RON’S MODEL SPOT
Something different this month: instead of looking at new models of classic cars, it is to be copies of classic toy cars of the ’50s and ’60s. The vehicles put out by Dinky Toys by Meccano Limited, Liverpool, England were (and still are) very popular in their day, and the ‘toys’ were generally good models of current and recent cars, vans and lorries of the era. In 2008, Atlas Editions France started offering, by subscription, copies of French Dinky Toys on a fortnightly cycle. Unfortunately, the rest of the world outside France had to wait until they were offered on the secondary market via the likes of ebay — at a premium! In 2014, Atlas Editions UK started the scheme in England with mainly English Dinky Toy subjects, although it cheated by adding a number of French toys that historically were not readily available in the UK. Once again, the rest of the world has to buy via the secondary market. There have been almost 80 different French Dinky Toys copied so far, with about 20 English to date. I have selected a few which I have managed to acquire. They represent perhaps the heyday of Dinky Toys, the ’50s. As far as being models is concerned, there are a couple of problems with just a body shell and pressed metal base instead of the glazing and interior detail expected nowadays. In general the toys were very good copies of the original as far as shape and details are concerned. With Dinky Toys, the scales varied a bit, but generally they were between 1:48 and 1:45. The original Dinky Toy No. 162, the Ford Zephyr, was introduced by Meccano in 1956 — just when the real car was being replaced by the MKII. Indeed, it is actually an earlier version of the MKI as it has small tail lights. This was probably due to the 18 months or so needed from initial concept to full production for a die-cast toy. The Atlas Editions (actually made by Norev in China under licence from Mattel, which owns the Dinky Toy brand) is a faithful copy of the original, although the front and rear window frames have been added that the original did not have, so making the A and D pillars heavier than they should be. On the plus side, the casting join on the front wing is absent on the copy due to better casting techniques. The paintwork is in similar colours to the original. A mint boxed Meccano Zephyr might cost $200plus on the collector market, whereas the Atlas Editions one can be around $50. The second Dinky copy I have is the No. 159 Morris Oxford MO originally released in 1950 (as No. 40g), but the Atlas Editions one is from 1956 when they had a ‘gay’ colour scheme. This is a good copy, and painted cream over cerise! A mint boxed original could cost $480. A third example is No. 140a (renumbered No. 106 in 1954), the Austin Atlantic convertible. The main disappointment with the original is the heavy windscreen frame, but it was a toy, and needed to stand up to vigorous play. The copy by Atlas Editions is also very good, and painted in the rare red with maroon interior, equating to an original that now sells for $3000! Lastly there is a Bedford CA van in the colours of ‘Dinky Toys’ — a bit of self promotion. The copy looks very much like the now-$300 original.
Toenterthiscompetition,headto:classiccar. co.nz/competitions—competitioncloses20th April,2015. Corgi/vanguardsmodelsareavailablefromall goodtoyandhobbyshops.contacttoymodltd (Pobox18263,auckland,ph095270122/fax09 5270144)tofindyourclosestretailer.
Q: What’s the origin of the ‘350’ in the GT350’S model name? A: 350 feet was the distance between the racing and production shops at Shelby American. Winner: John Minchinton, Auckland
Model name shared by Allard and Packard in 1953–4 (7) 2. Italian car stylist, who made his name working with Bertone; noteworthy credits include Miura, Countach, Citroën BX, and Lancia Stratos (7) 3. French designer noted for successful work with Salmson as their chief engineer, but unsuccessful work included 6 down (5) 4. Bugatti Type 57 two-door four-seat coupé, body design by Jean Bugatti and named after a mountain in the Alps (7) 5. French coachbuilder turned Chrysler V8–powered luxury car builder, successful until 1964 when its smaller–engined sports car design failed and bankrupted the company (5) 6. Mid-thirties French racing car, overweight, underpowered and ill-prepared (5) 9. Pirelli’s successful radial tyre design built from 1952, and renamed to this name in 1963 (9) 14. Belgian car maker (1902–1938) remembered mainly for high–quality luxury cars through the 1920s and 1930s (7) 15. Model name shared by Jowett in Britain and AMC in the States (7) 16. German engineering company, builder of trains, trucks, tractors and a classic mid–twenties small car known as the Kommissbrot (7) 19. Modern classic sports car from Lotus, built from 1996 in several versions all noted for fine roadholding and handling (5) 20. Michelin’s 1946 radial tyre design, first marketed in 1949, popularised the use of ----- belts to improve tyre performance (5) 21. English for the part of the tyre that contacts the road, and American for the distance between tyre contact patch centres on a common axle (5).