Sunday June 18, 2006

Fly BMW M1 PROCAR - 1980
(# A-1301)


There have been numerous models by Fly that have caught my eye in the past few months, but none as much as this latest BMW. It isn't just the series that I like but for some reason this car has the lines and look of a true road warrior. I also chose this model because it has been awhile since we have seen all new tooling and with most of my hobby dollars going towards the classics, I felt it was time to add something new.


As soon as this model was available, I called Gene at SlotCarPlace and he let me know that 1 was on the way. Arriving here safe and sound I could not wait to open the box and get a closer look at this model. I suppose a model like this is just like any other in our hobby. Either you like the looks of it or you do not. For some reason I am attracted to models that some feel are less than beautiful and perhaps this is one of those times? In any event I was impressed upon first seeing the model up close.

I am far from an expert on these models, but thanks to the Internet I quickly educated myself. Fine scale purists and long standing members in the prototype police might find a few objections here and there, but overall I feel Fly has once again created a stunning replica in 1/32nd scale. Body molding and fit and finish is where you expect Fly models to be.

I did find a few small areas in some of the Tampo where some fading has occurred, but nothing really drastic. What impressed me was that the white for the main design was very opaque and had almost no bleed through effect. A very clean clear-coat seals most of the Tampo work nicely as well.

In the detail department Fly has again come through as you would expect. Small items like the front hook and small rear exhaust give the model a more finished appearance to my eye. It is then you begin to peer inside where the level of detail should be more than enough for most enthusiasts.

The driver is neatly painted and of course strapped in his seat belts ready for action. The dash panel and interior floor are very good along with complete roll cage and fire bottle. This fire bottle caught my eye along with a few other visitors here as the data plate on it makes this thing look as if it could really work. I admit that is a very small item, but it was one that stood out for some of us.

Wheels and tires are all new and look near perfect to my eye. The compound of the tires seemed a little on the harder side as compared to other models but this is most likely just my opinion. The tires seem to have a decent grip level to them and I was certain that a good sanding would get them to hook up the way I like. The good news was they seemed very round and true upon first inspection.

Turning the model over I immediately noticed that the front guide was a light shade of gray. I took a closer look and sure enough this is a different guide than found on other standard models. I decided to check the blade depth as it appeared to be slightly deeper. After zeroing my Fowler digital micrometer the blade measured 6.10 mm. I compared this to my latest GT40 that has a measurement of 5.85 mm. Of course there is margin for error given it is me doing the measuring, but there is no mistaking that the guide on this BMW is deeper, although very slight. We also see that Fly has chosen to use the sidewinder configuration which many enthusiasts prefer.

Removing the 4 screws that mount the body to the chassis we get a closer look inside. Fly has added the wire guides molded in the chassis and this helps keep the guide wires neatly in place. You can also see up front where the chassis has the mounts so that you can convert it to digital operation if you so desire. This front pocket is also ideal for those who want a little more magnet.

I inspected the rear motor assembly as I thought things looked a little too close for my tastes. However, my fears of the pinion or axle shaft rubbing the tire were unfounded. Yes, it is close but there is enough clearance on my model to avoid having to perform our standard Fly Classic tuning. Does this mean your model will be ok? Of course not. So if you decide to get this model, just check this area and see if it needs attention.

I have to admit that I was slightly surprised at this. I say this as on the recent Lancia 037, Fly had the motor axle trimmed. Of course, they did this on the Lancia mostly due to the body post proximity, but I thought perhaps with the close tolerance here that they would have performed the same. In any event, trimming was not need on our model so I cannot really say they made an error.

The rear axle is equipped with a 36 tooth spur gear driven by the 11 tooth standard Fly pinion. The rear axle is seated with 2 bushings and both of mine were very tight in the chassis and needed no adhesive. I was also happy to find that the motor was seated a little better than seen in the Lancia with no movement under load.

Some Issues

It is here that I first discovered 2 slight issues with the model. During our out of the box test, I noticed the car felt like it was starving for power in certain sections of our track. I thought perhaps it was the usual braid adjustment, but after performing this adjustment I discovered the culprit.

