Dear reader and slot enthusiast. We are now in a time where car magazines and websites are loaded with hyper-advanced cars, technologically sound, with state of the art aerodynamics, efficiency, power delivery, silent, comfort…… I’m starting to miss some charisma and down to earth spirit when it comes to everyday cars in these modern times…
This time, I’m bringing back two very standard cars back in the day, which increased the adrenaline levels for those lucky drivers who had the chance to enjoy them in Europe (mostly France, Italy, Spain, Portugal…). Two giants in their own right of the european roads: Abarth 850 y Renault 8 TS.
What kind of cars were the 850 Abarth and Renault 8 TS?
These were daily drivers, with a price tag accesible to the public back in the day. The Seat 850 as a small economy car, and the Renault 8 TS as a slightly bigger family car. Both shared the same mechanical layout, with their engines placed in the rear compartment. Their engines were tuned more towards reliability rather than performance. Simple but robust engines, and relatively easy to tweak in order to obtain some extra horsepower. In Spain, these cars gave some sportiness to the rural roads, when the performance car options were very limited.
In the case of the Renault R8 TS, its popularity was mainly due to the Renault 8 championships, aimed at promoting the popularity of this car. In race form, these cars with the looks of a standard Renault 8 Gordini 1300 had some surprises in the engine bay, where you’d find the engine of an Alpine A110-1100.
In the case of the 850 Abarth, it was a versatile and nimble little sports car, true heir to the mythical Abarth 1000 TC and all of its iterations. You’d find this car mostly in rallyes and hillclimb races.
What are these slot versions like?
For this meeting, we are enjoying of the most popular Abarth version in slot form, the one produced by Scalextric. For the Renault R8, instead of the SCX version, we chose a very interesting and charismatic resin version made by TeamSlot.
Curiously, as soon as I started to test them, the Renault refused to run properly, so I checked thoroughly the braids, weldings, cables, transmission…. It seems its small case engine wasn’t in its best form. Luckily, I had a Mabuchi from a dismantled ProSlot car, so in a matter of minutes, I was able to replace the faulty engine with a healthy one. Just like with a real classic car, you have to be on top of them most of the time 🙂
The contrast was such that now it seemed if I had equipped it with a Renault V10 engine, haha.
In my honest opinion, these are cars to leave as they come straight out of the box, instead of fully replacing their mechanicals with flexible chassis, high end engines, etc…. These are cars that should reproduce the spirit of those daily driver cars which contained some aspirational performance, together with the charisma they convey. The 850 Abarth is a prodigy when it comes to holding itself to the ground, regardless of its very short wheelbase. In this sense, the Renault 8 is not as «electric» as the 850, but will provide absolute delight in the way of wheelspinning and going sideways as soon as you invite it to doing so.
WHAT OTHER SLOT VERSIONS ARE THERE AVAILABLE?
In the case of the Renault 8, we can own the famous versions launched by Scalextric & TeamSlot, being both very popular in Spain.
When it comes to the 850 Abarth, apart from the well known SCX versions, I’d like to mention a very commendable version, a resin produced by the Evolution Slot brand. For those of us who are familiar with this car, we have to admit that it is well proportioned, and a delight to look at.
There’s a spanish blog, Fireslot, with a very enjoyable entry dedicated to the R8-TS: http://fireslot.blogspot.com/2010/11/renault-8-ts-scalextric.html
And the usual Youtube videos, to give us a better feeling of the real life versions.
Thank you very much for taking your time to read this entry. Hope you enjoyed it. This blog http://www.jpslotworld.com will be on holidays, and will return in September. Stay tuned then for new and interesting contents. See you soon!