As you can probably tell from that mouthful of a title – I’ve finally got my hands on the Scalextric C3898A Legends Jaguar E-Type 1963 International Sussex Trophy Limited Edition Twin Pack!

Long time readers (rather confidently used the plural there) of this blog might remember that I was a little scornful of this twin pack right back in this slot car blog’s very first post.

For those Johnny-Come-Latelies among you with more important things to be doing than reading 6 month old blog posts, here’s the skinny: I thought the pictures of the cars on the Scalextric website weren’t great and it would have been nicer to have included the Ferrari 250 GTO rather than the 2nd Jag.

While I still think both of those things are true, now I’ve seen the cars up close and personal, I thought it was time to write a proper (or as close as I can get to “proper”) review.

So here it is.

A Race Worthy of a Legend Twin Pack?

Before talking about the cars in too much detail, I just want to touch on whether this is a worthy addition to Scalextric’s Legends range.

First off, the Goodwood logo is noticeably missing from the box. That’s because unlike previous Goodwood releases, this isn’t an official Revival or Festival of Speed tie-in (which possibly explains the mouthful of a name). Instead with this limited edition twin pack Scalextric have chose to mark the 55th anniversary (it’s “Emerald” in case you thinking of buying a gift) of the 1963 Sussex Trophy at the Goodwood circuit.

That race took place during the annual Goodwood Easter Meeting – its name, and those of the other Easter races, will be instantly recognisable to anyone who’s been to the Revival. The Chichester Cup, the St Mary’s Trophy, the Glover Trophy, the Lavant Cup and the Sussex Trophy are all mainstays of the Revival’s race card.

But back in ’63, on a rainy weekend in mid-April, the Sussex Trophy was just a support act for what was reportedly a rather lacklustre F1 race. In fact, so forgettable was the Sussex Trophy, that it didn’t get a mention in either the 2013 Revival programme nor in the recent Twenty Glorious Years of Goodwood book. Though, in fairness, this could just as easily be because of a lack of decent photographs from the event.

Fortunately, all is not lost. Thanks to the wonders of t’internet, here’s an extract from Motorsport Magazine’s race report – as featured in its May 1963 edition:

In the Sussex Trophy Race for G.T. cars Graham Hill led all the way in [John] Coombs’ “Sebring” lightweight fuel-injection Jaguar E-type, but Parkes pursued him manfully in Maranello Concessionaires’ Ferrari 250GTO, being 1.4 sec. behind after the 15 laps. Moreover, Salvadori, in Atkins’ Jaguar-E of the same type was unable to catch the Ferrari, finishing 3rd, 4 sec. behind it. Protheroe, in his special Jaguar E-type coupé, deputising for the A.C. Cobra, was 4th, but a lap in arrears. Hill averaged 96.62 m.p.h. and made fastest lap at 97.74 m.p.h.

Just as a quick side note – that report on the Easter Meeting highlights just how amazingly versatile 60s race drivers were. As well as winning the Sussex Trophy, Graham Hill drove in the main F1 race, the International 100 for the Glover Trophy as well as the saloon car race, the St Mary’s Trophy. Incredible.

The cynic in me feels this particular race was only pulled from the dustbin of motorsport history because Scalextric have recently invested in some new E-Types and wanted to jump on the Goodwood gravy train. But, let’s be open minded about this. The E-Type Jag is one of the definitive British cars of the 60s – or all time, for that matter. It makes perfect sense to celebrate it, and its great drivers, especially when they won races in it.

Not only does this twin pack feature two of the Goodwood Greats, Graham Hill and Roy Salvadori, it also features the first, and most famous, of the Lightweights: 4 WPD.

Run by Jaguar team owner, John Coombes, in the hands of Graham Hill, 4 WPD won at Snetterton, Goodwood and Silverstone – twisty British circuits where the torque of the 3.8-litre straight-six XK engine could propel the Jaguar out of corners faster than Ferrari’s 3-litre V12.

So cynicism aside, both the drivers and the cars are more than worthy of the “Legends” title.

Enough of that guff, on with the review.

The Box

Right, where better to start than the box?

Especially as at a penny shy of £86 these cars are more than double the price of 2 individual cars in regular crystal cases. Clearly there’s a premium on the box – albeit only a £4 premium.

Before going any further I do have a small confession – I’ve got MAJOR issues with the current Scalextric box art. While it’s better than some of the static product shots used on recent accessory boxes, the current crop of computer generated (OK, OK, I know they’re “generated by a human using a computer” but that really dilutes the point I’m trying to make) images, while clearly trying to evoke it, simply lack the charm and excitement of the classic box art.

This might be my nostalgia addled brain but I find it all rather dull and forgettable now.

