| Below is some information, my opinions basically,
about slot car track and cars. Take it as you will. I do
not claim nor intend to be an authority on this stuff.
Plastic Track:Tomy AFX   makes the best plastic track available. While it will come apart more easily than Tyco or Life Like track, it provides the lowest rail height (which will save on wear-and-tear on your slot cars) and the best connection for flow of current from track to track.
I think Life Like   track provides the best connection of the actual plastic pieces, i.e. the easiest to connect and disconnect (you can do it with one hand!). However, when you put a lot of stress on the track joints, like forcing it to fit where it's really to tight or something, will make it the rails lose connection despite the fact the the plastic track is still connected. The other drawback to Life Like track is the high rail height. This causes faster wear on you pick-up shoes. The benefit of high rails is improved traction for cars that use traction magnets. Since more metal rail is exposed, there is more for the magnets to stick to.
Tyco/Mattel track performs very siliarly to Tomy track to me. The rails are definitely lower than Life Like, but maybe slightly higher than Tomy AFX. The slots are farther apart than Tomy Track, and the slot is shallower. Some guidepins may bottom out in the Tyco slot. The "long" stock T-Jet guide pins can often be heard squealing on Tyco track. The trick to setting up Tyco track is the tab connectors. It requires you to slide the pieces together, then make sure the tabs are locked. While this is cumbersome to set up and disassemble, the track does stay together well, when attached correctly. This wider gap between slots is good when racing the NASCAR cars or larger bodies like the Tyco Viper. I haven't noticed any problem with the shallow slot when running magnet cars (440-X2, LL, MR-1, P2E, etc), only T-Jets.
In Jan. 2000, I got some Marchon track. Marchon does not exist any more. Bought out by Scalextric is what I heard. MicroScalextric cars show the track pieces on the back of the card, but I don't think you can get it in the US. However, most people in possesion of Marchon track are looking to get rid of it--CHEAP. I purchased 156' (182 pieces) for $80. I like it a lot. Click here to see some pieces. The track like a combination of Tomy and Tyco track. It has plastic tabs to hold the track pieces together, but the connection the rails make is exactly like Tomy's (the sort of bent elbow). The slot is deeper than Tyco, like Tomy's is. The "special" pieces are nicely detailed with paint stripes that add a bit of scale realism. The drawback is the track selection. Only 9" radius curves were made (in 1/4 and 1/8 turns). This makes anything but a 2-lane layout impossible. But you can make a nice two laner! I have a 68' layout up and running. It includes a 30 degree banked curve, which can easily be negotiated by a stock T-Jet with silicones. I'll have picuters soon.
Aurora Model Motoring (Lock & Joiner)track is the oldest. This is the type of track that T-Jets originally ran on (it is now being reproduced by Model Motoring, Inc.). The track pieces are held together by a horseshoe-like clip (joiner), and secured by a pin (lock) on the underside. The slot is shallow like Tyco, so the long T-Jet guide pins will bottom out. Some of the greatest track variety was offered by Aurora, and the tracks are generally very smooth. Some of the smoothest tracks around are the ones that use 30+ year old Aurora track.
T-Jets are perhaps the most beloved slot car around, and envoke the most nostalgia. These are smaller and slower than modern cars, but are immensely fun to drive. They have no traction magnets to keep them on the track so you have to drive them more carefully. These things will fishtail all over the place. Model Motoring offers reprodutions of the orginals today. Johnny Lightning ThunderJet 500 cars have plastic bodies that can be attached to a T-Jet chassis. Some of the most diverse bodies are found in this line (especially vintage).
Tomy AFX   makes two types of cars: the mid range Turbos and the high end Super G+. The Turbos have a pretty powerful motor, but weak magnets and weak traction on the stock tires. I would recommend upgrading these cars with silicone tires. Those make an amazing difference. The silicone tires prevent the wheel spin you get with the stock tires. This allows you to take advantage of the strong motor and really boogie on the track. Not to mention that the silicone tires help keep the car in line in the curves. The Super G+ cars have an even stronger motor, with much better magnets, and much better tires. There is really no need to modify these cars unless you're into serious racing (or serious rivalry at the home track). Silicones would be a good upgrade here as well (though not absolutely necessary), but that requires a change of hubs as well as the tires. The Super G+ offers some of the best speed and handling out of the box. The Super G+ is also one of the most tuneable and modifiable chassis around. Modification kits/parts can be ordered from ScaleAuto.
