26 March 2013
David Boxall chooses his favourite vintage tinplate cars from the famous German manufacturer. ...
The German toy company who first produced these beautifully manufactured cars was established before the First World War. It became known as Schuco from 1921 and soon gained a reputation for these fine mechanical toys.
The cars featured were released in the mid 1930s. One of the first on the scene was the Schuco Studio 1050, a Mercedes racing car with steering and a clockwork mechanism, which came with its own tool kit. The steering could be set before the car was activated. Small ridges around the steering wheel also made it possible to turn the wheel and thus steer the car while it was in motion. The wheel nuts on this vehicle can be unscrewed allowing the complete wheel and tyre to be removed. If turned front to back and replaced, a different coloured set of spokes could be displayed on the reverse side.
The Schuco Examico 4001 was an elegant car with streamlined curves. Although only about 150cm in length, this model could be driven with its own gearbox, clutch and brake. This must have been a particularly exciting toy, especially as it was available in the latter part of the 1930s.
The Command Car AD 2000 (seen above) by Schuco also had a streamlined design, emulating the cars of the day. This vehicle had a diaphragm housed in the roof of the car. When the top area of the roof is blown into the car starts or stops accordingly. The diaphragm activation can be switched off when not required. The Command Car can be pre-positioned for steering with the use of the movable headlamp on the front of the grill. It also had a ‘sensitive’ rear bumper, which if in collision with anything while driving backwards, would throw the car into forward motion. Accidents could be avoided, however, with a simple blow on the roof of the car for an instant emergency stop. Finally the engine of this vehicle could be revealed by opening on side of the split bonnet.
The Schuco Telesteering 3000 (above) not only had a four-speed gear slide across and within the front screen but also had steering as well. A small steering wheel was attached to a flexible connecting wire coupled to the roof of the car. Steering was undertaken at standing height above the vehicle. The car came with a set of wooden bollards for steering around.
Two more of the top sellers of the day were the ‘Wende Auto’ or tumble car, and the Mercedes Silver Arrow. All manufactured in tinplate with a quality finish, these mechanical toys were a sheer delight. You can see some of the instructions for these classic models below:
Remember to get the latest collecting delivered direct to your inbox every two weeks, sign up for our e-newsletter.