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Inline Motor.
The way a motor works is that it takes electricity from the track and this creates an electro-magnetic force that turns the motor which is attached to an axle via 2 cogs. The cogs will then turn the axle moving the car.
But when the motor starts to turn, it turns with such a force that it tries to twist the car.
An inline motor has the motor mounted at 90 degrees to the axle. This will have the effect of lifting one side of the car when the motor turns. This means the car will have less traction and grip on one side, specially under heavy acceleration.

Sidewinder Motor.
The way a motor works is that it takes electricity from the track and this creates an electro-magnetic force that turns the motor which is attached to an axle via 2 cogs. The cogs will then turn the axle moving the car.
But when the motor starts to turn, it turns with such a force that it tried to twist the car.
A sidewinder motor has the motor mounted adjacent to the axle. The advantage here is that the weight of the motor is over the rear axle weighing the wheels down and giving great grip. BUT this will have the effect of lifting the front of the car when the motor turns. This means the car will be light at the front and could come out of the slot, specially under heavy acceleration.

Anglewinder Motor.
The way a motor works is that it takes electricity from the track and this creates an electro-magnetic force that turns the motor which is attached to an axle via 2 cogs. The cogs will then turn the axle moving the car.
But when the motor starts to turn, it turns with such a force that it tried to twist the car.
The angle winder motor is a compromise between the inline motor and the sidewinder. It has the weight of the motor closer to the rear axle which is good for grip. The angle it is set at means when the motor turns the forces will still twist the car but they will twist it not from side to side or back to front but at an angle so the twisting is less noticeable.
If the chassis is then braced with something light to stop twisting altogether, without adding too much weight, you have the ideal setup.

Front lights only.
Some cars will come with the older style yellow bulbs, more recent cars will come with brighter white LED's. Some more modern cars have "permanent" lights. These lights do not fade or go out if the car slows or stops. These cars are fitted with a capacitor that stores electricity to keep the lights working even when off the track. There is enough power in the capacitor to power the lights for around a minute with no power from the track.

Front & Rear lights.
Some cars will come with the older style yellow bulbs in the front, more recent cars will come with brighter white LED's with bright red LED's in the back also.

Front, Rear AND Brake Lights.
This seems to have gone out of fashion a little. It seems to be rarely used these days. When you release the throttle you will see the rear lights glow brighter, simulating the brake lights on real cars.
These tend to come in the older style cars with bulbs rather than LED's.

Flashing Lights.
These simulate real police lights. Blue lights on the roof that will flash and alternately flashing front lights. Before buying it will be made clear wether all the lights are fully functioning and if there is also a siren attached.
This usually depends on how much room there is inside the car for the wiring and circuitry. Some cars may just have roof casings with no actual working lights.

Suspension.
This is most commonly found on Ninco 4x4 cars but is becoming more widely available. It is real spring suspension and is available for the front and rear.
Also different firmness of suspension is available and the springs are interchangeable. You can see the springs in this picture coloured in blue. Different firmness of spring come in different colours.
The benefit to the car is that when cornering or going over obstacles, the tyres remain in contact with the track surface for as long as possible, ensuring forward momentum is maintained.

Drop Arm Guide.
The guide is the part of the car that gets the electricity from the track. So the idea is to try to get the guide to remain in the slot and touching the rails for as much of the time as possible.
The drop arm guide works when the car goes over large obstacles and the guide drops down and remains in contact with the rails while the car may be getting lifted away from the track.

Self Centering Quick Change Guide.
This is the part of the car that goes in the slot in the track and picks up the electricity to power the motor. But when the car crashes and comes out of the slot you want to put the car back on the track as quickly as possible. A self centering guide helps this because when you pick the car up and place the car back on the track the guide will always be pointing forward in a straight line. Without a self centering guide you may have to adjust the guide before putting the car back on the track, loosing you valuable seconds in the race.

