Slot cars have been around since 1912, when Lionel made its first slot cars and tracks. Its business did not last very long — Lionel dumped the cars for model trains in 1915. An almost 40-year-drought followed until 1954, when a British slot-car enthusiast club called the Southport Model Engineering Society created a much-copied 60-foot long track for 1:32 scale cars. The modern, collectible-slot-car era had begun.
Not long thereafter, in 1957, a U.K. company called Minimodels introduced its first Scalextric slot cars. Examples of single-passengers roadsters from that year include a C55 Vanwall and a C54 Lotus. In 1963, Scalextric released its first car with lights (an MM/E1 Lister Jaguar) and its first motorcycle (a B1 Typhoon, complete with sidecar).
These cars, along with other models, gave slot-car fans plenty to get excited about. The biggest manufacturer was a U.S. company called Aurora — cars riding on the Aurora Thunder...
By the middle of the 1960s, no self-respecting town in the United States was without a slot-car center, where kids and their parents could bring their cars to race on enormous, banked tracks. But just like Lionel, the operators of these enterprises weren’t in the game for long as the fad quickly faded out. Some of the dedicated core of slot-car fans that remained turned to the companionship of clubs, while others set up increasingly elaborate slot-car layouts in basements across the land.
Interviews & Articles
Growing up in postwar Europe, there wasn’t much money around, so you had to make your own amusements. I’d look at the toys in a to… [more]
I got interested in show rods as a boy in the late 1960s. We all built models back then. There was no Nintendo and only three or f… [more]
I used to have a huge collection of diecast 1/43rd-scale Dinky Toys, Corgi Toys, and things like that. I had so many that it got t… [more]
Ron Sturgeon: I had an automotive repair shop in about 1976 and spent a lot of time repairing Mercedes. About 1979 I decided to st… [more]