Monday, August 30, 2010


Yeah baby! My glory days (90's) are coming back! Don't get me wrong I had fun in the 21st century but nothing compares to the "end of innocence" that was the 90's. People wore clear pagers, cell phones were the size of my shoe, and 2GB ram dual core processors were from outer space. Continue? You wore colors so bright they still embarrass you to this day, Japanese sports cars were embarrassing "American Muscle", Reality TV began and ended with "The Real World", and we were all preparing to "party like it's 1999".

What was all that about? well FWD touring cars are trying to come back. Yeah I passed on them in favor of belt drive carbon fiber and 4wd, but I had no clue. OK I still don't, but now I can appreciate FWD touring cars. I had an FF01 but lost it in the move from AZ to NJ before I could drive it. Now I have a NIB Tamiya FF02 with full options and a Kyosho Mantis that I just converted to FWD (more on those later). I will post up some info on the FF03 once I have all of the details, some people are having problems and I want to give you all of the nitty and some of the gritty. For now I give you the TOP Racing Sabre (Japanese RC's have the best names).

Sexy. I really like the luxury approach they took. It really looks like this car is a serious racer. It looks like its belt drive but its not. It uses the same gears as the FF02, that means the 3racing speed tuned gears for the M03 will work in it. Nice. I wonder if the carbon shafts will work too. Probably not. Now the only problem is 98% of fwd rc owners have plastic chassis parking lot bashers and we have to deal with the guy who dumps $275 on one of these monsters. Lets look at it more closely with RC Mini



Bored with the seemingly endless numbers of Touring Car chassis that all seem to look the same?
Looking for a new driving experience perhaps? We were, thats why we started racing Minis.
But now there's a whole new alternative as well. Something that even interests us..

Over at T.O.P. Racing in Japan they must have been thinking the same as us, and obviously someone at
T.O.P. likes the idea of thinking outside the square a little and was prepared to be a little more adventurous
than 'just another Touring Car' and came up with the Sabre FD.

Luckily for us, T.O.P. Racing Australia Head Honcho Rod Maslovsky was able to grab hold of the one and only existing assembled version of the Sabre FD and we're presenting it here to the world on for the first time.
At first glance you could easily mistake it for nothing special, but as your eyes settle on the car there's a lot of tasty little surprises. Like all T.O.P. cars there's a whole heap of red alloy and tasty carbon. And it's all quality stuff, superb machining worthy of any of the leading Major Manufacturers. I'd be happy to buy one on looks alone.

Take a closer look and the drive belt you expect to see running from front to rear isn't there! The rear bulkheads (from the Scythe) are still essentially intact, as is all the rear suspension as well. Most (OK, in fact ALL) of the rear end comes from either the Scythe or the Photon. And why not, no sense re-inventing the wheel here when you've already got quality components that will do the job for you. It also means that you've got all the built in adjustability that those cars have as well.

Moving on towards the front of the car and you've got an all new top plate that terminates in the 2 massive bulkheads lying just aft of the front end. Yep, this is where the motor goes, and here is where the Sabre starts to get interesting. The issue with FWD cars is trying to get everything (i.e. motor, diff and steering) all in the one place. Yokomo hung the motor out front, as have Tamiya with the FF03, T.O.P. have brought it back within the wheelbase and placed the steering linkages just in front of it with a really lovely carbon bellcrank system.

The big surprise for us is that T.O.P. have opted for what is basically a transmission, not just direct drive. Take a look at those gears, if it weren't for the black colour you'd swear they were gear sets out of an M03/05. Word is (although we didn't have the car long enough to confirm) that this is a deliberate design feature so that the final drive ratio is exactly the same as the Tamiya cars... If so, that's a super clever move and to be applauded.

The car has a ball diff as standard and also includes Unis too. Standard battery placement has it running down the side like the Photon. But, we figured out it would be a 2 minute job to move it inboard and have it almost down the centreline of the car. We also found that it could be mounted crossways, and we even think that with minimal work the servo could head up top and the battery could even maybe go right forward next to the motor to give you that extra weight over the front end.

This car really has a lot to recommend it. Superb build quality, innovative engineering and a whole lot of thought has gone into it. And it's great to see that manufacturers are moving out of the 'normal' Touring Car arena a little. After all, 95% of Touring Cars looks exactly the same now anyway.
The question a lot of you are maybe asking is 'Why do rc-mini care about a TOURING CAR anyway?' Very simple,later this year, T.O.P. are releasing a Sabre FD Mini!... And THAT is something we cant wait for!

Check out the optional battery placement

Horizontal or longitudinal

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