This model has a great deal of vertical free-play in the solid front axle. When the axle is fully pushed to the top, it causes the front tire to rub on the body. So when we dove into the corners, the excess free-play would cause the model to lean slightly and thus cause the tire to rub. There are several approaches one could take to remedy this, and after thinking it over I chose a quick and simple one.

Instead of trying to sand the body or turning down the front tires, I decided to shim the body slightly so it was raised just enough to allow the tires to turn freely. I had ordered some washers/spacers from SlotCarPlace a while ago and used the #2 size. It fit over the chassis body posts nicely and I secured them in place with a very slight amount of clear silicone.

After I let them dry I mounted the body back onto the chassis to test the fit. The photos may not show it very well, but this did the trick and really did not take away from the scale appearance of the model (see the end photo below). Since I was satisfied with the fit and overall look of the model, I took the body back off and remounted the washers with Super Glue for a more permanent fit. You could use just about any washer for this modification. So even if you do not have specialty shims or washers handy, try looking in your parts tray for anything suitable.

The next issue I discovered is nothing major, but I feel needs to be addressed. There is a large amount of side-to-side free-play in the rear axle. Sometimes when we find this, it might just be the wheels are not fully seated on the axle. However, such was not the case here. I decided that instead of trimming the axle that I would once again use a shim to eliminate the free-play.

So I went back to my washer/spacer parts tray and took out the SCP #1 plastic washer and slid it over the axle as shown. I re-installed the wheel to test the fit and was pleased to find it almost perfect. I then took the wheel off and put a very small drop of Super Glue on the axle and then installed the wheel a final time.

Fun Time

Now with these 2 small issues dealt with it was time for some "serious" track time! I lightly sanded the rear tires and double-checked the braid adjustment before I attempted the second run. NOW this car is performing like I wanted it to. Although there is a slight amount of gear noise, I knew this was just a sign of the model needing time to break-in.

Acceleration and braking is crisp and distinct as we usually see on Fly models. I really enjoyed the overall feel of this model in the corners too. I could really dive in and come out harder than I expected with the body style of this car. Lap times were right at an average of 4.3 seconds which is pretty fair for a car that will still see more tire work. This makes this car a close match to the 3.5 CSL surprisingly enough. This M1 still has an advantage to it in the corners as it just seems to have a better balance.

We tested this model on a variety of track systems along with different power and control. On standard Carrera and NINCO power and control the model operated fine. The NINCO set controllers made things better as the slightly lower OHM rating on them gave you a wider range. However, the smooth surface of the Carrera track still made the overall feel of the car easier to handle.

We then set up a Scalextric Sport layout and instead of the stock controllers, we used Professor Motor pre-wired controller #2044. This really made this car a joy to operate. Sometimes the slightest upgrade such as this changes things a great deal and such was the case here. The increased range of motion of the controller really allowed us to feather our way through the turns.

It was then time to head to Dixon Hills. Our main layout is Artin that is hardwired and utilizes both after-market power and controllers. I dialed the voltage of our Pyramid power supply to 10 1/2 volts and with the PARMA Economy 35 ohm controller we began the test. Why lower voltage? The reason for us is simple: It just allows the model to be controlled easier. The car still has excellent acceleration and braking, yet now we could control the sliding through the turns with much better reaction times.

Although it is sometimes hard to convey in text, this is the kind of model that seems to become very addicting to drive. Lap after lap this model soon showed itself to be one that can only lead to trouble. Trouble as in trying to explain to the Chief Executive Finance Officer (WIFE!) that I want more. I know now that I must have another to have the perfect running mate. Some cars by Fly just seem to fall into favor with me and this is just another on that ever-growing list.

Wrap It Up

In closing I will say that although there are some minor issues, the model is still worth a second look. Fly models (along with just about every other car on the market) sometimes need work to make them just right. I am one of those enthusiasts that actually enjoys the tuning process and if I discover some flaws along the way, it makes it a little more interesting. I will say that Fly could use a little more attention to quality control, but we have been saying that for years. It has not stopped many enthusiasts from buying the cars, and it most likely never will.

- Harry

As always feel free to contact me about this article or just the hobby in general at, or better yet drop into our Message Forum and share your thoughts with other enthusiasts! 

Thanks Go To Gene At SlotCarPlace For Providing Us With This Model!