One important consideration when looking to buy a radio controlled car is the size and scale. Size and scale are not quite the same thing and many find the scale part confusing so in this post I want to go through exactly what they mean and what they look for so you can get the right sized car for you.
What is RC Car scale?
The RC Car scale refers to the radio controlled car models size in relation to the actual real life car that you can get in and drive. For example 1:5 scale is where the RC car is one fifth the size of the real thing. Therefore the smaller the number the larger the car is likely to be.
What are RC Car sizes?
RC Car sizes is the term often used to refer to RC car scales. This is because they are a rough guide to how big a car is. 1:5 scale being large while 1:24 scale are small. Officially though the size of a RC car is measured in millimetres or centimetres.
The best way to truly know how big your radio controlled car is is to use the actually size in millimetres. Saying that you can of course use the scale to get a rough idea to begin with. I’d always recommend checking both out before making a purchase.
How do I know what scale my RC Car is?
You can know what size your RC Car is by checking out the scale and dimensions within the specification on any retailers website. I highly recommend you check out the features and specification before buying any car because there are so many aspects that you need to know.
Below is a screen print from a car from Nitrotek. Simply go to the model of car you like and scroll down to where it says ‘More Information’. Click on it and you will get up the specification. As you can see from below this vehicle is 1:5 scale with dimensions of 860x430x300mm. No matter which retailer you go to it will be the same idea.
One commonly asked question is ‘what are the different sizes of RC car?’. This is a good question so I thought I would give a rough overview. As mentioned above I think this question is really aimed at scale rather than actual measurements. Sticking with Nitrotek I have shown clearly below the general size/scale guide.
- Electric RC Cars – 1:8 Scale – 1:24 Scale
- Nitro RC Cars – 1:8 Scale – 1:16 Scale
- Petrol RC Cars – 1:5 Scale
As you can see there is a little overlap between electric and nitro so it is not an exact science. You can be sure though that if someone is talking about a 1:24 scale car it is 99% likely to be electric. Alternatively if they are talking about a 1:5 scale it is going to be petrol powered.
Scale vs Sizes: The Comparison
To give you a little ideal on how scale and size relate I have put together a table. Taken again from Nitrotek’s website this shows 2 cars for each scale with the type of engine and its exact dimensions.
|1:24 Scale||Electric||Bigfoot Electric RC Truck - Hummer||165||128||78|
|1:24 Scale||Electric||Bigfoot Electric RC Truck||165||128||78|
|1;18 Scale||Electric||Beam Electric Brushed Desert Buggy||245||175||105|
|1:18 Scale||Electric||Lizard Electric RC Truck||295||168||115|
|1;16 Scale||Electric||Flying Fish 2 BMW Electric Drift Car||265||140||80|
|1:16 Scale||Nitro||Meteor Nitro RC Buggy||289||191||110|
|1:12 Scale||Electric||HSP Electric Monster Truck||340||???||150|
|1:12 Scale||Electric||HSP Electric RC Buggy||340||210||115|
|1:10 Scale||Electric||RC Racing Rock Crawler||562||236||268|
|1:10 Scale||Nitro||Backwash Nitro RC Buggy||400||250||160|
|1:8 Scale||Electric||Warewolf Brushless Electric RC Buggy||505||310||185|
|1:8 Scale||Nitro||Warrior Nitro Buggy||505||310||185|
|1:5 Scale||Petrol||FS Racing Petrol RC Buggy||800||430||245|
|1:5 Scale||Petrol||FS Racing Petrol RC Monster Truck - Hummer||813||533||400|
What can we learn from this table?
There are two major conclusions that can be drawn from this table that I think clearly show the relationship between scale and sizes (measurements).
Firstly there is a clear trend that the smaller the scale the larger the car. This can be seen clearly by looking at the top 1:24 scale car and the bottom 1:5 scale truck. However it can also be seen throughout the table.
Secondly while there is a general trend it is not the be all and end all. using the scale as a size guide gives you an ideal of the size but will never give you the exact size. Take for example the two vehicles from the 1:10 category.
One is 562 mm in length while the the other is only 400 mm. It is also 268 mm in height while the other is only 160 mm. These are both the same scale but are very different in actual size.
As I hope I have shown you in this post the scale is a good guide for determining the size of a radio controlled car. It is however not going to give you exact measurements and I recommend you check those out in the specifications before buying anything. That way you can be sure of exactly what you are getting and perhaps more importantly if it is worth the price.
If you would like to know more please check out the rest of the site. We have articles on many aspects of the radio controlled world from trucks and buggies through to planes, tanks and drones. Thanks for reading.