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The Spanish Cockroach

May 12, 2006

In 1967, things were not so good in Spain under the dictatorship of right-wing fascist Francisco Franco. But as for some eastern bloc “republics” under the iron fist of the USSR especially Czechoslovakia, lots of creative and inventive fellows always found a way to beat the system and create extraordinary products with meager resources. This is the case for the little-known Segura Company from Spain. Under the “I.A.E. Segura, repuestos mini bolidos” (or “spare parts for miniature fast cars”), this little company based in Zaragoza produced for a short time, some of the more interesting slot car products ever to come out of Spain. Their best-known product is a 1/24 scale McLaren M6A that sometimes turns up on the open market, but very rarely complete and in good condition. So I was really happy to be able to obtain from a good friend a near-perfect period example with even part of the original packaging.

The car has an injected body made of polypropylene. Indeed it has a lot in common with the Cox “La Cucaracha” of which it copies various features.

Next to the American car, compare the added chrome and the driver. The inspiration is pretty clear.

The real surprise is its chassis: stamped steel unit with a drop arm inspired by… American pro-racing brass-rod chassis such as pioneered by Mike Morrissey and other period pros! The motor on this car is a scarce Mabuchi FT270s, a successor of sorts to the FT26, with much better quality and superior performance.

This motor has shunted brushes, a high-quality ball bearing in its quality plastic end bell and a self-aligning bronze bushing on the can side. Magnets are much improved too.

This motor has MURA-style brush holders and is attached to the chassis with two Phillips screws.

The crown gear is by Segura themselves as are the “Taper-Lock” wheels over straight axles requiring a 7mm socket ground to almost nil to clear the very small holes inside front and rear wheels. The rear tires are… semi-pneumatic, copying the 1964 MRRC design. They fit perfectly fine over the rear rims and are as fresh as when made, in… 1967. The front tires are fat O-rings.

The front and rear wheel bearings are also bolted to the chassis with large brass nuts.

The guide is a near perfect copy of the Champion but has a Cox-inspired rubber-band “hook”. Braided contacts are tinned copper.

The body is clearly identified with a little chrome license plate claiming its manufacturer’s name while the front plate pretends that the car is in fact a “GT” and not a Group-7 prototype…

For years, I was told that this car never had a windshield and that the body kits were supplied with a flat piece of clear plastic. So I was quite surprised to find a perfectly molded unit die-cut from a vac-formed windshield…

While the stock wheels and the somewhat out-of-round crown gear would need to be replaced, the strong chassis and nearly indestructible body would make this car, with its very fast motor and good handling, a terror in the “stock” vintage classes, that is, if anyone would know what they would be looking at! This rare bird is the only complete and original car I have ever seen over the years. Anyone is welcome to add more information about this mysterious company. All I have is a small catalogue of parts showing another apparently brass or steel-rod inline chassis with wire front wheel mounts and a Russkit-style motor bracket also sold separately, as well as taper-lock wheels, sponge and rubber tires, crown gears and pinions, the McLaren body (and tantalizing other offerings in “acetate”: Mirage, Lola T70, Banshee, McLaren M8A, Alfa Romeo 33… were ANY of these ever issued?), two different guides, the other an obvious copy of Dynamic’s, two guide weights, threaded and straight axles, body-affixing screws, front and rear wheels and screw-on bearings, ball bearings and a couple of tools: the super-thin wheel wrench and a pinion puller. This catalogue is dated “1969”.

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