1964 Lola GT Coupe - Reproduction
Late 60's Group 20 Racer
Total of brand 'Champion': 2 factory cars, 1 reproductions, 3 total.
Champion of Chamblee, GA, headed by Jim Williams, started operating in 1965. By 1967, they had become one of two motor kings in slot racing, the other being Ron Mura in San Francisco. Champion started by acquiring the leftover Mabuchi 36D motor supply of several bankrupt would-be manufacturers, such as Hawk and Garvic. Their motor series started by hand selected FT36D (can-driven) named 701. Dark silver in color, stock arm with brown wire. The bad ones were taken apart, and balanced by arm grinding. They were the 702 . Rewound with #29 wire and ground-balanced, name them 703 . All used the stock bearings, except the 703, that you could also buy with a large can-side high quality ball bearing. this led to the 707 , with rewound arm, big good quality commutator and nylon insulators, plus the new Arco magnets with shim. Some 707 received the ultimate evolution, a Champion-made endbell with ball bearing. Meanwhile, the leftover dark blue ex-Hawk FT16D Can-driven motors were re-christened 501 . Rewound, with a Kirkwood commutator and ground-balanced,and with magnets made from broken Arco 33 from the big 36D, it became the 507 .All motors above received a metal-foil sticker with their names printed in black or green on silver.The 507 was fast but melted its endbell rapidly, so Champion made their own with better plastic, with molded-in cooling hole and better bronze bushing. The can was a modified Mabuchi FT16D, nickel-plated,with the old gimball bearing replaced by a fixed serted bronze bushing. The arm received the nylon insulators but was still ground balanced(U-Gly!)Add a set of new Arco 33 properly molded magnets with a new shim,it became the 507R and received a white paper label with black markings. This evolved rapidly along with the new 600' line (26D),all nickel-plated, the 601 being the selected stock motor, while the 607 was the rewound unit with Arco mags.Both those 26D had Mabuchi-made cans with 2 holes for a future 2-56 assembly screw arrangement to help when those tabs broke... A new 507/607 line showed briefly with one-vent hole only, but were quickly replaced by an all-new, American-made can line with thicker, chrome plated one-hole cans. Called the 517 and 617, those were not only powerful but lasted longer. By that time, the 36D line was abandoned and Champion sold them in cheap kits, inside Snuggler chassis and on low-cost RTR's. After the 517/617 series, things got very confusing. Jim Williams left the Company and Mr. YoYo , Bob Rule, took over. The Champion Works Team changed drivers almost on a weekly basis, and things were just not the same.As the Industry crumbled, all what was left were the Pro-designed product lines, and the emergence of Parma as an Industry leader for the next 20 years! One thing certain is that Champion were still dominant, and Mura's days had not come as yet. Champion became very active in England, thanks to their importer, B.I.C.O. Multiple products were re-labeled and re-named by the British Company, and they had their own set of Pro-racers such as Louis Meyerowicz and others. In USA, Team Captain Jack Lane faded away, and Ole Man Gardner and Bob Cozine took things in their hands, with support from various guest Team members such as John Cukras, John Anderson and others. After the Chrome-Can series, Champion produced their first real motor, no longer derived from the Mabuchi design. After the multitude of can and endbell design variations during the 507/517 days. The new motor was STRICTLY FT16-sized, with a black-painted steel can with an oval hole on one side only, a cut clearance for anglewinder mounting, and various colors endbells which determined the actual denomination of each type. The first type came in mid- 1968,(after the Anglewinder revolution) and had a black endbell. It was named 525 and existed in a variety of winds, all done on new .010 blanks, all equipped with the new Arco “blue dot” magnets, a better version of the previous ferrites, with an all new shim design. Those blanks were coated in light blue or orange insulating varnish, that shows even after armature truing. This lasted until new .007 blanks were introduced in 1970, to keep up with Mura which by that time, was becoming the dominant player. The hardened steel double-ended shaft ran into 2 bronze bushings, as virtually no one was as yet using ball bearings… The armature windings, available in double 29, 28, 27, 26 and 25, were generally in a brownish-reddish color, and did not appear to be as tidy as Mura s near perfect jobs. They