Wednesday, February 21, 2024

M005 VII R Review

Front wheel drive never felt so good!

This article was originally published in RC Driver’s July 2016 issue.

Photos: Edwin Rodriguez

Born out of necessity to compete with the Ford Focus driven by Ken Block, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima developed the Monster Swift to challenge the legendary drifter on the Gymkana circuit. A staple on Team Suzuki, Tajima is considered by many to also be “Mr. Pikes Peak”, having been the first to crack the 10 minute barrier with his Monster Sport SX4. They don’t call him “Monster” for any reason other than his lead-footed driving style and the GoPro Monster Swift is a machine worthy of his extremes. While the real machine is an all-wheel drive, turbocharged fire breathing beast, Tamiya has faithfully replicated this street chomping machine in “True Ten” scale and a basic kit form. We chose to adorn our new M-05 race spec kit with the GoPro Monster body for these reasons. The Tamiya M series of cars have been around for a while now and the M-05, having introduced refinements over the M-03, was the staple in True Ten sedan racing. Over the years, Tamiya has released a myriad of “Pro” kits that featured a few blingy parts, but not much in the performance department. TCS racers and driveway bashers alike, though enthralled with the simplicity and performance of the M-05, were left wanting something more in the way of tuning and driving progression. The initial release of the M-05 R was a step forward, but lacked a few subtle “intricacies”. Enter the M-05 VII R, complete with hex (yes, hex) hardware, CVD’s, HD gears, super smooth oil filled dampers with Ti-Ni shafts and a smathering of alloy goodness. FWD aficionados, your car is here.

WHO IT’S FOR: Anyone ( … or any TCS racers)
HOW MUCH: $274.99

 Full set of bearings included
 TRF oil-filled, alloy shocks
 LP servo compatible
 Did we mention, it uses hex hardware!

•  Alloy battery posts require the use of tape
 No tires included

I’ve been a big fan of the Tamiya M series cars for more years than I’d care to admit and a few things that keep bringing me back are the simplistic builds coupled with the outstanding performance and killer body selection. My first M-05 (originally the Honda S800 Kit) saw a good 4 years of use in everything from regional TCS races to bashing with 4wd SCT’s at MotoRama on the dirt oval test track with spikes for shoes. Through it all, that same M-05 is still in action to this day with not a single part needing to be replaced. Take that durability and fun factor, combine it with a host of performance enhancing components and you have a proven winner right out of the box … the all new M-05 VII R

Like all other Tamiya kits, you get the cherished 4-way wrench, but with the new hex hardware on this model, they also include an assortment of L-wrenches. Also, as with all Tamiya kits, you’re going to have a ton of leftover parts on trees and some hardware. This is standard practice as the M-05 shares many parts with other cars and you also still get the round battery retainers (if that’s your cup of tea) as well as a host of other spares.

• 2-channel radio system
Steering servo
Motor and ESC
2S LiPo or 6S NiMH stick pack
Tamiya M-series tires
Tamiya M-series body
Building tools and lexan paint

Tamiya TBLE-03 Brushless Sensored ESC (45066) $79.99
What better way to go for power in a Tamiya car than with a Tamiya ESC? The basic kits all include a brushed ESC and silver can, but for this “all business” race platform, Tamiya sent us their new TBLE-03 sensored speed controller. It’s small, efficient and has a fan to keep things cool during those heated races.

Tamiya RC Motor 15.5T Brushless (54612) $116.99
TCS rules dictate that a specific 21.5 sensored motor with original stator and rotor must be used in competition, but that’s no fun if the tires aren’t squealing. For that reason, we were overjoyed that Tamiya sent along their 15.5 sensored motor along with the TBLE-03 ESC. With the factory supplied 20 tooth pinion, the motor provided excellent top speed, allowing us to actually break the tires loose and drift a FWD car! The motor also features female bullet plugs for all three leads, optimizing and easing the wiring process.

TrakPower LiPo 2S 7.4V 5600mAh 90C (TKPC0615) $99.99
We chose to outfit our M-05 R V2 with a select choice of components from Hobbico … which means we opted to power our mini racer with a TrakPower 5600mAh 90C hard case LiPo. One of the best improvements on this M-05 chassis is that it has been re-formed to accommodate square cornered LiPo stick packs. You do have to rely on the use of strapping tape to restrain the LiPo, but it opens up a world of options for cells that were previously un-usable in the Tamiya FWD machines. The 5600mAh of discharge provides excellent run times and even pushing the 20 minute mark saw modest temps on the motor.

