Monday, 19 October 2020

Models you really wish you'd kept when you were young!

Three wonderful additions to my collection that may be available to buy. But warning: they're not going to be cheap!

211M Studebaker Golden Hawk
Nice working motor, original box.

205M Riley Pathfinder
Mechanical edition in red, working motor, original box.

273 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
  Golden Jacks edition in scarce late colour scheme, original box.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

More Spanish Delight From 1970s Alicante


Corgi got the rear lights right on the Adams Probe 1.6, one of their more attractive Whizzwheels offerings, but the Spanish Auto Pilen version just has more presence. Look at the deail in the wheels with the spinners nicely detailed in the wheel casting. 

The models really are almost exact copies. Apart from those rear lights - and I have no idea why the Spaniards did that - this is a fabulous item and only made me want to find more.

Probably the Corgi model of a production car that I dislike most has been the Mercedes C111. The heavy, little-detailed casting and round rather than sharp edges just made this so unattractive and the heavy orange paint only served to hide more detail and round edges even more. And that's without mentioning the ubiquitous and so inappropriate Whizzwheels.

Corgi did get the colour almost right, though, the only examples I have ever seen being in a metallic orange and certainly not metallic olive green. Nevertheless Auto Pilen have transformed the model with their lighter touch to the edges, paint that doesn't fill every crack and far more pleasant overall stance and appearance.

They even add jewels to the front, a nice touch, and a far more subtle logo. The headlamps pop up too!

Jewels at the back too and lower reflectors or fog lamps are in place.

The rear compartment also opens to reveal a detailed engine and the 'gull-wing' doors operate smoothly. This is another excellent model, surpassing by a long way what Corgi had done with the casting.

Next, another model I tended not to pay too much attention to. It was odd and the way those two characters were raised by opening the rear compartment always rather confused me as I am not sure that made it much more easy to get out after all. However, it was still well-made and was originally issued with reasonably decent red spot Whizzwheels. Now see what Auto Pilen managed to do with the casting.

They left out the passengers which was probably a good idea and let the seats stay in situ. Maybe the experimental car did have them raising in some way but I'm happy with it as it is.

You'll see that the two models are virtually identical, even down to the polished gold coloured panel and mirrors.

Lastly in this Spanish instalment, here are a couple of Chevrolet Sting Rays. It seems that Auto Pilen released a chrome edition of most (maybe all) of the models that I am hoping to acquire and here is their chrome Sting Ray, looking quite indistinguishable to a Corgi 310 model.

It has the same swivelling headlamp units and you'll also see that the chrome suffers from the same problem that many of the 310s did too, peeling off quite easily and leaving, in this case, a white plastic bumper which would often be bright yellow on the Corgi.

the nice thing about the Spanish version, though, is that it can be replaced easily without damaging the base which is simply attached by a couple of screws. I suppose you can, therefore, never be sure of a model's originality but that's a price I don't mind paying as this aspect also tends to maintain a lower price level across the range than for comparable Corgis.

Incidentally, not everyone will have noticed that the silver Sting Ray was also an Auto-Pilen! The opening doors give that away, and the red interior. The wheels, however, whilst slightly different to the Corgi are a pretty similar wire wheel type as on most 310 models.

I don't have a silver 310 in stock to compare with this but will add some photos just as soon as one comes along.

In the meantime, I am looking for the others that I listed as being likely candidates for using Corgi castings (or copies of them) and hope they prove to be as similar;y impressive as all that I have discovered so far.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Shades of primrose and a rare Mini Cooper


I have always wondered about the shades of primrose that you see on the 227 models. although I may be mistaken, a number of recent arrivals seem to indicate that the older models, with fixed wheels and a white bonnet, have a distinctly brighter shade. The later models, with just a white roof and free spinning wheels, are a paler shade.

Neither model is in particularly great condition but they're the best I have at the moment. Prices for all the 227s are always really high. I think there are a lot of Mini specialists out there and the best examples get snapped up quickly.

This illustration also shows the different bases: the fixed wheel model has a lower bumper section that extends across the width of the model whereas the later one is narrower, stopping well short at about the font wheel centres. (I wrote a great deal about these in a detailed summary of Minis, the body castings and bases a couple of years ago. A link to that should be on the main page of the news site.)

Below is something of a rarity. It is a 277 i blue with a white bonnet but it has the later base and free spinning wheels.

Although these are really not something you'll find at all easily, I do now have two examples in stock. This is the better of the two, the other being rather more worn and having a crack in its screen. The narrower front edge of the base is nicely shown in this picture.

All I now need to find is a 227 with either a primrose or blue bonnet and fixed wheels! As usual with Corgis, just as you thought you had a complete collection, along comes a variation.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Interesting New Arrivals

Here are some of the recent arrivals. An interesting bunch of models, starting with this nice old RAC Radio Rescue Land Rover. Those who have been reading these articles for a few years may well remember the trouble I had in trying to decide the order in which the variations on this theme arrived and how I attempted to get some clue as to the relative scarcity of each. 

This is the first type with a headboard but, with shaped wheels, it will have been produced in late 1960. The weird thing is that you'll find the second type, without a headboard, with smooth wheels too! I had to give up putting dates on these and concluded that the period covering the switch from headboard to no headboard coincided with the switch from smooth to shaped fixed wheels and that there will have been days when the ladies on the production line were getting old models with new wheel supplies or new models with old wheel supplies.

