Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Corgi Toys @ 60: Lotus Eleven and Gift Set 3

July 1958 brought model number 151, a Lotus Mk 11 Le Mans Racing Car into the shops. This could be found in several shades of mostly pale blue, bearing racing numbers 1, 3 or 7. It is also available in silver and red. the red editions are scarce and I have yet to find one for myself!







It is an extremely simple model and seems very dated when compared to some of the other models it will have been next to on the shelves in 1958. That is, however, a fair representation of the real thing, designed for minimum weight and air resistance.

The Corgi model had a thick plastic screen and metal steering wheel and all these issues would have had smooth fixed wheels. I have no idea how anyone would be able to change the tyres on one of these! So, if you are thinking of buying one, check the tyres.

Below is a photograph of a real Lotus Eleven from the Lotus Eleven Register web site which has plenty of information about this model.


Try not to confuse this model with a later edition, 151A, which appears in September 1961 in a brighter blue with a stripe on the bonnet, slightly different screen design and a driver behind the wheel. The first issue did not come with a driver and if it has a stripe it will have been added later. Some sellers do get confused, however, and think they're doing a good job by adding these!

The other new item for July 1958 was Gift Set No. 3, featuring 350 and 351, the Thunderbird Missile on a trolley drawn by the RAF Land Rover, each having been released individually in May.






Friday, 29 June 2018

New arrivals in June

Coming to the village this month has been another fascinating selection, including one or two models I have not seen before. The star of the show has to be the 242 Ghia Fiat 600 Jolly with a decent box too! This arrived in a massive box! That was necessary as the little yellow car was something I had spotted buried in an auction lot of dreadful fire engines - two enormous C1103 Fire Trucks from the late 1970s and a boxed Simon Snorkel.




242 Giat Fiat 600 with box Jolly £275

464 Commer Police Van £50

GS40 Excellent models in great reproduction box £160

236 Asutin A60 Driving School Car £35

213S Jaguar Fire Chief's Car £45

227 £35

227 £35

227 £60

226 £40


203 bright yellow with excellent original box £160

275 (rebuilt from green / tan edition) £30

275 original (but with some new paint) £44
Not so much arrivals as re-appearances - these seemed to look better with the bare metal polished. Projects as yet unfinished.




GS14 (truck only) with free spinning wheels! Price TBA

216 Austin A40 with shaped wheels £45

207 Standard Vanguard III with shaped wheels Price TBA

225 Austin Seven deep red Type 1c base fixed wheels £70

234 Ford Consul Classic with free spinning wheels Price TBA

200 Ford Consul 2nd edition £45

1127 Bedford Simon Snorkel Fire Engine with excellent box £80

C1103 Airport Crash Truck Price TBA

31007 Heavy Haulage Annis & Co. Ltd Price TBA

This last item, the Annis & Co Heavy Haulage model is as new in its original packing with a limited edition certificate. Now something like this would not normally feature in my stock but Mr & Mrs Annis live across the road from me in the village and Mr Annis is a nephew of one of the company's owners. He is going to supply me with some additional background detail, expanding on the paragraph people get in the box, and also providing some photos to make this a little more appealing item for a collector.


Oh yes, Skippy arrived too! A colleague had a lovely 302 Hillman Hunter in an original box but no kangaroo so I found this great original for him. I think I paid more for the kangaroo than I did for some cars!



What's Your Type?



Some time ago I tried to illustrate the difference between the two main Mini castings for Morris models. Using two black 249 models, however, wasn't the brightest of ideas as the colour made the differences barely visible! Yesterday a couple of wrecks arrived, however, and these make much better examples at this stage of having had the paint removed.


There are lots of changes at the front. The easiest to spot will be the join line between the headlamps - much higher and more straight on Type 2. 

The grille shape at the top centre (where a bonnet release catch may be located) is shallow and flat bottomed on Type 1, deeper and more angled on Type 2.

The proportions are also different in, for example, the windscreen area, being taller on Type 2, although, again, this is a lot easier to spot when you have the two side by side.




At the back the differences are not quite as clear on single items. The size of rear light clusters and proximity to the bonnet line are different. The petrol filler cap is also further from the boot line on Type 2. Type 2 has a larger boot handle.

In contrast to the front plates, the rear plates on the Type 2 are the shallower ones.

The rear bumper is a much neater, shallower element on Type 2.


Another usually easy-to-see difference will be on the side of the front wings. Type 2 has a clear horizontal line running the length of the wing. Type 1 does not, but often displays a line at 45° running from the wheel arch to headlamp surround. That reflects the line between two panels on the real thing at the time.




Although there are many other differences in the side view, I often don't notice them in single models at first. It is said that Type 2 has a 'bulge' at the back which some say is obvious but I seldom see that. Clearer for me are the window surrounds on Type 2, shorter door hinges and thicker A pillar.
  


No doubt you may have your own 'obvious' difference(s) but for those who have been struggling to see whether their model is a Type 1 or Type 2 casting, perhaps these illustrations will help. Incidentally, don't judge by the wheels! Whilst the fixed shaped wheel will always be a Type 1 model, cast wheels do appear on Type 1 models too.

