Desert Gator
Model Number: 58344




2WD rear


4 wheel independent, double wishbone, coilover oil shocks

Chassis Description


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super gripper

2/18/2007 7:06:25 PM

Desert Gator! Where do Tamiya get thier names from? To be fair the bodyshell does have ridges on the nose (deliberate or coincidence) so croc like yeah suppose!
After wanting to do 2wd now for a while at club level I was on the look out for something that was value for money - well most Tamiya kits are if you don't buy them in this country!
Anyway a friend from my club said he was due to go to China on buisness and planned to get himself a DI. He was taking orders for people so I asked if he could get me a DT-02 chassis car. I wasn't bothered if it was a Gator or Viper just what ever he could find at the right price.
After a few emails while he was out in China he managed to find a good stocked shop so prices were good and at £48 a Gator it was then!
To even have a chance at club level the car was going to need a few Hop-Ups, only the necessary mind you as this car was on a budget! So the ball diff was a must as was the adjustable top links. Alloy shockers and universals by 3 racing, alloy drive hubs by 5 stars should all be sufficient for now.
After another email I knew Neil was due home on the friday, although he lived not to far from me I had to wait until the following thursday (race night) before I could get my hands on the kit.
The day finally came, a stop at the the cash point provided the readys and on I went.
Sat there watching my batterys charge and getting my DI ready for the first race Neil turned up with all the goodies.
He had flat packed the box to fit in his suit case it was held together with elastic bands, so some careful glueing to build up the box again was a job for another day.
It has been a long time since I had the pleasure of building a Tamiya kit so I was mesmerized by all that shiney black plastic sealed in plastic bags for longer than I dare say! The instructions had to wait as my charger beeped and the first race was called, the race went well and the DI was handling a treat. So between marshalling and racing I managed the odd peek at the instructions.
Although it had been sometime since my last Tamiya build, the clearness and boldness of the intruction booklet left no dought that I was looking at a fairly easy build.
Remembering however the car would be built up from the ground with all the Hop-Ups, so many parts were not going to be used and careful planning was done so I didn't get ahead of myself during the build.
The living room floor was my choice build area as it ment I could spread the parts out almost in build order with the Hop-Ups at hand at the various points.
I have noted that some TC members claim only a 2 hour build time but my plan was no challange to this as I has set the day aside for the task, plenty of cups of tea was the choice stimulant.................and so it began!
Finding the parts was never going to be a problem and the car began to take shape quite quickly, I had decided to spray the bodyshell in my usual colours, blue-yellow-gun metal and black. Box art was never in the frame, some cars are just a sin to do any other way but this was not one as the decals were just gruesome!
I always spray the shell during the build as while the kettle boils another colour can be masked off then spayed before returning to the build so breaking up what has to be done rather than lots of the same then something different. Just how I like to do the build. Almost a ritual you might say!
I am not going through each part bit by bit so just the bits I wish to point out. The ball diff is a good bit of kit even if some parts are a little fidley. The 3 racing shockers come ready built but are much too stiff for the lightweight Gator but we will come back to this. Universals, adjustable top links and alloy hups just replaced the kit parts as and when needed.
At this point then - chassis done, shell paint drying, electrics in now all we need is the right tyres for the job. Shumacher yellow mini spike with schumacher hard inserts are the standard on most UK tracks and indoors too for polished wooden floors or carpet. These were ordered through my usual supplyer and were on the hallway floor when I got home the next day.
All was needed then was to trim the shell and put on the sticky backed velcro. I don't use body clips, they take to much time before and after a race. Also the velcro provides a seal that keeps nearly all the muck and water out. Fit the new tyres, load the car and racing we go!
The car created alot of interest at the club as most people ran the Losi or B4, all the usual jibes were made but they just go in one ear and out the other as I have heard them all before.
The car was fitted with a Team orion 19turn v2 motor (club rules, to keep the speed down and prevent damage to the cars and marshalls!) 3300 TJ matched cells. MRT VX pro esc and a KO 1001 fet servo all on 40mhz.
So the first race then, 2wd being totaly alien to me after runing 4wd from year dot! a gentle aproch was taken.
I say gentle! the Gator took off from the line like some crazed animal after it's 1st meal! Pulling wheelies due to the excellent grip from those schmacher tyres just became boring until the power from the batterys levelled off, now the car became more driveable but with masses of understear.
So to the shockers then (said we would come back) thinner oil was used and during the next race the Gator began to show it's potential but the springs were now the problem as they were too stiff and I couldn't swap them for Tamiya springs as they have a smaller diameter.
But this was to be the last race of the night anyway as during a jump the car tangled with another and a horrible landing broke the rear upright! Not so tough little croc!
This weakness showed up indoors, outdoors it would have stood no chance! So an alloy part from 5 stars was the next Hop-Up found to be necessary!
It was a full two weeks before I had a chance to push the croc again, same track, same grip level so those damn wheelies just anoyed me as it made the car look pathetic. Most buggies that are designed with racing in mind do need a slipper cltuch on high grip surfaces, so this Gator is in desprate need of one! No Hop-Up is availible yet so I might have to build one myself to rectify the problem.
This aside I began to control my heavy left thumb and my lap times began to become quite respectable to the point where thanks to the comentator at race control I found to stedly improving lap after lap! Then disaster! A wide line was needed through a sweeping bend, my line that lap was too wide and the car took a hard smack to the left side front! It looked like I had broken the front upright, more crappy plastic I thought but on closer inspection it was just the ball joint had popped off!
Few I thought, but then I looked again closer still. The front left stub axle was bent up at a nasty angle, the end of another nights racing with a broken car - not too good this croc!!!!!!!!!!!!
More parts on order. So is this a good club car? Well yes and no.
The car showed it's got pace when driven correctly, made some drivers look daft by being lapped by a Tamiya, BIG plus that one!
Buts it's weekness is all that plastic, now if it was carbon reinforced plastic it would go from being a good car to a fantastic car! Add the slipper clutch, get the front suspention right and it will fly!
But it's not CRP so more alloy you say, doesn't become a value for money then does it! And as an entry car with racing in mind - could do better.
Am I happy with the car, we will see come the outdoor season.