I can even imagine a production line where there were several ladies working and they may have had boxes of various bits and pieces to fit. In those days there wouldn't have been many choices; window units, drivers maybe, wheels, tyres, aerials. Maybe one lady had been away for a while and her boxes remained untouched so that when she returned to work she had some old wheels to use up whereas everyone else had moved on to the new type.

Whatever the case, this model is not at all common, with production I estimate to be in thousands not tens of thousands.

Two very nice Buick Rivieras arrived last week. One is missing a tow bar but that actually improves this car in my view! However, as I tend to use these for the Riviera Gift Sets, I shall have to fit a replacement some time. In the meantime, though, I wanted to share the different colours of the two models.

Now, you might wish to put this down to smoking and the fact that kids grew up in rooms that you could barely see from one end to the other when father was home and, even if you could, at one end would be a fire belching out smoke when it started or some damp fuel was added and not all the smoke went up the chimney either. There is, I agree, a tobacco hue to the blue but my bet is that there are two different shades of blue and the brighter, lighter shade is the earlier of the two. My logic for this is that the hook type on the Buick is the weird grab type which I am pretty sure was the earlier variety.

A model I was particular relieved to see arrive undamaged after a trip from Spain is this Fiat 600 Ghia 'Jolly'. This is the 242 model, issued in 1965 but only for a very short period. It had superseded 240, a similar model that came in shades of blue and had the silly plastic roof which I can only assume Corgi had too many of, still lying around after not selling with the Bermuda Taxi, which itself had been a desperate attempt to get more mileage out of the old Ford Thunderbird.

It was a fussy and easily damaged model, with its vulnerable screen, people who fell out on every turn and delicate chrome detailing. Not one for the boys, really. Now really sought-after and this one will make over £200.

An earlier project had been to build that mysterious Aston Martin Competition model with wire wheels, supposedly issued in late 1964. I had completed one a while ago for my own display cabinet but a nice American chap, with a massive house in Maine, bought that one. Unfortunately, it was damaged in the post but, whilst that might have been easily repaired, the chap tried to do it himself and caused more damage. Distraught, as he'd really been pleased with it, he ordered and paid handsomely for another.

I duly obliged, having a nice 309 late model in stock. It needed to be the one with the closed bonnet vent. Illustrated here is the finished job with original Corgi wheels too, not replacements, acquired from someone who happened to find a few in his pocket in the 1960s when he retired from the factory.

After all my efforts, though, the original buyer decided to keep the first one as he had decided, as he said, that 'the damage wasn't too bad after all'. So I have this one available if anyone is interested. In the meantime it will be in my cabinet.

Aston Martins are almost permanently on my desk these days. A recent post talked about how difficult to find are the 218 models with fixed shaped wheels. Here is another Aston Martin that is easier to find but not if you want it complete and fully functional! It is the first edition of 270, the second 'James Bond' Aston Martin, replacing the gold one that I think just about every boy of Corgi collecting age had. The bits work on this one but it was missing the front bumper. Many are missing this piece and look pretty dreadful with the gaping space between base and body. It was far too nice to take to pieces, though, and I have fitted new sections left and right and it looks pretty reasonable now.

[I have no idea what the red is that I now notice on the front tyre!]

I made something of an icon out of the Copper Ghia L6.4 by featuring it at the top of this site and also in many other places where I needed a particularly fine illustration. The Ghia was a superb model in any colour with so many features and a gorgeous stance, even with broken suspension. In this, the rarest of the many colours used in its production time it is a truly lovely-looking model and an expensive one to boot.

So whenever I see one I want to buy it but can seldom afford it. This one I could afford as it is a bit tatty with many chips to the paintwork and, of course, absent suspension. I might be able to do something about the suspension and the paintwork I can live with but the real problem was the missing rear tyres. Take this as a warning now - do not buy a Ghia L6.4 with missing or broken rear tyres! You simply cannot replace them unless you wish to remove axles or get involved with some other drastic action.

I tried very hard but there simply is not enough of a gap between the rim and the body, made worse by the inward facing lower edges of the body panels. I resorted to cutting the tyre and wrapping it around the rim. I had thought that I might be able to glue the tyre ends together but the old original Corgi manufactured tyres that I am using are too tough and even holding them closed is too much of an effort, never mind maintaining them that way while glue sets.

So this one is not likely to be going anywhere any time soon! Another one for the cabinet maybe.

Here is another salutary tale for you. This is a pleasant enough 470 Jeep FC-150. Nice condition with only very small chips on raised edges mostly. It's missing its canopy so it isn't going to sell for very much which is disappointing as I thought I would be getting something quite different. Below is what I thought I was buying from a lady in Spain. A bright yellow edition which she had assured me had not been repainted with original rivets in place and all the warranty I wanted that it was real. Now I look again, in a different light, I can see how my error arose. The green-grey background and white surround make it appear yellow. But it's just beige like the others.

On a happier note, here's a very well looked-after NSU Sport Prinz. You don't see many of this model which didn't sell in massive numbers at the time. It was one of those few models which did nothing. Nothing opened. Not even an aerial or transfer.

The interesting thing about this 316 NSU Sport Prinz is its colour; a sort of deep metallic red, distinctly different and a lot scarcer than the very pink cerise that you will usually find this appears in.

That got me thinking. Not many Corgis with suspension and interiors had nothing else by way of features. See if you can think of any others that weren't merely S versions of the earlier no suspension models or the A edition of the Lotus XI. I'll publish the answers in my next article.

And what was the last car issued without suspension (other than the Bluebird).