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The remote controlled car was first seen around the 1950s but was not commercially available until over a decade later. Radio controlled technology was used during the 1940s but it was only when the transistor came along that we began to see remote controlled cars take off as a commercially viable industry.
Commercial and viable remote controlled cars really began to take off in the early 1960s and Ferrari had made a model available during the latter half of 1966. The remote controlled cars were very popular during the toy fairs that were exhibiting around Europe at the time and a Midlands-based company in the UK began selling gas and nitro powered cars commercially during the early 1970s.
Many small firms began to spring up in the United States who used stock cars in the field of remote controlled vehicles. The early formats included one eighth sized vehicles powered by gas (later called nitro-powered). As the passion for remote controlled cars gathered pace during the 1970s, several companies began to manufacture 1/12 scale electronic remote controlled cars which were primarily used for racing around specially designed small tracks.
In the US, a winter national series league was formed and this prompted many enthusiasts to build their own hand built models and feature them in many races over the series. It was not long before the Japanese manufacturers began to sit up and take notice of the growing popularity of racing remote controlled nitro-powered cars and electric RC cars in Europe and America. Companies based in Tokyo and Osaka began making plastic kit models and some of these models were extremely detailed and of great quality. Despite the high cost of the radio system and the elegance of the kit, the systems were big sellers across Europe and North America.
It was really during the 1980s that remote controlled cars began taking off at such a pace that it became on common sight on many cul-de-sacs, side streets, car parking lots and any ground where there was a small area of concrete. RC cars gradually became faster and cars began to get smaller. Some models were designed to be as small as 1/18 scale.
During the 1990s the popularity of remote controlled cars began to wane slightly but one can still see several enthusiasts having informal races against each other at the weekend.