Spring loaded Guide.
To keep the guide in the slot some manufacturers put a spring on the guide. this has the effect of always pushing down on the guide so in theory the car will be easier to drive and will not crash so often.
However, some people remove the springs because they believe it has the effect of pushing the car up and making the front end lighter. But this is usually down to personal preference. Either way the guide is easily replaced for one without a spring.

Adjustable Magnetraction.
Magnetraction is where a magnet is fitted to a car usually somewhere towards the rear, low down in the chassis. The magnet is attracted to the steel rails on the track. This literally makes the car stick to the track. When a car sticks to the track it is less likely to crash.
Where a car has adjustable magnetraction it offers some flexibility. There is a magnet in the car where you can raise it up either by screws or an adjustable slide. When the magnet is further from the track the magnetic force used to keep the car on the track is diminished. So this allows an infinite number of positions for the magnet to either lessen or increase the magnetic force according to the drivers needs/skill.
You can see from the picture that the Magnet in position A has screws and is adjustable. You tighten the screws and the magnet is further from the track. It can be lowered and removed altogether if desired. The magnet in position B in the picture is a sliding magnet. The further toward the rear is goes the stronger the magnetic force it exerts on the track.

Magnetraction.
Magnetracton is where a magnet is fitted to a car usually somewhere towards the rear, low down in the chassis. The magnet is attracted to the steel rails on the track. This literally makes the car stick to the track, making it less likely to crash.
Magnets are less favored by the older generation and by drivers that like to let their cars drift round corners. But are excellent for kids who just love to go full throttle for the entire lap without crashing. As you can see from the picture, magnets come in different sizes and strengths. Most cars have removable magnets so ultimately the choice is down to the driver if they want them in the car or not.

Impact resistant Body
Most cars are very durable. They are after all toys that are meant for some tough punishment. However, they are also detailed models and after a crash or two some detailed parts can bend, break or crack. Like mirrors and spoilers.
So most of the manufacturers have brought out a cheaper, less detailed model. There is usually no cockpit detail, the glass is painted over black. The cars will usually not have mirrors or spoilers, they will have a minimum of detail. They are certainly not unbreakable, but they do allow the kids to race and crash as often as they like without harming dads pride and joy detailed model. Also because they have no detailed parts and cockpit they tend to be lighter and therefore faster, truly they can become little pocket rockets.

Alloy wheels.
These are not just for show. Yes they look great, but they also perform a function. Made from a metal alloy, they are finely tuned, 100% round with no burrs or plastic mold marks. They are heavier than plastic wheels and provide the weight just where you want it, right next to the track.
They are attached to the axle with a very small grub screw and you can buy various inserts to put in the wheel to give it any look you like. Some cars come with alloy wheels as standard, some will have this as an extra upgrade. They are generally preferred to plastic wheels and are not prone to cracking. But they do make the car more expensive.

Rocking Motor Pod.
When a slot car turns a corner, especially at high speed, the forces on the car want to make it tip over. So its best to have a low center of gravity(COG), the lower the COG the harder it is to tip the car over. However, some cars will have a high COG. SO to help these cars you can do a couple of things. If you loosen the body a little when the car takes a corner the forces try to tip the car over, the body is allowed to tip a little but the chassis and wheels remain flat on the track. Of course if the forces are so great that the body is thrown so far that it takes the chassis with it then the car will inevitably tip over.
Another way around this is a rocking motor pod. The motor sits on a pod that allows it to rock sideways a little, yet it still remains attacked to the axle to drive the wheels. So when a car takes a corner, the forces try to tip the car over as normal. But the forces will tip the body and the chassis BUT the motor and axle stay in the same position and stay rooted to the track so the car can take the corner faster than a car without a rocking motor pod.
The disadvantage of this is that if the motor pod rocks too much it can make the tyres rub on the inside of the wheel arches when the car takes a corner. This will either slow the car down or the rubber will catch on the plastic and the car will tip over. Which is the very thing the motor pod was designed to stop. So some rocking motion is good, too much is bad.

