Manta Ray
Model Number: 58087




Shaft Driven 4WD, front and rear geardiffs


Four wheel independent double wishbone, coilover oilfilled shocks

Chassis Description

DF01, Plastic bathtub

Body Type



RS 540


250 mm


390 mm


150 mm

Wheel Base

269 mm

Tread Front

207 mm

Tread Rear

207 mm

Ground Clearance

25 mm


1620 g




front:84x40 mm
Rear:84x40 mm

The Manta Ray has been the ancestor of a very successful line of 4x4 buggies within Tamiya's model spectrum. It even is the grandfather of the Hummer and XB Hummer, which share the same chassis tub and main gearing. It's production lasted over ten years and has been continued with the introduction of the XB Super Manta Ray.

This model features an effective four wheel drive, that has only been shaded by the flimsy propeller shaft between the front and the rear axle. A part that is easy to upgrade with an aftermarket part.

The Manta Ray appeared to be also the forefather of the TA01/TA02 Touring and Rally Car Series. In one of the R/C-Handbooks of 1991 it appeared alone, in the other together with the Toyota Celica GT Four Rally (#58096). All in all it grew to a large family with many different members, but the family-likeness was always obvious. (Description by Urban Warrior)



1/31/2012 8:01:09 PM

The Manta Ray is a classic buggy - with innovative features.
I have had mine from new - and learnt over time (21 years !) what needs altering...
Yes - the motor mount design is a weak link - the first thing I would recommend is to buy an alloy one...
Those use bolts to mount the motor in all positions - no screws- so a powerful motor cannot destroy them.
Another 'weak point' - is the steering.
With that many linkages - it needs to be 'tight' - so I recommend the use of bushes with the wire links across the centre of the chassis between the steering arms.
I have used short lengths of alloy tube - which works best.
The inside diameter should match the diameter of the wire links... drill the arms carefully to suit the outer diameter of the alloy tubes.
I have also used pieces of nylon 'snake' outer, and also aerial pipe - with success.
I smothered everything with silicon grease - the buggy goes WELL with a 17 turn motor on an alloy mount - and the steering is tight enough to maintain control.
The third modification I would recommend is the fitting of a brace across the front shock absorber mountings.
I used M4 threaded rod, typical 'steering adjusters on the ends... and fixed using long shouldered screws into the 'towers' - using brass bushes.
'Pop' the bodyshell through the space you created - or cut it short if you are 'racing' and need speed.
My Manta Ray is rebuilt onto a grey chassis with red gearboxes.
Both of those contain a ball differential - and there is also a one-way bearing in the front. With those 'upgrades' and when fully ballraced - the performance is GREAT.
I gave my bodyshell (it's the second second one) a 'different' paint scheme, and yellow tyres...
A fourth 'modification' - though not really one as such.
I do this will all mine...
Tie nylon fishing line (not the new 'dyneema' stuff) to the three body clips - for front and rear bodyshell - and also the clip that holds the battery retainer.
Drill a 1mm hole in the battery retainer at the motor end - and tie that to the chassis as well.
Tie the loose ends of the fishing lines to the chassis.
My front body clip is tied to the bar that I add to connect the two front 'shock towers', the three others are all tied to the rear wing mount.
You are then less likely to loose those clips - and most importantly - the battery retainer !


1/30/2012 11:25:30 AM

This was my introduction into RC cars, 30 years later than it should have been, but blame my parents !
I restored one of these from nothing more than a battered , bruised and very dirty chassis; nothing like in at the deep end. A very enjoyable strip, clean and rebuild. The great news is that despite the odd weakness (motor mount being the obvious one) parts are very readily available, and look as though they will be for a long time to come givent he compatibility of other kit components. The shell shape is a bit love it or loathe it, but i'm in the former camp - its not the most sophisticated buggy by a long chalk, but is more than capable of holding its own as a general runner / basher type of car. I'll never sell mine - some of that reasoning is perhaps emotional attachement, but its just a fun car to run and work on.


11/21/2004 9:21:46 AM

I just finished a total restoration of one of these cars. I seem to be on a TA01 and 02 kick lately, so this kind of fit right in. I ended up using almost none of the parts on the original car. Mine came with road car wheels and tires, painted suspension parts, and had been used to death. It also had the stock prop shaft. I found a new chassis with relative ease, a E tree and a pair of D trees, a must if you are going to replace the suspension parts. Thanks Jim Sourbeck. I really like the open type wheels and tires and ran these instead of stock. I found a set of front and rear gear boxes from Mike Caz, in PINK! I have no idea what they went in to begin with, but they are way cool. I used a TECH prop shaft with universal joints front and rear. I think this is a fairly rare piece as I have never seen another one. I added front and rear carbon shock braces. These allow you to actually have some adjustment. I also changed the plastic motor mount with the hop-up alloy one. It was expensive, but as noted in another write up, a weak link in the chain. The front upright, has more room for the body and allows enough options to get enough toe in on the front tires to take out some of the understeer. I am looking for a set of adjusters to replace the stock part, and think that RC-10 ones will work. I used a Technigold motor as it is a hop-up for this car. I actually used a Manta Ray ball diff front and rear in a Manta Ray. After putting them in so many other cars, it was strange to actually put one in a manta. I followed the paint scheme, except left the canopy clear. Needless to say, it got a new shell as well. I fixed the steering problem by using a piece of threaded rod and 3mm connectors so they would clear the front gear box. Otherwise, it is one of the poorest excuses for a set-up I have seen from the company. I used an ESC insted of the MSC. It is ball raced inside and out. It has oil shocks and the screw set type spring tensioners, but these will be replaced with GPM truck shocks when they finaly arrive from Hong Kong. The handeling and performance of this car is fair. It is easy to see why they didn't sell too many of them. My RC-10 of the same vintage is a much better buggy, more robust in every way and a lot more fun to drive, even though it is 2wd. I built this as a shelf queen and used up a lot of parts that came with other deals. It is a first 100 car, so for that it was worth doing.


