21 August 2019
Plenty of diecast manufacturers have taken up the idea of producing a small number of van castings in a large number of different liveries. Tekno was no different!
From the dawn of the Dinky Toy era to the present day, plenty of diecast manufacturers have taken up the idea of producing a small number of van castings in a large number of different liveries. It’s easy to see why: buyers can be offered a wider choice of products at minimal expense to the manufacturer, maximising the use of existing tooling. Collectors like the idea too, as many are fond of putting together a series of variations and a line-up of the same van in different colours and lettering looks very impressive on a display shelf.
Dinky had worked all this out as early as 1934, but their colourful series of vans in liveries of familiar British brands like Shredded Wheat, Crawford’s Biscuits and Fry’s Chocolate are now out of reach of the average collector, partly because many have disintegrated through metal fatigue. At the other extreme, makers like Lledo churned out huge quantities of vans in the 1980s and 1990s which can easily be picked up at any toy fair for little more than £1 apiece.
In between these two extremes lie what many collectors view as the ultimate series of delivery vans: those from Tekno of Denmark, a company whose skill in designing graphics has few equals. Tekno produced in the region of 150 different liveries, some for general sale and some for promotional purposes, all of them highly collectable today.
All these vans are based on just two different prototypes, one by Volkswagen and the other by Ford of Germany. VW’s famous ‘split window’ van, derived from the Beetle and conceived by Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon, was in production from 1950 and 1967. Ford’s equivalent was the FK1000 Taunus, introduced in 1953 and known as the Taunus Transit from 1961 onwards – the first Ford to use the Transit name as the famous British van did not appear until 1965.
In the case of both the VW and the Ford, Tekno produced two entirely separate castings. The first ones were simpler and smaller, around 1/50 scale. The VW, introduced in 1953 under ref. no 413, was made in two halves, the top section incorporating the distinctive ‘V’-shaped dip at the front, thus making two-tone paint finishes easier to produce. In 1957 this was joined by the Taunus (ref. no. 419) with a body made in three horizontal sections – chassis and sills, lower and upper body – allowing some of these vans to have a ‘three-tone’ finish. The Taunus has window glazing which was lacking on the VW. The VW, in fact, was more of a simple toy than an accurate model, but in 1959 a new and much more realistic Volkswagen casting arrived, to a larger 1/43 scale but still cast in two sections (ref. no. 405) which fitted together much more closely. It was only logical that the Taunus would be redesigned as well and this duly appeared in 1966 as no. 415. By then further refinements were expected on diecast toys and, in addition to window glazing, the new Taunus now had interior fittings and an opening rear door. The first and second type Volkswagens and the first type Taunus were produced in delivery van, minibus and pick-up form but the second type Taunus was made only as a van.
Using these four variants as their ‘canvas’, the graphic artists at Tekno applied a dazzling palette of colours to produce what many collectors reckon to be the finest range of van liveries ever made. Most diecast vans carry a name or logo on the side panel, but Tekno often went further, applying decals to roof and back doors. Here, the horizontal division of the castings proved to be something of a mixed blessing: it lent itself to two-tone colours but when the decals extended over the dividing line they tended to split and flake at the edges making 100% mint examples extremely rare indeed.
The reference book ‘Tekno Danske modelbiler’ by Dorte Johansen and Hans Hedegård (first published in 1984) lists 53 versions of the VW type 1, 43 for the type 2, 26 for the type 1 Taunus and 23 for the second type but there is always the possibility of others turning up, especially as certain promotionals were made for sale only in Sweden or Norway.
Some of the names on these vans will be familiar to British collectors: international brands such as Mobilgas, BP, Philips, Bosch, Dunlop Tyres and even Johnny Walker Scotch Whisky which, by today’s standards seems an odd kind of product to advertise on something meant as a children’s toy! Many others, though, have a rather exotic quality for those unfamiliar with Scandinavian languages. Names like ‘Lakrids Moppendrenge’ [liquorice] or ‘Bagermestrenes Rugbrod’ [rye bread] have a certain air of mystery to them! Others with a food connection include the ‘Jensen & Moller’ van delivering ‘Store Marie’ biscuits, ‘Leeuwen Zegel’ (a Dutch margarine), ‘Guld Korn’ (a breakfast cereal) and ‘Buko’ (cheese products). Newspapers were favourites, too, such as ‘Berlingske Tidende’, ‘Jyllands Posten’ and ‘Politiken’, the latter to be found on the Type 2 Taunus which carries a replica of part of the front page of one edition, an example of such high quality transfer work that it is possible to read the text. There are also some quirky issues with extra fittings: the VW ‘Den Røde Løber ’ (red carpet) carries rolls of carpet on the roof while the type 2 VW ‘E. Roed Sorensen’ was a special for a Copenhagen Volkswagen dealership with a figure of a mechanic on the roof, based on a real publicity vehicle.
A stunning selection of these Tekno vans came up for sale recently at the Danish auction house Lauritz who kindly supplied some of the photos used here. You’d need a great deal of money – and patience – to build up a such a collection and most collectors will have to be content with admiring the pictures!