21 December 2021
An occasional look back at a popular Corgi Toys release, when it reaches 50, by Rick Wilson.
Following on from the celebration in the last issue of No 461 Police ‘Vigilant’ Range Rover, No 165 Adams ‘Drag-star’celebrates 50 years since launch this time, having been released in February 1972. Other new issues in the same month were No 204 Morris Mini-Minor, No 304 Chevrolet SS 350 Camaro, No 305 Mini Marcos GT 850 (all of which were Whizzwheels updates of previous ‘Take-Off-Wheels’ models) and No 391 James Bond 007 Ford Mustang Mach 1 – a newly-tooled model replicating a star car from the Diamonds are Forever film.
Described in Marcel R Van Cleemput’s The Great Book of Corgi as “Another imaginative model inspired from some outlandish American magazine, with assistance and inspiration from the Adams Brothers of Probe fame. This was a newly-tooled body with a plated inset sandwiched between body and chassis. The four engines and exhaust stacks were identical.” The text continues, “The body had an unusual colour scheme of yellow at the rear, shading to red at the front.”
Quite how much involvement the Adams Brothers actually had in the development of this crazy car is up for debate. I would imagine that it would fall somewhere between very little, if any, and nothing at all. After Corgi Toys adopted the pair’s incredible Probe 15 design for release in December 1970, perhaps it was just a case of naming by association, as the Drag-star was just as fanciful-looking, although at least the Probe was a real car.
The model was withdrawn in 1974, with an official sales figure of 342,000 units. The only obvious variation during this time was that the nose trigger was either red, to match the front of the bodywork, or chromed. Of course, the paint splatter/graduation would vary by a fine margin for every model.
Some fifty years on from the first release, good examples are easy to find today, and can be had for bargain prices – the boxed example photographed here cost less than £15 on eBay recently. Even with a few battle scars, this is another model that displays beautifully in its red and yellow window box.