(more photos below)
Tamiya TT01E, Porsche GT3
Text and photos by Eric Jan
“Race car for the street” is probably one of the most overused phrases in car magazines. While there are plenty of high-performance cars in the market today, very few production cars are actually closely related to their racing counterparts. Next time you go to a Chevy dealer, check out the Impala at the showroom to see how closely it resembles Jeff Gordon’s no. 24! I am sure you will be disappointed.
That being said, there are manufacturers who would go to great length to gain any sort of advantage in production-based racing. Due to the regulation, the vehicle raced typically can only be altered in a limited fashion. So what’s the best way to put the most competitive vehicle on the racetrack? The answer is really quite simple; it is to release a road car that has all the design features the race engineers wanted! These cars are usually called “homologation specials.” Manufacturers would typically build them in a limited number, as the sole purpose is to build enough units in order to satisfy the sanction body’s rule. There are vehicles that can be built with much fewer compromises compared with a regular production car. Remember the Ferrari 288 GTO? The original BMW M3 (E30), and its rival Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 (W201)?
One of the more recent offerings in the long line of cheater specials (hmm, I mean, homologation specials) is Porsche’s 911 GT3. Porsche has been a dominant force in GT racing for many decades, and one of the strategies of maintaining that dominance is by releasing these ultra-focused specials that dated all the way back to the 60s with 911R. In 1999, when all the Porsche diehards across the globe worried about Porsche having gone soft with the new breed of water-cooled 911s, Porsche released the first 911 GT3. It was named after the FIA GT class that it was intended for.
The car had all the hardware it needed to be successful on the racetrack. The engine had a true dry-sump setup, forged crank, titanium connecting rods, separate cylinder heads (2 banks of 3 cylinders) that can be changed to adapt to different racing regulations. (For example, different classes might allow different displacements.) It is very close to being a naturally aspirated version of the 962 or 911 GT1 race cars. It made 360hp and has a top speed of almost 190mph. The suspension is fully adjustable. It quickly became a cult icon.
Wonderful, right? So what’s the problem? Well, as usual, we in the U.S. often do not get the best offerings from the rest of the world. (For the import crowd, think Skyline GT-R!) Fortunately, after U.S. customers’ kicking and screaming for a few years, when Porsche was doing the mid-life update for the 996 platform, it decided that maybe it was worth the trouble to bring the car to the U.S. after all. So in 2004 and 2005, the U.S. customers finally got a taste of the GT3. And the wait was worth it! The revised GT3 now makes 381hp and has a rev ceiling of 8,200rpm, courtesy of stronger and lighter pistons and connecting rods. The brake of the original GT3 was already strong, but now the front rotors are 350mm and clamped by 6-piston monoblock calipers (machined from a single piece of aluminum). Porsche’s Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) are also available as an option, which further reduced the unsprung weight of the car. A more aggressive aero package completed the face lift.
So where am I going with all this? As a diehard Tamiya fan (and an RC fan in general), I also happen to be one of the lucky ones to own one of these incredible machines. So when I was asked to review the Tamiya TT-01E, I thought it would be a fun project to put a 911 GT3 Cup (race version of the road-going GT3) body on the chassis and paint the shell to match my 1:1 car, even though the kit I received was the BMW M3 GT2 2009 edition.
As someone who has built more than 100 RC kits (and the majority being Tamiyas!), I have never built a TT-01/TT-01E before, surprisingly! I have seen them, driven them, collected them but never built one of them up before. So this is a great opportunity to cross one more kit out of the list. As you probably know already, TT-01E is Tamiya’s entry-level on-road chassis. Compared with its more sophisticated brothers such as the TB-03, TA-05 and TRF chassis, TT-01E is a very straightforward kit to build. There is no suspension geometry to set (such as camber, toe, anti-squat and droop), or ball differential to adjust, and therefore makes this kit perfect for the beginners! If you can follow some basic instructions (and Tamiya’s instruction manual is excellent as usual), you can build this kit without any problem. TT-01E also has a huge catalog of hop-up parts. You can easily customize your car from mild to wild with either genuine Tamiya hop-ups or aftermarket products.
The goal for me was to build up the chassis as is, without any hop-ups. At least that’s what I was told to do. Of course, I couldn’t resist ordering a couple of hidden hop-ups (what would an RC be without hop-ups?). So the kit was built up with Tamiya’s ball-bearing kit and a metal motor mount. The bearing kit includes ball bearings to replace all bushings from the drivetrain as well as those located at the steering cranks. Neither hop-up is visible from the outside but will surely improve the drivetrain efficiency.
It is interesting to note that instead of compromising on the scale appearance of the shell, Tamiya has instead retained the proper proportion of the full-size vehicle when making the shell. So in order to fit the wheelbase and track width properly, the TT-01E was designed with reversible rear suspension arms that allow adjustment of wheelbase. For the 911 GT3 Cup shell, the short wheelbase (251mm) configuration is needed. (The standard configuration is 257mm.) The shell also requires the wider rear track setup, which needs a simple swap of rear axles and thicker drive hexes. The rear axles had to be purchased separately in my case because I was trying to convert the narrow body chassis to accept the wide body shell. Hey, it is part of the fun to tinker around! As mentioned before, it is a relatively straightforward build. I used the included ESC (TEU-101) and silvercan motor to power the car. I expect them to provide a very long service life. A basic Futaba S3004 servo was used for the steering duty. The receiver of choice was Futaba’s R603FS 2.4GHz unit.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the project. It is fun to have an RC that mimics your real car! The TT-01E performs quite well for what it is. It is simple and durable. You can always count on it when you just want to have a good time driving an RC! It is definitely not as finicky as my other higher end on-roads. The fact that there are no adjustments on the suspension system can be a plus for the beginners. For those who desire more adjustment as they progress through their skill levels, hop-ups can be added as needed (such as turnbuckles, rear uprights, etc.).
The TT01E chassis features full-time, shaft-driven 4wd, and offers many improvements over the earlier TT01 and TT01D chassis.
Here you can see the double-wishbone, independent suspension. The kit includes friction shocks and a racing slick wheel/tire combo.
The Tamiya GT3 looks as mean as the real thing!
To more accurately model the Porsche shell, Tamiya decided to go with a shorter wheelbase. The TT01E can be configured in both the long and short wheelbases without the use of additiona
Here the Tamiya rests on the GT3’s huge giant rear wing. The Tamiya shell also includes a large rear wing, and should translate to a desireable amount of downforce for racers.
The Tamiya model is accurate right down to the Porche symbol on the hood.
You can see the true scale of the Tamiya compared to the full-scale car. It is quite impressive that Tamiya can pack so much detail into a shell 1/10 the size of the full-scale.