Scalextric, the slot-car racing system, was invented in 1957 by Fred Francis, a toy manufacturer who started out by making Scalex tinplate clockwork model cars. These were, at first, modified to become the first Scalextric cars. Francis lived near Goodwood racetrack in Sussex, so all the accessories for early sets were modelled on the circuit – right down to the fencing and marshal figures.
It’s thought that more than 2,000 different models have been made, and almost all of them have wheelbases within half a centimetre of each other so that they’re competitive. The scale has remained constant at 1:32, with only a few exceptions. The biggest change in Scalextric occurred in May 1961, when the controls for the cars changed to on/off knobs on a transformer to trigger the controls – still familiar today.
The most valuable model is the C70 Bugatti Type 59; only around 100 experimental examples were made in the 1960s, and perfect examples have fetched upwards of £5,000 in recent times – In fact, there is currently one for sale at £7,850! Unlikely Scalextric models have included the Batmobile, Mutant Ninja Turtles on skateboards, a James Bond set, and even racehorses! Scalextric evolved it’s motion later to even include sets that would allow cars to drift the corners through the slot-car’s natural tail-happy motions.
These are the 10 most valued by collectors:
- C70 Bugatti Type 59 – in any colour
- C69 Ferrari 250 GT SWB – in yellow
- C68 Aston Martin DB4 GT – in yellow
- 24C/101 1:24 scale Jaguar E-Type – in red
- MM/C53 Austin-Healey 100/6, tinplate – in any colour
- CK2 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS – in any colour
- C65 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 – in yellow
- C71 Auto Union Type-C – in yellow
- 24C/500 1:24 scale Lotus 38 – in any colour
- C88 Cooper Type 61 – in blue
Can you remember your first Scalextric set? Mine was a Renault Megane World Rallye set, with C2029 (Yellow / Blue) & C2094 (Dark Blue). We later added a hump-back bridge and a C2103 Mini Cooper from Harrods on a trip to London a year or so later. I believe it was my uncle Robert who bought me a C2258 CADILAC LMP for my set – Using that car was like cheating, you held the trigger and it just gripped, it was very hard to unsettle even on a sharp turn.