• Tamiya 60D Super Grip Radial Tire (53254) $14.99 per pair If you want to race a mini in a TCS sanctioned event, you absolutely must run a select few pre-mounted tires. As we were planning on mainly club racing with our M-05, we mounted up some of the super sticky 60D radials on the included grey 11-spoke rims using the Tamiya inserts. The radials gave us excellent grip on both paved surfaces and ozite carpet.

Futaba R614FF-E 4-Channel FASST Receiver (FUTL7632) $99.99 Space is a commodity on the M-series chassis cars, so for that reason, we went with this new receiver from Futaba. It has a small footprint and no antenna at all, so there’s no need to worry about mounting a tube.

• Great Planes 4mm Gold Male, Female Bullet (GPMM3110, GPMM3115) $2.79, $1.89 The Tamiya ESC and motor we used in our M-05 come supplied with nickel plated connectors, which is fine for NiMH packs, but not the high powered LiPo we were going to use. For this reason, we decided replace the nickel plugs with gold-plated GP 4mm plugs, to keep the power transfer open to the motor and wheels.

Futaba S9551 Digital Low-Profile High-Speed/Torq Servo (S9551) $74.99 To take full advantage of the new refinements on the M-series model, we selected a low profile servo from Futaba for the steering duties. The 9551 boasts some stellar specs and though you don’t need much in the M-05, it’s nice to know that we have 100+ ounces of torque and some respectable speed at our back. Best of all, using the new LP servo mount, the CG is substantially lower than with a full-size servo.

Associated Pivoting Body Mounts (3897) $3.49
If you spent hours on your body like we did, you want it to stay in one piece. These body “perches” from Associated help to keep the body planted on something more meaty than the included body pins and they are easily adjusted.

Tamiya Suspension Springs (42168) $13.99 per pair
The all new, hard-anodized oil filled shocks on the M-05 VII R are amazing in their smooth operation, but to suit your specific driving style or different track conditions, this spring assortment from Tamiya is sure to keep your ride planted. Each set has a pair of soft, medium and hard springs, so be sure to snag two sets to have the ultimate in tune-ability on your M-05.

The TRF Short Dampers … alla oil-filled goodness that are used on this most recent M-05 race kit are the crown jewel of the model. As originally found on the TB-04 GT kits, these high end dampers are the smoothest out there. Their assembly and installation is hassle-free and their response on the track is unparalleled. The threaded bodies ensure on-the-fly tuning while the e-clip retained pistons will keep you on the track instead of in the pits for rebuilds. Best of all, they don’t leak (even with only one o-ring on the bottom seal) and they look great! The gold anodizing might be a bit understated compared to most other recent M-05 “Pro” kits, but it mingles perfectly with the select black alloy goodies on this M-05 R.

‹Hardware is where it’s at! This M-05 includes low friction king-pin screws as well as stainless hinge pins, but the best part is, there isn’t a single Phillips head screw on the entire kit! It’s all hex hardware on this latest model and not only that, but it’s also all machine threads rather than self tapping, course threads. That means less elbow grease across the board on this build!

‹The standard issue dogbones on the previous M-05 kits did the job, but would never transfer the power as efficiently as CVD’s. Earlier versions were supplemented with various CV style shafts of both alloy and steel composition, but these all new double cardan style shafts offer twice the articulation … since there are two two joint connections. ‹

The all new servo mount is one of the areas that was addressed with with an alloy upgrade. Yes, the M-05 greatly increased steering response and ease of maintenance over the M-03, but it still kept the CG unnecessarily high. The M-05 VII R utilizes an all new alloy rear block mount that slides fore and aft, but is also reversible top to bottom to allow for the use of Low Profile steering servos. This not only lowers the CG, but it drops the steering link down to where it is nearly parallel to the chassis, achieving a better geometry for steering input.


One area where the M-series of cars have never had a problem is in steering, especially with the FWD models. This M-05 VII R is no different and though it’s no surprise, the adjustable camber and toe links offer tuning options to sedate or accentuate your particular mini to your driving style. Careful application of throttle is necessary with high-powered motors as the differential will unload if you get the weight shifted to one side or the other, but even still, this M-05 was predictable and competent through the hairiest of turns. The Mid (225mm) wheelbase we chose to go with proved to be the perfect blend of high-speed handling and turning ability, giving us a great platform to navigate the tightest or fastest of courses, knowing that the Futaba 9551 would keep the car settled and pointed where we wanted it. One of the added parts to this recent model is the new high torque servo saver and it works like a champ.