Tyco (now Mattel Hot Wheels Electric Racing) has been making the Magnum 440 class for quite some time. Currently, the 440-X2 is what you can readily find. These cars run very well and very smooth. They don't hold as well as the AFX Super G+, so it takes more care to drive. I recommend silicone tires for all Tyco cars. 440-X3's are available only at good hobby shops that import them. The HP-7 is an older chassis, but is still available new at many hobby shops. The HP-7's are much harder to control than any 440. I'm told that was done purposefully for the advanced driver. By the way, as of 1999, Tyco became Mattel "Hot Wheels Electric Racing". That's what HWER means if you see it.
MicroScalextric MR-1's are the best performing mass produced cars out of the box--hands down. They also offer the best bang for your buck. They are generally a few dollars cheaper than a Super G+, and they come with a spare pair of front and rear tires, spare pickup shoes, spare springs, and a spare pin. The tires are larger than the other manufacturers and are nicely detailed with the Goodyear name and logo on the walls. These cars can keep up with a SG+ on a short (8' or less) straightaway, and have stronger magnets so they hold better in the curves, even at high speeds. They also feature the large pick-up shoes. Unlike the AFX Super G+, there are no hop-ups available for the MR-1's. Silicone tires for Tyco cars work. Or at least that's what I use. MicroScalextric also makes another type of car that uses braided wire shoes. These are comparable to the Tomy AFX Turbos, but cost as much as the MR-1's. By comparable, I mean they seem to have speed but are hard to keep on the track. I think a Turbo would out run one of these on a straight longer than 8'. If you add neo disc magnets to the traction magnets, these cars are instantly transformed into quite compentent racers.
Patriot cars from American Motorsport are available for the indulgent. These cars are not toys. These are for racers. I mention them because they are priced to make them very accessible to the average slot car racer, and offer heretofore unmatched performance. In the Patriot II line, prices start under $30. The next step up (Patriot II Extreme or P2E) which includes Phase II magnets all around can be yours under $40 (I own one of these). I also got a P2E Super Stock (for just a few bucks more) which has an independent front end, and LAW rear tires. And the really hopped up varieties are available from $60 - $100+. Beware with some of the more exotic and expensive cars. You may not be able to run them on your home track. The P2 chassis seems to be an easy one to work with and modify. Wizzard offers tons of hop up parts for these (and other) slot cars. These cars all feature ultra lightweight lexan bodies.
For cheap thrills you can get cars from Artin. They are available only from Artin via mail order and are only $4 each (with free shipping for orders over $20). Unfortunatley I don't have any of the contact information. I have one with an F-1 body. They're not bad at all. They have big, funny pick up shoes, good can motors, and neo traction magnets. I think they can compete with 440-X2's or Tomy Turbos any day. And they're only $4!!!!
Life Like cars are another underappreciated, enjoyable car. Granted the body styles are generally lame, but some of the offereings are pretty cool. They offer a couple of rally car bodies. I've seen a Citroen and a Mercedes. Both look very nice. The NASCAR bodies aren't too bad either (at least the ones that don't have gray glass). I have 2 types of LL chassis: the common Fast Tracker, and the suped up ProTracker-SS. Neither has traction, magnets, but they have large motor magnets to serve that purpose. A lot of guys enjoy racing stock Fast Trakers with silicone tires. Silicones are about all you should do to these cars. I find them very smooth and easy to drive, even for a beginner. If you're lucky you can find Fast Trackers in your local Toys R Us for $9.99. The ProTracker-SS needs a large open track (like a big oval) to show it's stuff. On a short course or a roadcourse, the gearing is just too tall. I have yet to see or try the "T" chassis or "Power Tracker" chassis introduced in mid-2000.
