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.


Here is a GS14 Jeep FC-150 with free spinning wheels, referred to in a recent article. I think this could be quite a scarce item. One of only two items I can think of that have free spinning wheels but no suspension (other than tractors, equipment and trailers).

These Jeeps do seem to confuse some sellers so here is a quick guide which might help those of us avoid going after what looks like something unusual merely being an item which was wrongly numbered!

April 1959 409

The first Jeep FC-150 appears in a pale blue colour. No springs, no interior. No plastic canopy either. That comes later.

February 1961 Gift Set 14

The hydraulic tower is fitted to a red Jeep FC-150 and sold in a box with a lamp standard and a chap with his arms in the air. This model was not available on its own but is often now seen without the lamp or man and even missing the tower unit. Note the slot in the rear tailgate.
This red one has neither an interior nor suspension.

March 1965 470

The first Jeep 150-FC with suspension and an interior, available in shades of blue and mustard, not red. With a plastic canopy too now if you're lucky. This gets cast wheels and new deeper blue colours in December 1968.

December 1965 478

The hydraulic tower version gets a nice metallic green colour, an interior and suspension. It is released in a box with a man but no lamp standard.

June 1965 64 or Gift Set 64

This is the other red one and this one does have an interior and suspension but is usually obviously different with a huge conveyor system on the back. If that has disappeared then it can be distinguished from a GS14 Jeep by not having a slot in the tail gate (in case neither interior nor suspension are obvious).
This is listed as either 64 or Gift Set 64.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Corgi wheel changes Pt 1: smooth to shaped to free spinning

Many models were produced over a period which included a change in the type of wheels to be fitted. For example, a 219 Plymouth Suburban was produced between 1959 and 1963 and can be found with smooth or shaped fixed wheels. One type will be easier to find than the other, usually that will be the version with the type of wheel being fitted when it was first produced because that is when the vast majority would have been made.

A casual search of the Plymouth model had a ratio of about 5:1 with smooth fixed being the most often seen. For a 208S Jaguar 2.4 they were much more evenly divided with neither seeming more common than the other. The Jaguar was first produced in late 1960 so may have only had the smooth wheels fitted for the first six months or so.

Those for which production started in the 1950s and ceased in 1962 will be quite hard to find with shaped wheels:

205 Riley Pathfinder
207 Standard Vanguard
209 Riley Pathfinder Police Car
214 Ford Thunderbird Hard Top
216 Austin A40
351 Land Rover RAF Edition
352 Standard Vanguard RAF Staff Car
404 Bedford Dormobile Type II
407 Karrier Mobile Shop
411 Karrier Lucozade Van
416 Land Rover RAC Radio Rescue

There are also many models where the production span included the introduction of free spinning wheels. These first appeared on the 224 Bentley in 1961 but it was 1962 before any other models were issued with these from the very start, the first being the 307 Jaguar E Type in March 1962. In the previous month the 420 Thames Caravan began with fixed shaped wheels and that type seems to be the significant majority.

It would seem that the only models which get free spinning wheels fitted during production are those that were still going in 1965. Models which ceased being produced in 1964, with only two or three exceptions, do not get free spinning wheels.

The earliest example that I have seen, referred to in a previous article, is the 458 ERF Tipper Truck which was produced from 1958 to 1965. I should imagine that the 457 ERF Platform Lorry and 460 ERF Cement Truck, which had a similar production run, may have some free-spinning wheels versions too.

Two intriguing possibilities - models whose production did not end until 1965 - are the Austin Healey and MGA!

The 409 Jeep FC-150 may also be available with all three types but, like the Austin Healey and MGA, I suspect they'll be very rare or simply never have been produced.

Models produced in 1960 do tend to have all three types available, albeit the free spinning types can be quite hard to find for some. These are known to exist:

210S Citroen DS19
218 Aston Martin (which also had fixed 'spoke effect' early cast wheels I have not documented here)
220 Chevrolet Impala
221 Chevrolet Impala New York Cab
226 Morris Mini-Minor
418 Austin Taxi
419 Ford Zephyr Police Car

The 211S Studebaker should also have them but I have not seen any.

In 1961 the Ford Zephyr Estate and the Jeep in the Gift Set 14 have all three types, the free spinning being still quite scarce and the 234 Ford Consul Classic is the first model (other than the Bentley Continental) not to have smooth fixed wheels. Nearly all had shaped fixed wheels, as did the Fiat 2100. I have seen the 234 Ford with free spinning wheels but not a 232 Fiat. The Ford is scarce, as will be the Fiat if it does exist. Another ERF, the 456 Dropside Truck, ran from 1961 to 1965 and may well also have free spinning wheels but I have not spotted any. The 225 Austin Seven, like the 226, also has all three types and production numbers were so high that all three are easy to track down.

234 Ford Consul Classic with free spinning wheels

From 1962, just about everything is being produced with free spinning wheels from the start. There are a few oddities, like the 435 Karrier Dairy Produce Van which didn't get free spinning wheels and for which the smooth fixed variety would have made a very late appearance. I can only guess that the model's release may have been delayed and it had actually been made much earlier.

Here is a chart of my estimates of when models were in production and when various types of wheels may have been fitted. This gives some guide as to those which you may wish particularly to look out for. The catalogue section of my web site at this link has a copy that may be easier to view and navigate. (It includes the later changes to wire wheels and cast types too).

