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Vintage Cars — What’s Old Is New Again

I like to believe I’m not old, but I’m no spring chicken either.  In my 30’s, I’m squarely in middle of the RC demographic of guys with too much time and just enough expendable income on their hands.  I’m proud to be an RC guy and I profess it regularly.  Having been in RC for over two decades (umm, that doesn’t make me ‘old’…I just started young…or something), I’m excited to see many RC vehicles from my childhood re-released by Tamiya.  Several classics, from the Hot Shot to the Clod Buster, to the granddaddy of them all–the Bruiser–have made great memories come rushing back like a tidal wave from my childhood.

What I remember most, interestingly, is that I never owned these vehicles but always wanted to.  The Clod Buster from 1987, with its tires the size of jumbo toilet paper rolls, made me dream of crushing imaginary cars while powering around with twin motors and four-wheel steering.  Never owned one though.  The Bruiser…my oh my, the Bruiser.  Three speeds (shiftable from the transmitter if you owned an ‘airplane’ TX!), incredible scale detail, four-wheel drive and interior detail…this truck was a one of a kind.  It was also way out of my league, priced if I remember correctly around $500…in 1985!  In the last decade, used Bruisers were selling on eBay for well over $1000, while new-in-box unassembled original kits sold for $1500 and up.  The nostalgia alone is worth hundreds.  Again, I never owned one but now I’m building one up for a magazine project.  My take on this truck: if you have to ask how much it costs, it’s not for you.  The “value” of the Bruiser or any nostalgia piece like it goes beyond the transmission gear materials, or the vehicle’s absolute performance.  If that’s all you can think of when you see its $700 price tag, you’re focusing on the wrong things.  The value in a nostalgia car is in remembering the past and having the opportunity to actually own a piece of RC history.  A damn good looking piece of history.

This brings me to my question–how many of you are old enough to remember these kits?  And if you don’t remember them, do you appreciate the history behind these vintage vehicles?  As a wise man once said, “to know where we’re going, we must first know where we came from.”  Anyone new to RC should check out, study and appreciate vintage RC vehicles, not only from Tamiya, but also from companies like Team Associated and Team Losi.  These are our hobby’s moving, mechanical history lessons.

I’m excited to get several of these vehicles assembled and running.  Vintage RC cars may not offer the same level of ultimate performance as current generation vehicles do, but that’s not why they exist.  RC cars from the 80’s serve as a reminder of where our hobby started, and just how far technology has brought us.  I shouldn’t have to say anything more to prove this point than “mechanical speed controllers and blazing hot resistors.”  If you ever burned your hand on a speed controller resistor, then you know exactly how “cool” ESCs are.  And let’s not forget, vehicles like the Bruiser that look like real passenger vehicles rather than an alien spaceship have a cool factor that’s impossible to duplicate.  Like our grandparents always told us, stick around long enough and you’ll see what was once old become the new thing again.  Amen to that.


-Stephen Bess





aritst: vaclav zapadlik

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