Back in March of 1988 Fumito Taki and Tamiya launched the over-engineered Avante 4WD buggy, a model both loved and hated worldwide. Today the original 1988 Avante is one of the most searched after vintage Tamiya models, with a good specimen going for prices twice as much as a brand new 2011 re-release or 2018 re-re-release. But much of a high level competition buggy, it never was. Apart from some decent results in Japan, and of course in club-level races around the world, the Avante had quite a few flaws, meaning it just could not cope with the Yokomos, Schumachers and Kyoshos when things heated up in championship races. Limited suspension travel, problems with keeping a setup throughout a race, high center of gravity, flimsy steering and a few parts that broke at the slightest impact, meant that Tamiya had quite a few things to sort out, before it could be called a high level competition buggy. By June 1989 Tamiya had fixed a few of these things, and released the next generation of the buggy, namely the Egress.
The release of the Egress was the result of a year of hard work, fixing many of the flaws of the Avante, and releasing them bit by bit throughout the year, until the final product was launched. I decided to build a buggy based on the hop-ups released between the Avante and Egress releases, and it actually turned out more different to a kit Egress than I thought when starting this project. I call it my “Intermediate” Avante/Egress.
The Avante was released.
In August 1988 the “Titanium Screw Set” was released for the Avante, consisting of 92 titanium screws and bolts as well as 19 titanium nuts. In total these screws, bolts and nuts were quite a few grams lighter than the heavier (but stronger!) steel screws.
The wheels of the Avante had some kind of “quick release” system, where you could undo the wheel without using any tools. Although a good idea, the system made the wheels rather heavy and bulky, and was not something the racers wanted. Among the early option parts released for the Avante were the white “Avante Lightweight Narrow Wheels (1 Pair)” and the “Avante Lightweight Wide Wheels (1 Pair)” that was released in the beginning of August of 1988. These wheels are identical (only white) to the black wheels that was to be released with the Egress about a year later, and were also issued with the Vanquish in December 1988.
Another option part was the “Avante Ball Race Steering Set”, released in October 1988. This modification eliminated some of the steering slop in the original system. It was, as it’s name indicates, a ball bearing steering system that utilized 8 (!) ball bearings to make the steering more precise. That’s more ball bearings than in an average gear box!
Although looking nice, the gold shocks of the Avante had a low capacity, and a limited travel, so in November 1988 Tamiya released the Hi-Cap shocks, that were more like the now more or less industry standard Kyosho gold shocks. For the front there was a set called “Hi-Cap Damper (Mini)” that came with a small shock tower to extend the height of the original top shock mount, as the shocks were longer than the Avante shocks. The rears were called “Hi-Cap Damper (Short)”, and did not need a new shock tower to fit the standard Avante.
Another of the upgrades was the “Avante Carbon Graphite Chassis Set” that was released in December of 1988, and replaced the fiberglass chassis of the original Avante, and inverted the two chassis plates, bringing it more in line with the layout of it’s competitors, as well as extending the wheel base and lowering the center of gravity. It also came with a new set of suspension arms, eliminating many of the millions of adjustment points of the original suspension. Many might think that reducing the number of adjustment possibilities is a downgrade, but in this case it’s not, just trust me, I used to run an Avante back in the day. The set also came with a new rear shock tower, meant to mount the earlier mentioned Hi-Cap shock absorbers further back on the car.
In December 1988 the “Vanquish” was released. The Vanquish was more of an entry level model based on the Avante, but included some of the improvements that would later end up in the Egress. The model came with a plastic tub style chassis, and the yellow plastic CVA shocks, known from the earlier Tamiya models. The Vanquish did however come with the same lightweight wheels (only in white) and the suspension arms that would be supplied with the Egress half a year later. Using narrow wheels at the front was also a concept that was brought on to the Egress, and a change away from the “wide wheels all around” that was found on the Avante.
In February 1989 the “Avante Posi-Joint Universal Set (Front)” and the “Avante Posi-Joint Universal Set (Rear)” were released. These were some kind of advanced double jointed universal drive shafts. Unlike the existing universal drives shafts that could be used either front or rear, these came if front and rear versions, as they also replaced the outdrives from the diffs on the original cars. I currently do not have these on my “Intermediate”, but I do have a set of these on my Dirt Burners! Avante XL build. As these did not end up becoming parts of the Egress kit, I’m still undecided if I should move these to the “Intermediate” or keep them on the XL and just use the “normal” universal drive shafts.
One of the last upgrades was the “Dual Ball Diff & Torque Splitter Set” that was released at the same time as the actual Egress, and consisted of front and rear ball diffs, as well as a locked center diff or a one-way “torque splitter” as options to the center ball diff of the Avante. I first installed this on my “Intermediate”, but when I realized it wasn’t released until the Egress kit release, I reverted back to the Avante gear diffs and center ball diffs, to make it a real intermediate model. The same goes for the black wheels and Egress tires, that also weren’t available until the Egress release.
The Egress was released.
But the research and development didn’t stop with the launch of the Egress, as even with all the upgrades it was far from a perfect buggy. Still having limited suspension travel, and a few parts that would easily break, most of the new parts were now kept “in house” as they used the Egress as a test-bed for the upcoming Top Force buggy. You can read more about the further developments here.
Avante-only hop ups
There were also other hop ups released for the Avante that didn’t make it to the Egress, due to the chassis and suspension design changes, like the “Avante Titanium Rod Set” and the “Avante Ball End Cover Set (20 pcs.)”.
My “Intermediate” Avante/Egress
In the pictures you can see what I call my “Intermediate” Avante/Egress. This car is built with most of the Tamiya Avante hop-ups that was released between the Avante and the Egress, thus making it quite like the kit Egress, but not exactly. Some parts are different, like the “Under Cowl For Avante Carbon Graphite Chassis” seen on the intermediate that was made to fit the original Avante body, and not the later body of the Egress. At first I believed it was the same as the one found on the Avante 2001, but this one is different, and unique to these “Intermediate” buggies. The shapes of the different under cowls makes the two cars look more different than they really are. Even if the “Intermediate” looks longer and sleeker than the Egress, they are exactly the same size, as the chassis plates and suspension parts are identical. Well, as far as suspension parts go, there is a tiny difference at the front. On the “Intermediate” the lower shock mounts are the same as on the Avante, while the Egress have some special brackets to move the lower mounting positions more inward, making the shocks more upright. To compensate for this, the front shock tower of the Egress is taller than the one on the “Intermediate”.
For now my “Intermediate” have some YSP hop-ups as well, like the kydex wing and the bumper extension. The will be removed, and only correct Tamiya “Intermediate” parts will be used. It also have the black lightweight wheels, with the Egress tires, but I will change those for the set of white wheels (shown above) and the spike tires from the SuperShot, as the Egress wheels/tires weren’t released until the actual release of the Egress kits, and I want it to be a little more different.
I’ll post part 2 when the build is done.