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: (updated August 2018)

205 Riley Pathfinder
207 Standard Vanguard
209 Riley Pathfinder Police Car
214 Ford Thunderbird Hard Top
216 Austin A40
303 Mercedes 300SL open top
304 Mercedes 300SL closed top
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.

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