01 February 2019
In this series featuring Corgi and Dinky toys of the 1950s and 60s, we 'unwrap' a few of the models and reveal a sprinkling of detail.
Corgi verses Dinky: Police Cars
In this series featuring Corgi and Dinky toys of the 1950s and 60s, we 'unwrap' a few of the models and reveal a sprinkling of detail. It is hard to believe that these two great market leaders of diecast toys, who gave such pleasure to collectors of all ages, still manage to excite and delight collectors today.
The De Soto Fireflight Police car was released by Dinky in 1960 as model No.258. It was one of a number of police and patrol cars, which were all issued under the same model number and name – ‘USA Police Car’. It appeared in black with silver trim, an off-white interior, a grey plastic aerial and a red roof beacon. The front doors were finished in white with the ‘Police’ logo in black. There was also a ‘Police’ logo in white on the bonnet and boot of the car. The De Soto Fireflight has such a distinctive front grill, and rear wings, which both add to the overall impact of the shape. It had a tinplate base, shaped aluminium hubs, detailed tyres, and was available for just one year, until 1961.
The USA Police Car, Dodge Royal, was released in 1961, as model No.258. The Dodge Royal is finished in much the same way as the De Soto. This car also has distinctive tail fin wings at the rear, and an even more pronounced front grill. It also had a tinplate base, shaped aluminium hubs and detailed tyres, and was available for just one year until 1962.
The ‘Humber Hawk’ Police Car was released by Dinky in 1960 as model No.256. It was issued in black with silver trim and a cream interior. It had a ‘Police’ roof sign, ‘PC 49’ number plates, a grey plastic aerial and two policemen inside. Once again, this car had a tinplate base, shaped aluminium hubs and detailed tyres. It was always a sturdy, reliable model, and was available until 1964.
In contrast to the previous Dinky police cars, the ‘Police Accident Unit’ was released as model No.287 in 1967. It was issued in a slightly larger scale, and appeared in off-white with orange panels, roof rack, Police sign, radar ‘gun’ and aerial. This Ford Transit Van came with a driver and a number of road signs and warning cones, which were stored away in the rear of the vehicle. As well as a sliding front door for the driver, the vehicle had two opening rear doors to access equipment, and a further sliding side door with access to more storage space. This was an impressive Emergency Vehicle, which was also released as part of the Police Vehicles Gift Set, No.297, between 1963 and 1973. The set contained an array of vehicles, including the Transit, the Ford Zodiac Police Car, model No.255 and the Mini-Cooper Police Car, model No.250.
In 1959, Corgi released the Chevrolet State Patrol Car as model No.223. It was produced in a 1/50 scale, and appeared in black with a yellow vacuum-formed interior and steering wheel. To the rear it had a grey plastic aerial and the car carried ‘State Patrol’ stickers on the doors. This patrol car had suspension, a diecast base, flat or shaped hubs and detailed tyres. It was one of the most popular models of all-time, and achieved 1,073,000 sales. Apparently, it was the first model to sell over 1 million, and was finally withdrawn in 1965.
The Ford Zephyr Police Car was released in 1960, as model No.419. This beautiful Zephyr was issued in white with silver trim, a red interior, blue roof light, aerial and Police label on the bonnet, and on the rear hatch. The interior was vacuum formed with front seats and an area at the rear of the car with equipment, moulded into the plastic. The interior and equipment could be viewed through the side and rear windows, it also had a grey plastic steering wheel. The Zephyr is still a very popular model, which was manufactured as a particularly useful estate version. It was issued with flat or shaped hubs, detailed tyres, and was available in a blue and yellow box.
In 1962, the Oldsmobile Sheriff Car was released as model No.237. It was produced in a 1/49 scale, in black with white side panels and silver trim. It too had a vacuum-formed red interior, suspension, a simulated red flashing roof light, and a ‘County Sheriff’ badge on the doors. The Oldsmobile was a rather more sleek design than many of the American cars on offer. It was withdrawn in 1966.
The Mini Police Van with Dog Handler and Dog was released in 1964, as model No.448. It was issued in dark blue with a detailed red interior, an aerial, jewelled headlights, opening rear doors and ‘Police’ transfers on the side. This Mini Van was yet another very popular model by Corgi. It had a familiar grey diecast base, shaped hubs, detailed tyres and suspension.
This particular model came with an inner tray, which held the car and figures in place within the outer box. Corgi issued two different inner trays for the box, one had a plain yellow base, while the second had a header card depicting the Scotland Yard buildings. This last version now commands a higher price and provides an excellent display background for the vehicle, Policeman and Police Dog. It was withdrawn in 1969.
Corgi and Dinky both deployed a variety of Police and Law Enforcement vehicles, and I’m sure that our collections were all the safer in their care. Emergency vehicles have always been very popular with the public, and the vast range of available police cars was no exception. It is to their credit that both toy company’s manufactured such a wide variety of police vehicles, with so many unique features.