History Of R/C Cars

You cannot call yourself a real enthusiast or hobbyist of r/c cars unless you know how it evolved over time. Since this particular vehicle has an engine, you can bet that it will continue to evolve. As our technology becomes more sophisticated, you should expect more developments and improvements in radio controlled cars.

Knowing the history of these vehicles will help you appreciate this hobby even more. It will help you understand how far it had come since it all started. It will also give you an idea about the possible developments that you can expect over time.

R/C cars through the years

We know how boring it can be to study history – even if it involves the history of r/c cars. But let us present it to you like a timeline so you will have a clearer picture of how it all began.

R/C cars in the 60s

This is when it all began. It started in the UK before it traveled to the US in the next decade. The very first r/c car created was the Ferrari 250LM – which was nitro-powered. The remote-controlled car was invented in 1966 by Elettronica Giocattoli, an Italian electronics company. A year after that, these cars were commercially produced by the British company, Mardave. In 1968, Elettronica Giocattoli created and produced a different model, one they called the Ferrari P4.

There were other manufacturers like WEN and Model Car Enterprises that started to create their own r/c car kits. Before, it was called “Pan cars”. The cars are ⅛ scale of the original and were powered by a 2-stroke model airplane engines.

R/C cars in the 70s

During this decade, the nitro-powered r/c car emerged in strength. With better technology, there was a significant improvement in the new releases compared to what the 60s produced. For one, it evolved from having a single piston to double. During this time, the body of the cars was made of aluminum chassis with a K&B Veco McCoy engine. The nitro fuel used was a blend of nitrogen, methanol, and lubricant. During this decade, Team Associated released several r/c vehicles – like the RC1 and RC 100. Both are ⅛ scale nitro cars.

This was also the decade when electric cars were introduced by a Japanese company, Tamiya. They released the first on-road r/c car – the Porsche 934. It was 1/12 scale car with an electric motor on a pan chassis. The company also released detailed radio systems and plastic kits that were sold separately and were a big hit for hobbyists. Soon, more electric on-road r/c cars were released like the Tyrrell P34, Ferrari 312T, Lamborghini Countach, and Toyota Celica.

Before the end of the decade, Tamiya also released the very first off-road buggy car. These have real suspension systems, textured rubber tires, and powerful motors. It also has a dune buggy body that can be fitted with different sizes of tires so it can be driven on rough terrains. The first two models were called the Rough Rider and the Sand Scorcher. This was also the year where the very first ⅛ Scale On-Road Gas Championship. It was held in Geneva where the first champion declared has Phil Booth. This marked the beginning of the RC Golden Era that continued until the early 80s. Among the popular models during this time was the Tamiya Grasshopper, Frog, and the Hornet. Monster trucks also became popular with the popular models including the Tamiya Clodbuster and Blackfoot.

R/C cars in the 80s

In this decade, r/c cars moved into high-performance models. This was also when the 1/12 World Championship started – something that happens every two years since then. The first race attracted up to 400 racers. The 1/10 scale off-road r/c vehicles also started to gain popularity in this decade.

Apart from Tamiya, other US-based companies emerged to produce popular models of r/c cars. These companies included Traxxas, Losi, and Associated Electronics. The RC10, an award-winning buggy, was created by Associated Electronics. It was the winning model during the first IFMAR 1/10 Electric Off-Road Championship back in 1985.

In the same year, Tamiya released HotShot, a 4WD buggy. This model was designed to be faster than the earlier 2WD models and survive dusty or slippery surfaces. 4WD manufacturers emerged from Japan and Europe – namely Yokomo, Kyosho, and Schumacher Cat.

Before the end of the decade, the Pan Car On-Road Golden Era started. Kent Clausen set a record when he drove his RC10L at a speed of 57 mph. This meant the next decade would be all about speed.

R/C cars in the 90s

The Superspeedway became very popular during this decade. Thanks to the record set by Kent Clausen, enthusiasts are now aware that they can push their r/c cars faster. It was in this decade when Clausen pushed his famous RC10L to a staggering speed of 70 mph.

Team Associated produced fast electric pan cars like the RC12LS, RC10LS0, and RC10LC. These models all have adjustable Dynamic Strut front suspension – which soon became a standard for future pan cars. This decade also saw the emergence of fast racing trucks that replaced the bashing monster truck design of earlier models.

Thanks to the Touring Car Era, the popularity of r/c cars started to increase. The Tamiya TA01 and TA02 became a hit. Manufacturers also started releasing smaller models – up to 1/18 scale.

Modern developments in R/C cars

When the 21st century arrived, new developments and changes started to happen in the world of r/c cars. Soon, the era of short course trucks and rock crawlers emerged. This was also when the ready-to-run models were released by manufacturers. Within the manufacturers themselves, rebranding and acquisitions occurred between 2001 to 2011.

The radio system technology also improved from the AM/FM to 2.4GHz. The creation of the hydrogen fuel cell hybrid also marked impressive developments for r/c vehicles. This allowed new models to run up to 4 times longer.

The future of r/c cars has never been this exciting. Hobbyists can expect better performance from their cars because manufacturers are now concentrating on speed, durability, and better controls. With lithium-ion batteries, brushless electric motors, and powerful and larger engines, the new models are expected to be quite impressive. You can say that this hobby will not die out for the next few decades.