The Scalextric Maserati MC12
By Dave Kennedy
The details on this car are very accurate. Recently I had the chance to see the real, blue Maserati MC12 race during the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. This model car correctly captures nearly every detail except correct color for the latches on the vented motor cover (they're red by the way). The slot car lacks any detail on the bottom, but I got the chance to see the underside of the real car and strangely it is featureless as well. The belly pan is textured to resemble carbon-fiber.
My first impressions were that the car was incredibly smooth, and that it was a bit sluggish when you stabbed at the throttle. I decided to flip the car over and see the motor pod that Scalextric has used on this car. The motor pod was too large to fit well, much less rattle when the screw is loosened. I cut down the motor pod at the area noted along the seams at #1 and #2.
Now the motor pod could fit inside the area in the chassis hole. The motor pod pivots on a tab in the middle of #1, and screws into the back chassis piece which is #3. The chassis is really 3 pieces; the rear piece is #3, the motor pod is #4, the front piece is #5. The 3 pieces fit together very well, but together with the body sides (seen on either side of the chassis) they are very, very difficult to hold in place while you screw the body in place. Putting the car back together can be quite a trick (that is if you take the car apart to begin with, which if you can avoid it. . . that's probably best).
The lights on the front and rear really enhance the overall look of the car, and while they are the typical yellow front lights that some find ugly, this is correct for a GT car racing in the American Le Mans Series. There is no toy-like light bleed around the tail lights or headlights.
The car didn't feel very quick, so while I had it apart I tried to figure out why the car felt so heavy. The chassis pieces are very light, but the body felt heavy. The body is molded in plastic that is quite thin. I flipped over the body, and much to my surprise, I saw that Scalextric had designed the interior pan to extend behind the driver, past where you can actually see it from the outside. There is a hidden Maserati logo on a piece of plastic that seems more SOLID than it needs to be, and heavy. The whole interior is very heavy, and once I removed it from the body the car got noticeably quicker.
Now I know that most people want an interior in their cars (and for the racers, it's required by most clubs. . . and the Race Across America as well). So what I'm proposing is to cut away the interior, below the red line under the dash and around the sides, and remove everything behind the roll bar (also noted with a red line). This should lighten the load considerably. To take that a step further, remove the driver figure, and cut a thin sheet of styrene and place half of a driver on that sheet. . . I think this is what I'll do eventually.
This car is a fast runner, even in its stock form. With the interior removed, the car has all the snap that you could want from a typical Mabuchi can motor. And as I did lap after lap around the center lane of my track, I was able to push the car very quickly around the corners and shoot it down the straights. For some perspective I removed the Maser and put "Whispering Death" on the track (my favorite Slot.It 956 which has had tons of laps and is clad with Ortmann tires). As you would expect the Slot.It is loads faster, but the Maserati is much smoother, and seems quite forgiving around the corners. A lot of the drive-ability around the corners is helped by the new round guide on the car. Usually I remove the spring from the guides, but in this case it feels like it helps the car get back on track if you over cook it around the turns. This added smoothness from the guide is something that the Maserati has over the Slot.It.
A lot has been made of the size of the car. Sure it's large but, as was noted recently on one of the threads on SCI, the car is in true 1/32 scale. The size has no doubt helped make it a stable and predictable runner that should find its way into many collections. But this car should be raced to be appreciated. It can handle anything you can dish out. So don't be afraid. . . STAND ON THE THROTTLE!