Monday, 14 July 2014

The weird and the wonderful

384 Adams Probe 16

384 Adams Probe 16

380 Alfa Romeo P33

283 DAF City Car

381 GP Beach Buggy

347 Chevrolet Astro 1

The Whizzwheels era certainly brought out some weird and wonderful cars which we would be pretty unlikely to see on our roads. I guess the Beach Buggy was not so weird - probably far more common a sight than the Fiat Ghia Jolly issued in the normal years. In fact that was issued twice but that's another story I shall about separately. The others, though, are a strange bunch but each in their own way has something that makes you forgive the Corgi design team. Well, you might not shout at them quite as much - save that for the dragsters and some other diabolical dumb-downs.

Working through those illustrated here, start with the Adams Probe 16. I haven't heard of Adams as a motor manufacturer anyway so this was not off to a good start but look at the lines, the lovely colour and attractive perspex cover. That cover slides back, presumably to let what much have been pretty intense heat out of the compartment. The interior is crisp and clean, albeit not very private if you had an itch and were parked next to almost any vehicle taller than this. A strange steering column looks very prone to refusal to turn corners but I don't think many of these were ever available on the straight, never mind corners. Jewelled lights at the back look really nice too and this has many 'normal' features that make it a nice model to display.

The Alfa may have been a bit more generally available but certainly wasn't a sight on British roads other than the Corgi Kit layout ones. Corgi didn't make many white models. This suits the colour well. Obviously, being the 70s, orange has to appear somewhere and the interior seats, dash etc. are suitably bright satsuma. It's a nicely finished model. Nothing opens or closes but, apart from the wheels, it sits well and has a certain charm.

No doubt the DAF City car existed in some cities but, again, it wasn't seen on British roads unless you happened to live in an apartment overlooking the London Design Centre or a street of that ilk. In complete contrast to the Alfa, everything opens on this crazy car. It might have almost been 'normal' had it not had such an incredible array of features. One side had a sliding door that I don't recall seeing on a model before. That looked difficult to engineer. The other side had two opening doors - like an old Rover 100 had, both hinged at outer edges so they fold in on each other. You get this vast opening in the side as a result which would be useful in the country just as much as the city now I think about it. Indeed, I can think of more uses - the occasional hay bale, errant animals, piles of shopping, firewood come to mind - for a DAF Rural Car rather than a DAF City Car.

As if that wasn't enough, the boot and rear also open. There's no excuse for one of these to have a messy interior. And being pale fawn, it will show. Quite a car. I am not sure about the scale though - it seems much too big. Naturally, it will have been one hell of a job to construct this in a way that doesn't collapse on first play and that may have had an influence on its size. Or maybe it was that big.

The fun starts when you open up the box and out rolls a Chevrolet Astro 1. I mistyped that as Astro ! but actually that may be a better name! It looks just like the space-age vehicles we saw illustrated in comics or in TV series in the 1960s. Not so sure about the 1970s but then this did come out in 1969, being one of the very first Whizzwheels. It would have rolled out of the box nicely too as the 'red spot' wheels that quite a few of this model will have had originally had rubber tyres and ran much more pleasantly than the horrid plastic ones. If the shape makes you smile then you'll split your sides laughing when you see what happens when you slide back the roof. The passengers get lifted into the air and if this is supposed to be some device for assisting their exit then it hasn't quite worked unless they take a jump. But it all works very smoothly and there are two plastic people looking strange to match the model.

There is another I am looking for - the Bertone Barchetta Runabout. 

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