Slot cars can be a good bet for collectors

Recapturing memories of those carpet grands prix of our youth can be addictive – and costly if you want to collect the best and rarest, says Gordon Cruickshank

Scalextric Bentley

Apparently Scalextric chose Bentley YU 3250 after the directors had visited Beaulieu.

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

There’s probably not a reader of this magazine who didn’t grow up with Scalextric, and just as with full-size cars there’s been a surge of interest in historic slot cars, which can be just as much fun to play with as anything new – as long as it isn’t so precious you wouldn’t dare unleash it around your sitting-room Silverstone.

As far back as 1912 Lionel introduced a system in the US with a rail instead of a slot, and between the wars there were other attempts, one backed by racer Tim Birkin. But slot racing, appearing in the 1950s, really took off in the ’60s. A new book Slot Car Dreams illustrates a huge variety in the US in 1:24 and 1:32 scale from Cox, Strombecker, Russkit etc, plus Aurora’s smaller HO system, while in France Circuit 24 was the favourite. Cox’s 1:24 Chaparral with tilting wing is one to hunt, but over here 1:32 dominated, with Scalextric the undoubted leader.

“The Bugatti Type 59 is the Holy Grail, worth £5000”

The earliest 1957 Scalextric tinplate cars with on-off controllers are for the very specialised (if you see the Austin Healey, grab it – one sold for £1120); most will search for the classic sets of the boom years of the ’60s on, an F1 Vanwall being the debut model in 1960.

Scalextric brand manager Simon Owen cites the Holy Grail: “It’s the Bugatti Type 59. Only about 100 were made in the 1960s, and they never appeared in shops – you ordered one and they ran it off in whatever colour you wanted. One of these could be £5000. Back then pre-war cars just weren’t popular. The same for the Bentley 4½, Alfa 2.3 and Auto Union – not many were sold.

Rare Scalextric cars including a Bugatti Type 59

The desirable Bugatti, right

“The 1967 James Bond set [with working ejector seat] was very expensive at the time and not many were bought. They’re not all that rare but they are sought-after, although the accessory pack that went with it is much rarer and more valuable.” Currently complete sets are advertised at £1000 and up.

Scalextric AC Cobra and Porsche 904 setThere were rivals, too: VIP made nicely detailed cars from 1957 while Wrenn 152, a small-scale system that allowed overtaking, arrived in 1960 but didn’t take off. Airfix/ MRRC brought historics such as Maserati 250F and Auto Union into the mix, along with fourwheel drive. According to Roger Barker who sells on Ebay and Facebook, the 4WD Felday- Ford is a prime target. “I’ve just sold a good one for £250. Some customers buy to a theme –I have one who wants every item in the no8 catalogue – but others are recapturing memories. They want the cars they had in their youth, and Scalextric has been astute in reissuing those – Escorts, even Maestros.”

Keen types can restore originals with repro tyres, gears, windscreen, even boxes, but some want unused, unopened examples. Which seems a shame – who wouldn’t want to recapture that smell of burning 12v motors?

 

Lionel slot car setTrack pioneers

Despite being made for play, this pre-WWI Lionel set managed to survive in good shape, although one driver had lost his head. The Stutz-inspired cars ran on AC.

Sold
Pook & Pook, £594

Bentley Scalextric slot carSecond time around

With new interest in old cars, Scalextric reissued its Bentley 4½ in the 1990s using the original tooling, and these in their turn are now collectible.

On sale
Roger Barker Slots, £150

 

Vintage Scalextric setBoxed set and chill

Grand touring in miniature: a complete boxed set featuring DB5 and Ferrari 250 SWB, and even those flimsy fold out cardboard bridge supports that allowed a figure of eight track to be laid out.

Sold
Bonhams, £600

Strombacker dirt track racer kitWhere there’s muck…

Strombecker’s 1:24 scale Dirt Track Racer kit of AJ Foyt’s USAC championship winner is scarce and desirable, especially when boxed and unbuilt. It featured a brass frame.

On sale
Ebay, £370