The Aston Martin GT3 was an exciting highlight of the 2020 catalogue…
Two models were released towards the end of last year and two more are scheduled for 2021. The wide and low shape – plus the sensational liveries – make this new Aston Martin the hottest property in the Scalextric GT3 range.
As someone who enjoys racing these cars at home and at my Scalextric digital club, I’m very excited to see how my brand new TF Sport Vantage matches up to the competition.
But before I take a closer look, here’s a reminder of the four Aston Martin Vantage GT3 models that are available to buy or pre-order. The 2019 blue TF Sport car: https://www.jadlamracingmodels.com/scalextric-slot-car-c4076-aston-martin-vantage-gt3-2019-tf-sport-british-gt/, the Garage 59 car: https://www.jadlamracingmodels.com/scalextric-slot-car-c4100-aston-martin-vantage-gt3-blue-car-no-188/, the 2020 GT Open red TF Sport car: https://www.jadlamracingmodels.com/scalextric-slot-car-c4233-aston-martin-gt3-vantage-tf-sport-gt-open-2020/ and the sensational Castrol-sponsored R-Motorsport Bathurst 2020 car: https://www.jadlamracingmodels.com/scalextric-slot-car-c4218-r-motorsport-aston-martin-gt3-vantage-bathurst-12-hours-2020/
The Real Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Aston Martin unveiled their new Vantage V8 road car in November 2017, alongside the Vantage GTE – the new race car that the Aston Martin Racing team would compete with very successfully in the World Endurance Championship. The GTE can be modified to run as a GT3 car, but Aston Martin have produced a specific GT3 package for customer sales. Powered by a turbocharged 4-litre V8 engine, the Vantage offers a nice balance for both inexperienced and professional drivers – which is the recipe for success in the Pro-Am and Silver categories that make up GT3 series around the world.
TF Sport entered two GT3 Aston Martin Vantages in the 2019 British GT Championship. The number 47 car – in the hands of Johnny Adams and Graham Davidson – was the most successful, winning the Donington and Brands Hatch rounds to grab the drivers’ championship. TF Sport finished runners-up in the Team championship.
The Scalextric Model
Like the real car, the Scalextric Aston Martin Vantage GT3 has replaced the Vantage V12. The older sidewinder Aston was a popular car, still able to compete against the newer, lighter GT3 models such as the Mercedes AMG, Porsche RSR and BMW Z4. I’ve enjoyed racing the Massive Motorsport Vantage V12 at my digital club over the past few years. The new Aston was designed from the bottom up – and we’ll look at what’s under the skin in a moment. However, from the outside, the car looks utterly stunning.
The low and wide stance oozes class and performance. The moulding lines are sharp and the detail of the rear wing and mirrors are top-notch. The front ‘face’ of the car is near perfect and the big rear diffuser spot-on. It’s a very good scale model.
Then there’s the decoration – which is simply breath-taking. The satin/matt/metallic blue of the TF car looked amazing in online pictures, but looks even better in the flesh. The other 2020 release – the Garage 59 car – also looks very nice close up, with a similar satin/matt finish. The detailing of the TF Sport car’s livery is impressive – the sharpness and positioning of each of the dozens of sponsors logos are just what you’d hope for on a high-quality diecast model. I think it’s easily the nicest-looking and best detailed Scalextric GT car I’ve ever seen.
The Mechanical Stuff
Turning the Aston over, there’s a nice flat underpan and an in-line motor. The front splitter is part of the underpan – as it the big rear diffuser. The Aston has a DPR hatch, which means it can be easily converted to Scalextric digital using the C8515 Digital Plug – or to Carrera Digital D132 using the Carson digital conversion chip. Loosening the three body screws – two front, one at the back – there’s some satisfying body rock, although a little shaving of the chassis edges will be necessary for proper body float.
Removing the body exposes a standard Scalextric GT3 layout – the flat tray interior, inline short-can motor, magnet behind the motor and easy-change guide at the front. However, there are a few unusual things. The first is the two separate LED light boards at the front – something we saw on the Mustang GT4 and creates just a little bit more room at the front, which is no bad thing. Also at the front, the radiator grille is part of the underpan – which certainly looks good, although may interfere with body movement. At the back, the rear valance is a separate component, sitting loose on the rear body screw mount and holding the LED light board (see picture, above right). This might be a very good arrangement for creating good body float. Finally, up in the body, the rear body screw fixes into the red plastic of the brake light lenses. I suspect this will be a little more brittle than the rest of the body, so we’ll see how it holds up over time.
Compared to the old sidewinder Vantage, the new Aston is longer, wider and slightly lighter. All the fabulous detail does mean the body weighs in at 29.7g, which means serious racers will want to put it on a diet before they fit a 3D printed chassis underneath. However, most of us will race the Aston Martin as it comes – with a few tweaks and maybe a non-magnet set-up. Let’s see how it does on the my Jadlam SL6 Test Track…
Out of the box, the Vantage was tricky to drive. The rear grip was a problem – there was plenty of magnet, but the slick rear tyres were poor. When the rear let go, it broke free and was impossible to catch – then a pendulum effect swung the front and the car de-slotted. I like cars with oversteer – the Mustang GT4 is a hoot – but on the Vantage it wasn’t fun at all. A two-minute test gave me 20 laps and a best time of 5.21 seconds. Even going carefully, I had two offs.
Back at my workbench, I re-profiled the braids and loosened the body screws (see Scalextric Tuning Part 2 here), but my main task was improving the tyres. On my DIY tyre truer, the tyre surfaces scuffed up quite easily. But these tyres are made from a strange compound and I wasn’t sure the scuffing had done the trick.
Thankfully, the Aston was a completely different drive with the scuffed tyres. There was decent grip at the back – not completely stuck down, but any wiggles were perfectly controllable and the front wasn’t being thrown out of the slot. I put my head down and banged in 26 laps in two minutes, with a fast lap of 4.15 seconds. I suspect it would have been a 27, had I avoided a solitary spin.
That time puts the new Vantage right up near the top of the SL6 Test Track Leaderboard – exactly where I expected it to be. There’s certainly tenths of a second to be found with some tuning – my areas for work would be body float and possibly a little weight at the front. The tyres will be an interesting project too.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t hesitate to convert the new Vantage as a non-magnet club racing car. With the magnet out, some racing tyres on the back, low-grip tyres at the front and some weight to balance the car, I do expect the Aston to be a regular GT race-winner at our Scalextric digital club – and the growing range of fabulous liveries are going look extremely good on the grid!
Scalextric Aston Martin Vantage GT3 ‘TF Sport British GT 2019’ Data Sheet
Catalogue code: C4076
Range: Scalextric Modern GT Cars – 1/32 scale / high detail / Digital Plug Ready (DPR)
Released: December 2020
Spares included: 2 x braid plates with braid fitted
Lights: front and rear
Motor: Scalextric ‘short-can’ – inline orientation.
Gear ratio: 9:27
Rear axle width: 62.5mm
Weight: 83.5g (body = 29.7g)
Andy’s downforce gauge: 45g magnetic downforce