To many of the '60s boys who raced home slotcars, the second generation of Aurora's Model Motoring cars, known as Thunderjet 500s, Thunderjets, or simply T-jets, generates the best childhood memories and is still the most enjoyable to race of the many styles and generations of HO slotcars.

The Thunderjet motor was designed by innovative English engineer Derek Brand, who deserves to be ranked with Joshua Lionel Cowen, A.C. Gilbert, Frank Hornby, and Louis Marx as one of the great benefactors to boyhood in the 20th Century. The T-jet's 'pancake' motor with its flat armature, vertical shaft and train of gears along the top, was an amazingly elegant piece of miniature design. It was fast, reliable, adaptable to a variety of body styles, and could be modified by the average boy mechanic for even better performance. Introduced in 1963, the T-jets immediately supplanted Aurora's first generation HO slotcar, an even more original (but slower and more troublesome) design by Brand involving a vibrating reed and splined axle. They also left Aurora's competitors, with their inline can-motors, in the dust.

For 8 years, Aurora's T-jets remained the fastest and by far the best-selling HO slotcars on the market, being produced in enormous quantities. In 1971, to meet the challenge of the new, fast Tyco cars, Aurora launched a crash program to introduce the third generation HO slotcar, the AFX. The AFX were substantially faster than the T-jets, and much more stable on curves, with wide tires and a deep guide flange as standard equipment.

Overnight, T-jets were obsolete. Thousands of them were sold at closeout prices and in novelty sets, but enormous quantities of running chassis and parts remained in warehouses, and are still available as 'new old stock' thirty years later.

Through the years, as Aurora and Tyco battled for the title of "fastest slotcar," speeds steadily climbed. The AFX and its successors acquired powerful low-slung magnets whose attraction to the track's power-rails made them hold the corners at all but the very highest speeds. As scale speeds literally exceeded the supersonic, many people began to feel that the new supercars were impressive engineering achievements but, overall, not as much fun to race as the slower, unsophisticated, slippery old Thunderjets and early AFXs.

Today, so many people are still interested in racing the forty-year-old T-jet technology that in the late '90s the popular Johnny Lightning line of small car-models was expanded to include near-exact copies of the late production Thunderjet motors with both replica- and new-style plastic bodies. A flourishing garage-industry provides resin-cast bodies of historical cars made to fit the old (and new) T-jet chassis. Serious competitors race in a T-jet class, which uses original specification chassis with limited modifications allowed, and on thousands of home tracks, Derek Brand's amazing little cars still buzz down the straightaways and fishtail around the corners to the delight of their original owners and their children and grandchildren alike.

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