(Click on pics to enlarge)

Prototype version of home-made decals

C79 is the reference number for the mythic Watson Offenhauser issued by Triang Scalextric in 1967, a very typical Indy front-engine roadster. Even today, it's one of the favorites of Scalextric owners, and is actively sought after on auction markets. The early models were produced in the Hong Kong Triang factory.

While the model itself was nicely executed, the decoration as most often was rather poor. There were two variants produced : white body, racing number 1and pale blue body, racing number 4, with « Sheraton Thompson special » on the bonnet.

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(Photo Nicolas Barré)

The white one was clearly supposed to represent the "Sheraton Thompson" car that A. J. FOYT drove to victory in the 1964 Indianapolis 500 Miles, one of the most mythic Watson roadsters ever. As can be seen by looking at photos of the real car (see below), the whole superb blue and red decoration, in the typical style of US Indy roadsters, was missing, leaving the owners of this C79 somewhat frustrated, the more so as this red and blue combination would be rather difficult, if not impossible, to achieve by hand-painting.

So, in that specific case, the real car and the event to try to replicate is immediately there, no need to spend time searching a better candidate. Moreover, it's worth pursuing and (hopefully) materializing the initial idea of Scalextric designers

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These three photos were taken on that memorable saturday day May 30th, 1964. The first one, found in the July 1964 issue of the French monthly L'AUTOMOBILE magazine, shows the "Sheraton Thompson Special" #1 being checked up on the pitlane before the start of the race. The second one, a magnific shot of the winner at full speed, was published in the 1964 edition of the AUTOMOBILE YEAR while the third one was the central double-page of the july 1964 issue of the French monthly SPORT AUTO magazine. They are quite valuable for us regarding details of the "Sheraton Thompson" livery.

Interesting to note that on their web site, Scalextric Car Restorations, a UK-based company, are selling a water-slide decal sheet (opposite) intended to those willing to restore their C79s, but this decal sheet is more than rudimentary and certainly not going to meet enthusiasts' expectations.

Chasing up a C79

Given its success, a C79 is good working condition is not so easy to find. After a chasing up of several months on eBay, I’ve been lucky enough recently to bid successfully for a lot of three scalextric cars on, all three complete, unbroken and in good working condition :

  • a C79 made in Hong-Kong, light blue

  • a red C80, officially named « Bryant Indy » in the Scalextric terminology, a rear-engined Indy roadster, obvioulsly inspired from the rear-engined Watson Indy roadster, ifself inspired from the Rolla VOLLSTEDT’s car,

  • a yellow Lotus Honda F1, not only in good condition but also a fast runner on the track.

Given the good condition of the three cars, I judged the 34,66 GBP amount it costed me as reasonable. Moreover, I had no Offenhauser in my collection and getting both C79 and C80 at the same time was a kind of bonus.

As regards the C80, it has in my opinion absolutely nothing especially appealing, especially compared to the C79, and it seems difficult to end up with something terrific. So, I imagined a fantasy «  REISSORG Racing » livery in the Indianapolis style, for my own pleasure, and produced ad hoc water-slide decals. The red body shell was really in good condition, and I didn’t even paint it. See below :

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Relivering it

The first difficult task it to decide which car to represent. There were a lot of successful front-engined Watson Offenhauser roadsters, all with very attractive colorful liveries. Eventually, I thought I should try to pursue the initial « Sheraton Thompson » choice of Scalextric. In addition, the A.J. Foyt’s victory at the 1964 500 Indy Miles had been a major event, making the Watson n° 1 very wellknown worldwide.
The first step ot the relivery process consisted in painting the body shell in white. A rather conventional process, illustrated below :

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-- 1) Disassemble the car, of course, a relatively simple job as for other vintage Scaleys. -- 2) Mask the driver’s head and pray a primer onto the body shell. -- 3) Spray it in white and do some manual paintwork to detail the cockpit and the driver. The supports of the wheel axles can be painted in matt grey. The driver’s head can be left in place if you want to keep it unchanged. In my example, I removed it as I wanted to somewhat reshape A.J.’s helmet to give it a more U.S. style. -- 4) Spray the wheel hubs in golden, a bit darker than here (Tamya ). Paint the central nuts in silver.

Now, we can no longer elude the key step of our restoration process, i.e. the decaling step, both designing decals and applying them on the car. As an additional challenge, I chose to come up with a 100% decal-based solution, not requiring any paint job on the body shell, except of course the white background. So, those lucky enough to own a white C79 with a body shell in excellent condition would just have to apply the decals.

Designing the decals for the front red / blue decoration is not a piece of cake, given the rounded convex shapes of the body and the presence of the air intake. In addition, the two sides are not symetric, due to the bossage on the left-hand side of the bonnet. Obtaining something satisfactory requires a certain number of tests (use plain paper and print in B&W to save your decal paper and ink cartridges). For my first try, I had printed the decals on clear decal paper, but the results was not so good. Much better using white background decal paper.

At that stage, I've come up with a prototype version of decals (pics below) which confirms the feasibility of a "all decals" solution. They still have some minor imperfections that I've already corrected. Due to the numerous manipulations of the body shell for testing purposes, the white background painting has been somewhat deteriorating, which probably will lead me to restart the whole work from scratch with, as a good news, the advantage of using my last version of decals.

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