did work, thought, and utterly dominated Eastern USA and British racing, with a few interruption by Mura-powered cars. The endbell and can were affixed, as on the 507/517 series, by 2 small slotted screws on top and bottom of can. Those had shallow slots and were very difficult to install or remove. The hardware on endbells was derived from the previous generation, with the top of the line motors using the larger FT36 motor brushes, the greatest single progress in motor design in 1969. Those brushes were shunted with silver-coated wire strands for top of the line motors. A version of the 525 became the Bob Cozine Signature motor, the most thought-after in the collector s world along with the Mura/Cukras pink type-A motor, with the flower-power decal on it! The Cozine-massaged motor was all black, with Bob s signature stamped in white on the flat side of the can, and had special threaded precision hardware instead of the usual self-threading stuff previously used. This hardware was nickel-plated over highly polished slotted screws. The Cozine hand-wound arm did not look any better than stock production, but the few tricks provided by Bob, along with clean assembly, made it a reliable performer. At a time where new products were issued on a weekly basis to keep up with the competition, the Cozine motor held its own for a while. Today, they are HORRIBLY difficult to find! The older 7 series had found its way in low-cost RTR sold by Champion through 1969. The 6 series of 26D hung-on until 1970/71, when they were unloaded under the Charlie Brown name, as a Group 12 motor following the new NCC (National Competition Committee) rules. Champion had introduced a multiplicity of brass Jailhouse -style frame designs in 1966/67, and found themselves with a huge load of unsold obsolete Inline frames the very day after Mike Steube won the first Pro Anglewinder race in California. So they were sold in low-priced kits, and eventually vanished. They are still easy to find today in used condition, but seldom are found as new. Champion retooled and introduced a plethora of variations of anglewinder frames, closely following the evolution of Pro-racing, both on the East and West coast of the United States. After the resounding defeat of the British Pro racers against visiting mild-mannered, cool Bob Emmott at Tottenham Raceways in 1969, Champion concentrated on getting their information from their own pros and utterly ignored the advice of their British contingent. This led to the strangest of situation when occasional Champion Team member Ed Lewis devised a full sidewinder with very narrow center section and wide pans, and actually lucked-out by winning a pro race by surviving the demolition, rather than by pure performance. After Car Model magazine published an illustrated story about the contraption, MOST British Pros went blindly into this new avenue, and for nearly a year, ran full sidewinder aberrations, that no one else used in USA with any success against the very logical anglewinders. Champion kept producing their black motor, changing the name as they evolved, from GP7 with blue or green endbell, to Orange Picker with orange endbell, to Big Louie (British version) etc. Of course there was a Group 20 version, as Champion had the frame contract with the NCC. By 1971, with the help of top pro Joel Montague and other notable pros, Champion revised their tooling and came up with the new C can to compete against Mura's new, Bob Green-designed, Green can. This had two elongated holes on each side, and used the latest Arco white dots magnets. Shims were no longer needed, as in the Green can, as both were significantly smaller and lower profiled. They both required new endbells. Champion's was dark red and the can was attached as before, but small tongues protruded from the can and the endbell had recesses to receive them. The usual slotted screws held things together. By now, the performance enveloppe was bursting at the seams, and by 1972, the first sub-four seconds lap times were recorded on American Blue King tracks. Earl Campbell did just that at Speed & Sport in Lynwood, California. But it was not with a Champion motor. Mura had now a firm grip on the market, and Champion was sliding fast. Champion survives today, as does Mura. But under different ownerships, and on a much smaller scale than in the Fabulous Sixties or even the Lean Seventies . But other than Koford, may be, no other name had as much charisma and worldwide reputation as those two rivals from the two coasts of the United States. (Contribution of Philippe de Lespinay)
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