VBC Ghost18 Build
In addition to their high-end touring car kits, with the latest release being the WildFire D10 Dynamics Edition (reviewed here), VBC have also long offered a more affordable option in the Ghost line of club racing touring cars.
The latest VBC Ghost car kit has just been released as the Ghost18, following on from the GhostEVO of 2015 and the original Ghost released back in 2013. The Ghost18 is here in Europe offered at a price of around 210 €, which is not even half of most high-end TC’s, making it an interesting option.
Let’s take a closer look what you’ll get for 210 €!
As always, let’s start by taking a look at the foundation on the car – the lower deck or chassis.
VBC’s marketing material states that the car has “composite carbon fibre chassis, upper deck, front and rear shock tower mounts”. The key there is in the word ‘composite’, as the chassis (and other mentioned parts) is not normal carbon fibre as found on high-end cars, but something that looks more like glass fibre with carbon fibre outer layers.
With a kit costing less than half of high-end cars, of course this has to be saved somewhere, and I feel the material used might well be a good choice for a car like this. Don’t be fooled thinking it is real carbon fibre though.
The material is 2.15mm thick, with the chassis 84mm wide and a weight of 81g, so it is a bit heavier due to the material. The cutouts under the diff/spool/spur gear are not cut through all the way, leaving a bit more material to not make the chassis too soft.
The bulkheads are black anodised and a bit simpler than on most high-end cars, but still machined out of proper aluminium, making for a good base to the car together with the chassis. Two screws secure each bulkhead, no locating pins.
The motor mount assembly is made up of three pieces; the center pulley mount, motor mount, and motor mount support. As you can see, these parts are grey anodised and not black like the bulkheads.
Up next in the manual step 2 is the front spool. A composite spool housing is used, to which you mount a 38T pulley using three screws. Composite outdrives are used, and the spool rides on normal 10x15mm bearings inside eccentric holders used to adjust belt tension.
The rear gear diff is again the same as on the recently reviewed FF18 and D10 kits, with the only difference being that the Ghost18 diff features steel outdrives instead of the alu outdrives on the other cars.
The same diff also means the same problems, in that you have to spend a lot of time on the plastic parts to build a good diff. I really wish VBC would spend some time to improve the quality here, although you can say that it is more acceptable in a kit at this price point.
With the steering system next to assemble, it is quite surprising to find that VBC have specced a unique ‘sliding rack’ system for this budget car, and not just used traditional parts from their other kits.
The steering rack parts are easy to build and seem to work well, but obviously only track testing would tell how well it works.
The steering mounts with two screws and a pin to the centreline of the chassis.
Next we move onto the centre shaft. The shaft itself is a beautiful light aluminium part.
Once built, the centre shaft assembly looks like this.
The Ghost18 features 20T plastic pulleys, locked into place by 2mm pins and set screws. The centre shaft runs on two 5x8mm bearings, and a high quality Kawada 64P 110T spur gear is included.
At this stage the second ‘centre pulley mount’ is attached to support the shaft on the right side.
The belts included are regular Bando S3M belts, 522mm (174T) front, and 177mm (59T) rear.
Time to fit the upper deck, and as already mentioned it is of the same ‘composite carbon fibre’ material as the chassis, but 2mm thick. The design is very much typical of a modern touring car.
The belt tension adjustment is done with the diff eccentrics as usual, but they are locked into place with small M2x6mm screws instead of the more usual tab on the lower bulkhead.
You can see the screw in the next picture in the cutout at the front of the bulkhead.
The ‘spine’ of the Ghost18 completed with the upper deck.
With that completed, it’s time to move onto the suspension.
One-piece aluminium suspension mounts are included all round, housing composite inserts that are used to adjust toe and inner pin width. The FF and RR mounts are the same, while the FR mount is of a ‘bridge’ type to clear the belt, and the RF mount has a centre cutout.
Upper bulkheads and towers are up next.
The towers are again the same ‘composite carbon fibre’ material, but 3.3mm thick. The rear tower has 8 positions for the dampers, and 2 positions for the upper arm.
The upper bulkheads are aluminium and black anodised. They also have a hole for the upper arm ball nut, although there is some confusion in the manual whether to use this or the positions in the tower.
The front tower features 7 damper mounting hole options, and again 2 upper arm options.
All four upper bulkheads are the same.
Rear suspension all built, featuring D09 type components. Again, all suspension plastic parts are of the ‘silver’ medium material, with harder options available.
The rear end use 49mm aluminium driveshafts and 4.5mm wheel hexes. The driveshafts come pre-assembled per normal on VBC kits, but should be cleaned and greased. 36mm alu turnbuckles are used.
To get the deltrin blades, or ‘shaft end shoes’ as they are called in the manual, to move freely in the steel outdrives and not bind up the suspension, I had to sand them quite heavily. Not good.
Surprisingly the front end features VBC double joint driveshafts! Surprising in the sense that this is very much a budget car kit. Why they are included here, but not on the VBC FF18, is difficult to understand. But of course very much a welcomed inclusion on the Ghost18!
Otherwise the front suspension is much like the rear, with ‘silver’ plastic parts, including steering blocks and c-hubs. The wheel hexes are again 4.5mm wide, just like at the rear.
The steering links, built per manual, are much too long. Some shorter ‘S’ type ball cups are included, but don’t use these as they will bind up the steering and suspension. The solution I used in the end was to carefully drill out the standard ball cups slightly to allow the turnbuckle to thread deeper into the cup. This way it was possible to get the steering links short enough.
The roll-bar is simpler than on current high-end kits, but would do it’s job just fine if it weren’t for the ‘S’ ball links (ball cups) used, binding up the whole suspension as they are way too tight on the used ball studs.
So you either need to change these, work on them until they free up, or run without the roll-bars.
Roll-bars both front and rear are 1.3mm and marked pink for identification.
Once again, VBC includes the TBBS-P progressive dampers on the Ghost18 kit, just like on the high-end D10 and FF18 FWD kits.
And just like on those kits, the dampers are easy to build all the same and work well once assembled. A big plus for VBC including proper dampers on a club race budget car kit!
A simple one-piece aluminium ‘floating’ servo mount is used, mounted to the centreline of the chassis with three screws, but featuring no pins to help keep it straight in all circumstances. Three screws should do fine though.
The front end use a standard TC design with a lower and upper plastic bumper sandwiching a foam bumper, and used to mount and support the front body mounts. These parts are not the same as on the D10 big brother, although their function is very much the same.
At the rear, the standard design with body mounts mounted to the outer part of the tower is used.
Simple plastic battery mounts are to be used with battery tape to hold the battery in place.
Screws and spacers in the motor and servo mounts are used as stoppers to keep the battery away from the front belt.
With that the VBC Ghost18 is fully assembled and ready.
Overall the built car is suitably stiff with a similar amount of flex compared to most current high-end TC’s. The drivetrain is not as free, and the car is a bit heavier. The steering is free but with very little play, while the suspension unfortunately does not move as free as it should due to the previously mentioned issue with the roll-bars.
With a bit of work on these few issues, the car should work quite well on track.
When rounding up the build, I’m afraid the verdict is very much the same as on the other VBC cars I have built recently. VBC really need to step up their manuals, improve quality control and control over kit contents, as well as quality on a few of the parts.
While these issues are a lot more acceptable on a 200 € kit, it’s still at times hard to understand the mistakes in the manual and kit contents. More than once you get the impression that no-one built a production kit using the manual, before the cars were released to dealers and customers. Why the rush? These are such simple issues, but which make a huge difference to the experience of building a car kit.
If we get over those issues, the end verdict is that you certainly get a lot for your money with the Ghost18.