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Home  >>  Reviews  >>  Cars  >>  1/32  >>  Vanquish MG

Lola T-260 Jackie Stewart

Published: January 7, 2003


Seems as though 2002 was the year for the slot car, and went out with a bang with the release of the highly anticipated Vanquish MG Lola T-260. Two Liveries found their way to dealers just before the close of 2002; the Jackie Stewart L&M Sponsored version from Riverside 1971, and the Bob Nagel #17 from Mosport 1973.
Reported to be an offshoot of FLY, this new Spanish company Vanquish MG, or VMG as they have come to be known, appears to have taken all they knew from FLY and applied it to their own line, and then taking it a step farther. The Lola T-260's are far more detailed than any FLY release to date, and they have also added a new twist. In an attempt to fix something that many
 
claim was never broke, they added a working differential. I will discuss my feeling on this feature in a bit.

So let me get started by saying these cars are just gorgeous. I am a Can-Am fan from way back and this new wave of Can-Am releases has really gotten me excited. Vanquish has seemingly spared no expense to make these models top notch. Basically,
the two cars are identical, with the exception of the paint schemes, and well, that wing. The L&M Jackie Stewart car sports a massive "cow catcher" on the front that many speculate will be the first casualty in an accident.
The wing itself does feel a bit flimsy, and it's easy to come to the conclusion that it wouldn't last too long. My personal experience, without betting ahead of myself, is that impacting a car that has spun out on the track ahead of you is potential trouble. My wing broke on it's first impact. The good news, at least for me, was that it broke at the joint where it is inserted into the body, and not the structural part of the wing itself. I found that with a little tug, I
 
could remove the wing all-together, and thus save it for display. This is not a big problem because this car did race without this front wing as well.

Now, for the detail on these beauties, these cars are about as close to a static diecast display piece as a slot car could get, in my opinion. From the velocity stacks on the motor, to the tampo printed Chevrolet logo's on the valve covers, these cars are incredible.
The interior and driver detail is top notch as well. The seat belts, buckles and other driver details are expertly painted, as are the gauges and instruments on the dash board. Details such as the roll bar supports, rear brake cooling ducts and radiator intakes are all first rate. The rear suspension details, as well as the dimpled front of the body, rivets, and body lines are all crisp and sharp. The tampo printing is sharp and bright, but I did find some dust and lint in the clear coat, similar to the typical FLY paint jobs. It wasn't so
noticeable as to make these cars undesirable on this account, but there none-the-less.
Under the body is what has become a huge topic of discussion. The detail extends far beyond what can be seen without removing the body, and purists will question why so much detail on a car that should simply look good on the track. The cars feature a fully detailed underbody interior, showing the fuel cells, fire extinguishers and other details that unless you take the car apart will never be seen. The motor has detail that extends well beyond what can be seen with the body on as well, including the eight exhaust pipes that disappear
downward into the chassis. All this detail is overwhelming to most slot car lovers, and most would rather have it left off. I, myself, love detail, and appreciate all the work that went into these cars. The velocity stacks, for example, are not just glued to the body as in the past, but actually placed on top of carburetors, attached to the motor. If you're into this level of detail, VMG has your number.
The body is held on with four screws, and the interior is also secured to the chassis by it's own pair of screws. Removing the interior is very easy, and getting to the inner workings of the chassis is only a bit more trouble than the average slot car. Compared to the FLY Porsche 917/10 with it's glued down motor, it's a piece of cake.
The chassis on the T-260 is done a bit different from the norm as well. There is a main center post chassis that houses the motor, large button magnet, axle bushings, differential, front axle bushings, and pickup. Then there is a separate pan that conforms to the body/interior. This is apparently VMG's version of the FLY Classic engine pod that remains the same from one car to the next, but the pan changes to meet the needs of the model represented. The main chassis "pod" on the VMG seems a bit flexible, and
looks as though it might present a bit of a problem, though I haven't seen any indication of this as of yet. My biggest concern would be the possibility of breakage between the motor and the front axle. Even with these concerns, the chassis does screw snugly into the body/interior, so this may be an unwarranted fear.
The differential is the focal point of the Vanquish. Allowing one rear wheel to spin independently of the other is something that has been used in 1:1 scale automobiles for close to a century. The theory is that in a turn, the wheel to the outside of the corner must travel farther than the one to the inside of the turn. Without a differential, one or the other wheel must slip just a bit, or the axle will break. On a slot car, this application will only be of use when a car is not sliding on a corner. The Vanquish MG Lola T-260's are not so heavily magnetic that they
will not slide, and in fact, I found the opposite to be the case. Theories are one thing, but on the track is where it all must come together.
I found that the guide forced the front wheels off the track just a bit. It can be argued that a slot car does not need the front wheels what-so-ever, and that by having them actually touch the track causes more drag than good. Scale lovers, however, might find this annoying and search for a way to fix this.
On the track, these cars perform reasonably well. They don't have the FLY zippiness, with acceleration being less than blinding. Top speed is down a bit as well from FLY performance (which is the natural comparison). Don't get me wrong, they aren't dogs by any means, more in a league of their own.
I couldn't actually see a difference with the differential, except when truing the tires. Though the tires didn't need much, I still gave them a turn on the sandpaper. Both wheels must be sanded equally to keep one from stopping, the other from turning on it's own. The tires themselves are of what appears to be a softer compound, though not silicone. They grip quite well, and are certainly wide enough.
 
