Trinity/Hot Trick Graphite Optima Ram – part 1

-When is a Hot Trick Optima Ram not a Hot Trick Optima Ram?

-When it’s a Trinity Graphite Optima Ram!

An ad for the Ultima version of the Hot Trick kit, the “Red Ultima”.

I’m sure some of you remember the Hot Trick ads from RCCA saying things like “-When is a Frog not a Frog? -When it’s a Hot Trick Red Prince!”. The Hot Trick stuff were colorful and very good looking, and it changed whole cars into these mysterious red creatures. Personally I always thought of it as just “bling”, and never really considered buying one of those kits. No matter how much I love the colour red, there were simply too much red on those buggies. They had kits for most popular buggies, and common for many of them where that they took various chassis designs and converted them to flat chassis cars. Gone were the Optima chassis rails when you converted the Optima to an “Optima Ram” and gone was the monocoque chassis of the Frog when it was transformed into a “Red Prince”. The parts were mostly red anodized aluminum and red fiberglass.

The Hot Trick Optima Ram kit.

Obviously someone at Trinity realized that the Hot Trick Optima Ram conversion was an improvement on the original Optima, and decided to improve it even more by making it stiffer and quite a bit lighter. Teaming up with Composite Craft and using their super light weight and super strong graphite material, they made a set of black graphite chassis- and top-plates, as well as a front shock tower that were direct replacements for the red fiberglass parts of the Hot Trick kit. When the opportunity struck, I bought a used set of the Trinity chassis/top plate, as well as the necessary Hot Trick parts to put it all together.

From an old Trinity catalog. The parts used for this build are #8013, #8014 and #8021.

The Trinity chassis- and top-plates were not meant to be used without the Hot Trick aluminum parts, but some people made their own mounts. As far as I know, nobody sold kits for using the Trinity chassis without the Hot Trick parts, so they were actually just a hop-up for a hop-up! That’s probably one of the reasons why they are so rare today. Trinity also made another, stand alone, chassis kit with full sides, as well as individual front and rear side plates from that same graphite material.

The ultra light weight Trinity Graphite chassis for the Optima Ram.
Trinity Graphite front shock tower for the Optima Ram.

The Trinity front shock tower follows the style of Hot Trick, and has a closed top. I still haven’t received the Trinity tower, so I have used another black tower as a placeholder. Strangely enough Trinity didn’t make a rear shock tower in the style of the other parts. They did make a rear tower for the Optima, but it’s so different from the other parts that I really don’t think it was made to be used with the Hot Trick kit. As the look of the Trinity rear tower is so different from the Hot Trick and Trinity parts, I decided against using it, anyway. There was always the option of using a Hot Trick rear tower, but as I would like to reduce the red on the build, I had to look elsewhere to find a suitable rear tower.

The very rare YSP rear shock tower.

The solution was to use a very rare tower from YSP. The front bumper is from YSP too, and both are very light weight. YSP was a small Japanese manufacturer, that made a few parts for the Optima, as well as for a handful of other cars. The YSP parts are rarely seen outside Japan these days. Luckily I have good connections there. All tie rods are adjustable Dirt Burners! rods.

Dirt Burners! rear and front camber adjusters. I also have a set of the steering rods ready for the build.

To further keeping it light, there are Andy’s A-arms all around, and the wheels are the “feather weight” Pro-Line #2520 Yokomo wheels with nylon adapters. The tires are the original T650 Schumacher CAT tires.

Pro-Line “feather weight” wheels with nylon adapters and Schumacher CAT tires.

I’m not really sure about the shocks, though…. They are re-release Optima shocks, with original vintage aluminum Kyosho shock retainers, making the shocks look very much like the old CB-89/#1886 shocks. I even changed to old ball ends on the shocks. My concern is that they are re-release, as I don’t fancy mixing new parts with vintage on a build like this. But as the CB’s don’t show up very often, in good condition at least, these will have to do. The car has the original chain drive with gear diffs. It does have a Turbo Optima limiter gear, but other than that the gears are original Optima. For now I have a black can Trinity Monster Horsepower motor, the one with the pink label. The pink label does not go well with the red and black, so I’ll have to try to find a black can with silver label. There are still many things missing, and I have a tendency to swap things during builds, so lots of things could be different when I publish part 2.

A few more more pictures:

The build, so far.
Andy’s rear A-arms. The gear box is pretty worn, so I may change it later. I only had “good” rear gear boxes for the belt drive conversion kit available. The chassis is also a bit scratched on the under side, but there is not much I can do about that, other than looking for a better one. But as rare as they are, I don’t have much hope of finding another.
YSP front bumper and Andy’s front A-arms.
The YSP front bumper.

This is not a web-shop

This is not a web-shop, and beside what’s listed under the “FOR SALE” tab in the menu, nothing presented here is for sale, so please don’t ask. If I have anything I would like to sell, I’ll post it in the “FOR SALE” section.

About TomEG 60 Articles
I have been into RC cars since the beginning of the 80's, but have really never been much of a racer. I competed in some local races and some "Tamiya Cups", and actually came 6th in the Tamiya Cup Norwegian Nationals in 1987. My main interest has always been building and modifying, and that's where I still am today. Through the years I have been able to build a solid network of contacts around the world, consisting of both former and current members of the industry, as well as quite a few of the former top drivers. I have a genuine interest for the history of the 1/10 scale off-road buggies from the 80's.


  1. Would love to see the other Trinity chassis, a carbon optimachassis would be awesome 🙂 maybe a job for our frön Jerry Hellström?
    I am Always finding new Old stuff on your site Tom Erik, this One was new to me. Always great read, thank you 🙂

  2. Edit: our friend Jerry Hellström- the carbon Wizard. Stupid Google g-board makes hard to spell correct 😬

  3. The other Trinity chassis have full length side plates, not unlike the cool one Mini is building (in the Optima facebook group). I have never seen any of those…. That could have been a very nice build.

    • Hi!
      Oh, that’s a tough one…..
      What goes for standard out of the box 1/10 buggys and off roaders you have the Hirobo Jealusy, Tamiya Blazing Blazer, a few of the 4wd AYK’s etc. but there are many more that could be mentioned as well, like the first M38 Wild Willy, Gold Optima, Turbo Optima Mid Special. But for me it’s got to be the Great Vigor Beagle Pro….

    • Yes the Beagle is the Optima clone, and the Beagle Pro is the much rarer version, with a very nice Turbo Optima inspired body. I like it for the looks and because it’s much more rare than the basic Beagle.

  4. Hi Tomeg your the first person I’ve ever followed in rc car stuff because your very into it I just recently got back into rc cars 35 years later now that I can afford some of the nice ones lol I noticed you are very much into converting optimas and ayks I have a hot tricks rc 10 and optima which ayk should I purchase thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.