Instead of trying to figure out which car manufacturer is "best", and then trying to answer the inevitable "at what" question, just make sure when you buy a car that you buy a suitable running mate. Of course, this assumes you're only running two lanes.
I'm an NSR fan, but given two comparable cars, it really doesn't matter which manufacturer is best. I usually buy a pair when I buy something new, so I have two Scaley Indy cars, two NSR Porsches, two (or so) Slot It Porsches, two Ninco RAID trucks, two...
Oddly perhaps, I have run more laps on a couple of Ninco classics than any of my "fast" stuff. When I'm racing someone, I care more about who the faster driver is which is the faster car.
Pretty much sums it up for me as well... my thing too, is based on mood. Sometimes i don't want or need super speed, I like variety and fun driving for the sake of driving a fun car. But when you buy a pair of something then you have the chance to appreciate it within its own brand. I like most everything. Our club has run slot.its for the last couple of years but we privately run scaley's without mag cuz we run non mag. With some silicones on them, a little bit of weight and maybe changing out the guide they are a blast! And you have a great variety of liveries. I love the GT cars, modern and classic, and I like to just throw some tires on a car and blast it sometimes, without getting caught up in tuning.
I love blasting around the track with a hyper tuned slot.it or scale auto or nsr. But I also love sliding around my ninco classics! Give me a monogram car with some weight and some silicones and it will be fun as well matched against a comparable car. For me, the best is what fits my mood at the time and whoever Im running against!
Like Jet Guy said, you can buy cheap cars and parts and try to go fast, or buy fast cars from the git-go....surprisingly you will end up spending about the same amount of money per car. $100 NSR vs. $50 Scaley and $50 worth of parts.
Yeah, that was the kind of thing I was looking for - the guys I race against by slotit and then spend money upgrading, and probably end up at the same price point as NSR. So I guess I'll order an NSR and get to the point - having a car which can compete with theirs.
Generally speaking, you can run cheaper, magnet cars on plastic track as the magnets will hide the flaws....generally. When you start running non-magnet cars on wood tracks, component quality will become apparent.
This has been my experience. Swapping in aluminium wheels and an aftermarket guide can sometimes make a big difference on wood.
Crucial though is chassis design and straightness, as well as weight distribution. I have never had any luck at all with Carrera except on a Carrera track. Scalextric and Pioneer run pretty well out of the box on wood, and can be made to run better with very little work. Monograms can be made to run well but involve a lot of time and expense to overcome basic chassis and running gear flaws.
I hear though that some of the newer Carreras, especially the '57 Chev and '60 Plymouth, can be made to run hard on wood. I haven't been game to try them though after previous experience.
Slot.It are very nice and run really well but I generally race Trans Am and NASCAR
being fairly new and having only used three brands, those being SCX, Scalextric and Carrera, my feeling is Scalextric. I say that cuz I can usually add the extra magnet let'em rip. I am not a fan of SCX at all. Carrera has great detail. Again I think your guys' opinions matter more since you all seem to have FAR more experience and insight than i do thus far.
Best home track: Ninco, because it is wider and more flexible for large complicated layouts and the outer curves can be slightly banked. Best cars: I would say Slot.it but many Scalextric cars are quite good stock and easy to beef up. The Ninco cars have come a long way and the new Mosler and Ford GT Nincos rival SLot/its and my lone NSR in performance. I like the way Carreras look and the solidarity of them but they need a lot of work to perform with the rest and sometimes I give up on them. I have recently restored some up my old CART Scaley cars and they are now the fastest on my Ninco track of all.
One guy's opinion -- it depends on what you want in a slot car.
Most durable -- Carrera
Best out of the box -- Scalextric
Best detail -- Le Mans Miniatures
Best race car -- NSR
Best overall combination of looks and speed -- Slot.It
Most fun to drive -- Ninco
Most bang for the buck -- Carrera
And all of these will vary (some of them will vary a lot), depending on who you're talking to.
So, what do you want in your slot car, and also, how much are you interested in spending?
....try to make different brands run the same. You could buy a $40 Carrera, spend another $150 on it and still not have it run as well as an NSR. I think there is a general tendency among newbies to try and get different brands to run similarly.....a waste of time. Buy several cheap Carreras and run them against each other and have a ball, but realize that they are birds of a feather. Carrera Nascars, for example, are a ton of fun to run against each other, but not so much against Scaleys or SCXs.
Our club runs a lot of IROC races with all sorts of "car sets"; same car, different liveries from same manufacturer, all tuned to run the same. Great racing fun.
Biggest "bang for the buck" would be Slot It, by far. Cut some corners to get there quicker with less investment after the fact to go even faster yet? Oh yea, that would be NSR. Both manufacturers are at the top of their game price point wise.
Carrera Nascars, for example, are a ton of fun to run against each other, but not so much against Scaleys or SCXs.
On my track, carrera 4 lane the scally's and carrera cot with stock wheels trued with a Tire Razor and Paul Gage tires trued they are so close, with the carrera a bit faster. with my cars about 12 now you can win with any of them, its all driver, this being just nascar, the funny thing is the pioneer mustang will eat up my NSR porsche, on my track but on wood the slot-it ford gt-40 is tops
For best resale value? NSR and Slot.It. For zero resale value? Carerra, SCX, and Scaley. Ninco seems to hedge both sides in that they continually are more desired than the last three but don't bring the interest that NSR and Slot.It do. Fly has pretty much disappeared in its original form so those cars are sometimes desirable. Having said that, I just found a bunch of BNIB Fly cars for about $20 on that auction site. Go figure.
So, if you have plastic or wood and want a car that looks great, runs great, and would allow you to potentially trade or sell if you are unhappy? Slot.It.