5/21/2004 5:39:15 PM

Well I've had my latest Manta Ray for about two weeks now. I originally bought one new in the early 90's and got rid of it because I never liked the looks and preferred the thundershot/terra scorchers which the Manta Ray series replaced.

While this manta ray chassis design was in theory much better than the thundershot design, which was itself an evolution of the original hotshot, I don't like it. There are several flaws with the design which I find very annoying and considering the high volume of cars that used this chassis I can't understand why Tamiya never rectified them.

The first and most serious problem is the motor mounting. It is a cheap plastic affair with two mounting/locating lugs which break off with relative ease - not helped by the fact that you have to use self tapping screws to hold the motor mount in the gearbox rather than bolts and metal plates as per the thundershots. I have now broken 3 motor mounts in two weeks. True, I have installed a Dyna Run ST motor which is extremely torquey which probably compounds the issue.

The battery retaining system, as used on many other Tamiya's too, is fiddly and can be tedious to fit back into place when the buggy is covered in dirt and mud, only takes a bit of grit on the locating lugs to prevent it going back together. Again the thundershot swivel retainer is far superior and much faster to change battery packs.

The chassis can't accept anything other than 7.2v packs because of its design which again is limiting where the thundershot is easily adapted to use 8.4 and 9.6v packs.

The front shock tower is narrow and tall. This makes it difficult to fit the bodyshell back into place, in fact I had to trim quite a large chunk off the shell and even now it is still a pain to fit. (The shell sits between the shocks with part of the shell needing to be fed thru under the shocks themselves)

The gearboxes are more integral with the chassis and have a better design, reducing the size and numer of components over earlier buggy gearboxes, they are also low profile giving a good low CoG. However, while in theory they should be easy to swap in and out, in practise it takes longer to swap a gearbox than on a thundershot. The steering is also badly worn on my car already after only a few hours use. The metal link bar seems to have worn larger holes in the cantilevers each end.

The general suspension layout is good, near zero bump steer, strong lower arms which are much better than the thundershot design. Balance of car is also good and handling is generally better than a thundershot. However, on very rough ground it is a little unsettled and could do with softer springs.

Propshaft is also troublesome, it was bad enough in a thundershot but Tamiya made the Manta Ray prop even longer so it thrashes about and tries to break free of the retainers. A hop-up was available!

Overall a very good car but performance out of the box with a stock 540 is poor and certainly no better than a thundershot which it replaced. It can however take hotter motors as it has a better range of pinion options (both in the fact that it can use the more modern pinion pitch and also the range of locations on the motor mount). Once you fit a hotter motor the car then performs mcuh better than a similarly equipped thundershot. A 19t motor performs well in the Manta Ray but I've been running a 13t motor with no problems (other than motor mount)

Considering the fact that so many were produced parts availability isn't great at the moment. You'll see far more thundershot series parts on ebay than manta ray although that will change with time.


12/2/2002 6:13:34 PM

I've never been into mundane cars so when I've bought R/C cars I've always gone for the buggies which tends to have the most fanciful designs.

The Manta Ray was my first "real" R/C car, bought in October 1991 which is just over 11 years ago at the time of this review. I still have it and I still take it out for a run every now and then. Just recently I've also gotten it into my head to hop it up as far as it will go with Tamiya parts.

Assembling the kit is really easy. Anyone that have built any type of model or Lego kit will be able to construct the car in a few hours thanks to a well laid out, easy to read instruction manual. If one starts really early in the morning one could have it running painted and all late in the day. But never being one for following instructions I never checked the radio gear properly and as a result I burned out the resistor when I hooked up the battery. Oh, well, what's another week waiting for a new part?
The body, while beautiful, will either need some extra parts cut off for ease of putting it on or extra time putting it on since there's not much room to spare where the front meets the damper stay.
The chassis deserves some extra mention. It's basically a TA02 chassi but it's got a honecomb ridge pattern molded on the bottom for added rigidity.
The paintjob has to be one of the simplest using just two colors and just two main areas of color. Getting the stickers on is not too difficult either.

So, one week later and all is working. I've noticed that the the front dampers push the wheel down so far that the dogbones won't turn properly but when running this doesn't seem to be a problem since the speed pushes the front down. An easy fix is off course to use the outermost hole in the lower suspension arm instead of the middle one as shown in the manual. Also the right fron wheel is a little loose because of the size of the hole where the metal rod that connects the turnbuckles go. This can be remedied by adjusting that metal rod or run some thin metal thread through the hole. These two faults probably carries over to all cars using the Manta Rays basic setup.

The driving
Using the motor it comes with and no extra parts the car is about par with the fastest Nikko buggy I've owned. It runs well over turf, sand, and will survive a fast forest run. It's works less stellar in gravel since pebbles tends to collect in it's wheels and wedge itself between the wheel and the hub carriers or the lower suspension arms and the dogbones.
It handles well with a good turning circle and if your need for speed gets the upper hand of your turning skills it can also withstand a collision or two.

11 years later
The car still runs as good as the first day and the one part that has needed replacement is the motor mount.