Hot rods are capable of conjuring up a number of images in the mind of car enthusiasts. Thoughts of John Milner cruising the streets of 1962-era Modesto, California in American Graffiti is what I initially think of. I also picture any number of 80’s rock band ZZ Top’s music videos featuring their hot rod, the Eliminator too. Strangely enough, the nostalgia for a time that most of us didn’t live in still goes on strong. That is the power of the Hot Rod.
Traxxas has recently partnered up with Factory Five, a firm that creates full-scale hot rods, to produce a series of 1/10-scale RC replicas based on their incredible vehicles. Available in two styles, the RC hot rods are based on Factory Five’s ’33 Hot Rod Coupe and ’35 Hot Rod Truck. We picked up a vibrant blue coupe to check out what it’s all about.
Both Hot Rods are based on Traxxas’ latest on road platform, the 4-Tec 3.0. The 4-Tec 3.0 is the next generation 4-Tec and is improved upon in just about every metric when compared to its predecessor, the 4-Tec 2.0. Let’s take a look under the hood.
A MODERN RIDE
Don’t let its classic looks fool you, the ’33 Hot Rod Coupe sits on Traxxas’ most up to date 4-Tec 3.0 platform. This means that it is fully capable of putting high performance driving dynamics under your control. The chassis features a newly designed long-wheelbase and wide-track chassis design. Another recent release that utilizes the 4-Tec 3.0 is Traxxas’ Corvette Stingray. While the ‘Vette is longer overall, the ’33 Hot Rod Coupe boasts a longer wheelbase by half-an-inch. This gives the Hot Rod a scale look and stable driving characteristics.
The 4-Tec 3.0 chassis is a relative newcomer to the Traxxas stable. Its long wheelbase and wide track improves stability and further refines handling. Its longer overall length also gives vehicles based on it more realistic proportions, allowing for more scale accurate looks. The Hot Rod includes a micro front bumper that allows it to be hidden behind the body’s short nose. This gives it a realistic appearance.
The low center of gravity chassis positions weight down low for stable handing and superb balance. The chassis is made up of interlocking modular pieces, which allows for sectional maintenance with added rigidity. Suspension is adjustable for droop and features dual rear camber link mounts. The 3.0 chassis’ shock absorption and handing are handled by four oil-filled Ultra Shocks.
POWER & GRIP
A brushed Traxxas Titan 12T 550 motor powers this Coupe, which includes an integrated cooling fan for extended run times. The Titan 12T’s stock pinion gear allows an out of the box top speed of over 30 miles per hour. In case you want to change out the stock pinion gear for an included optional high-speed pinion, a fixed gear motor plate makes setting gear mesh simple with 11 different gearing positions.
The 3.0 features a full-time shaft driven 4-wheel drive drivetrain for confident and dynamic driving. It is equipped with a steel center driveshaft with center bearing support and can readily support powerful brushless systems such as Traxxas’ own Velineon (VXL) brushless system. We found that the Titan 12T that the Coupe comes with has plenty of pep as is. It’s quick off the line and was more than a match for many other cars we ran with. That said, we might go with a VXL upgrade in the future anyway because who doesn’t like more power?
Putting power down to the pavement requires major grip and the Coupe’s wheels and tire combination have it locked up in the traction department. The Coupe runs a staggered wheel and tire combination with wider tires in the rear for an eye pleasing aggressive stance. Looking to add realistic scale details right out of the box, the 12mm wheel hexes also include replica cross-drilled brake discs on all four corners. Bright red brake calipers are also included and can be mounted in either forward or trailing positions. We’re digging the details.
We were blown away to learn that the Hot Rod came with LED lights pre-installed from the factory. LED lighting adds even more scale detail and is especially realistic looking when in motion. The headlights features brilliant white LEDs to light the way and red tail light lenses let the competition know who is in the lead. Like with Traxxas’ other electronic accessories, the lights are waterproof for driving fun no matter the weather.
As with many Traxxas RTR’s, the Hot Rod Coupe comes with the company’s reliable TQ 2.4GHz Radio System and their venerable XL-5 electronic speed controller (ESC). The waterproof ESC can be set to run three separate drive profiles, from Race Mode to Sport Mode to Training Mode. Race Mode gives the driver forward and brake throttle controls while Sport mode adds reverse as an option. Training Mode is great for beginner drivers and limits power output to 50%. We’ve been known to engage Training Mode when handing the controls over to the little ones. This mode is a welcome feature that helps avoid unwanted damage to the vehicle from errant crashes.
Thanks to an adjustable battery hold down, the Coupe can take either a 7-cell NiMH flat pack battery or a 2-cell LiPo without modification. The battery hold down swivels to allow different height batteries and locks securely without any requiring any pins or other parts that can easily become lost.
ON THE STRIP
We prepped the Hot Rod by charging up a 2-cell Traxxas 7.4v 5000mAh battery and headed to a spacious parking lot to see what the Coupe could do. With the battery plugged in and the body mounted, we dutifully floored the throttle and immediately ran some speed passes. The 4-Tec 3.0 is noticeably stable and well mannered, even at speed. That’s with brushed speed that is. We’ll have to see about a more powerful brushless upgrade sooner than later.
Both straight-line passes and figure eights were easy to drive. Our drivers reported responsive handling and throttle control. Although the Hot Rod’s body sits rather high, the chassis’ low center of gravity was still able to keep body roll to a minimum. The Factory Five Hot Rod body looked ultra realistic thanks to its realistic proportions and bright LED lighting. Its paint job really looked fantastic too.
We wish we could have a couple of 1 to 1-scale hot rods in our garage but that’s a bit of a stretch for most of us. Luckily for us, Traxxas can make that dream come true, albeit in a scaled down form. The RC versions of Factory Five’s Hot Rods, both the Coupe as featured here and the Truck version, instantly bring smiles to passersby’s’ faces. Their nostalgic look and scale realism are definitely why we were hooked when we first saw them. With scale crawler trails all the rage at the moment, how about setting up a scale city boulevard to cruise RC hot rods on? If someone makes it, let us know and we’ll bring our Coupe to cruise.