The Tamiya ESC and motor proved to be a bit more power than the M-05 is used to, but all that grunt was transferred in butter-smooth fashion. Brushed motors were all the rage in the M-series of yesteryear, but this sensored system gives our Swift great launch-ability and a nice linear feel on the brakes. There isn’t much in the way of tuning on the TBLE-03, but you can adjust the brake strength and drag brake so between a decent programmable radio and the tuning features on the ESC, you should be able to find that sweet spot for your needs. We found it best to leave the drag brake at zero percent with total brake strength around 50 percent. This gave us good feel around the track and a bit of power for emergency stopping if needed. If is worth mentioning that the bevel gear diff will unload to one side or the other during hard braking while cranking the wheels. The little tires and wheels won’t carry much rotating mass, but just be aware that it will stop a whole lot quicker if the chassis is not rolling side to side.

As mentioned earlier, we’re no stranger to the M-05, having raced it at numerous venues, over the course of more than a few years. The one thing all of these cars always needed right out of the box was shocks, but none of the oil-filled options really stood up to consistent use. The new full alloy, threaded bodied, Ti-Ni shaft dampers included with the M-05 VII R are not only a visual work of art, but they transform the driving experience of the M-05. On an ozite track, the car literally felt like a TC with a big body on it. The 60D tires were hooked up and the double cardan CVD shafts were feeding smooth power to the wheels while the silky operation of the oil-filled shocks kept the chassis on point. Out in the parking lot, we were able to lift the body up a peg and soften up the shocks to provide smooth running on less than perfect asphalt. Weight transfer was barely noticeable in slalom type turns and we were able to toss this new model harder and faster into turns than the previous friction-damped models.

Anyone that’s ever driven an M-05 knows that they are tough as nails and the new VII R is no exception to that rule. The overall design of the model hasn’t really changed, so you can rest assured that your time will be spent turning laps rather than wrenches with this Tamiya kit. The reinforced gear set and new one-piece front arms both simplify the construction and add to the resilience of the M-05 VII R. The chassis side plates bolt together to provide a rigid structure onto which all the other beefy composite parts are bolted. Whether you’re looking for the best TCS racer out there or the smoothest operator on your club circuit, this new machine will serve you well in return with little down time to speak of. Even with the extreme power of our 15.5 motor and 90C LiPo leading to more than a few rowdy bash and drift sessions, we never, ever once experienced a broken, bent or otherwise worn part.

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LENGTH: 13.6 in. (345mm) *Suzuki Body
WIDTH: 6.5 in. (165mm)
WHEELBASE: 8.3 in. (210mm), 8.8 in. (225mm), 9.4 in. (239mm)
WEIGHT: 2.8 lbs. (45 oz

BODY: Not included
WHEELS: 11-spoke sedan rims
TIRES: Not included

TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 1-tower, 1-arm, (R) 1-tower, 1-arm
CAMBER: Fixed front, adjustable rear
WHEELBASE: Adjustable
RIDE HEIGHT: Droop screws front and rear

TYPE: Bell crank with drag link
TOE: Fully adjustable links

YPE: Cage style

TRANSMISSION: 3-gear diff
BEARINGS: Full set

Opinion: 9
Performance – Acceleration: 8
Performance – Steering: 9
Performance – Handling: 9
Performance – Durability: 10
Feature Breakdown: 9
Overall Value: 8

The M-05 has been around for many years, yet it continues to sell in massive numbers thanks to subtle refinements and sweet new body offerings. This latest kit brings the performance of the little FWD street machine to a whole new level and when cloaked in the “Monster” Tajima GoPro Swift body, it looks amazing in action. The build is so easy that the entire assembly process took less time than cutting and applying the decals and though the components aren’t overly complex, they provide excellent results in the handling department. Seasoned pros and first time builders alike should have no issues with this M-05 VII R and that’s a good thing … because you’re going to want another one after you drive your first

Tamiya Tamiyausa.com
Hobbico  Hobbico.com
Futaba Futabarc.com
Trakpower  Trakpowerusa.com
Team Associated Rc10.Com

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