Do Race Buggies Really Need To Look Like This?

Do Race Buggies Really Need To Look Like This?

Believe me, I get it, cab-forward bodies produce more front downforce and handle better. And when my local track (shout out to the Banana!) gets their indoor off-road game together, I will happily race a cab-forward buggy. But I can’t say I’m a fan of the look, and I don’t think they’re great for attracting people to off-road racing.

Rules designed to keep RC race vehicles looking somewhere near scale are nothing new, and without them, it’s likely we’d be racing cars that are even farther removed from reality than today’s designs–at least a cab-forward body still has a cab.  When there are no “must look something like a car” rules, things get pretty weird–see wing slot cars, competition tether cars, and Nic Case’s speed-record car for examples.

RC cars aren’t that wacky yet, but I’d like to see rules that require a more “normal” look–if only out of my selfish desire to see more “cab-rearward” cars. Look at these comparison shots–am I the only one who misses the rear-cab look?

Cab rear vs cab forward

Here’s the TLR 22 when it first came out, versus the latest 22 3.0. Forget what the aero says: which one would you rather see on the track?


B4 v B5 2

“B4 classic” versus the B5M. Disengage the part of your brain that thinks the B4 looks “old” and therefore less stylish. Doesn’t the cockpit in the rear look more plausible as a functional car?


No cab forward rule

Here’s the fix: a rule that says the windshield can’t extend past a certain point, and its angle must fall within a certain range. Presto! Buggies look cool again. Why not do this? Don’t say “because cab-forward bodies handle better.” If cab-forward bodies aren’t legal, it means no one can run them, so handling better becomes a moot point. And it’s not like rear-cab bodies don’t work, you’ll be able to drive it just fine. What about the car and body manufacturers, and hobby stores? Aren’t they going to be stuck with cab-forward bodies people can’t use? No, because if ROAR or any other sanctioning body did propose a “rear cab” body rule, they wouldn’t spring it on the manufacturers overnight; it would be announced well in advance, so new race-legal designs could be developed and phased in as inventory is turned.

Next question: what do we gain by regulating away the cab-forward look? I don’t know about “we,” but I would get to enjoy what I think are better-looking buggies. I never said I wasn’t thinking selfishly here. But based on the number of “that thing is hideous” comments we get when we post the latest cab-forward design on Facebook, many people would be more attracted to buggies if they looked more like something you might want to climb into. That can’t be a bad thing for growing the racing scene.



Of course, you could go all the way and write rules that say race buggies should look like this, but I’m not in favor of it. Rear-cab bodies “look right” to me, but they’re still far from scale, and that’s OK. If rules were too strict in favor of scale realism, you’d see very little innovation. Part of the appeal of RC racing is seeing how it shapes the technology, and leaving plenty of room for innovation is a good thing.


Spread 2

Here’s a spread from the January issue of RC Car Action that compares the original RC10 with the the RC10B5M. We don’t need to go all the way back to this level of scale, but you gotta admit, that classic RC10 is still the gold standard for 2WD buggy radness. Make that “gold tub standard.”




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Updated: March 2, 2016 — 1:12 PM


  1. Getting back into RC off-road after a few decades gone. Got to say that the direction the hobby went is at best embarrassing. The whole Idea of racing “cars” has been lost with the new buggies and triggers. ThInk about this. With all the performance loss, why do you think SCT’s sell, especially to new people entering the hobby. Honestly I am temped just to get an 94 World car, rather than look at one of these modern abominations. Fwiw, I do like Parma’s Baja cars, they just scream fun to me.

    That said, when I raced on road, I would sacrifice looks for speed anyday. I hated stock car races (had to run them for series points). Liked old Indie, but F1 was already over the top. , But Can Am was king-and you could barely recognize those.

  2. It has been a number of years since I have immersed myself in the RC world and what I am seeing is shocking. None of these cab forward designs look desirable at all. Bring back the sexy designs!

