From time to time i write reviews for the NSCC and Slotforum.

I will update this page with the latest review approximately one month after they appear in print.

 


SCX Lancia Delta S4

"S4 kills Group B"

 

 

I have never met any rally fan who can honestly say that the Delta S4 is a beautiful or stylish car, but I think most would agree it was one of the most evil! The S4, in my opinion, represented the pinnacle of Group B, but at the same time was simply too much and ultimately brought a premature end to one of the most exciting periods of modern day rallying.

 

Conceived in answer to the threat from the latest 4 wheel drive from the Germans (Audi) the S4 replaced the Lancia Rally 037 two wheel drive car that had performed so well. 4 Cylinder, 16 valve, 1759cc engine with supercharger and turbocharger the official stated bhp was 450, but most commentators thought a much higher figure was realistic. The car sounds like it's moving at 100 miles and hour simply sitting at the lights, no wonder it was quicker off the line (on the loose) than contemporary F1 cars of the day.

 

Introduced to the world championship at the 1985 RAC Rally it stunned the world and Lancia by coming first and second on its first event. Considered by many to be one of the hardest cars to drive, few conquered it and no one really controlled it on tarmac As Michel Lizin commented "the car was driving and the pilot was trying to survive" he went  on to say that only one man did master the car - Henri Toivonen and ultimately he lost his life in the S4!

 

We talk about point and squirt in slot racing and the comparison is totally appropriate for the S4, on the straight it was brutal both in acceleration and braking, but come the inevitable twist and turns it was not pretty.  It had to be forced to turn. The untimely death of Henri Toivonen and his co driver Sergio Cresto at the 1986 Corsica Rally when the car left the road and burst into flames robbed the world of a fantastic talent and whilst not the only incident with Group B, it was the final straw for most and the FIA called time on Group B soon after. It's no surprise then that the S4 won just 4 WRC events and helped Fabrizio Tabaton to win the European Championship in '86.

 

In some ways it's understandable that this car has not been produced as a RTR by any slot manufacturer before, I don't count the resin Teamslot version (it's not exactly accurate and that's being polite), but it's one of the few mainstream Group B cars left and I'm very pleased they chose the S4 and in my opinion they have done it justice.

 

I'm disappointed that SCX have launched this car in the, frankly, obscure livery of Fabrizio Tabaton when Spanish Altaya customers are able to get the very popular works Lancia/Martini. I suspect, but don't know, that we there will be a more popular livery in the future - let's hope so. That said, it's not an unattractive livery and probably not that easy to get right. Black is OK, but Gold is tricky and comparing the model to the few photos I could find of the real car - it's very very close. When I saw early prototype photos on the model I was concerned that the entire front end of the car did not look right, I suspect SCX Lancia Delta models had been used as a basis for the mock up, but thankfully the finished model is spot on. Paint and printing quality is very good, logos crisp and well positioned. Some of the edges of the gold stripes are a little soft, but not many. The interior is OK, the engine detail is a little spartan, driver and co driver could do with a little more attention to detail. A spot of paint to represent the faces would be better.

 

 

 

As you can see in the events section, I recently attended the Wye Valley Slot Rally event in June 09 and I used the event as a test bench for this review.  Prior to the event I performed my usual SCX running in and check. Off with the body via five screws, snip off the electrical blobby thing between the motor terminals, oil the bearings and grease the gears. Onto the rolling road at 5v for a few hours in one direction and few hours in the reverse. The noticeable difference in noise normally gives you a good idea if things are going in the right direction, but to be honest this car was quieter than most SCX 4x4's that I have run in the RX91 motor turning easily. Next I trued the rear wheels/tryes, not taking them to slicks, but not far from it. The fronts are slightly trickier to true without removing the axle from the car and considering that very little actual pull comes from the front I simply took the edge off the tyres, in truth I should have paid more attention to the fronts.

 

 

 

Hopefully it goes without saying that the magnet was removed prior to running. On the Farnham Ninco track the few laps I did gave me confidence with the ease of running, initial looks do give the impression that the car is top heavy, but it didn't find this at all. The car is fast, not 'Spirit' Group B fast, but fast enough and controllable through the corners, allowing you to find limits quite quickly. I did find the front had a tendency to lift out of the slot with tight changes of direction and decided to add 5g of lead centrally just behind the front drive (under the shaft), this certainly helped.

 

 

 

At the slot rally the car performed well on all track surfaces except the Ninco raid and those tracks with elevation changes. On the level surfaces the cars was very smooth easy to control and a real pleasure, however on tracks with hill, dips and uneven surfaces the car struggled. Looking closely at the guide flag there simply was not enough travel in the guide (up and down) I tried to adjust the brass terminals to apply more pressure onto the braid, but it didn't seem to help. This S4 uses the latest version of the SCX sprung guide and whilst I know some don't like the older version with the long brass straps this version does not seem an improvement. Perhaps it was just my car, but there is not enough travel or pressure to make a sprung guide. I have never seen the need to hard wire the SCX cars in the past, but I'm tempted on the S4. In most cases this will not be an issue as few will use the car on anything but normal style tracks etc.

 

 

 

To conclude it's a great slot car and a fine model of a beasty Group B. I look forward to adding more SCX liveries to my collection. Oh and just in case you were wondering - I paid for the car!

Dimension drawing of Delta S4 

Link to photo of Delta S4 

Gareth