Model & Toy Cars - 2016
Newer toy car photos and stories are posted here.
Read more about the model car business here.
Pricey Tin: In 1950, you could probably buy this 16-inch long race car for a few bucks at most toy stores.
These days, when you see this made-in-Japan, lithographed tin beauty, made by Yonezawa Toys, it will sell for $1,500-$2,500, depending on condition. Yonezawa Toys was one of Japan's largest and most prodigious post-war toy manufacturers The firm also made Diapet scale diecast models. (posted 10/26/16, permalink)
My Brother's Keeper: In one of my self-made Plexiglas model car display cases, I have a Matchbox No. 32, a diecast E-Type Jaguar (known in North America as the XKE) coupe. This delightful little red car was made in England by Lesney Products. It used to belong to my brother.
His car came in a box and he bought it at the toy store in Brigantine, NJ in the mid-1960s. It was in pristine condition until, as he complained, "Mom gave all my toys to Joey." That would be my son. And when my son Joe outgrew it, I cleaned it up and put it in the display case. In all fairness, I did offer it back to my brother but he seems to have outgrown it as well.
The Matchbox Jaguar is about 2.6 inches long (1:67 scale). The model was introduced in 1962, and was produced until 1968. Perfect examples sell for $100-250.
Between 1961 and '67, a total of 38,419 Jaguar Series 1 XKEs were sold. 15,442 were two-seater coupes like this Matchbox model. The full-size XKE was introduced in 1961 and was one of the few sports cars with a 0-60 time of less than 7 seconds. On its release, Enzo Ferrari called the Jag "the most beautiful car ever made." Its lines are still gorgeous, 55 years later. (posted 9/22/16, permalink)
Big Price; Little Price: An original, unrestored 1956 Porsche 550 Rennsport Spyder sold for $6.1 million at auction.
"Influenced by the racing spyders developed by Walter Glockler and engineer Hermann Ramelow, Porsche's 550 Spyder was a car designed to serve two masters. Light in weight and blessed with impeccable balance and handling, the 550 Spyder was a racing car designed with an advanced overhead-camshaft, air-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that squeezed 110 horsepower out of just 1.5-liters. Equipped with lights, directional signals and a horn, it was also capable of being driven on the road, eliminating (in theory, anyway) the need to trailer the car to and from events."
Well, James Dean drove his 550 on the road and that didn't end well.
In 2004, I purchased a Cararama-branded 1:43 scale 1956 Porsche 550A Spyder diecast model. It cost much less than the full-size version. I paid $4 for this new-in-box model which was manufactured by Hongwell Toys Limited in their huge (2,000,000 square-foot) Dongguan City plant in China.
Privately-owned and Hong Kong-based, Hongwell specializes in manufacturing die cast scale models and toy vehicles. This little 550A is nicely-made with a high-quality paint job - an amazing value. (posted 9/14/16, permalink)
Among My Souvenirs: In 1977, Elizabeth II celebrated the 25th anniversary of her coronation as Queen of England. British marketers commissioned boatloads of Silver Jubilee merchandise - tea towels, mugs, commemorative plates, salt & pepper shakers and the like. As often happens for celebratory events, they made waaaay too many and the merchandise was soon heavily discounted.
Visiting Victoria, Canada in August, 1983 (six years after the Jubilee), we picked up a couple of stamped lithographed Silver Jubilee serving trays for 99¢ (69¢ American). We gave one to my mom as a joke. She had spent part of her childhood in Ireland in the tumultuous '20s and had no love for the British monarchy. She used the tray for slicing roast meats. Pretty soon the Queen's face had so many knife cuts, it looked like she had been in a street brawl in Spanish Harlem. We kept the other tray; it's still in pretty good shape.
Corgi, manufacturer of diecast vehicles, produced a commemorative model: the Corgi 471 AEC London Routemaster double-decker Bus 'Queen's Silver Jubilee' in 1977. At 4.75 inches long, the model is about 1:76 scale.
The Corgi model is based on the iconic, full-sized Routemaster bus, which debuted in 1958; most were built for London Transport. Routemasters were either 27.5 feet long or 30 feet long and were powered by a 115 horsepower diesel engine coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. Most were painted red in the manner of London Transport.
The Corgi Silver Jubilee bus is now worth $25-40 for a mint, boxed example. The black plastic base has 'Made in Great Britain' molded in. I purchased mine from a little toy store in the small coastal town of Eureka, CA. During a winter clearance sale at the store, I bought it in February, 1982, paying $4.12 - a relative bargain. (posted 8/24/16, permalink)
Happy Father's Day To All Dads. This will be the first time in 34 consecutive years that I won't be getting any model cars for Father's Day. I looked and looked but just couldn't find anything of interest that wasn't grossly overpriced (IMHO). China-made diecasts as well as resin models are becoming surprisingly expensive.
In the past, I've posted photos of some of my Father's Day model car gifts - three in 2015, six in 2014, two in 2013 and four in 2011.
The first time I received a scale model for Father's Day was in 1974, when I acquired a green diecast 1963 Corvette Sting Ray split-window coupe. I still have it; I enjoy looking at it from time to time because I used to own a '63 Corvette.
This little diecast was manufactured by Pilen, a firm located in southeastern Spain. Pilen made models from the 1970s through the mid-1990s, mostly in 1:43 scale.