So, you’ve been warned – this general dislike of Scalextric box art is the lens through which I’m judging the Legends E-Type box.

Given that, it’s alright. It features both the cars.

One thing that really is bugging me is, despite going to all the effort of giving the Graham Hill model sat in the actual car a moustache, he doesn’t have one on the cover of the box!

Presumably just a bit of confusion in the art department (“When I said “Hill had a close shave going into Woodcote.” this isn’t what I meant!”) but a little sloppy all the same.

Opening the box though is a real treat. The card it’s made from feels substantial and satisfyingly weighty as you lift the lid.

Inside, the cars looks great, angled on the cardboard plinth. While the foiled LEGENDS text, the product photography and the glossy finish add a touch of quality.

If I was being picky, which I am, I’d say the transparent plastic protective cover is disappointingly thin. It reminds me of the lid you get on trays of sandwiches from conference catering. And the little Limited Edition numbered card, glued to the bottom of the box, is so thin it curls up at the edges.

While these are only small details, it’s the attention to the smallest of details that makes a difference with special products.

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“The 1963 Sussex Trophy saw one of the most titanic GT battles ever to occur at Goodwood during its heyday during the early 1960s. The race pitted some of the most beautiful and desirable cars ever produced against one another in a pitched 15 lap battle to the chequered flag. Representing the prancing horse was Mike Parkes driving a Ferrari 250 GTO, lining up against the lightweight E-Types of Graham Hill and Roy Salvadori. In front of packed grandstands, the big GT +2.5 class cars screamed into battle. The two E-Types fought hard with the 250GTO, with the cars never more than a few lengths apart even as they cut through the slower class runners.

“Ultimately, it was Graham Hill who claimed victory, taking the checquered flag and racking up another vicotry at the circuit where he would win for both Ferrari and Jaguar int he same year. Mike Parkes took second, with the other lightweight E-Type claiming third. The 1st and 3rd finishes were a huge achievement for the E-Type, with the Ferrari beginning the race as favourite, having been class winner at the Le Mans 24 Hour race. however, here it was beaten by the best GT Sports car Britain had. The E-Type in racing trim was, and still is, both stunningly beautiful and stunningly fast.”

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The Cars

Now onto the meat in this Scalextric Sunday Dinner review: the cars.

For the racers (as if anyone’s racing these!), the cars come with the standard Mabuchi 18k motor mounted in the front. This should create an authentic (Read: Tricksy) handling dynamic. And the position of the motor combined with the period correct skinny tyres means you might want to add a little weight to the rear if you’re hoping for the kind of drive you’d expect from a torquey 3.8ltr straight six!

Also worth noting that these aren’t digital plug ready cars. Yeah, another set of classic racers that can’t easily be run on digital tracks. And while you can fit a chip, given the size of the cockpit, this might be tricky. Shame.

But let’s be honest, these Legend Limited Editions are squarely made for the Collector market.

And for the collectors, I think it’s fair to say that the models are growers. While first impressions suffer a little from the lack of livery and features on the cars, Scalextric have really captured the elegance and sleekness of the E-Type shape in 1:32 scale:

And the interiors, the seats, the steering wheel, the dash instrument display, the handbrake (they have handbrakes!) are superbly detailed:

Pleasingly, the models are pretty accurate recreations of “4 WPD” and “86 PJ” too. The colour of both cars, but especially of the Salvadori car, are wonderful.

I’ve got a couple of gripes with details that aren’t correct. First up, although you’ll find it on some Lightweight builds, the triangular wing behind the front wheel arches just isn’t there on the real cars. And interestingly, for reasons I can’t understand, this detail isn’t on the Nurburgring 1000km model. Plus the leather straps used to secure the bonnet on the real car, that looks so great on the Ecurie Ecosse D-Type, are missing from these models.

I realise I risk disappearing into my own navel with this level of pickiness, but the windscreen wipers aren’t quite right, and the windscreen & headlight trim on the 47 car should be black rather than chrome (the chrome gives the car the look of an passive elderly librarian rather than an agressive youthful goth).

Finally, Hill’s moustache is more Squadron Leader “Chocks away!” than Scoundrel “I say!”:

Hard cheese“, as Terry Thomas would say, I suppose.

These are only small details, I get it, but these are the things that matter to collectors – much more so than other fans.

The Verdict

Woo, finally, you were beginning to wonder if we’d ever get here.

So, verdict.

All in, I think the Limited Edition Scalextric C3898A Legends Jaguar E-Type 1963 International Sussex Trophy Twin Pack is a pretty and worthy edition to the Scalextric Legends range.

The race might have been largely forgotten, the cars might be a little plain with the odd discrepancy, but they are superbly made, beautifully finished and great addition to any collection.

Over to You

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Jags. Tell me what you think of the cars in the comments below.

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