We recently took in a retrospective review of the TRF414. The TRF414 increased the momentum that Tamiya had began with the TRF414X and it started to win races around the world, and even managed to come second at the prestigious millennium Reedy Race.
The next big step ahead was the TRF414M chassis. A revised chassis, lighter bulkheads and lighter TA04 drive train parts brought extra speed, and more success with victories in Germany, Hong Kong and Japan. This was Followed by the TRF414M2 chassis, again with some minor tweaks including the big shift to the now iconic Tamiya blue anodizing (Blue makes you faster.. FACT!).
The culmination of the TRF414's development was the 2002 IFMAR touring car world championships in South Africa. Surikarn Chaidajsuriya & Masayuki Muira managed to get 2 cars in the A final. A good chance to claim Tamiya’s inaugural world championship win. It all got down to the third round, three drivers were able to win.. Watch the third A final race here.
After watching the 3rd A final of the 2002 IFMAR world championship, when Surikarn overtook both Barry Baker & Masami Hirosaka in the first few corners, I was blown away & Tamiya was taken seriously as a competitive team
Surikarn was world champion, and Tamiya was to begin the its record holding dominance of the world touring car championship.
After the event, Tamiya released a world championship replica. This car includes all the parts that Surikarn used over a standard TRF414M to allow you to build a fitting replica of this great achievement
This kit was released as a limited edition of 1700 worldwide. The boxes are sealed, so you have no way of knowing what number is inside the box! The number was etched onto the motor plate with a commemorative logo to denote the 2002 win. I wanted one for myself, but it was out of my price range at the time. When I could finally afford one, none were available
After 18yrs, I was finally able to track one down. I opened the box & got to work on building the car. Although it’s a limited edition, I am not a fan of new in box kits. It’s a race car, it needed to be built & raced!
Let's open the box and start the build :)
Unlike the 414 and its very basic manual, this is a proper detailed manual and has been laid out in the style you have come to expect from Tamiya.
Opening the box & inspected all the parts. The bags are sealed, but they aren’t labelled bags A-Z. The separate screws & alloy parts are in different bags. It wasn’t a problem as I opened the bags into a parts tray to commence the build. The screws are titanium as are the turnbuckles which is a nice touch, an attention to quality & reduction of weight
The lower deck appears to be 2mm thick with quite a wide front end. The chassis feels quite flexible but doesn’t have any cut outs apart from the slots for the 6 cells & motor to sit very low.
Moving onto the suspension. The car now uses a lot to TA04 parts as opposed to unique 414 arms. The lower arms now sit in alloy pivot blocks. You would need to change the entire block to achieve different toe in angles. They have slots machined into the blocks, more on that later
The pivot blocks sit quite high on spacers to raise the roll centres.
The spacers you can use to adjust the wheelbase are quite thick, not the normal Tamiya blue 5mm diameter, these are silver and have a 7mm diameter.
When building the rear, I found there was a little bit of play, I had to add another 0.7mm to remove the play.
The rear diff has to be assembled before the rear bulkheads are installed. The diff has lightweight Delrin outdrives. The retaining rings need to be fitted after the diff is installed in the car. I used Schumacher diff lube for the balls & Team Associated black grease for the thrust bearing
The bulkheads are in Tamiya signature blue. Unlike the earlier models the WCR has parts of the bulkheads removed to make them a little lighter. Tamiya took that concept further with the separately available lightweight bulkheads. Like the the previous TRF414 models , the diff bearings are preinstalled in the bulkheads which are pressed in place.
You fit the diff, motor plate & rear belt when you screw it all together.
At this point you can now see what number I ended up with. 260/1700, quite a low number!
The grooves in the pivot blocks line up with the rear bulkheads which locks everything in place to prevent tweak & misalignment.
