Above is a close up of a NOS - New Old Stock Hot Rod Convertible body. The chrome pipes on these cars are usually faded and worn and are sometimes replaced with repo or a cleaner set of original pipes. Note how the factory melted these in, nice and clean. Also note that some of the chrome pipes when melted are made up of "red" plastic and some are "greenish". This body has both red and green pipes melted in. The green melt marks in the middle are from the windshield pegs.
Wheel Wells - Make sure all wheel wells are not "cut" or slightly shaved.
My feelings on wheel well or alterations is simple. If a car is hacked and gouged to make room for larger tires, it should be considered a "Runner" for racing. Sometimes a nicely done "rounding" of a wheel well is fine as a "Space Filler" for a collector, especially on a rare car.
The "Light Blue" Mongoose above is a rare car and has slightly shaved rear wheel wells. It looks great on a shelf until an upgrade can be found. The White Vib Mercedes is "hacked" and would be considered a a nice "Runner".
Screw Posts (T-Jets) - The most common issue affecting plastic slot cars is usually with the screw post. It is getting very hard to find a car withOUT any screw post cracks. The age and brittleness of the plastic affects the posts. Even the colors that Aurora produced cars in have different affects. Tan colored cars are the most brittle and usually have the worst issues. Look for cracks or splits in both screw posts. You should always take a car apart at a show to check. Bring a small screw driver with you to all shows.
The turquoise body pictured above shows a typical example of a "CRACK" in a screw post that holds the screw firm. This is a common occurence and is fine with most collectors.
The yellow car above is a typical example of a "SPLIT" in a screw post. I consider deeper, wider "splits" to be further along damage wise than a "crack".
Chrome - Make sure the bumpers are "factory" melted in. Examples below. If the melt marks look too big or not in the correct place, the bumpers have probably been replaced. Sometimes this is ok if the replacement is done properly and neatly with original factory parts. It is up to you to decide what is acceptable in your collection. I personally do not like reproduction parts on any of my cars.
Slot Car Education
Aurora Factory Painted Black Cars - There are early Aurora cars that were painted by the factory in black paint over regular colored plastic bodies. Aurora stopped doing this after a short period of time as it was too labor intensive and time consuming to produce these black painted cars. They are all hard to find. They usually look like the examples above as the paint gets worn off quickly with handling and use.
Above are pics of 2 Black painted Cobra GT's and an AC Cobra. One Cobra GT body is Turquoise and the other is Tan. This is for reference so you can see the spray patterns on the cars as Aurora did it. If you have a black painted car that is "too perfect", it probably is not original. The factory over spray and was fairly consistent in how they painted the cars. Note the wheel wells and screw posts.
Sand Van Dune Buggies - I can't tell you how many times I have seen high $'s paid for modified Sand Vans on Ebay. This is a rare car but fairly easy to fake. The way to tell that you are not getting a regular Dune Buggy with the top of a common Sand Van glued on is to look at the rear tire molded into the back of the body. All "real" Sand Van Dune Buggies have no black paint on the tire. All regular Coupe and Roadster Dune Buggies have the rear tire painted black. See pic.
Over the years of collecting you learn about what is "correct" in the slot car world and what might be "faked".
Sometimes you learn the hard way by buying a slot car that was not all original or had modifications made to it by the seller.
Below are some collecting tips and watch outs for slot car collectors.
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