DTW Adds a Chinese Electric Car to the Fleet

The car in question is a Dodge Challenger. Remotely controlled, it runs on four AA batteries. It’s made under licence by Maisto.

2015 Dodge Challenger remote control car by Maisto.
2015 Dodge Challenger remote control car by Maisto.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had an electric car. In 2005 I took ownership of a second-hand remote control car (make unknown) which I used for ten minutes until the vehicle slammed into something hard and never worked again.

This time around I can report more success. The Maisto Challenger, made in China, is robust and wieldy. One quickly learns the elements of the chassis’ behaviour and how to coax the best from its limited grip. It’s a rear wheel drive car and this means that dramatic oversteer can be exploited as well as direct use of the steering.

In other words, the vehicle is very throttle-sensitive. For example, if one is approaching a sharp left, the best approach for the tightest line is to pull the vehicle into reverse. The tail will swing out to a degree dependent on the speed into the bend and the exact amount of reverse the driver has dialled up. Then apply full power to move forward again. The price is a loss of speed during the turn, perhaps but on the other hand a retarding impact with a wainscot or chair leg can be avoided.

2006 Dodge Challenger concept car: allpar.com
2006 Dodge Challenger concept car: allpar.com

For an inexpensive vehicle, the Challenger performs commendably. To criticise the on/off nature of the steering is to expect too much of a simply engineered vehicle intended mostly for aimless circuits of the kitchen floor. Presumably a variable steering system which allowed for different angles of wheel-turning would improve handling but also lift the car into a new price class. The controls are simple too: there is a forward-backward lever (on the left of the device) for going forward and

imagebackwards and a left-right lever (on the right) for going left and right. One of the interesting characteristics of this set-up is that the mapping relationship between left and right on the remote control device and the car can be confusing: a left turn relative to the car’s direction of travel might mean a right-pull on the lever relative to the driver. That’s why to begin with I have been driving the vehicle only anti-clockwise around the test circuit in DTW’s kitchen. I can add more or less left steering to keep the car on line and can avoid inversions of the left-right mapping.

A common criticism of electric vehicles is range anxiety. The Maisto Dodge Challenger has no such problems. Battery performance more than exceeds the driver’s willingness to put time in using the car. An overnight charge allows up to two hours of use but, practically speaking, one will never exploit the car to the extent that one runs up against the batteries’ limits. I recommend recharging the car at night and then one is ready the following day for more driving.

Here’s a small film showing a slightly more advanced version of the car. This has functioning headlamps whereas DTW’s car’s lamps do not illuminate.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

12 thoughts on “DTW Adds a Chinese Electric Car to the Fleet”

  1. Reminds me of a 1:18 scale model of the General Lee I owned and loved as a child. Studying it in part inspired my appreciation of car design, especially their sculptural quality which can only be appreciated by viewing from different angles in the metal. All things must pass, of course, including both youthful innocence and the rubber tyre the dog chewed off and ate one day. For some unknown reason, I then painted the car in Tippex. Worth £100 now, that model.

  2. Ah, I know the feeling. I also painted cars with Tipp-Ex. It ruined them. My own bitter regret is the Corgi James Bond DB6. The little man was lost immediately I pressed the ejector seat button. My neighbour had an earlier edition with more features too. My car got lost. I also lost the missiles for Stromberg´s Bell Jet Ranger and the rather crap Lotus Esprit (even as a seven year old I wondered why they couldn´t engineer a model with wheels that could be covered up for underwater use). Luckily some of the toys I most liked are still quite cheap though. A Micronauts Mobile Exploration Lab is still about $100, which as an adult is not a lot if one wants to go down memory lane sometime. And Baron Karza is about $50. Some Star Wars figures (which I don´t care a lot about) cost humoungous sums. Boba Fett in a box is worth £30,000, did you know!

    1. There are. Middle age nostalgia has moved to a certain extent from buying the car you wanted as a teenager to collecting the toys you enjoyed as a child. Thus you’ll find ‘grown ups’ collectors clubs for everything from Hot Wheels cars to Lego, and businesses making a livin out of replica movie props and costumes. I remember a replica Viper model from Battlestar Galactica which had a tiny functional LCD radar display and glowing engine exhausts. You’re not going to give that to your six year old to run around the back yard making laser noises are you? How many children will tell stories later in life about how dad kept buying them Star Wars toys and making them watch the movies over and over again? More than a few.

    2. ChrisWard1978: certainly it´s foolish to spend £30,000 on a Boba Fett figure and blowing the same amount on a bottle of wine (as some do) is up there in the same league. Are these guys emotionally retarded? Some might be but others probably a combination of “anorak” and very, very rich. I have a lingering yearning to buy one or two of these toys (the Mobile Exploration Lab, for example) and when I investigate my motives it has something to do with wanting to restore some aspect of the past. The parts of my own toy got lost and I suppose wanting a replacement annuls that loss. Having worked through that I can see the wish to own the toy is without a proper basis as I know the past is beyond restoration. You could look it the matter as an expression of the normal human sense of loss which is in some people stronger than others. I don´t think my sense of loss is sufficiently wounding to need to send $100 to someone in Milwaukee so they can send me a 35 year old toy! The man who bough the Boba Fett figure really ought to have spent a fraction of the cost on a few hours on the pyschologist´s chaise longue. Or maybe got out a bit more.

    3. I suppose toy collecting is a branch of antiques, so from that perspective if the market commands £30,000 for a mint in box Boba Fett, then all power to the obsessive collector that kept it sealed and hidden away all these years to realise that return on investment. If I was Richard I would probably get the $100 micronauts set enjoy the moment of making my old set whole again. There’s always the option of selling it afterwards, which isn’t possible with therapy sessions. Alternately, I guess $100 spent on micronauts is $100 less for the XM maintenance fund.

  3. In another life many years ago I had a tin lithographed American style petrol station with forecourt, working elevator to first floor parking area, 2 lube bays, product show room etc.
    The petrol pumps held water and one filled the plastic car up then drove onto the oil service lift, pressed a spring mascot button on the bonnet/ hood and the water drained away presumably as oil.
    I wonder if the oil companies subsidised this toy to manipulate young minds.

    1. It´s possible but perhaps not probable. Children seem to really like small model vehicles of all types. Look at the allure of the train set, for example.

    2. I started a reply about brand licensing and social conditioning, but in the end I decided just to say that dgate’s toy petrol station sounds really cool.

  4. Mark: I meant to say the same thing. Toys in the 70s seemed to be much more intricate (and dangerous). One of mine involved melting metal to make die-cast soldiers. Imagine!

  5. To turn this thread on its head, what are cars but another form of toy? I certainly enjoy getting mine out and giving it a good thrashing. Did I say “toy”? I meant “penis”.

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