Corgi verses Dinky: Large family saloon 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 August 1960, Dinky released the Jaguar 3.4 MK ll as model No.195. This elegant large saloon was available in three different colours, and had its own on-board steering system, called 'Directional Control'. It was issued in cream or light grey with a red interior, or in maroon with an off-white interior, and silver trim. The Jaguar 3.4 was a four-door saloon, which had no opening features, or working parts but it did have excellent suspension, This was provided by a metal strip below the base, which was positioned over the front and rear axles. As well as the front 'twist' action of the pressure steering, the Jaguar had shaped, detailed rubber tyres and a tinplate base.
Three years later, in 1963, Dinky released the Holden Special Sedan as model No.196. The Holden appeared in gold with a white roof and light blue interior, or turquoise with a white roof and a red interior. Both colour schemes provided good contrasts, and made the Holden quite a popular model, which was available until 1970. This was a rather impressive car with an opening bonnet and boot, silver trim and jewelled headlights. The boot had an item of luggage supplied, for holidays and away days. The detailed tyres and stylish hubs enhanced the luxury appearance, and the firm but comfortable suspension completed this fabulous saloon.
In June 1963, Dinky Toys released the Ford 'Cortina' Saloon, as model No.139. The Cortina had a number of new features including opening doors, folding front seats, steering wheel, suspension, ‘Prestomatic’ steering, windscreen wipers, and a detailed dashboard. The windscreen wipers were moulded into the windscreen. The segmented rear light cluster was not unlike some American cars. This model was issued in metallic blue with a deep cream interior, and later appeared as model No.133, finished in metallic gold with a white roof, or pale lime, both with a red interior. The later versions also had jewelled headlights.
Dinky released the Ford Consul Corsair in 1964, as model No.130. It was issued in metallic red or light blue, with a white interior, silver trim, and jewelled headlights. The Corsair had a number of features, including: an opening bonnet, ‘Prestomatic Steering’, and opening front windows. This is a particularly sturdy looking car, and large enough to tow a trailer and boat, in Gift Set 125 ‘Fun Ahoy!’ The casting was later re-released as the Ford Corsair 2000 E, as model No.169. This version appeared in silver with a black textured roof, a red interior, and cast hubs. This Dinky model really does have a large presence, and the black ‘vinyl’ roof certainly places the later issue at the end of the 1960s.
In October 1960, Corgi released one of my favourite cars - the Jaguar 2.4 litre, issued as model No.208S. This Jaguar was a major up-grade to its predecessor, the white Jaguar No 208, and had a number of refinements, including an interior and suspension. This version was finished in pale yellow, with silver trim for the headlights, side lights, grill and bumpers. The interior was vacuumed formed in red plastic, with a grey plastic steering wheel. Like many of the models at this time, the Jaguar had a cast baseplate finished in grey. The hubs were either flat or shaped, with an excellent set of standard Corgi tyres all round.
The Mercedes-Benz 220 SE was released by Corgi in 1962 as model No.230. It was available in cream with a red interior, maroon with a lemon interior, or black, also with a lemon interior, all with silver trim. This is certainly a sturdy, reliable looking car, with an opening boot, and a spare wheel. This particular model had superb steering, shaped hubs, detailed rubber tyres, and a grey diecast base.
The Rover 2000 was released by Corgi as model No.252, in 1963. It was issued in metallic light blue with silver trim, and had a red vacuum formed interior with a grey steering wheel. This model had no opening features as it was fitted with the trans.o.lite system, as standard. The rear screen had a ‘window demister panel’, which was used to collect and 'pipe light' to the twin set of headlights. This model required no batteries or bulbs – very ingenious.
The suspension on the Rover 2000 was the early type used by Corgi. This consisted of two metal rods attached to the base plate, which ran the length of the car, over the front and rear axles. This luxury model was manufactured in a 1:46 scale.
The Ford Cortina GXL was released in 1970, as model No.313. It was available in metallic blue, or metallic bronze, both with a black roof and a white interior. There was also a yellow version with a black roof and red interior, which is a much harder variation to find. By 1970, the Cortina had chrome trim, a double pair of jewelled front headlights, and Whizzwheels. The real car always felt like a large family saloon, and is no doubt missed by many.
There is no doubt that we were incredibly lucky in the 1960s, as aspiring young drivers, as we had such a marvellous choice of cars with which to play. Most of us had Corgi and Dinky toys, and although we probably had our favourite models and perhaps even preferred a particular manufacturer, to us they were merely part of the same road system, all toys together - helping one another out.