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Unbelievable RC

Lancia 037 Rally


  • Model #: 58278
  • Gallery: View
  • Released: 2001
  • Prebuilt: No
  • Category: Cars
  • Chassis: TA03R-S
  • Scale: 1/10
  • Use: Onroad
  • Style: Touring car
  • Config: MA
  • Driveline: Belt
  • Body: ABS
  • Finished body: No
  • Susp. front: Wishbone
  • Susp. rear: Wishbone

Photo gallery samples

Visit the full Tamiya Lancia 037 TA03R-S gallery >


Huge thanks to local veteran driver Steve "Badboy" Tsuruda for wheeling the car around the NorCal Hobbies indoor track while I shot this footage.

JANG's Impressions

Used in this build:

  • Novak XRS ESC
  • Airtronics MX3-FHSS radio system
  • Futaba 3003 servo

I've long been a fan of three cars from Lancia, the burly & futuristic Stratos, the more recent Delta, and the less-known 037. I also have affinities towards both older Tamiya releases and all things "limited edition," making this an exceptionally well-appreciated vehicle for me. Behold:

  • It is a Lancia!
  • It is a limited edition release!
  • It is the very last of the TA03 series, released 2 years after the series was believed to have ended
  • It brings back the classic ABS hardshell body of the 1983 release, model #40, which was only the second Subaru Brat chassis vehicle, created just before the Frog!

I suppose that last statement needs a bit of a caveat, though. The original mold was actually duplicated with a few modifications, namely smaller wheel wells (to scale this time), relocated body mount holes, and a few new detail mounting holes. A new full wraparound window insert is also included. Retained are the highly detailed night-driving light buckets and numerous hand-painted trim elements, plus they added in scale wipers and side mirrors.

The buildup of this car, documented here, consisted of about 4 hours for the chassis, and about 8 days for the body. Granted, I wasn't working on it full-time, but there is truly significant effort required to properly detail a shell designed in the era when Tamiya was still just a plastic model manufacturer with a young RC wing on the side. Again, though, I'll not bother rewriting all of the the gory details from the build thread.

The finished product is a sight to behold, even if you're not a big Lancia fan. With the body posts trimmed down and some good camera work, it's not hard to make this car easy to mistake for the real thing in photographs. Going deeper than the skin, the 1996-era chassis, much to my surprise, actually has a very nice feel to it. It rides high and is very heavy by nodern standards thanks to the dual transmissions, but handling is consistent and you can feel that there's some decent performance potential there when you wheel it around a track. Just don't expect to beat a TRF416 with it.

Building tips

See the whole buildup in the Tamiya Lancia 037 TA03R-S build thread on the forum.

  • On step 1, be sure to lubricate all surfaces of all moving parts, not jus tthe specific sides shown. Hit the top & bottom of the "star shaft," both sides of both large gears, and both sides of the large shims ("washers").
  • On step 2, before bolting down the bottom plate, I went ahead & inserted the diff outputs ("gearbox joints") shown in step 5 in the manual. It's just a little easier to line the parts up when the diff itself is still exposed and accessible.
  • Step 4 is an easy one to get wrong (guess how I know). Double- and triple-check the orientation of the arms before securing everything down.
  • On step 5, use thread locker on the set screw.
  • At step 6, be sure to push the inner bearings all the way into the hubs. It may take some force. Also of course assemble the hubs fully, with axles, before attaching the assembly to the caster block.
  • At step 8 I did the same thing as for step 2, stealing from step 12 to insert the diff outputs before sealing up the chamber.
  • When attaching the motor in step 15, decide whether you want to use the stock gearing. Note that they give you a 14T pinion, but the chart says you can use a 20T with that same stock motor. They recommend that you switch to ball bearings to accomplish this, to avoid overheating and premature wear. I think something in between, like a 17T, would be a good compromise for starters, because the 14T undergears the car significantly. If you're building with ball bearings from the start, though, you're golden. Either way, be sure to use a little threadlock on the set screw.
  • When assembling the shocks, steps 16-22, again triple-check your parts usage. The front shocks use the Q tree parts, which come in a clear bag, and the short shafts which are dark in color. The rear shocks use the W tree parts which come in a blue bag, along with the longer, chrome-coated shafts. Don't forget the spacer under each rear shock's piston.
  • At step 26, leave the upper screw on the belt tensioner just loose enough to be able to rotate the assembly, and barely tighten the moveable one (with the washer) at all. This will help you get the belt on later.
  • Speaking of the belt, at step 28, the belt inserts from the front of the car. Once you have the car fully assembled later, turn it on and give it a quick run in the air to get the belt settled in, then set the tensioner where you want it & tighten it up. I fould the fresh belt to be tight enough to warrant leaving the tensioner all the way down. As it wears in, it will need more tension to take up the play that develops.
  • In step 32, take great care to keep wires away from the belts, and make sure they're not likely to migrate up into the belts with vibrations & bumps. Just check things every once in awhile to make sure nothing is rubbing.
  • For step 33, the wheels are completely plated, so it's worthwhile to sand off the tops of the beads and also scuff up the troughs with a flat wire brush on a rotary tool. This will go a long way towards ensuring solid adhesion.
  • On step 35 of the chassis assembly, flip the body clips forward, opposite of the way they're shown. In other words, make sure the flat side is facing towards the rear. This is needed for inner body clearance.
  • Step 36 pulls a fast one on us. Notice the body pin in the illustration, being inserted into the battery stop bracket. It's bent up at the edge. I'd suggest doing this (before you insert it) to help you get an easier grip on it. Better yet, use a longer body pin here, but still bend it up.
  • On step 37, delay measuring, marking, or drilling the indicated front holes. Wait until it's time for final assembly, mount the inner body to the main shell, and see exactly where the holes will line up. I found the instructions to be way off. I only needed to trim small half-moon shapes out of the edge of the piece for the body mounts, and that's it.
  • In step 39 when you add the steering wheel & gear shift, you'll need to use standard gel-type plastic cement, added from the bottom. There's not enough surface area for plastic solvent to grip.

