Let’s take it back to last November—I planned to attend the Ultimate Scale Truck Expo (USTE) in February and found out that there was going to be a vintage RC race at the event. This race was just the excuse I needed to finally pull the trigger on a Tamiya Sand Scorcher. I found out a few of my buddies were planning on running the vintage race with the Sand Scorcher too, so participating in this race sounded like it was going to be a lot of fun.
I went over to AMain Hobbies’ website and found that they were running a 20% off sale. Lucky me! I bought the car and was just going to have some fun running it stock. Since I just started my YouTube channel, I thought I would make a video out of the build. Feel free to head on over to YouTube and look up my channel, @BROCSRC, to see it.
Anticipating the kit’s arrival, I picked up a Reefs RC 422HD-V2 servo to provide steering duties and had a two-channel Spektrum receiver and Spektrum DX5 Pro transmitter ready at home. Once the kit arrived, I was ready to start assembling. I got to work building and had a great time putting together this vintage-style kit. Tamiya’s reissued kits may be old, but they’re a lot of fun. I was excited to learn that it came with hex hardware and bearings in the box.
Once I got the Scorcher’s rear end assembled, I was reminded that this car ran torsion bars for its suspension. I moved on to building the front end and got to examine the steering servo placement and setup. It was at this time that I realized I was no longer going to be running this car stock. The Sand Scorcher gave me a few ideas and I called my buddy Chris Vierra over at CVSPEC to have him lend some of his expertise to this build.
As soon as my plans changed, I jumped back online and ordered up a bunch of parts including an RcAidong aluminum chassis plate, aluminum front and rear bumper guards I found on eBay, as well as a Tamiya DT02 aluminum servo mount and Xtra Speed aluminum 25T servo saver upgrade parts kit. These parts added some aluminum bling to the build as well as helped stiffen up easy-to-break or wear pieces.
While on eBay, I ordered up a set of Tamiya alloy 1.7” wheel covers that go on the stock Sand Scorcher wheels. These covers add so much to the look of the off-road Bug. To the wheels, I mounted tires from a Tamiya Fast Attack vehicle. Their scale-looking tread was perfect for this build.
Handling is obviously very important in a race, so I upgraded the shocks to Pro-Line Racing 1/10 Pro-Spec 70mm-75mm scaler shocks in the front and rear. I also installed a set of Lantro JS rear shock mounts to help position them in just the right place. On Amazon I picked up a four-pack of ShareGoo’s aluminum alloy turnbuckle tie rods in 62mm-75mm length to help bolster the steering.
I figured that the track at USTE wasn’t going to be very long, so a mild powerplant upgrade would be enough. With that in mind, I decided on going with a brushed Tamiya RS540 Sport Tuned motor. Powering the Bug would be a Gens Ace Redline Series 5100mAh 7.6V 130C HardCase shorty LiPo battery.
To give the Scorcher a more realistic look, I decided to install a set of inner fender wells that I got from Scorched Parts all the way from the UK. These give the Scorcher the scale looks it deserves at the same time as protecting the inside from the worst of the wheel spray. Speaking of spray, I finished the clear Tamiya body off with a very ’80s-style paint scheme infused with neon and black colors and a palm tree motif.
All in all, it was a fun kit to build and modify, and when it came time to race it at USTE, all I can say is that it was a hoot. It’s not a dedicated racer by any means, but its vintage style and driving feel make for tons of fun. If you’re looking to get into vintage racing, I encourage you to build a Tamiya Sand Scorcher of your own.
Text and Images by Broc LaRouche