A manufacturer of high quality 1:32 slot cars for the racer and collector.
Our products are for use on all popular sectional 12-16vDC tracks. They are compatible with Scalextric DPR technology and are designed to use the Easy Fit Digital chip.
Pioneer Slot Cars was founded in 2008 by entrepreneur Jules Birley. He was seeking a new business venture, and where better to look for inspiration than in his very own home, inside the attic of which he kept his collection of slot cars. That same year the first Pioneer models exploded onto the slot car scene with unrivalled collector appeal and competitive track performance, trailblazing a path for the company’s future success in the industry, but the journey wasn’t without a few bumps in the road...
Jules’ passion for slot cars began in 1968 when he received a four-lane Scalextric set for Christmas but even as a child he was critical of how the set functioned – bad power connections, cars flying off track, faulty electrics in the chassis. All such issues had him spending more time fixing the set than he spent racing it. Well into the early 00’s Jules was an avid collector of slot cars and his collection straddled both the ‘racer’ and ‘collector’ camps: some of his collected models never left the packaging while others were favourites to race around his home track. And so, in its infancy, Jules’ primary goal for the Pioneer brand was to meet the demands of both camps: to produce high-performance models for competitive racing but for them to be collector’s item too.
After a complicated start to the design and tooling phase for the first model - a time-consuming process of back-and-forth meetings and test runs lasting many months - production began in 2009 when the first Pioneer model was released, the BULLITT Mustang Fastback 390 GT. This Fastback began a successful run of the ‘Screen Stars’ series for Pioneer, movie-famous cars that have become signature models of the brand, but even with this early success there were rumours beginning to circulate about the closure of the company’s primary factory. Jules spoke about that difficult time for Pioneer back in early 2012:
‘I was informed by a colleague of mine in China that the factory had plans to stop slot car manufacture altogether to concentrate on toy train production. Pioneer was one of four brands the factory was responsible for. The fall out was going to be widespread.
I estimated a six-month relocation plan, to bring the brand back to the UK and facilitate making slot cars in England but problems and disputes around the shipment of our tools and stock did drag on with China for over 9 months while I was trying to find new facilities in England that would offer the same quality our customers had become used to at the right retail price. It was a tough time. I considered giving up and questioned whether the stress of it all would be worth the reward when making a low-volume product and selling into a small market, but the team remained confident. Now, we use multiple facilities to spread risk management and to maximise on expertise in CAD design, paint and printing, injection moulding and quality control. I believe we’ve now managed to achieve continuity in the quality of our products and we strive to maintain that quality with future models we plan to release. I’m grateful for the support and belief we received in the company from our customers too. It got us through a challenging few years.’
In 2018 Pioneer made history by releasing the ‘Legends Racers’, a series of slot cars that have been adopted into club track racing all over the world. American muscle cars have also been best sellers for the brand. As for the much-loved ‘Screen Star’ series, Pioneer have recently sold out of a third re-release of the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ General Lee Dodge Charger, the movie car of the popular television show by the same name.
So, what’s next for Pioneer? Plans for the Cuda have entered the last stages of design drafts before tooling. The success of the ‘Build-It-Yourself’ KITS has inspired talks around widening the product range to include a Dodge Charger KIT and a Mustang Fastback KIT, scheduled to be released late 2023.
Pioneer products are raced on all popular sectional 12-16vDC tracks, compatible with Scalextric DPR technology and are designed to use the Easy Fit Digital chip, so plans to extend the ‘Spare Parts’ range offered by Pioneer are also in full swing, to accommodate the growing number of slot car enthusiasts who make alterations and improvements to their models for track racing.
In a modern world where audiences increasingly look to the internet and online entertainment as a pass-time the slot car industry and its community continue to stand strong, valuing the tangible, the collectable and the nostalgic, a community that the team at Pioneer feel both privileged and proud to be a part of.