Where you see just a single square that is an indication of a less common type to look out for. The dates of changes are, however, mostly guesswork so, whilst I think I have covered every possibility, there may be some included that prove not to exist and, perhaps, some will be scarcer or more common than a simple square system can display.

The Mercedes 303S and 304S had curious smooth but free spinning wheels at first. They didn't get the fixed shaped type at all. A similar smooth and free spinning wheel (in smaller size) was fitted to early Triumph Heralds too which also escaped the fixed shaped style.

My next article deals with the next period when wire wheels and cast wheels began to appear and what may be scarce amongst those later models.

More or less Minis

Nothing seems ever predictable when you're dealing with Corgis and what may or may not have been produced when and which combinations may or may not have been possible. After all my and colleagues' efforts in the late Summer of last year I published some tables but revisions continue!

I have just come across a little 225 Austin with fixed shaped wheels and a 1c base so that needs to be added in to the mix! The original article is at this link.

All the 1c base types I had come across previously have had free spinning shaped wheels so this seems to be quite an unusual variation.

While I am extending the 225 possibilities, I have decided to trim down the 227 table. It was getting very long and, should examples like the 225 above be found - 227s with fixed wheels but a 1c base - then it would be even longer! Now, that may still have to be the case but until I encounter such miscreants I shall make things considerably simpler for you by not only omitting them but also deleting the white bonnet models with free wheels. They may well exist somewhere but, so far, I haven't seen any and so they can stay hidden for now. As and when examples do appear then I'll bring them back in, as will be the case with other variations not included below.

The 226 table, mainly due to the model's longevity, remains pretty much as it was but, of course, may also require further extension if examples similar to the Austin appear. It has changed only in the omission of some colours. I gave up trying to list every conceivable blue shade combination and have just left the lilac blue shade coming in near the end.

Again, there may be more to add to this but I'm sure that will be enough to try and collect for the time being.

I have included a permanent link to the main Mini article in a panel on this blog's front page so that you should be able to find comparisons and information fairly easily.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Corgi Toys @ 60: Riley revisited and a tipper truck

June 1958 sees the Riley get a new lease of life with a coat of black paint and some furniture on the roof as a smart-looking Police car, catalogue number 209. Only very rarely would you ever have actually seen one of these for real, even if you were regularly engaged in bank robbing or whatever. The usual car would have been the Wolseley version but this was close enough. I understand that Gloucester Constabulary did have some- here are two, courtesy of Gloucester Police Achives.

(This has been updated as the previous images from Gloucester Police Archives were of their later 2.6 version!)

Perhaps with this extension of use, the 205 Riley saloon did not qualify for a two-tone upgrade in 1959 like the other members of the initial launch group. 

A rare find is the 209 with shaped wheels as this model didn't last much past 1960, just a few being made in 1961 which is when I presume the shaped type started to be used. Similarly, you will not see many of the other two-tone models with shaped wheels either as these also expired during 1961.

If you're looking to buy one of these then do check that it has all the bits it should have. The smooth wheel edition is still comparatively common and inexpensive so it is worth waiting for one which has an original bell and siren either side of the centre section which should have navy blue Police stickers with white text. The original aerial was a pleasant short and thin affair. How I wish someone would make these as most of the replacement aerials I have found have been not very pleasant, about as thick as a scale piece of drainpipe and all the wrong colour plastic.

The other model vying for the young collector's attention sixty years ago was an ERF Dumper Truck, model number 458. With its nicely made 'hydraulic' struts you could fill this with dirt and see it all tip out somewhere else by lifting the rear section. It was still too early for a handle.

This lasted for years and, indeed, you would be forgiven for thinking it never changed at all but Corgi did eventually retire the old ERF and put the same rear section on a Bedford TK cab and chassis instead and that would be in late 1966 as 494. There will, therefore be bags of examples with both smooth wheels and fixed shaped wheels and you can pick up a really nice example for just a few pounds as they're so common. What is worth looking out for is the late edition when they finally found some longer axles and put free spinning wheels on. There are not so many of these around and most collectors will have missed this one.

 It'll still be cheap until dealers read this.

I have to say that neither the model nor the real thing were the most attractive of designs! I couldn't quickly find a photograph of one with just two axles but the cab's the same dreadful mess of lines and curves.

Friday, 1 June 2018

New arrivals in May

Here are the more interesting of the last month's arrivals.

1109 £75

241 £44

1121 sold

468 (cast wheels, no jewels) £80

GS40 all original! £420

GS20 £185

1106 £45

1151 £160

204M £45

204M £80

319 £70

GS31 £120

321 £80
321 £65

227 £60

334 £40

1147 sold 
448 £45

448 £60

339s (before, cost £2)

Just Mini-Coopers now (after) £TBA

Steed's GS40 Bentley £80

Steed's GS40 Bentley £75

Mrs Peel's GS40 Lotus Elan £85

Steed's GS40 Bentley £85

1401 £120

305 £TBA

209 £65

270 Type 1 £80

270 Type 5 £80

226 Type 1b £40
226 box £35

For more details about any of these go to my store where you may also be eligible for a 10% discount on first purchases, courtesy of the firm behind the shop software code.