The Lola's slide quite well, and because of the low profile of the cars they are very drivable. Though I couldn't "feel" any difference with the differential, I could hear it "whine" from time to time on the corners just before the rear tires began to slide. Mechanically, it all seemed to work quite smooth. I did find, however, that one of my Lola's, the L&M performed a bit better than the Nagel for reasons unknown. The L&M seemed to go just a bit faster, and later timed results proved this. I decided to compare the VMG's with some of my other favorite cars.
I set up a 22 foot oval Scalextric Sport track using only outer curves and standard straights, and Scalextric Electronic times and stock controllers. To get a comparison, I put the Lola's up against a FLY Porsche 908, FLY Porsche 917/10, and a Scalextric Sport Ford GT MKII. Here's how they stacked up:
CarBest Lap
L&M Lola2.0
Nagel Lola2.2
FLY 9081.9
FLY 917/101.9
GT-40 MKII1.8

As you can see, the VMG's aren't speed demons. I chose the FLY Porsche 908 because that is what I use as a point of reference for my own preferences in picking cars for my own use. I chose the 917/10 because currently, it is about the only other car on the market that compares to the Lola's in any way. The GT-40 was because I wanted another perspective.

The added detail of the VMG has come under fire, as stated above, because it is arguably unnecessary on a slot car, adding weight on a car that is supposed to roll, not sit on a shelf. For the fun of it, I removed the interior of the L&M car, as well as the front wing, and tested it again. What I found was that after really pushing it for it's best lap, I was able to get the car to do a 1.8 second lap. Because this had beaten my "benchmark" 908, I repeated the test on the 908 and was able to match that 1.8 second time. Keeping in mind that my timer only clocks to the 1/10th of a second, there is a lot of room for variance. Removing the interior does take away some of the body as well, so if you intend on lightening this car up it will be necessary to do some cutting to make it look right.
One other area of criticism is that the cars are a bit too large to be called 1:32 scale, some saying close to 1:29 scale, which may be true. Racing together, you would never notice a difference, and at speed they look just fine as well. Standing still, or on a shelf next to other brands there is a definite difference. One detail that really bothers me is that the Nagel car, though marketed as the 1973 Mosport version,
is clearly a repaint of the 1971 version. The actual Lola T-260 driven by Bob Nagel in the 1973 Mosport Can-Am looked quite different, and this was most likely a cost cutting measure by Vanquish MG. The picture to the left shows the differences in the actual car and the model. The rear wing and air scoop are the most obvious.
To wrap this up, I want to say that I do like these cars, and have yet to have problems with the differential. I've put them through their paces, and crashed them with only the front wing on the L&M suffering from it. The jury is still out on the differential, as to whether it helps or hinders, but for the most part, these are fun cars to race side-by-side, and I certainly look forward to future releases from Vanquish MG. They retail at just over $50, and with this level of detail, seems like a very fair price.
 


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