Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 chassis

Tamiya XB


Front-wheel-drive touring cars are pretty unique in the RC world with Tamiya being one of the first to release one nearly 30 years ago (the FF-01 chassis). Front wheel drive cars are a blast to drive and race thanks to the power they can handle and their impressive cornering ability. Over the years, Tamiya has released different versions of the FF chassis platform and today we have the FF-03. For those of you that own one of these chassis or are looking to get one, we decided to share the top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 to help you get even more out of this chassis.

Top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 chassis


Clearly the standout feature on the Tamiya FF-03 chassis is the placement of the motor and drivetrain assembly where it is positioned ahead of the front tires for full-time Front-Wheel-Drive (FWD). The FWD setup gives you a different driving feel over your typical 4WD touring car. It is really fun to drive and race because the drivetrain can handle a lot of power and it can dive into corners while carrying some serious speed without getting out of shape. The front suspension is unique where it utilizes Tamiya’s IFS (Inboard Front Suspension) setup. This places the shocks behind the front tires, laying nearly horizontal to the ground and are actuated by rockers. This helps with the chassis’ overall balance, lowers the center-of-gravity and opens the door to use bodies that have super low front ends. Down the center of the chassis, installed longitudinally is the battery compartment that provides additional balance benefits while also giving the chassis a nice slim design. Tamiya nicely equipped the FF-03 with sealed ball bearings throughout the entire drivetrain, quality oil-filled shocks, and a very adjustable suspension setup, not to mention loads of Tamiya hop-up option parts are available.

Tamiya FF-03 chassis.


The three of the following cars are the current Tamiya kits that utilize the FF-03 chassis. Give that they are a kit, they need to be assembled and have the body painted. You will also need to provide a 2-channel radio system, steering servo, speed control battery and paint. The included instruction manuals are first rate and virtually guarantee a perfect build every time. Since the FF-03 is not a brand new chassis, you can find these kits between $130 and $160.


  • Scale: 1/10
  • Length: 15.12 in. (384mm)
  • Width: 7.28 in. (185mm)
  • Wheelbase: Adjustable 9.17, 9.65, 10.12 in. (233, 245, 257mm)
  • Chassis: Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) bathtub type frame chassis
  • Drivetrain: Front wheel drive FWD
  • Differential: Ball differential
  • Bearings: Ball bearings and metal bushings
  • Suspension (F/R): Lower H-Arms w/ upper turnbuckle camber link
  • Shocks: Molded plastic, oil-filled
  • Motor: 540-brushed type
  • Speed control: Not included
  • Wheels: Multi-spoke, molded plastic
  • Tires: Rubber slick tires



FF-03 Aluminum Motor Plate—#54223

Kicking off the list of Tamiya Hop-Up Option parts for the FF-03 chassis is this aluminum motor plate. This is simply not just a blue anodized version of the stock plate. Once installed, it will give the gearbox and motor a more precise fit which is definitely key for an efficient drivetrain. The groves machined into the plate offers extra heat dissipation as well.

Top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 chassis

FF-03 Aluminum Bumper Mount—#84376

Replacing the stock plastic bumper mount with the FF-03 Aluminum Bumper Mount will further increase the rigidity of the front end. It includes the screws for installation and it makes sense to add this option part along with the motor plate since you will have some of the front end disassembled. This mount can be used with a 25m cooling fan to keep motor temps in check.


DF-03 Heat Sink Bar Set—#53924

While you are add it, pick up this DF-03 Heat Sink Bar set because heat is your enemy especially when racing. This bar set span the length between the motor plate and side gearbox support stay. Each bar is machined from aluminum, anodized blue and loaded with fins to draw heat away from the motor. It comes with an aluminum motor plate and the necessary mounting hardware.

Top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 chassis

FF-03 Aluminum Spur Gear Mount—#54234

On the stock FF-03 chassis, the spur gear is attached via molded mount which does not offer as much precision as one that is made of metal. Show here is the FF-03 aluminum spur gear mount that is much more precise so that it securely holds the spur gear and spur gear shaft thus reducing friction and improves durability of the entire assembly. Just like other Tamiya Hop-Up Option parts, the mount is anodized in a rich blue color that Tamiya is known for.

Top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 chassis


FF-03 Aluminum Racing Steering Set—#54235

Clean up slop in the steering department by swapping out the stock bellcranks in favor of these nice aluminum units. They also include metal ball bearings to replace the stock metal bushings. Once in place the steering will swing with much more smoothness thus giving your FF-03 quick and precise steering response.

Top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 chassis

FF-03 Carbon Steering Link—#54261

If you decide to install the FF-03 Aluminum Racing Steering Set mentioned above, it only makes sense to pick up this carbon steering link as well. Its carbon construction is extremely rigid over the stock plastic part and you will find improved straight line driving stability and steering response.


TA05-IFS Aluminum Rocker Arm Set—#53993

Equipped with the cool Tamiya IFS setup gives the FF-03 some advantages right out of the gate and this setup can actually be improved upon. The rockers have a demanding job being a vital link between the shocks and the suspension arms. These units are machined from aluminum and then anodized blue. Inside of each arm are 8x5x2.5mm metal ball bearings to provide smoother pushrod operation and enhanced shock efficiency that translates into better overall handling performance.

Top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 chassis

TRF Big Bore Damper (4pcs.)—#42287

If you are taking the time to replace the stock rockers, you may as well take the jump and add some high-end shocks. It is a benefit that Tamiya specs oil-filled shocks for a stock FF-03, but there are even better options like these TRF Big Bore Dampers. They originally came in the competition level Tamiya TRF419 chassis, so you know you are getting some serious boost in the suspension department if you install these. They come four in a package, have increased cylinder volume thus more oil and endowing your chassis with improved grip. These TRF shock also look incredible on the chassis.

Top 10 Tamiya upgrades for the FF-03 chassis


FF-03 Carbon Damper Stay (rear)—#54258

Even though the rear end is relatively sparse with components does not mean that it should be overlooked when upgrading the chassis. Tamiya makes a Carbon Damper Stay for the rear plastic shock tower. Being constructed out of carbon will help with rear rigidity and gives you seven shock attachment points as opposed to just three on the stock unit. As seen in the photo, Tamiya includes all the necessary hardware.

FF-03 Carbon Stiffeners (rear)—#54264

Given that the Ff-03 is not a full bathtub style chassis, supports were added to help secure and stiffen the rear end because the rear section is simply bolted onto the chassis. Those stiffeners do a decent job, but they are not as strong as the 3mm thick carbon stiffeners pictured here. They can be installed quickly and easily in a matter of minutes. Along with improved rigidity, the shocks will be more effective as well.

For more information about Tamiya products, visit: TAMIYA

Tamiya XB


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