Low-cost Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing With OEM Parts

by Bob Ward

It usually doesn’t take a new slot car hobbyist long to start thinking about modifying his cars to make them faster and better-handling or building unique cars not available from the manufacturers.

Many of the car-building articles on the Internet tend to steer the reader interested in such projects toward the use of expensive high-end aftermarket parts. In some cases this is the way to go, particularly if you are into non-magnet racing on wood tracks or building a car for advanced levels of competition in which cost is not an issue. However, most slot car hobbyists do not need that level of performance for home racing and even many club competitions, especially where magnets are being used and cost containment is an objective.

I’ve pointed out in other articles that most hobbyists who race on plastic track can bring their stock ready-to-run cars to very satisfying performance levels and driving characteristics with nothing more than magnet and tire modifications. The same is true when creating your own custom-built cars.

A great way to put a complete running chassis under a resin or static kit body is to buy an RTR car and use it as a “donor” car. Any time you can do this it is significantly less expensive than buying all the parts individually, especially since you can sell the body and get back part of the car’s price.  There are even some manufacturers who sell complete running chassis without the body. Also, many of the factory replacement parts for cars from Scalextric, Monogram, Carrera, Pioneer, and others offer effective and inexpensive solutions to your special projects parts needs.  If you look at all the factory replacement parts made for RTR cars you will find an abundant source of effective, low-cost parts for building almost any car you can imagine.

Here are a few examples of improved and unique 1/32 scale cars built with factory replacement parts:


This model is a “TransAm” Chevy Lumina converted from a 90s AMT NASCAR static model body (two of them, actually).  The complete running chassis is a box-stock Pioneer Mustang chassis with wheels and tires made for a Fly Porsche 934. The bodywork done on this car is quite extensive but putting a chassis under it was simplicity itself. The Pioneer chassis, used on all their 60s Mustangs and Camaros, is an exact match for the wheelbase of the body. Swapping the wheels and tires was the only change needed to give this body the chassis, wheels, and tires it needs.



Here’s a heavily modified Monogram Cooper-Cobra. It uses the complete stock Sebring chassis with wheels and tires made for a Carrera Ferrari 512BB and an upgraded guide from Slot It. This car is literally the stock Monogram RTR with a lot of bodywork done to it to make it look like a Cooper heavily modified in the early days of Group 7 (USRRC-CanAm) racing to take an American V8 engine and wide wheels and tires with bodywork mods needed to cover the tires and give the car some aerodynamic add-ons to cope with all that Detroit horsepower. Bodywork like this is cheap, requiring only some sheet styrene and body putty (plus a good deal of work by the modeler). The rear tires are Maxxtrac silicones but you may be just fine with the stock tires. Try the car with the stock Monogram guide before you spend the price of the Slot It one.


This CanAm McLaren M12 is a 70s Aurora vintage body on a Fly plastic sidewinder chassis with wheels and tires from a Monogram Greenwood Corvette. The original Aurora bodies turn up on eBay fairly often and resin clones are available from a couple of cottage industry manufacturers. The chassis under this particular car is a much chopped-up unit from a Fly Joest Porsche, but the Fly Ferrari 512S chassis and sidewinder rear pod, both available as spare parts, are a perfect fit for the body’s wheelbase. A used/semi-junk 512S makes an ideal donor car and you can even use the Ferrari wheels and tires if you prefer, though you might want to paint them aluminum with black or body-colored centers so their Ferrari origin is less obvious. This project also works with the more recent Flyslot inline 512S chassis. Both chassis are available as spare parts. The Greenwood wheels and tires are also available as spares, though they come in axle assemblies. The rear tires on this car are Maxxtrac silicones, but experience on our Scalextric track reveals that the stock Monogram tires give plenty of grip for magnet racing.

All these cars were inexpensive to build and required only basic modeler’s tools to create, yet are all good performers on the track.  You can do your own custom car projects by using donor car chassis and combining them in creative ways with the many stock replacement parts we sell in our on-line catalog.  Of course, we also carry high-performance parts from NSR, Slot It, and many others for those who need higher performance for all-out racing situations.  Your choices for giving every car you build exactly the look and performance level you want are nearly endless.  That’s a big part of what makes the slot car hobby so much fun for so many people with widely varying skills, specific areas of interest, and personal goals.

Copyright 2014 Robert M. Ward.  All rights reserved.

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