01/02/2019
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Corgi verses Dinky: European cars

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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. 

Dinky Toys

Dinky released the VW Karmann Ghia Coupe in 1959, as model No.187. This beautifully rounded car was issued in green with a cream roof, or red with a black roof. The two-tone paint scheme was regarded rather highly on release, as was the window glazing, the aluminium spun hubs with white tyres, and the firm but comfortable suspension. While the Karmann Ghia still retained the tinplate base, it has to be seen as one of Dinky’s transformational models, having some but not all of the new features developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It had no interior, no steering or opening features but the shape is fabulous. The model was withdrawn in 1963, and while not listed as rare, the green and cream version does seem quite difficult to find in original condition.

The Mercedes-Benz 220 SE was also released in 1961, as model No.186. This was certainly a luxury model in grey/blue with a white interior, and silver trim. The 220 SE had spun hubs, detailed tyres, a tinplate base and suspension. This car had a slightly longer shelf life than many other models in the Dinky range, as it was available until 1967.

The Alfa Romeo 1900 Super Sprint has always been a very popular Dinky toy, released in 1961, as model No.185. Available until 1963, this model came in yellow with a red interior, or red with an off-white interior. Both models had spun hubs, a tinplate base, treaded tyres, suspension and steering. A further note on the box explains the ‘Directional Control’ in more detail: ‘Slight pressure on either side of this model automatically steers it to the side on which the pressure is applied’.

Overall, this car certainly had a classic sporty ‘look’, as illustrated on the red and yellow picture box, which also listed the cars ‘Special Features’.

In 1961, Dinky released the Volvo 122 S, as model No.184. It was available in various shades of red with a white interior, or in off-white with a white interior, both with silver trim. This is another of those cars with an iconic shape and robust features. All versions had spun hubs detailed tyres and a tinplate base. It was withdrawn in 1965.

Corgi Toys

Corgi released the rather shapely Renault Floride in 1959, as model No.222. It was available in metallic green with a red interior, maroon with a yellow interior, or kingfisher blue with a red or yellow interior. It was issued in a blue and yellow box at the same time as the introduction of the real car. It was the first Corgi car to have an interior and suspension. The all-new ‘Glidamatic Suspension’ was created by the use of two steel rods, which protruded over the axles to the front and rear. They were attached to the inside of the grey diecast base and gave sufficient movement to provide the suspension.

The interior was created from vacuum-formed plastic, and with the addition of a steering wheel, the car looked particularly realistic. The Renault Floride was eventually withdrawn in 1965 but remains a very significant Corgi model.

Corgi released the Citroen DS 19 as model No.210S, in 1960. The Citroen was issued in a bright red with silver trim. This up-dated Citroen was also fitted with a yellow vacuum-formed interior, a grey plastic steering wheel, and ‘Glidamatic’ suspension. This very elegant model had either flat or shaped diecast hubs, detailed tyres and a grey diecast base, which added to its robust appearance.

Many of the early Corgi cars were updated in 1960 and given an interior and suspension. These cars kept their original number, which was followed by an ‘S’, indicating that the car now had suspension.

Corgi released the Volvo P-1800 in 1962, as model No.228. This model was also issued in a blue and yellow box. It was available in tan/beige with a red interior, red with a yellow interior or pink with a yellow interior, all with silver trim for the grill, bumpers, and along the sides and rear sides of the car. The Volvo also had shaped hubs, detailed tyres, a diecast base and the all-important Glidamatic Suspension. The real car was essentially a large sports car, and this model certainly emulated that notion very well indeed. It was available for three years, until 1965, when it was transformed into the Saint’s Volvo and re-released as model No.201.

Corgi released the excellent little NSU Sport Prinz in 1965, as model No.316. It was available in metallic cerise, with silver trim. While the Sport Prinz had no opening features, it did have a yellow vacuum formed interior with grey plastic steering wheel, together with shaped hubs, detailed tyres, and suspension. At a time when many of the more expensive models released by Corgi had all sorts of opening or moving features, this was a comparatively simple toy. As such, it was priced at just three shillings and nine pence, as a Corgi Toys economy runabout. It was withdrawn in 1966. It is now quite a hard model to find in mint condition, and its value has increased accordingly.

Both manufacturers produced and released a mixture of cars from the home market, America, and Europe. Cars from other parts of the world could be seen on various TV Series during the 1950s and 1960s, and there was clearly a demand for copies of the real thing. It was fortunate that so many cars from other countries were produced so faithfully. Many of these Corgi and Dinky toys captured the very spirit and individuality of the designs from overseas.

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