The front utilizes a one way diff which was the current trend at the time. When fitting it, it uses a regular 10 ball rear diff pulley, but only 4 screws to bolt it on. As you can see, the holes don’t line up exactly straight, but as long as you line it all up, it will not be an issue
The layshafts uses aluminium 15t pulleys. A centre one way pulley sits on the front pulley. The spur gear holder is held in with a grub screw like the rear pulley. You can move the position to adjust the free play.
The front bulkheads line up the same as the rear. All locked in place by the pivot blocks
The drive shafts are 42mm & lightweight aluminium all round. Compared to modern cars which use steel for the front driveshafts systems, the load on the front was never an issue due to the one way systems in place. Although the modified motors were powerful in the day, the modern day brushless systems produce a lot more torque, even with the 27t modern equivalent
I decided to drill the holes completely in the front hubs so I could use a kingpin alignment tool. The manual says that the screws need to perfectly aligned, this is the best method I found.
The rear hubs required a little filing to sit free in the suspension arms. In every TA04 I have built, this has always been an issue.
The steering looks the same as the 414, but blue in colour. The belt tensioners are fixed in place with plastic servo mounts & use the only self tapping screws in the entire kit. You can adjust the tension by adding spaces under the mounts
The camber link turnbuckles are now secured on the bulkheads rather than using the shock tower location on the 414. Although its only 1 mounting point, I’m guessing that its all that was needed back in the day. It also sits longer than the previous positions
The front roll bar is a unique idea for the WCR. The roll bar sits higher and secures above the top deck. Its also 1.8mm thick, so a very firm bar. Its raised further with alloy servo mounts & a carbon plate. The rear bar is 1.5mm thick & sits in the usual position
The dampers are the TRF threaded polished units. You don’t need the plastic spring spacers to adjust the ride height. I built the dampers using Associated green slime on the o rings to prevent leaking & ensure a smooth movement. I chose to use the supplied Tamiya 600wt oil. The oil is blue in colour so, a nice contrast to the silver dampers!
The front shocks just avoid hitting the Roll bar attachment's.
The rear dampers are spaced 12mm away from the shock tower, this looks like a lot but allows the damper to sit straight with the shims used in the rear arms. Only 3mm is needed on the front
Rolling chassis complete!
This chassis looks great. I get so used to seeing modern touring cars, the TRF414 just looks so different to the norm, and blue aluminium and carbon always looks fantastic. Here are few close ups.
Front view. Here you can see the other mounting point for the front anti-roll bars.
The rear of the car. Here you can see the lightweight ball differential with the retaining rings that will stop the plastic outdrives splaying out on an impact.
What’s next for the car?
As previously mentioned, this car will be used on the track. Although the purists say its too valuable to build/race, I feel it’s a shame to leave it sat in the box. I always wanted this car, so I am going to make the most of it!
I will be aiming to fit period correct motor/esc. I could fit a brushless system, but I feels this ruins the purpose of the car. Even a modern day 17.5t brushless has more torque than the 8x2 brushed motor this car used. I will fit a modern radio & servo as its easier to use the car but doesn’t affect performance. I will see if I can find some saddle pack lipos. Old school C cells may not be easily available
At the time of writing, I have found a Futaba ESC & Reedy Ti motor. Not exactly 100% accurate, but pretty close to the equipment used
The kit comes with the exact same shell & wing that Surikarn used. The shell is a Protoform Dodge Stratus. A very popular shell back in the day. The Ride rear wing is also included. This bodyshell highlights a massive improvement of bodyshell development over the years. Most modern shells have centre/offset positions for the front wheels and lines across the bonnet/boot to align the body posts accurately. A bit of guess work was required, but I have mounted the shell evenly.
I will be getting the shell painted in Surikarn’s colours as a fitting tribute
The wheels are Tamiya ones he used, but no tyres/inserts are included. As the championship used Team Orion control tyres, they may have been difficult to obtain after the event. I will see what I can do.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review where I will be include fitting the electrics, popping on the painted shall and will hit the track!