  3. Totally agree with Peter V…cab forward bodies are just plain ugly. I’ve been on a hiatus from racing for a number of years and am getting back into it racing stock truck with my Losi xxt-cr. I’ve maintained my subscription to Car Action over the years and have seen these cab forward bodies come onto the scene. My understanding is that they were developed aerodynamically to put more downforce over the front end to help compensate for the extra power and speed of li-pos and brushless motors. All platforms were still rear motor during this battery / motor revolution and with the reduced weight of the li-pos & extra power, cars & trucks were now susceptible to under steer and wheelies when coming out of corners hot. The cab forward was supposed to help offset this aerodynamically, thus filling a need. With the mid motor platforms, more weight is on the front now and sort of moots the need for the cab forward aero advantages. I get it that top level drivers will still benefit from a cab forward body, but I have a hard time believing that the average club racer (the masses that buy the product) will truly feel a difference with the newer platforms. I don’t think the bodies (buggy or stadium truck) should be banned or regulated, but it would be nice if some of the manufacturers (Pro-Line, J Concepts, Parma) would produce bodies with a more “classic” look for both stadium trucks and buggies. Based on how many people dislike the cab forward style, It sounds like there is an untapped market. One thing about this hobby is, many people will spend as much or more money to make their ride look good as they do to make it fast. The consumer should have a choice and without anything on the market for a manufacturer to compare sales to, they will not produce product unless they get feedback from the consumer. Post on Car Action and manufacturers’ sites telling them you want non cab forward body options for modern buggies and stadium trucks. Let the consumers’ voices be heard!

  4. Cab forward bodies are fugly, plain and simple. I don’t think they encourage newcomers into the hobby because they are just gross. Losi went from the beautiful 22 2.0 to the atrocious 22 3.0. I bought every losi until the 2.0. Will NOT be buying the fugly 3.0 or anything that resembles it.

  5. Cab forward look great to me!

  6. I hate newer bodies, i dont think they really work properly since they have a shock tower and shocks breaking the wind flow just in front of the cab?? But i do love older bodies with nose wing like losi use to have…

  7. I prefer the old school cab rearward bodies but I have not been able to find a cab rearward body to fit my B5r. Some company should at least produce cab rearward bodies for the newer buggies! Having the cab rearward body as a rule may be a little too much but I would at least like to have an option besides this ugly cab forward weirdness.

  8. I prefer the cab forward look, from a visual standpoint, and would hate to see a trend back to rear cabs. Granted, some cab forward designs are bad, but the good ones look awesome and just have a tougher, more aggressive look in my eye.

  9. As time has evolved, so have buggies in both RC and full scale. Modern “raid rally” buggies are quite cab forward compared to the early converted VWs we initially thought of as off-road buggies. The improved performance of tires, suspension, aerodynamics and even engine power curves have lead all vehicles to a more “mid” philosophy. Centring mass around the CG is what physics tells us is best. Blame those pesky engineers, as once they have the information in their heads as to what works, rules trying to weed that information out only make the racing bodies seem antiquated.

    RC racing needs fewer classes, harmonized tire sanity (spec tires and sauce at events) and proper beginner classes (get the pro drivers out of “stock” classes). An organizing body that makes a “pro” calendar would be awesome too!

  10. I’m 39 so I’m kind of old school, I didn’t get into rc till about 8yrs ago and own several but not had them out In quite a while. The cab forward design I own a few like that but really never cared about it. I think either looks awesome and I don’t think an rc car or truggy should look like a real car. Those styles are the ones I don’t care for unless it’s rally. In my opinion rc vehicles offer a kind of escape from the real world, which I think we could all use sometimes. Kids love them too.

  11. Hey, I love the “older” more realistic look of rear cab designs. I recently bought a TLR 22-4 and was so happy that it came without “cab forward” styling.
    It’s nice to imagine a driver in there, if he could see past the front shock stays!

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