Somewhere in the States a colleague found this Gift Set 15. A seemingly ordinary but nice and clean Whizzwheels Land Rover towing the usual Rice Beaufort Horse-Box with cast wheels containing two original issue ponies too.
Red seats? he rightly queried. Red seats!? I exclaimed and immediately placed a ridiculously high bid to make sure I bought it. These days I do tend to avoid buying from across The Pond if at all possible as many sellers demand the most extraordinary postal charges. (Pitney Bowes has a lot to answer for in that respect but I'll leave that for another day). This was actually advertised with a couple of Corgi Classics: a 9041 Rolls and a 9012 Model T Ford with a broken screen. I really did not want either of those and hoped the seller could just send me the Land Rover but it didn't seem to make any difference to a postal charge of about £25 so I swallowed hard and tried not to worry about it too much.
I did win at a modest price, but more than I had expected it to go for and then only with the last second assistance of some software, which made me think that someone else had noticed the unusual interior. It took an age for the expensive postal service actually to deliver the damn thing but it has been well worth the wait. At one point I did wonder whether the 'red' was merely the result of a poorly-lit photograph! Quite a relief when it did, finally, arrive. It was red.
It looks very much like the old interior put in the fawn coloured edition but with a black steering wheel. The Longleat Land Rover has a red interior and black steering wheel but the interior is quite different, needing a hole for the hunter. Someone would have had to select the red interior, add a black steering wheel and then insert it during the manufacturing process when you would have expected the box to be full of lemon ones with grey steering wheels. So it is a curious development and my guess is that this dates from a period when the change from the flimsy lemon plastic to new yellow interior was taking place. If some models came trundling down the production line and the lemon flavour had run out but no yellow solid affairs were available then the factory staff may well have made up some temporary alternatives.
Despite looking quite carefully at hundreds of these Land Rovers over the years, and discovering all sorts of varieties in the Gift Set 15 components, this has to be the one with the biggest 'Wow!' factor. I have not seen a single other one anywhere. The dark green 438 with a red interior is known to be scarce and I was delighted to find one of those a while ago that I shall not part with cheaply. Unless I discover that there are more of these around which I simply have just not noticed. which I doubt will be the case, then this will take its place as one of the really quite special models in my collection.
I really do like models that look a bit normal and may be initially uninteresting but which are, in fact, wonderfully scarce and potentially valuable. Finding these small but fascinating differences does help the days go by!
As you will see in the previous article today, the Horse-Box was also a surprise, having a different type of wheel. So I'm glad that I didn't press to have just the Land Rover after all. The two Classics, though, will be effectively free to a good home.