The outstanding development in the world of miniatures is the introduction of their V.I.P. Model Roadways by the well-known scale model firm of Victory Industries (Surrey) Ltd. The 1/18th-scale model vehicles with electric propulsion made by this company are well known to Motor Sport readers, the range of beautifully-finished, realistic car models comprising M.G. TF, M.G. MGA, Austin-Healey, Hillman Convertible, Hillman Minx, Triumph TR2, Austin Somerset, Standard Ten and Morris Minor, at prices from £1 19s. 9d. to £2 3s. 6d. each, including p.t. There can be few users of the real thing with souls so dead as not to wish to own a Victory Industries replica.
Last year at the B.I.F. these cars were seen in an elaborate Alpine road scene, steering themselves round bends by means of external antennae moving the stub-axle steering. The B.B.C. rushed in the TV cameras and got the public clamouring for model roadways of their own. Victory Industries were not content with the visible steering method and bided their time while experiments took place.
The result is their V.I.P. electric model roadway, in which the cars, to a more convenient 1/32nd. scale, equivalent to roughly gauge 0 in model railway parlance, are steered by a slot in the road, being propelled by T.V.-suppressed 12-volt motors fed from batteries or a step-down transformer from the mains. The models have proper Ackermann steering and model Dunlop tyres and will reach scale speeds exceeding 100 m.p.h. They run on a roadway built up of interlocking metal sections on plastic supports, so that any layout of any road width can be built up. The road can be sectioned off to enable cars to be stopped and started as required by electric remote control, working traffic lights, flashing Belisha beacons, etc., can be incorporated, and models may be reversed. A comprehensive range of accessories such as bridges, cross-overs, road junctions, and roadside buildings is in course of preparation and it is planned to introduce at least four new models every year for use on the roadway. At present an Austin-Healey 100 Six and an M.G. MGA are available, controlled by separate two-speed control buttons. A set to provide a figure of eight with flyover crossing, fencing and these two cars costs £7 9s. 6d. with p.t.; extra cars, £1 8s. 9d. with p.t.
We journeyed to Guildford for a demonstration and we were impressed with the solid construction of the track, realism of the models and their ability to stop and restart on the uphill side of the bridge — in fact, they will climb 1-in-6 gradients and take curves of 6-in, inside radius, or tighter than those of an 00-gauge model railway. It is obvious that there will be a big demand for V.I.P. Model Roadways for educational purposes under the headings of road-safety in schools and learner-driver instruction. Apart from this, scale road layout and operation will appeal as a hobby. The slot method of steering is a great advance on the rail system, and although a polished surface is desirable for good electrical contact, this can be disguised by a covering of graphite. The models operate reliably for days on end, given replacement of the contacts, which have to be of very thin wire which wears after a time. Any layout is easily assembled, 10.4-in. straights being sold from 10½d. each and 60-deg. curves from 1s. each.
The possibility of scale racing tracks, to the layout of classic full-size circuits, is immediately apparent, perhaps for four or more cars. Safe cornering is normally assured by a peg that stops the tail from sliding but if this is dispensed with the models will skid, and even leave the road and overturn, if taken too fast into a corner following a long straight. We wonder who will be the first motor-racing personality to install an elaborate layout?
Reverting to the 1/18th-scale Victory miniatures, the Hillman Convertible was a recent edition, these models having the full blessing of the car manufacturers, who use them for sales promotion purposes. The very latest is the M.G. Ex. 179 record car.
V.I.P. Roadways can be purchased from good model shops. Special inquiries should be directed to Victory Industries (Sales) Ltd., Barfax Works, Worplesdon Road, Guildford, Surrey, when mention of Motor Sport will ensure prompt attention.
Lesney Products & Co. Ltd., whose “Models of Yesteryear” miniatures we referred to last month, have introduced the fourth in this series, a pleasing and realistic 1937-type Sentinel 7-tonner steam lorry. The underfloor engine, water tank, chain-drive and dished wheels are faithfully reproduced. — W. B.