The Tyco Speed Wrench was a radio controlled car that featured the ability to swap wheels and tires using the included electronic wrench toy, allowing kids to alter the vehicles characteristics. It was manufactured by Tyco, and released into the US, UK, and other countries worldwide in 2000.
Features and Performance
I’ve not personally driven the Speed Wrench (yet), but it’s definitely on my ‘must buy’ list (if I ever find one at a realistic price!) so take any of my observations with a grain of salt.
The Speed Wrench’s call to fame is its changeable wheels, where the radio controller acts as a ‘Power Tool’ allowing you to remove the wheel bolts, and swap out two or all four wheels with either monster truck tires, or racing tires.
Available in Black (27Mhz) and Red (49Mhz), the car ran on Tyco’s 7.2v NiMh FlexPack, giving it decent performance, and a claimed 30 minutes run time.
The most interesting aspect of the Speed Wrench however is written on the back of the box – ‘Exclusive Automatic SpeedSelect Transmission‘. What was this? How did it work? And was it on any other Tyco RC models? I’d like to know!
What surprised me most was that it doesn’t have a Rebound style / Tank like drive system, which is cheaper and easier to implement, especially on cars like this with unusual drive functions. Instead it has an actual steering setup – no doubt a challenge for designers given the size variance of the front wheels. Looking underneath, you can see this was achieved by extending the front axles out a fairly awkward amount.
Dual Mode Controller
Serving dual duty as both a radio controller and as an electronic winch toy, the controller is impressive. With a switch on the top allowing the user to change it from Wrench to R/C mode in a flash, and a rotary knob on the back presumably for steering, its well thought out.
Designed and licensed from Tilbor Marketing and Development, the Speed Wrench is almost certainly the brainchild of Neil Tilbor, the man who made the 90’s when it comes to R/C Toys. Neil is named as creator on patents of the Fast Traxx, Python, Scorcher, and I suspect may have been involved with other Tyco favorites such as the Mutator 4WD, Samurai/Ninja, and more.
Neil retired some time ago from the toy industry and now lives in Florida, hopefully enjoying his retirement content in the knowledge that his impact on the world has been positive and far reaching into the minds of millions of children (now adults) worldwide who look back upon his work with nostalgia.
Availability and Collectability
The Speed Wrench is generally available online in used, and sometimes boxed condition, and buyers not fussy on price will be able to pick one up. Unboxed cars, many missing key pieces such as alternative tires are also widely available, though overall