Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hot Wheels Frontrunnin' Fairmont

In this review we are featuring a car with a great racing history and a classic in the Hot Ones series.  The Frontrunnin' Fairmont!

The Hot Wheels Frontrunnin’ Fairmont has developed quite a reputation for being a fast casting. Fairmonts have done very well here at Diecast 64. They have also gained a reputation elsewhere to the point that at the Hot Wheels Convention races there is a special category for Fairmonts and Funny Cars.

The Hot Wheels Frontrunnin’ Fairmont debuted in 1982. It was red with the number 27 on the sides and hood. It had flames shooting up the hood and onto the roof with “Fireball Jr.” printed on the roof. In 1983 it looked the same although a variation came out that year too with red metal flake paint. This is the version I have had the best luck with. Of the 20 or so Fairmonts I have, my fastest ones are all the 1983 metal flake variation. Like with any casting, there are faster ones and duds, but if you find a good one, the Fairmont can be VERY fast.

So what makes the Fairmont so fast? Well, first it has good weight. Not super heavy funny car weight, but it is no slouch. Not uncommon among older Hot Wheels cars, it has both a metal base and body. This has it weighing in at 51 grams. That's good weight and heavier than pretty much all mainline cars you will find today but definitely not the heaviest car you’ll find.
So how can it out run all those heavy Funny cars? It's wheels and axles.

In 1981 Mattel introduced a new wheel and axle to the Hot Wheels lineup, “The Hot Ones”.  Mattel was trying to keep their claim to the “Fastest Non-Powered Metal Cars.” They did an enormous amount of testing and came up with the Hot Ones wheel which also featured a thinner axle. There is a common misconception that the thinner axles mean less friction, but science says otherwise. It turns out that the friction force is not dependent on surface area. The thinner axles are advantageous in a couple ways though. First, without getting into too much science, the friction force is closer to  the center of rotation, so while the force isn’t any less, it’s impact on the rotation of the wheel is less than on a thicker axle. The second advantage is that the axle is thin enough that it is a bit flexible so it acts like a suspension system. That suspension helps dampen energy loss when the wheel rolls over inconsistencies in the track.

The Fairmonts also have very good wheels. They seem to have good balance and tend to be more true to round. Usually wheels that are a new design tend to be better and more true since the molds are new, versus wheels that have been in production for years as the molds begin to wear and develop inconsistencies.

Not every Fairmont is going to be blazing fast, but this casting does have the potential to produce a winner for you if you can get a good one. Good luck and happy hunting.

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