If you hadn't already gathered, the shinier of the two models shown is the Type 1! These will soon be made into some fresh Mini Coopers and slightly different to any actually issued. One colleague has bought his daughter an orange and white real model and I shall try and create a copy of that for him.

I shall probably not be able to match the skills of Richard Hill (no relation), however, who has recently sent me these photos of his latest reconstruction of something similar.




We both have doubts about the fog lamp arrangement but his use of nice silver bezels for the headlamps and the addition of an accurate-looking driver are appealing. 

And yes, I do know that the Sun Rally model didn't have that fog lamp arrangement anyway and would have been a Type 2!! I guess there would have been two occupants too . . .



. . . and, as you'll see, Richard Hill decided the next day to have another go at those lamps!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Corgi wheel changes Pt 2: wire wheels and cast wheels


From early 1962 just about every model car had what I call normal wheels - shaped wheels that spin freely on their axles (and so were a lot easier to drive around corners than the fixed types). A recent article dealt with what had gone before; now I shall look at what follows these 'normal' wheels and how some models with a particular type may be quite scarce and so worth looking out for.

The first new type would be wire wheels, also referred to as spoked wheels. These did look very smart and first appeared in June 1964 on the Buick Riviera. In September that year the Competition version of the Jaguar E Type has them and then The Great Book of Corgi refers to them being fitted to the 303S and 304S in December 1964. 

It also said they were fitted to the 309 Aston Martin Competition model but I have to say that that remains the most elusive of all Corgis for me! I used to have doubts about the two Mercedes too and wondered whether this and the catalogue were actually referring to the cast spoke-effect wheels which both models did get. However, last year I did see a couple for sale which appeared to be genuine 303S and 304S models with wire wheels. Because they were still far too expensive for my budget, though, I made my own with the help of a colleague, as described in an article nearer the time.

Before seeing them I had assumed that the reference to the 'spoked' wheel referred to a cast wheel type that, whilst still not common, is rather easier to find than the wire wheel type. The cast wheel variety can, however, only have been around for a short time as the Mercedes' production is said to have ceased in 1965.

Wire wheels were then fitted to three existing models. These were:

310 Chevrolet Stingray November 1963

320 Ford Mustang March 1965
Ford Mustang Competition December 1965

The Chevrolet is quite easy to find with normal wheels, in its cerise shade at least, but the Mustangs are certainly scarce with normal wheels and this leads me to estimate that the wire wheel type would have been introduced around early 1966 on these.

Several other models were fitted with wire wheels but kept them throughout their production period and so don't get included in this investigation.

The next change was the introduction of a cast wheel with a louvre design which looked a little like spokes. Very few models had these cast wheels from the start. The Sun Rally Rover 2000 in February 1967, the 319 lotus Elan in June 1967 and a Renault 16 in February 1969 were, I think, the only ones with normal size wheels. The Lancia Fulvia Zagato Coupe, some Imps and Minis had some during this period with the smaller size.

Many models changed from normal wheels to cast wheels during production and these seem to have had cast wheels at a very early point, making the normal wheel versions quite scarce:

Chrysler Imperial August 1965

263 Rambler Marlin June 1966
Oldsmobile Toronado January 1967
You can see that the timing of fitting cast wheels in place of normal wheels is pretty random - the Chrysler Imperial stopped being made in 1967 but by far the majority available have cast wheels so they must have been fitted from early 1966. The Oldsmobile, however, didn't appear until 1967 and so the switch cannot have been before mid-1967 and, of course, the Golden Jacks version comes out in June 1968!

Those three, however, are certainly not easy to find these days and command quite a premium.

Not many models seem scarce with cast wheels. It seems that those that did get switched had a reasonably long period with them. Amongst the normal size wheels, the Mercedes 303S and 304S and the two Mustangs can only have had the cast wheels for a short period and are quite scarce. Another is the pale blue edition of the Buick Riviera. Most 245s that I have seen with cast wheels have been in the metallic blue shade, some gold but, to date, only one in pale blue. I did try to buy it but it was in an original Gift Set 31 and that sent the price sky high regardless of the Riviera wheels, unfortunately.

Amongst the smaller wheel size cars, the 333 Sun Rally Mini Cooper had quite a short lifespan and is hard to find with cast wheels which seem to have been fitted only very late in its production. Whilst all the metallic maroon 226 Minis had cast wheels, some blue models got them too. I suspect that all Type 2 blue Morris Mini-Minors should have cast wheels but we may find one with normal wheels. Similarly there can't be many Type 1 blue Morris Mini-Minors with cast wheels, although these were produced in pretty big quantities and so the date of switch in relation to the timing of the body type change is what will govern things - and on that matter I have no clue. 

Another model that one would have thought was bound to get them is the 508 Commer Holiday Camp Bus. Issued in July 1968 it was, admittedly, not around for long but the similar Samuelsons Film Service Van that came out a few months earlier gets both types, as does the revised 470 Jeep FC-150 that comes out a few months after. From what I can tell, though, the 508 stays in normal wheels throughout. I may be wrong. That's another I shall be looking out for. Just in case!

So, there are a few interesting models that could have had nice, short production periods with one or other type of wheel. Because of the lack of information about when changes may have occurred there may be others. You may know some - if so, do let me know.

Here is a chart of what I have found. As with the other one, it may be easier to view and move around in full size at this link.