Corgi verses Dinky: Estate cars
In this series featuring Corgi and Dinky toys from the 1950s up to the 1970s, we 'unwrap' a few of the models to reveal a sprinkling of detail. These two market leaders were once great rivals, and yet both gave such pleasure to collectors of all ages.
In 1954, Dinky Toys released the first of these vehicles as the Estate Car, model No 344. This model was issued in tan with maroon side panels and silver trim. The Estate Car was a large spacious vehicle, which had a really sturdy appearance, with a tinplate base and cream coloured hubs. As an early toy, it had no interior or suspension, and was available until 1961.
The Rambler Cross Country Station Wagon was released in 1961, as model No 193. As a later issue, it was a rather different toy altogether - a far more luxurious item. The standard Rambler appeared in primrose yellow with a white roof, and a red interior and white steering wheel. The rear of the roof was fitted with a roof rack in black plastic, and the bumpers, grill and trim were in chrome. It had ‘fingertip steering’, suspension, spun hubs and detailed tyres. This was a very attractive model and quite distinctive with the chrome trim and aluminium hubs. It was available until 1969, and was purchased in a yellow and red box.
Two years later, Dinky released the Vauxhall Victor Estate Car, as model No 141. This familiar vehicle was finished in yellow, with a blue interior and silver trim. The features on the red and yellow box included: an opening tailgate, prestomatic steering, four-wheel suspension, windows, seats, steering wheel, and rubber tyres. The illustration on the box showing the opening rear door is an excellent addition. This Vauxhall had a tinplate base, spun hubs and detailed tyres, and was available until 1967.
Finally, the Fiat 2300 was released as model No 172, in 1965. This is a fabulous model, in light blue with a mid-blue roof, a red interior, and silver trim. The rear door is split in two, with an opening hatch and fold down tailgate. The seats can be lowered or raised by means of a control, which is set into the base of the model, and the bonnet opens to reveal a detailed engine. The Fiat has a pair of twin jewelled lights, suspension, a diecast base, spun hubs and detailed tyres – all in all a splendid package. The Fiat featured shows the picture box but it was also sold in a yellow window box. It was available until 1969.
The Ford Zephyr Estate was released in 1961, as model No 424. This model was issued in two-tone blue, where the main body appeared in light blue, and the bonnet and side flash were in dark blue. The interior was yellow or red with a grey steering wheel and silver trim for the lights, bumpers and grill. The Zephyr had a diecast base in grey, excellent suspension, shaped hubs and detailed tyres. It was available in a yellow and blue box, until 1965. Though this estate car has no opening features, it is a beautiful model, and remains ever popular.
Corgi released the Plymouth US Mail Car in 1963, as model No 443. This is a really colourful model with a mid-blue bonnet and lower side, and a white roof and upper side. A red flash appeared between the two colours, which matched the red interior. The silver trim for the lights, grill and bumpers was quite extensive, due to the large grill. Two transfers were used along the side of the vehicle: an advert suggesting that you ‘Address your mail carefully’, together with a US Mail logo. It had a diecast base, which was finished in grey, together with suspension, shaped hubs and detailed tyres. The Plymouth US Mail Car was available until 1966, and was purchased in a blue and yellow box. This Corgi model was one of a number of toys that had the ‘By Special Request’ advert on the side of the box.
The Ford Consul Cortina Estate was released in 1966, as model No 491. This lovely vehicle was issued in red, metallic blue or metallic grey, with a cream plastic injection moulded interior. It had a realistic wood panelled section along the side of the vehicle, in brown and cream. The rear tailgate door opened for access to a very roomy storage area. The Consul Cortina had chrome bumpers and grill, jewelled headlights, suspension, shaped hubs and detailed tyres. The base of each of these cars was finished in the same colour as the bodywork. It was available in a yellow and blue box until 1969.
The metallic blue version was also released as the Ford Consul Cortina Super Estate (model No 440), in 1966. This particular model came in a slightly larger box with an internal tray and backing card, a golfing figure, together with a caddie and trolley.
The final Corgi to be featured was released in 1969, as model No 260. The Renault 16 TS was issued in metallic maroon, with a deep yellow interior. This excellent model had an opening tailgate door, with a parcel shelf, and an opening bonnet with spare wheel. It also had a grey plastic towing hook, spring suspension, plated bumpers and radiator, which incorporated the whole of the base, cast hubs and detailed tyres. The interior was moulded plastic, and the seats could be lowered and raised from the base of the car. It was a very realistic looking toy, a great model. The Renault 16 TS was purchased in a window box, and was available for just one year.
The variations in size and quality of the models can be seen spread across the two decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Estate cars were popular vehicles for all those wildlife hobbies and outdoor activities. The models that were available to us reflected this rather well, particularly in the mid to late 1960’s, when opening features were developed and used more widely.