For those that are looking to relive their childhood with the Thundershift 500, but can't find it or aren't willing to pay $80+ dollars for one on eBay... Target has a Hot Wheels track that is similar to the Thundershift 500: Hot Wheels Race Aces Speed Shift Raceway.
The main difference with the Thundershift 500 and the Hot Wheels Race Aces Speed Shift Raceway is that the latter has a trigger mechanism that the car hits to make the launching arm automatically propel the car. All you do is quickly reset the launching arm after it propelled the car forwward. The former was all manual and required much better hand-eye coordination. But, with a little modification, I was able to make the Race Aces Speed Shift Raceway just as challenging as (if not more than) the original Thundershift 500.
- There's a clear button that you can push to disable the launching arm trigger. Put tape on it to disable it.
- This will prevent the launching arm from staying in place without you holding the handle back. So pull the handle back.
- Now, slowly launch the car into the chute, and when the car is in the right position push the handle forward (or just let go of it) to propel the car.
- Now, you just do the OPPOSITE of the Thundershift 500: push the handle forward at the exact right moment to propel the car and pull the handle back to reload.
- Unfortunately, the handles are made to collapse if too much forward force is applied to them. So, I drilled a hole through the front of the handle and the handle's base where there already was an indention and put in a metal pin to prevent the handle from collapsing.
It's not exactly the Thundershift 500, but now it's very challenging and I think it's even more fun than the Thundershift 500 because I can let my sons use it the less challenging way while I try to match them by doing it the more challenging way. They usually beat me.