7 August 2009

The Gr.2 BMW 2002 from Spirit

A bit of an introduction to the view of slot car madness I want to offer in this blog...

The tracks I use to drive around are also the hometracks for many other enthusiasts. Still, performance is the main objective. People seek those elusive tenths of second from their cars, or they expect their models to be able of "low flight" as top-performance beasts like the anglewinder Group C cars from Slot.It or foam tires equipped LMP prototypes.

A smaller group of enthusiasts see slot cars much more like a replica of the real cars - both visually and dynamically. You can't be reasonable to expect a Group C car being slightly quicker than an hard-tuned Le Mans classic from the 60's - they HAVE to be clearly quicker! Even if the Le Mans classics topped almost 400 km/h...

This said, some of us are enjoying a sort of "underground" racing at our tracks. There is no official Group 2 competition around, although it has been tried in the past. Still, me and other people share this passion for the great mean machines from the Group 2 era. Some slot car brands have released Group 2 cars so far, but one has caught my attention: Spirit, from its release of the BMW 1600 / 2002. I purchased the "GS Tuning" BMW 2002, in black and yellow scheme, very similar to the black and orange painting of the "Alpina BMW 1600 - Niki Lauda" edition:

Pictures of my already tuned up BMW 2002 - also with some scars, notably the left headlight and right lights at the rear.

The reproduction of the iconic BMW 2002 was greatly achieved by Spirit, this is a seriously good-looking model. The chromes are accurately reproduced, specially the rear section, with the correct rear lights housing detail.

The car is fitted with the great Spirit SxXx motor, rating at somewhere around 21.000 rpm at 12V plus an hefty ammount of torque (330 gr.cm). Coupled with a strong magnetic downforce, one could wonder if this was the best option for this lightweight and small width car. Initial tests proved that not only was the performant SxXx motor very drivable, the magnetic downforce is a very welcomed "driving aid" for this one! The only setback is the "2 gear" feel on the engine (non-linear behavior). The power output at low rpm is not great at all, but suddendly snaps out at full throttle and at top rpm, you would be amazed by the straight-line speed this car can attain! The motor pod allows for some useful balancing of the rear axle, although mine is set with minimum freedom on the screws (less than 1/4 of turn).

I replaced stock parts for Slot.It axles and transmission (pinion 9: crown 27), Scaleauto 15.0 mm rims, with Slot.It 16.0 x 8 mm front tires and Ninco 19 x 10 mm Prorace A-25 rear tires (these were trimmed on the side to fit inside the bodywork). I kept the standard axle bearings and guide blade.

Now the car is able to pull around the track more smoothly. It is still very slow compared to the top beasts, almost 2 secs per lap slower (average 8.8 - 9.2 secs vs the track record of 6.9 secs for a Group C car). Much of the time is lost when cornering, of course. The short axle width makes for a nail-bitting driving... but it is great fun seeing it turn on two wheels, when the car is driven at the (reasonable) limit. After some laps, it is easy to get the feel of the car, and when you get used to driving it you won't notice the quite high lap times you're recording.

Visually, the only flaw is the strange look on the car. after replacing stock parts. While the front wheels are way out of the bodywork, the rears are inside. That is due to two facts: first, the rear wheels arches are too small to allow the wheels moving to the outside. Second, the front section of the chassis is too wide to fit most wheels options available - the stock plastic rims fit, but they are too wide for my taste. Here's the look on the front end of the chassis:

To sum up: this is a great piece to have in any slot car enthusiast garage. For those days when you feel the need for a different ride, try this one! Other "top-fuel" sloters will find it horrible, most likely... but if all the cars behaved the same, what's the point in making different series? One would be enough...

Untill next time, for more slot car madness...


  1. Very good.

    I see how many hard and dificult it's preparing a Grp 2, but is very good article.

    Thank's Hugo

  2. I still haven't bought by birthday gift, but I'm really thinking about geting my hands on the new Alfa GTA from Autoart.
    We should set up a date to put our Group 2 cars on the track and give it a try.
    I'll be going back to UK on August 23rd, and I would love to do that before leaving.
    What about friday 21st ?

    Best regards,

  3. Tough luck, Rui, I'll be away for vacations from 18th to 26th August! :(