Scalextric is the track I use. It's the only 1/32 track I have! The track is a soft, resilient plastic track. This is the main reason a lot of people in the hobby do not like it. Because it is soft, it can be prone to warping. I have mine setup on a 4x8 table in the basement, next to the dehumidifier. I don't plan to tear it down and rebuild the track much so I should be OK in regards to warping. The Scalextric track is also the narrowest track. It is 1/32 scale track, but other manufacturers use 1/24 scale track (about 1 inch wider). The bad thing is there is less room for the cars to slide in curves. The good thing is that it takes up the least amount of room. According to Fantasy World Hobbies, you can set up a 4-lane 180 degree curve on a 4 foot wide table with room to spare. I think the Scalextric sets are also among the least expensive around. Scalextric also offers some of the best track accessoried available. One thing to note about Scalextric track is that it uses an AC (not DC) power pack. The pack steps down the power from the wall, but the conversion from AC to DC is done at the terminal track instead of the wall (which is the norm).
The story with Ninco is that they looked at the shortcomings of the Scalextric track and made the necessary improvements. Ninco track is wider (1/24), and the way the track connects is designed to be easier and more durable. The track surface is soft like Scalextric, which makes it susceptible to warping. Ninco track can be used in conjunction with Scalextric track with adapters. The adapter tracks are chicane sections.
SCX track is identical to Scalextric, with the exception of the terminal tracks. SCX is Scalextric of Spain, and was divested from Scalextric (UK) as required by the European Common Market. The SCX terminal tracks are like other manufacturers. AC power is converted by a wall transformer, and DC is fed to the terminal track. The track pieces (except for terminals) are interchangeable with Scalextric.
also contain 1/24 scale track for use with 1/32 cars. The
main difference between Carrera track and the others is that
it is rigid plastic, not the soft variety previously mentioned.
This is a major selling point for a lot of people. The
set's I've seen are quite reasonable in price.
SCX makes very fun 4x4 rally cars. I have two of them and those are the only ones I have. I hear that their F1 offerings are some of the best around. The complaint is that the motors are underpowered, and I'd have to agree. The rally cars are tremendouse fun when you remove the traction magnet. You can get them to slide out A LOT and bring them right back with the front wheels pulling the car. I will definitely get more of their 4WD rally cars.
are regarded by most as the best out of the box performer, as well
as the best modeled cars. They look good and perform good. What
more could you ask for? I only have one of their cars at present
(01/01), the Panoz Esperante Le Mans Test Day Car (purple #46). This
car has the front mounted motor with a shaft drining the rear axle.
The speed and handling of this car is superb. The traction
magnet really keeps the car stuck to the track. Even with the
magnet removed, the performance is wonderful.
Ninco cars are in modeling somewhere between Scalextric and Fly, but perhaps closer to Fly. I only have one Ninco car to draw comparisons, but I've done much window shopping, and listened/read many opinions from others. The car I have it the BMW V12 LM (black #18 HSH). This car uses the more powerful NC-2 motor (NC-1 is the standard motor, and used on set cars). From the get-go it was noticeable that this car had an upgrade in it. It's fast. It accelerates quickly. The handling is good. The modeling and detailing of it are very fine as well. I would definitely like to try out more Ninco cars.
As of this writing (01/01) I do not have any
The detail is on par with Ninco. As far as I know, they
are the only ones offering classic American muscle cars in RTR form.
Their '67 Corvette Stingray 427 and '65 Mustang 350GT look very
nice. They also do a classic Maserati convertible with buxom
blonde driver which also lookds very good.
MRRC is a smaller manufacturer, but it may be the oldest. They produce some terrific vintage bodies in great detail. The cars are not produced in mass quantities like the others, but the demand for them is high. Their AC Cobra 427 is the best Cobra done in 1/32 scale to date. According to their website, they have more muscle cars on the way, including '68 Camaro 350 and '68 Firebird 400.