate model and a toy car body that looks, well, a bit cartoonish.

On the other hand, the Scalextric body has its good points, also.  For one thing, Scalextric’s designers modeled it as a proper race car with the subtly but effectively fattened fenders all cutting edge TA cars were sporting by 1969 while the Carrera body is very much the unmodified road car.  This gives Scalextric’s version the advantage of a wider track front and rear and room for wider tires.  I really wish Scalextric would redo its body with Carrera’s greenhouse on top of its own fatter fenders.  That would be just about ideal.  Of course, if it’s a road car model you want (and that seems to be what Carrera is primarily interested in) Carrera’s body is much better.

Chassis-wise there is no comparison.  Up against the performance of Scalextric’s TA car chassis and Pioneer’s nearly identical unit the Carrera Camaro essentially can’t get out of its own way. Worse still, perhaps, is that Carrera insists on perching the body ridiculously high on the chassis.  Combined with the hugely oversized wheels Carrera uses the car looks like something intended for offroad racing.  When the body is painted as a classic TransAm car the overall effect isn’t just cartoonish, it’s insanely cartoonish.

Which brings us to the purpose of this kitbash.  Scalextric has been producing its 1969 Camaro since…well, forever.  By now they have done the car in practically every racing livery the 69 Camaro has ever been seen in. But there’s one notable exception.  That’s the yellow #64 car driven by Richard Sterbins in the early 1970s.  And, of course, the reason Scalextric never did that car is that Carrera did it first.  So, I did a Scalextric version of it myself.

I picked up a new-in-the-package example of the Carrera model (#25712) on eBay for a not-too-ridiculous price.  As soon as it came through the door I had the body off it and was test-fitting it to various chassis.  I quickly discovered that the body is a perfect fit for a Scalextric 1969/70 Mustang chassis if the chassis is trimmed a bit at the front and rear.  You can even use the Camaro rear body posts without having to move them.  The photos below show the trimming that needs to be done at the front and rear.

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Note that the rear body mounting points are completely drilled out, leaving two holes in the chassis.

To space the body up to the desired height I used shims with a total thickness of .120″ or 3mm.  You can shim the body up to whatever height you prefer.  The shims, shown below, are squares of sheet styrene.

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The Carrera Camaro body comes with a removable hood and some well-modeled engine detail.  Removing the underhood structure and gluing the hood in place is not absolutely necessary to do this conversion but it reduces weight at a point where weight is counterproductive and it simplifies the relocation of the front body posts to match the location of the mounting points at the front of the chassis. With all the unneeded material removed and the grille/front valence and the hood CA glued in place the underside of the body looks like this.  Note that the mounting lugs have been cut off the back side of the grille area since they will no longer fit over the body posts when the posts are relocated.

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And this is how it looks with the front body posts glued in and everything reinforced with an “industrial strength” adhesive known as E6000, available Lowe’s, Home Depot, and probably most other home improvement stores…

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The posts were molded into the underhood detail that was removed.  I cut them out and reused them but you could just as easily make your own posts from styrene or ABS tubing.  The E6000 adhesive holds the posts securely in place.  You could also use gap-filling CA or epoxy, whichever you have on hand.

I didn’t do it on this car – yet, anyway – but you can add strength to the front of the body by gluing sheet styrene between the posts and the back side of the grille/bumper assembly.  With the front posts in place the body is complete.  That leaves just the interior to be modified.

The Carrera car has an interior tub that is more or less full depth in the front seat area but only half depth or less from there back.  At least the back half of the interior tub has to be made into nearly a flat tray to clear the motor, especially if you are going to mount the body particularly low in the chassis.  I decided, however, to make almost the whole interior a two-step shallow tray in order to save weight and get rid of unwanted passenger car detail molded into the interior tub. Photo #1 below shows where to cut the interior tub just enough for a passenger car interior retaining the seats and full driver figure. #2 shows where to cut for a shallow tray with only a half driver figure.  Note that on both the full depth of the interior is retained at the very front to preserve the secure mounting of the dashboard, but you can cut that, too, if you really want to.  I used a razor saw to do the cutting but you could also use a Moto-tool with a cutting disc.

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Here you can see how I used sheet and strip styrene to complete the flat-tray conversion…

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You can see here that the tray has almost no depth as far forward as about where the seat backs were.  This is the area that has to clear the motor.  From there forward I made it deeper in order to accommodate a more complete driver figure with head, shoulders, arms, hands, and steering wheel. To get that driver figure we had to subject Carrera’s driver to this rather painful procedure…

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Yes, I chopped him off at the armpits, but now he fits perfectly in the shallow interior and he has a much faster car to drive. I cut a piece from a junk box steering wheel and glued it between his hands to complete his transformation. I also trimmed down the original roll cage and glued it into place for his safety and peace of mind.  With the interior painted and completed the project was just a matter of final assembly.

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Here’s the bottom of the completed car.  Note that the two rear body screws each have one washer under the head.  This lets them retain the body in place with the original mounting points removed from the chassis.

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The Mustang donor car came with Minilite wheels, but they were chrome plated and I didn’t wat to go to the trouble of painting them.  I had several sets of Pioneer 5-spoke wheels lying around so I replaced the Minilites and mounted the original Scalextric front tires and Maxxtrac silicones.  The Scalextric front tires are smaller in diameter than Pioneer’s and allow the body to sit lower at the front.  I like the dark grey wheel centers on this car.  Because the Pioneer wheels move the tires outward a bit I had to scrape some plastic off the inner edges of the front wheel openings for clearance.

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The car as it originally came is quite a contrast with the converted one.  By the way, Carrera’s 1967 Mustang fastbacks have this same problem and can be converted to a Scalextric chassis in essentially the same way.  Of course, you can just buy a Pioneer Mustang fastback and save yourself all the trouble, but Carrera has a few race car liveries different from Pioneer’s.

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Here is our kitbash car nose-to-nose with a Scalextric Camaro.  You don’t really notice just how big the differences are until you put them close together.  Both the Scalextric and the Carrera have their pluses and minuses, but this conversion project has brought together many of the best features of both of them.

Copyright 2015 Robert M. Ward.  All rights reserved.

 

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