Scalextric 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix

A month or so back, I was attending the St. Louis slot car show, a twice a year event. I am always able to find a bargain or two in terms of cars that need work and look for those that are relatively complete so the overhaul isn't major.

I have a bit of a fondness for NASCAR when it comes to doing repaints as the colors are vibrant and the schemes are often interesting. An old Scalextric Grand Prix was offered for $20 with the commentary that 'it is all there and it is fast'. It looked like the dickens with a poorly applied 'Viagra' scheme, but it was all there and testing it on a track that was set up proved it to be quick in a straight line.

First step when I got it home was to take it apart and clean it as it had seen some action. I pulled out what had to be a half pound of lead and put the wood guide in the bits drawer. The body disassembly was literally a snap and in 5 minutes, it was soaking in a bath of 91% alcohol. Meanwhile, I considered replacing what appears to be a white endbell motor as it had '29k' scratched on it, but I didn't have anything suitable so left it in. I also left in the notchy gears and the tires that had been installed. These tires had very large air cavities on the inside and not a lot of grip on my Scalextric Sport track, but I kept them as I had no replacements on hand. I reglued the front wheels to the axle as they easily fell off. The previous owner had hot glued a piece of tubing for the front axle. A spare stock Scalextric guide was located and snapped in place. I then added a touch of weight to the front of the chassis and ran it for a number of laps to be sure all was well. The motor smelled very strong of ozone and was running a bit warm so I have to assume that, once again, I had bought a car whose motor was on its last legs. This has happened more often than not in the past and I guess one has to expect people to put all their rotten eggs in one basket.

But back to the body. After an overnight soak (overkill I know, but it makes sure I get all the paint and markings off), the body was scrubbed down until there was gleaming bare plastic. This was a somewhat translucent white that I'd not seen before, but it was a great basis for a paint scheme. I like to remove as much of the usual mold seam lines as I can and while this body was quite clean in that regard, there is always some to be found. After the usual sanding and polishing, it was ready for paint. Had it been some other color, I'd have applied a white undercoat, but in this case it wasn't needed.

While it had been soaking, I'd searched for a scheme. Frankly, there isn't much out there for the Grand Prix that had not already been covered by the ready painted  cars sold by Scalextric. I did find a scheme for a car that was a back-marker so I knew that it wouldn't have been used by Scalextric. It was also driven by local driver Kenny Wallace and sponsored by a mayo company. The paint scheme was simple with the majority of the car a semi-pale yellow with red spoiler. Perfect.  I ordered the sheet from Pattos of Australia, expecting the usual mess and while I wasn't totally vindicated, it was close. This time, there was little in the way of pixellation and most of the markings allowed me to trim closely to them. Normally, I copy the sheet and print a new one on white backed paper, but not this time.

I first sprayed on several thin coats of Testors Metallizer Sealer. This is by far the best material I've used  for this purpose. It is so thin it is like it isn't there, yet holds the decal tight. One of the problems with Pattos' markings is that they are brittle. If you trim close to a marking, it will chip. The additional sealer prevents that. Everyone has his favorite clear coat for decals and I've tried just about all of them. The Testors Sealer works the best.

The yellow of the car is not one of those shades you'll find in a rattle can. You'll have to do as did I and mix your own. Starting with Testors Boyd's Gloss White, I started adding drops of Insignia Yellow until I reached a point where what I sprayed on the car looked like the two photos I found on the internet (Pattos provides just decals, no placement guide, no references, no color information). Several thinned coats were applied (I use hardware store lacquer thinner to thin enamels as it speeds up the drying time considerably). Once I hit the color, the paint was left to dry overnight. Then the area around the rear spoiler was masked off and it was painted with Tamiya Red acrylic. The masking was removed and the next day I started applying markings.

Pattos provides two sets to help prevent underlying colors from showing through and because the inks are thin and you need two sets in most cases to get the proper color saturation. Each marking has to be trimmed close as the 'clear' areas are not clear, but a dirty light grey that is apparent when applied on a light background such as yellow or orange or red or white or light blue....... After each decal application, I used Solvaset decal setting solution to help the decals stick. This is quite important for the ribbed tail lights and some other areas that have to mold around curves. Alone, the Pattos decals won't conform and may well crack if you try to push them in place without the help of this strong decal solvent. Once the solvent is applied it needs to be left alone until it is dry. This means hours. This also means that your decalling will take days, but the results are well worth it.

Once all the markings are in place, the body is given a gentle wash with warm, soapy water to remove residue, rinsed and left to dry. For a clear coat, the best I have found has been Testors One Step Lacquers. I use the clear gloss and it can be applied in one session. It provides a hard protection for your markings, doesn't stink as much as you'd think when spraying and dries to the touch in about an hour. One is wise to leave it overnight before doing a lot of handling as the heat from your hands can somewhat soften the coating until it is cured.

All that was left was to reinstall the windows and the interior. I painted the gold front wheels black to match the rears and that was it.

The car is pretty quick with its 29k motor and handles fairly well. As mentioned, the motor is too much and will be replaced with an 18k version. I've also ditched the rear tires for Super Tire silicones as they provide superior grip to the urethanes that were originally on it. The car looks very nice along with the other older NASCAR stockers I have on the shelf.