Special tips for the long body painting & detailing process:

  • Acrylic paint is not easy to work with here, as it's actually not particularly fond of sticking to bare plastic. Keep your brush clean and be gentle with your strokes. Make sure you think about merely applying paint from the brush to the surface, not scrubbing it into the surface. Often it's dangerous to do more than two quick strokes over one spot, as the third may remove the first two in a big clump. Wait an hour before recoating, like the instructions say. When doing fine details like the inner eyes, after every single stroke or poke, wipe off your your brush, rinse it, dip it in thinner, dab it half dry, and get a fresh bit of paint. If you don't do this, you'll very quickly build up a blob of half-dry paint near the tip of your brush that can widen your painting pattern or break off and attach to the surface.
  • Be even more careful when you're recoating, as the paint won't be fully cured, only set, and it'll be possible to re-liquify the underlying coat if you push too hard or go over it more than once or twice with your brush.
  • For the body accessories, use my temporary sprue trick above. Only apply the cement to 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch of area. You don't want it to be too difficult to remove the sprue once you're done with it.
  • You may be tempted to spray paint the entire interior plate with a few coats of flat black to start with, since so much of it is going to be black. I would recommend against this, as it will take a fair number of coats of gray primer to give you a bright enough surface to paint the driver & co-pilot bodies in, and this will fill in a lot of the details and make edges more difficult to discern.
  • You may be tempted to leave the white areas of the interior plate unpainted, since the plastic is already white. I can't blame you for this, especially if you've read about my painting challenges above, and especially if you've read between the lines and picked upon just how frustrating it has truly been. However, do realize that the plastic is semi-glossy, not flat like it ought to be. Also, if you're going to do this, be sure to follow my next tip.
  • The interior panel may be white by default, but it is far from opaque. I highly recommend spraying the *underside* with a coat of the same white spray you'll use for the main body, then follow up with one or two thick coats of an opaque flat white spray (I used just one coat of Pactra's White Fluorescent Undercoat). This will make the upper surface now appear even in tone, eliminating dark ridges around all raised or textured details caused by visibility of the shadowed underside.
  • I had thought about painting in some detail for the molded spare tire/wheel behind the driver. However, this is a mid-engine car, and in looking at photos and cutaways of the real thing, the spare actually stows behind the radiator, which is up front. Oops, Tamiya. Let's just leave that all black like they suggest and hope nobody sees it.
  • For the main trademark Martini line decals, don't be a hero. Use the soapy water slide method and a heat gun on its lowest setting (with great care) or a hair dryer to get these lined up right. It's 6 stickers per side and they have to line up with eachother properly, in addition to negotiating the gas filler and door handle features, not to mention some very tricky curves over the front face of the nose.
  • Decal #14, the rear grille, needs to be stretched dramatically to fit over both taillights. Trim the holes as close to perfectly as you can. Slip one side over a taillight and secure that end well. Hold that end against the body firmly, and carefully, but firmly stretch the decal from the secured end out towards the other, tacking it down as you go. Try to stretch evenly, top, bottom, and middle -- the natural tendency is to pull from only the center, which creates uneven distortion. When you get to the other end, if you haven't gotten far enough to fit over the second taillight, back up and stretch some more. It may take several attempts. Again use soapy water along the way to prevent damage.