The History Of The Slotcar
The invention of the automobile in the 1800s ushered in a new era of technological advancement. In addition, the automobile sparked interest in collecting miniature car models, such as the slotcar.
Slot car manufacturers and toy makes tried to copy the quality and workmanship of full-sized cars. However, you probably did not know that the earliest slot cars were not clamped on slots like the cars of today.
The Lionel company produced the first commercially-produced slotcar in 1912. These early cars operated on rails just like the trains of today. Consequently, early slot cars were often called Rail Cars. Hobbyists built them with spare model train parts.
These early slot cars looked remarkably similar to the cars you will find today, except they only drove in one lane. Early models could also neither accelerate nor decelerate and always drove at the same speed.
Slot Car Advances
During the 1930s, slot cars had small combustion engines. These engines enabled the cars to zip down the rails at greater speeds. Human intervention was still impossible at this time, as cars were simply clamped to a single rail so they would not come off the track.
As technology improved, hobbyists began to experience with ways to control the speed of their cars. They built and installed custom motors, allowing humans to make speed adjustments and manually maneuver the car along the track.
In 1954, the spot reached a major milestone; it was the year in which the first electronic racecourse appeared. This caused a rise in popularity of slot car racing, as more people began to take part in this exciting hobby. Racing clubs began to switch their tracks from the old style with the central rail, to electronic racecourses.
Slotcar racing reached its zenith in the 1960s, as public racetracks popped up in almost every town. Manufacturers mass produced more and more cars, as companies like Eldon, Revell and Scalextric began to sell more cars to the public.
Modern Slot Car Developments
By the late 1970s, the popularity of slotcar racing began to decline, perhaps due to technological advancements in other hobbies. Whatever the reasons for the decline, the spot never entirely died out.
By the 1990s, slot cars began to feature more intricate designs, thanks in large part to computer-aided design. This technology even made it possible to design cars in 3D. Today, the sport is undergoing a sort of renaissance, and manufacturers like Scalextric and Carrera are making a comeback. This renewed interest also created a demand for vintage slot cars that were popular during the earlier days of the sport.