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Tipping the Scales… to 1/10 – Our HPI RS4 Sport 3 E30 M3 Builds

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Uneventful evenings at the StanceWorks shop have spawned a number of games. "Coaster Golf," like frisbee golf, only with card-stock coasters snagged from tables at restaurants, offers a downsized form of competition on boring days. Flinging used latex gloves across the shop and into the trash can is a daily occurrence, and when successful, warrants cheers every time. There's even a ping pong table, for when we're feeling a bit more organized. However, it's when friends Geoff Tumang and Kyle Deneau bring over their group of RC cars that make for the best shop evenings. Hours have been spent driving, drifting, and on occasion, breaking RC cars while dodging obstacles across the shop floor. After a little deliberation, we knew we had to build our own.

Remote control cars are an essential part of childhood, but growing old doesn't mean growing up, and neither mean that one can no longer play with toys. Although, there's a vast separation between the "toys" I played with in the mid 1990s, and the "toys" we play with today. As a kid, I had always wanted a real RC car, and oddly enough, it was an F-Body Trans Am that had me begging my dad for help in buying one and putting it together. Unfortunately, the last RC car I actually owned as a monstrosity called the Tirestorm: a futuristic-looking childrens toy with wheels that expanded in size with speed thanks to centripetal force. Needless to say, the '90s era was a wild one for RC cars.

Today, the technology has advanced significantly, as has our interest and appreciation for cars as a whole. After spending so much time playing with Geoff and Kyle's RC cars, Andrew and I decided it was time for builds of our own, and after consulting our friends at HPI, we knew exactly what to do.

HPI, or Hobby Products International, was born in Southern California in 1986, and has since grown to be one of the premier brands in the industry. With a product line offering everything from touring cars to offroad trucks, and in both gas and electric, the options were limitless. Being in our back yard right in Irvine, the decision to work with them was made all the more simple. When we decided to build some cars, HPI's latest chassis, the RS4 Sport 3, was just over the horizon and on its way to consumers. We looked through their body shells, and decided on a group of E30 M3s for our final builds. HPI sent us some bodies to dress up while we waited for the arrival of the Sport 3s.

The M3 was an obvious choice - perhaps too obvious - but it was built on the fantasy of getting all of our friends together for an E30 "DTM-style" race in the StanceWorks shop parking lot. With that in mind, we set forth on painting the body shells in classic E30 liveries. Andrew modeled his car after the classic Mobil 1 livery, and I went for the somewhat-easier-to-paint Marlboro colorset. Emily joined in on the fun too, modeling a body after the lesser-known Hartge rally E30 M3.

Painting the shells took planning and consideration. Andrew has experience, having painted his own cars back years ago, which proved extremely helpful. To ensure the paint isn't damaged by normal use, the body shells are painted from the inside, in layers, in reverse order (and backwards, for text). This is so that everything shows correctly when viewed from the outside. The high quality shells also offer a nice, clear, glossy finish to the paint work by default.

We used our vinyl plotter to help with the livery layouts - doing them by hand would be nearly impossible to do with any semblance of precision. We used a masking adhesive vinyl, as well as masking tape in certain places for touchup, to lay out the color schemes, and peeled layers off in order as the colors went on.

The end result, after a couple afternoons of work, left us with some incredible looking cars. With a few more stickers, some of which we had lying around, and others we cut ourselves, the dressed-up cars came out looking damn good, if we throw our humility out the window for a moment.

In perfect timing, HPI's Sport 3 chassis arrived, and we were eager to unbox the cars and see what they're all about. The Sport 3 comes in a few variants, but the cars we had were... surprise: E30 M3s, one of the ready-to-run offerings. Adding to the fun of the familiar body is the inclusion of our friends at Fifteen52, whose namesake and wheels are a featured part of the model. Our cars came equipped with "Turbomacs," which were perfectly fitting to the DTM vibe we were aiming for.

After unboxing the cars, we pulled the bright orange bodywork off for a peek at whats underneath. The RS4 Sport 3 has been in development for over a year, and the new features show why. The chassis features a completely sealed and highly efficient shaft-driven drivetrain, adjustable coilover shock absorbers, and waterproof electronics, among other things. The chassis is full-time all-wheel-drive, LiPo battery compatible, and has metal differentials for maximum durability. The suspension is double-wishbone and fully adjustable, and the chassis offers a slew of upgrade parts for fine-tuning and improvement. The RS4 Sport 3 chassis is the real deal, and has room to fine-tune nearly every facet. It's loud and clear as to how and why these cars become such a hog of both time and money, but in the best way possible. The cars feel true to form in every sense, but 1/10th the scale.

After drooling over the innards of the Sport 3, we prepped our bodies to go on the cars. We trimmed the flashing from our body shells, installed the spoilers, and added a few final touches. Drilling the holes to mount the bodies was a bit nerve wracking, but the results were perfect. We set the cars on the pavement outside for a photoshoot before we did our best to break them in.


After time spent tearing up the pavement outside, we're ready to race. We're hoping, before long, we'll be back with even more E30 race cars, except next time, running head to head on the track.