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Part 26

1963 - The first "Club Specials",  The stillborn VIP K Series, Victory Industries (Surrey) goes into receivership and a new company is born, The BRM and modified Healey & MGA are introduced.

Throughout 1962, works-entered VIP slot cars had appeared at major club meetings throughout the country driven by local hot shots and the results from these formed the basis for Victory's Club 'Specials'. Externally there was little to distinguish these from the standard models, but once on the race track the performance improvement from the hotter motor and grippy rubber tyres were easy to see. Despite being 20/- dearer (almost twice the price) of the standard cars, they proved very popular and sales were close to equal with the equivalent standard model.  It's not clear if there were visible differences to begin with other than the silver pole pieces of the motor, some but not all of the early cars I've come across feature red wheels instead of yellow and the majority (but again not all) appear to have been fitted with chrome wheel trims and a "Club Special" transfer on the bodyshell. The factory felt obliged to add in their promotional material that the cars were so fast "we do not recommend them for normal use and certainly not on our standard Figure 8 track without extensions" Hot stuff indeed! 

An early R61S 'Club Special' Lotus

Around the same time, a new type of guide blade was introduced, the first from any manufacturer to offer pick-up brushes which could be replaced without the need to take the car to pieces. Again Victory were a long way ahead of the field with this simple, practical design and it quickly became the standard for most home-built club racers.

The new style R98 guide blade

As the new "Club Specials" made their way to the shops, Victory Industries (Surrey) Ltd were due to appear at the Brighton toyfair with the first in a new range of slot car kits and this advertisement appeared in the January issue of British Toys magazine.

However, in the early part of 1963, all the problems from Victory's past finally caught up with them. Although sales of slot cars were booming, on their own they simply didn't provide enough revenue to keep the cash flowing, pay off all of Victory's shareholders and still make a profit. Without any commissions for new promotional models on the books, the banks and the shareholders decided things weren't going to get any better and on the 28th of January the receivers were called in.

The K series kits were cancelled and for a short time it looked like things had finally reached the end of the road, however Ivor Spence who had been appointed by the receivers to manage the company during its liquidation put together a rescue plan that might save the profitable slot car part of the business. The price was high, but after a lot of effort he managed to find a backer to finance the deal and on the 27th of March the new company was formed under the name of Presstead Ltd. This was changed to Victory Industries (Raceways) Ltd in August that same year.

One of the first acts by the new company was the introduction of the forth car in the Raceway series, the R63 "Stove pipe" BRM. It was very popular and is easy to find today but just like the real car, the exhausts proved to be extremely vulnerable and are often broken on second-hand models.

MkII (Yellow) & MkIII versions of the R63S 'Club Special' BRM

Around the same time as the BRM's introduction, Victory also bought back their two old faithful's, the MGA and the Austin Healey. The tooling for both cars had been modified slightly to accept the inline motor and sadly this meant that the detailed interior had had to go, it was replaced by a flat semi-triangular adaptor plate with the same upper torso type driver figure used on the F1 cars mounted on top. The passenger side "seat" was initially filled by a sponge tonneau cover although this was left off on later versions and on the set car models. Somewhat compensating for the lack of interior were the new chromed plastic wheel trims which were a great improvement over the original wheels.  The final alteration was the replacement of the original two pin acetate windscreen with a sturdier three pin version moulded in clear plastic. As the original seems fairly impervious to damage, I can only assume Victory had received complaints that the original was proving to difficult to find if you dropped it on the floor.  The cars were renumbered after the modifications - R64 for the Austin Healey and R65 for the MGA.

R64 Austin Healey