Have you ever sent an R/C car ripping across the dirt or asphalt and wondered what it would be like to shrink down and ride inside of it? Well, don’t be silly, that’s impossible. But don’t give up hope, either! The Little Car Company has done the next best thing: They’ve scaled one up so that you can get that same thrilling experience without going all Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Meet the new Tamiya Wild One MAX Launch Edition.
If you’re not familiar with Tamiya, that’s the Japanese model company that just might be single-handedly responsible for the R/C craze that exploded in the 1980s. Many of today’s leading engineers and designers got their start tinkering with Tamiya models and R/C cars, and the term “Tamiya Standard” has become an industry byword for quality to which others aspire.
Now one of the company’s most popular models, the Tamiya Wild One R/C car originally launched in 1985, is headed to the big leagues thanks to a licensing deal with The Little Car Company. It’s not the first time the company has reproduced scaled versions of popular cars to create reincarnated electric versions, but they’re usually shrinking them down instead of scaling them up. This time though, they’re working backwards. And that means the Tamiya Wild One MAX is ready for a significant upgrade.
UK-based The Little Car Company first unveiled plans to supersize the Tamiya R/C car a few years ago, but compared to earlier renders, the company has just unveiled a new version with several key design changes. It will now become part of a 100-unit Launch Edition for the upcoming open-wheeled fun-mobile.
The Little Car Company spent the last few years refining the design by using feedback from early reservation holders and its larger community. Major changes to the 500 kg (1,100 lb.) vehicle include replacing the original trailing arm front suspension with more sophisticated and higher performance dual-wishbone suspension, as well as smoothing the turrets that hold those coilover shocks for better visibility.
Many early adopters who put down the first deposits requested a two-seater setup instead of the classic single-seat design, and their wishes have been answered thanks to the inclusion of two Cobra bucket seats complete with four-point harnesses.
The Tamiya Wild One MAX Launch Edition is said to hit a top speed of 60 mph (96.5 km/h), which puts it at around 50% faster than the original R/C version. It also has a much larger battery, to the tune of 14.4 kWh. But in keeping with the original R/C car, the battery will be removable for charging outside of the vehicle, if necessary. In order to achieve that feat, the battery is divided into eight sub packs that are approximately the capacity of a Gogoro removable battery or large e-bike battery.
It’s all part of making the car as fun and as usable as possible, explained The Little Car Company’s CEO Ben Hedley:
We are absolutely thrilled to be one step closer to revealing our Tamiya Wild One MAX Launch Edition. Whilst there have undoubtedly been a few hurdles along the way with industry-wide supply issues, our team have done a tremendous job of bringing an R/C car to life at full size , and I couldn’t be prouder of them.
I want to thank all our Tamiya deposit holder community, who have provided us with some invaluable contributions and suggestions for how we can make the Wild One MAX the best possible vehicle. We have listened to every single one of them since the first unveiling and have taken their ideas on board. Their feedback has helped us develop a new type of vehicle which illustrates that electric cars can be fun, without having to rely on brain-scrambling acceleration. By simplifying the design and reducing weight, this car is a perfect example of not requiring 500 horsepower to make an enjoyable drivers’ car. We are incredibly excited to show you the finished car and can’t wait for everyone to experience it for themselves.
Speaking of making the car more usable, when asked if they would prefer a street-legal version of the Tamiya Wild One MAX, 95% of early reservation holders responded yes. To allow on-road operation, The Little Car Company will release the Launch Edition of the vehicle with a “road legal pack” in the UK and EU that qualifies the vehicle under L7e quadricycle regulations.
For US customers, the company is initially eyeing an LSV version, though is also exploring other options that wouldn’t require it to be limited to the rather slow 25 mph (40 km/h) speed from current LSV regulations in the US. Kit cars that could be assembled by the owner (just like the original Tamiya R/C cars!) and other options are being floated.
Performance testing on the vehicle is currently underway ahead of production slated for 2024. According to the company, a public unveiling will be coming later this year along with confirmed performance figures, range, and pricing.
This project is positively steeped in nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the ’80s and enjoyed cars. Growing up as a ’90s kid myself, I have fond memories of playing my dad’s Tamiya Hornet R/C car, which was released in 1984, just a year before the Tamiya Wild One that has now graduated into The Little Car Company’s amazing creation unveiled today.
My biggest remaining questions are around pricing, power, and range – and those are also the three key figures that haven’t yet been released.
I’m guessing the vehicle won’t come cheap. For comparison, The Little Car Company’s slick-looking scaled-down Aston Martin DB5 (seen below) is priced at between £39,000–£90,000, which is around US $48,000–$112,000 or €45,000–€103,000, depending on the performance level.
Keep in mind though that the top end DB5 model has James Bond-style miniguns that pop out of the headlights along with other spy kit like an oil slick, rotating license plate holder, etc. So perhaps we’ll be looking at the lower end of that price range for the Tamiya.
But let’s just say that anyone who buys one of these cars isn’t hard up on cash. They’re likely a collector of finer things, and these big-little cars look pretty darn fine. With high-end lifted golf carts going for tens of thousands of dollars, I could see an adult-sized R/C car making some stiff competition.
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