It's a little funny to think that there are such things as "classic" RC cars, but it's true. Off-road RC racing really blossomed during the 1980s. Many of the popular designs from that era are now sought after by collectors. These enthusiasts restore their machines with the same attention to detail that one might dote on a numbers-matching 1969 Charger Daytona.
You don't have to scour thrift stores or eBay to own a retro RC racer. Several companies have re-opened the production lines for a selection of 80s-era kits. You can find classics from Tamiya, Associated Electrics, Schumacher, and others. Kyosho has actually reintroduced several of their legacy off-roaders. There is the Scorpion, Turbo Scorpion, Tomahawk, Beetle, and the low-slung model you see here: the Optima. I always wanted an Optima as a kid. It just took me a few decades to get my hands on one!
About the Optima
The Optima was introduced in 1985. At the time, it was a revolutionary design for 4-wheel-drive racing. It spawned a long line of descendants that remained popular and competitive for many years.
Kyosho's re-release of the Optima ($300) is not a carbon copy of the original. It's mostly the same, but a few concessions have been made to reflect modern RC norms. For instance, ball bearings were an upgrade on the original Optima, but they now come as standard equipment.
There were certainly powerful motors back in the day, but modern systems kick the horsepower potential up a few notches. Kyosho implemented a couple of changes to accommodate monster set-ups. The transmission now includes a slipper clutch that protects the driveline from heavy power surges. The clutch also helps to improve traction. Additionally, the kit includes both the original chain drive system and an upgraded belt drive.
There are no factory-assembled components here. The Optima is packaged today just as it was 30+ years ago. You get a box full of aluminum and nylon components that you put together piece by piece. It also comes with a clear Lexan body that must be painted. Don't look at the assembly process as a chore. Take your time and enjoy the experience. It's all part of the fun.