DINKY ZEPHYR IS A TRANSPORT DELIGHT
ADinky Toys MKI Ford Zephyr was one of the Transports of Delight, a set of five postage stamps issued in the UK by the Royal Mail on September 18, 2003 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first British Toy Fair, held in 1953.
The 1st Class stamp depicted a Meccano Constructor Biplane, the E Class stamp a Wells-brimtoy Clockwork Double-decker Omnibus, the 42p stamp showed a Hornby MI Clockwork Locomotive and Tender, the Ford Zephyr was on the 47p, and a Mettoy Friction Drive Space Ship Eagle appeared on the 68p.
Martin Langfield took the stunning photos that capture only a few golden highlights from a halcyon period of British toy-making.
The featured Dinky Ford Zephyr belonged to David Cooke, author of the Dinky Toys Reference (Shire, 2008), and president of the Dinky Toys Collectors’ Association when the stamps were issued.
David says that the model is not one from his childhood that his parents had stored in the attic. “I bought this one [as an adult], which was still in the box.”
Meccano Limited previewed the Ford Zephyr (No. 162) in the April 1956 Meccano Magazine. Why the company had waited more than five years to make a Dinky version is a mystery of die-cast model collecting. Ford had introduced the MKI Zephyr at the Earls Court Motor Show in October 1950. It was an obsolete shape a few months after the Dinky came on sale, because the restyled MKII Zephyr had arrived in Ford dealers’ showrooms during 1956.
The Dinky Ford Zephyr cost 3s (30c). Buyers had a choice of two duo-tone colour schemes: dark and light blue, or cream and green. Its length was 33/4 inches.
For much of the 1950s, New Zealand’s tight import restrictions kept Dinky Toys out of the shops. When these controls were relaxed in 1960, it is unlikely that any Dinky Zephyrs were imported, because the model was deleted from the catalogue during that year.
Most coming into the country would have been with migrant children or sent as gifts from family in the UK. Some New Zealand collectors would have bought British postal notes at the nearest post office and sent to Hamleys or Gamages for theirs.
Circa mid-1950s, Micro Models and Tri-ang manufactured similar scale diecast miniatures of the Ford Zephyr in New Zealand. They kept the single colour finish of real MKI, unlike the Dinky version. A reproduction of the Dinky Toys model is produced by Atlas Editions.
Above: The presentation pack with all of the 2003 Transports of Delight stamps
Left: A repainted, playworn Dinky Ford Zephyr — a successful toy, because it has been played with. The model is in the V&A Museum of Childhood collection
Right: A 1956 advertisement that announcing that the Dinky Toys Ford Zephyr would be available during April