Floating Motor Pod.
When a slot car turns a corner, especially at high speed, the forces on the car want to make it tip over. So its best to have a low center of gravity(COG), the lower the COG the harder it is to tip the car over. However, some cars will have a high COG. So to help these cars you can do a couple of things. If you loosen the body a little when the car takes a corner the forces try to tip the car over, the body is allowed to tip a little but the chassis and wheels remain flat on the track. Of course if the forces are so great that the body is thrown so far that it takes the chassis with it then the car will inevitably tip over.
Another way around this is to have a floating motor pod. The motor sits on a plate that will have screws attaching it to the chassis (see picture, screws are marked with an S). But these screws can be tightened or loosened and have maybe up to 6 screws that can be tightened to any degree. So when the car is moving it allows the chassis and body to move independently of the motor and axle. This should make the car handle better on the corners and should be smoother on the straights under acceleration.
It is more advanced than the rocking motor pod and gives more options and infinite possibilities for someone to tinker and play with it, if they felt so inclined.

Reverse Polarity Switch.
Normally slot cars will only travel one way round a track. But with a reverse polarity switch it will allow the car to go the other way around the track. At the moment only Carerra cars come with this switch. It is a novel innovation and adds a bit of variety to racing. But does add weight to the car with all the extra electrical gubbins. You can see the switch marked with an S in the picture.

Lightweight Body/chassis/cockpit.
The aim for the ideal slot car is to have the center of gravity as low as possible. Also the car should be as light as possible with any weight in just the ideal position. So drivers tend to aim for cars with light weight bodies and cockpits as these items will sit above the cars center of gravity.
So if you make these items lighter the center of gravity lowers. A light weight chassis allows the driver to add weight where exactly he wants it rather than having it spread out over a heavy chassis.

Direct Drive 4 wheel Drive.
Quite a few slot cars are now coming with Four Wheel Drive (4WD). Direct 4WD is the same as in the real cars you and I drive. The axles are driven directly my the motor via a drive shaft. You can see from the picture that the driveshaft drives the front and rear axles at points A & B respectively.
The advantage here is that both axles get driven by the motor always pushing the car along, its a very efficient way of powering a car. It offers realistic handling also.

Band Driven 4 wheel Drive.
This is where either the front or rear wheels are driven directly by the motor but there is an elastic or rubber band that links both axles. So one axle drives another. You can see from the picture that the motor drives the rear axle marked with an A, the red pulley on the rear axle then drives the red band that turnes the front axle.
You couldn't say this is true 4wd as sometimes due to the nature of the bands it will slip and at that point only 2 wheels will be driving the car.
You are relying on the bands keeping tight and true and always working. But generally this is a cheaper option than the direct driven 4wd. Some cars will have one band some will have two. Two offers more reliable 4wd but may be slower than a car with one due to the added friction of the bands. A car with 2 bands will be better balanced though.

Digital Plug Ready.
Inside the car there is a slot that is ready to take a digital chip. Once the chip is fitted the car will run on a digital track. Without it fitted it will run on an analogue track. Fitting should just take around 10-15 seconds. The cost of a chip is just over 10.
The picture illustrates the pod removed, the chip goes in the pod and then the pod is screwed into the car at point A. You dont need to remove the body or any other car parts, which makes the switch over very easy and quick.

Digital.
The advantage of digital racing is that you can have up to 8 cars racing on the same piece of track. So a 2 lane track will take 8 cars. Where as with analogue, on a two lane track, you can only race 2 cars.
A digital car will not run on an analogue track and vice versa. Digital cars will be around 10 more expensive than analogue cars.
Custom Slot Cars

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Porsche 911 GT3RS Road Car

911GT3 RS Road Car

SCX

Inline MotorAnglewinder MotorSidewinder Motor

Front LightsFront & Rear LightsFront, Rear & Brake LightsPolice Flashing Lights

SuspensionAll Terrain Drop Arm GuideQuick Change GuideSpringloaded self centering guide

Adjustable MagnetractionMagnetractionImpact Resistant ShellAlloy Wheels

Rocking motor podFloating motor podReverse Polarity SwitchLightweight Shell or Chassis

Direct Drive 4x4Band Driven 4x4Digital Plug ReadyDigital