Friday 31 July 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60: Ford Zephyr Motorway Patrol

We hadn't had a motorway for very long and many children may never have had a chance to experience one when this model appeared in August 1960. This was the first Ford Zephyr Estate model, the private car version not appearing until February 1961.

It seems a simple model with just one version at first glance. However, there are a few to collect. The first issue has flat, fixed wheels and small light on the roof.

This may also be found with POLITIE for the Dutch market. Beware, though. Transfers are easy to change and the model retained the right-hand-drive interior!! Don't pay a fortune without some form of evidence of its authenticity.

Later it gets fixed shaped wheels but keeps the small blue light.

You may also find a RIJKSPOLITIE version!

At some point, I cannot find when, the model gets a larger roof light with a clear surround. It seems that these will usually, maybe always, have free spinning wheels too. That needs to be checked, however.

The colour may range from a quite thin, pure white through to a greasy cream and they seem to be in that order too but I have yet to establish any clear evidence for a specific, planned change of colour.

Monday 13 July 2020

Spanish Corgis by Auto-Pilen

I have been looking at some models made by Auto-Pilen, a Spanish company who produced die-cast models from 1969 until the 1990s. My attention was first drawn by a fabulous-looking Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray that looked almost identical to a Corgi 310 model but was finished in metallic green. Then I found this beautiful Oldsmobile Toronado and a Mini-Cooper.

The Oldsmobile is almost identical to the Corgi 264 or 276 model but with opening doors, a detailed interior and slightly improved headlamp operation system. It also has tremendously attractive (and accurate) wheel covers.

I have also acquired a Mini-Cooper and this is to most intents and purposes the Corgi 334 Magnifique model but missing the sliding roof, jewelled headlamps and corner bumper embellishments. This model, like all Auto-Pilens I gather, has super wheels that reflect so accurately a typical real model.

Looking around I have found ten models that appear to have come from Corgi original castings:

Adams Probe 1.6 (384)
BMC Mini-Cooper (334)
Chevrolet Astro 1.6 (347)
Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray (310)
Citroen SM (284)
Ghia 5000 Mangusta de Tomaso (203)
Mercedes-Benz C111 (388)
Oldsmobile Toronado (264 / 276)
Porsche 917 (385)
Porsche Carrera 6 (330 / 371)

I may be wrong about one or two of these as Dinky may have produced similar models and Auto-Pilen used or copied their casts instead. As and when I see the actual models or find out more I will update this list.

Whilst it is another brand and not 'Corgi' as such, I do think collectors will be interested to learn more about these, especially those that appear to be very close indeed to the Corgi originals.

There are several editions of the Oldsmobile and also what appears to be a wide range of colours so the list of 10 may develop into a catalogue of rather more in due course! I have a suspicion that I will not be able to resist the temptation to acquire all of them and prices seem very reasonable too at present. They seem to be very well manufactured and, particularly nice when compared to the Whizzwheel versions!

Thursday 2 July 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60 : Land Rover Breakdown Truck, Bricks and Milk Churns

July 1960 saw two more loads added to what you could put on a trailer or the back of some lorries. These were a neat load of red bricks and 36 milk churns all stuck together.

The real event this month, though, was the issue of the first Land Rover Breakdown Truck. This splendid model could be used to lift up and tow the front or back of all your other models and drag them around the carpet.

This first issue has a jib that comprises two quite thin poles with a small gap at the top for the cord to pass through. The large hook, which I always though was a bit over-sized, could be lowered and raised by turning a fifth wheel fitted to the side. the wheel would always match the other four and changes to the shaped but still fixed type later in production.

The rear section has a cut-away metal section with transfers on each side and a metal lamp that can be turned on top.

There are no variations, other than the wheels, for the 417 model that I am aware of, although it is possible that there are minor changes in the casting - usually most noticeable in how the window opening levers at the front are depicted. (I must look at these and report back!)

You will know that a Land Rover Breakdown Truck is one of Corgi's longest running models. The 417 will become a 417S in a couple of years and get the Series II body with an interior plus suspension. Then the 417S will get a new, stronger, type of jib but keeps the metal rear section. A 477 model appears in December 1965 and appears to be identical to the 417S except for the rear section which gets a bigger plastic canopy.

The 477 carries on through cast wheels and ends up looking slightly ridiculous with Whizzwheels sometime in the early 1970s. You'll have to wait until my articles in 2031 or 2032 for that one!