Slot car racing
Aurora Slot Cars
The American Company Aurora is well known for their HO (1/87-scale) line of slot racing products. This company has been very important for the slot car hobby.
John Cuomo, Abe Shikes and Joe Giammarino founded Aurora at the beginning of the fifties. The Company was active in the hobbycraft line. In 1960 Aurora introduced the first electric powered slot cars.
The Vibrator is the first type of car
Derek Brand designed the motor system. Vibrator motor: when the current is turned on the coil becomes magnetized and the actuator reed is drawn down, forcing the push rod against contact arm thus breaking electrical contact. This causes the coil become de-magnetized. The springs return action of the actuator reed allows contacts to "make" again. Each time the contacts "make" and "break" the actuator reed vibrates up and down and in so doing turns the drive gear. The system showed to be not very reliable and a new system was required.
The Thunderjet 500 slot car model was introduced in 1963.
The T-jet motor sat uprights in the chassis. The T-jets were easy to service because of the simple gearing and replaceable parts. The T-jets were released until 1972.
By 1965 Aurora had sold over 25 million HO slot cars.
Current manufacturers can only dream of such sales.
Aurora bought K&B in 1965 to get a share on the 1/32-market. Aurora started to produce in the same year some models on that scale, but it was a flop. The models were not competitive. Aurora called these models A-jets. The "A" stood for American. The American models carried an American flag sticker on the doors, but some came without flags or stripes. Not only cars were produced but also a few Thundercycles and a Wheelie trike. Aurora's production of 1/32-scale models ceased in 1971.
Aurora race afxThe production of Aurora AFX models started in 1971 and stopped in 1983. AFX stood for Aurora Factory Experimentals.
The first cars were non-magnatraction, but at the end of 1974 the magnatraction cars arrived. The new AFX cars with "Magna Traction" were an technical breakthrough for Aurora. The cars showed super gripping power.
The failure of Super Model Motering
Super Model Motering, scale 1/48, was an unsuccessful attempt of Aurora to fill the gap between HO cars and 1/32-scale models. Only eight cars were produced. After terrible sales Aurora ceased the production. Apparently, the public did not need another scale.In 1976 G-Plus (gravity plus more) cars were offered. John Cukrus invented the G-Plus motor.
Aurora bought the controller line of Russkit at the end of the sixties.
Parma is the current producer of controllers that are designed by Russkit. Aurora made some models that are sold by the German manufacturer Faller. A few companies have been the owners of the products of Aurora between 1977 and 1986. Tomy bought the Aurora AFX slot car line in 1986.
Aurora introduced Model Motoring at the end of 1960 and it became the biggest Christmas gift at the time. The Vibrator Highway sets were sold easily for a very long time. Because of the scale it was possible to combine model racing with model railroading. The Company Parkway Industries of Cleveland sold Aurora Model Motering and Tyco trains together in a Race-Road-Rail set from 1961 to 1963.
Aurora introduced the High Performance Track at the New York Toy Fair in 1972. The Company eliminated the white middle-of-road line and added a deeper slot. Beside the charges Aurora offered new slot car track sections: the banked curves.
In 1973 the Xlerators system, a slotless electric race system, was introduced at the HIAA show. The system did not attract the serious hobbyists but was moderate popular by children.
Some slogans of Aurora have been:
- World Championship Motor Racing!
- The closest thing to real racing!
- The race is on!
- Twice the action in half the space!
Aurora is a brand that had great influence on the slot car racing business. Especially in the 60s but these days are over.
Published: 20 June 2015
By Jan Willem van Capelleveen / @jwvcapelleveen