While this car looks a little crude by today's standards, in the 1970s, Pilen was considered a producer of high-quality vehicles. Some models, including the '63 Corvette, appear to have been recastings of earlier British Corgi models.
This Pilen diecast cost $3 in 1974. Today, a model in mint, boxed condition such as mine will fetch $50 to $80.
In 1981, I bought a 1928 Lincoln L Sport Phaeton, made by Rio, a diecasting firm located in Cernobbio, Italy on Lake Como. Rio models are very detailed - each contains 50-75 parts. Rio models are still made and typically sell for $75 or so. I purchased mine (yes, I often bought my own model car gifts and gave them to my wife to hold until Father's Day) in San Francisco at a Ghirardelli Square toy store for a mere $14 back in the day. (posted 6/17/16, permalink)
Miniature Cars ... and more: There is an interesting blog article by Joschik, one of the owners of the Hobby Database website. He reported that over 5 million Batmobile models from the 1960s were sold by Corgi.
Hot Wheels is now a $1.1 billion brand. While parent company Mattel does not publish segment information of how much of that is spend by collectors (versus parents) many "conversations with Mattel executives and others in the industry make me believe that measured by value it is around 20% (collectors pay significantly more per average model as they buy many Collector’s Editions). That would represent $200 million in annual collectible sales."
|An original Matchbox 5A double deck bus 2 inches long introduced in 1954, was purchased by me sometime that year or the next.
It has 'Made in England by Lesney' stamped on the base and 'No. 5' is cast on the upper front and rear boards. This bus was heavily used - played with - by me and, later, my brother and even later by my son.
By the early 1980s, it was pretty beat up; most of the paint was gone and the yellow 'Buy Matchbox' decals were worn off, so I repainted the body in something close to its original red color and painted the metal wheels black.
"The NPD Group is a market research company which monitors consumer purchase data from over 165,000 stores worldwide. In 2012 they reported that Collectors bought around 15% of the total toys and models sold in monitored retail outlets in the U.S. and that the total sales for these retailers was $23 billion."
In 2000, Franklin Mint reported, "Some 42.9 million U.S. households, that is 42% of total households, report that someone in their household collects any collectible item, according to Unity Marketing's latest consumer survey. With an average of 1.7 individual collectors living in each collecting household, the total number of U.S. collectors is estimated at 72.9 million - about 35% of the total U.S. population!"
In any case, there's a lot of money in little cars. (posted 6/7/16, permalink)
Porsche With A French Accent: Quiralu was founded by Emile Quirin in Luxeuil, France, in 1933. The company first produced toy soldiers. In 1955, they released a range of diecast model cars in approximately 1/43rd scale, including a Porsche coupe.
Production ceased in the early 1960s but, in 1991, re-editions were made from the original molds by Louis B. Surber SA, the manufacturer of Eligor and LBS models. I purchased my reproduction Quiralu Porsche from Auto Fanatics, a now-defunct Southern California retailer, in November, 1996.
While crude by today's diecast standards, the little sports car with white tires has a certain charm. I owned one of these many years ago, when I was growing up. (posted 4/13/16, permalink)
Pricey Toy: Hammacher Schlemmer is offering a 1/5th scale Jaguar XK 120 for $20,000.
The eight-foot long Jag is made with an aerodynamic aluminum hull supported by a powder-coated steel box chassis and is powered by a 110 cc four-stroke, air-cooled gas engine that propels the car to a top speed of 38 miles per hour via a three-speed automatic transmission. It rides on front and rear double wishbone suspension, gas shocks, 10-inch aluminum wheels, and genuine rubber tires - including a spare in the trunk.
Other luxurious appointments include leather and wood trim in the cockpit, hydraulic disc brakes for smooth stops, and an exterior that can be finished in any color you like, including the iconic British Racing Green Jaguar is known for.
Twin front and a single rear hydraulic Brembo disc brakes enable quick, smooth stops. (posted 3/11/16, permalink)
Pretty In Pink: This 1959 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer convertible was a Christmas gift:
This 1:43 scale convertible is a limited production scale model - only 500 were produced. The model is made from cast resin by Neo Limited. 1959 was the last year of big fins; the 1960 Dodges had a smaller fin size which canted outward.
The full-size convertible Dodge weighed 3,820 pounds, rode on a 122-inch wheelbase and carried a sticker price of $3,422. The Custom Royal models were the most expensive of Dodge's offerings. The Lancer convertible sold for $3,422. In 1959, 964 Custom Royal Lancer convertibles found buyers, while sales for all Dodge models totaled 156,385.
The stock engine for entry-level Dodge Coronet models was a flathead inline six-cylinder engine - a design dating back to the 1930s - pulling a measly 138 horsepower from 230 cubic inches. The standard engine for the Custom Royal models was a 361 cubic-inch V8, making 305 horsepower. A peppier motor was optional; it had 383 cubic inches of displacement and produced 345 horsepower.
More information about the Dodge brand can be found here. (posted 1/18/16, permalink)
Edsel Redux: My wife presented me with a 1958 Edsel Citation two-door hardtop coupe for Christmas:
This limited production model is made from cast resin by Spark Models. Spark offers limited-edition, resin-cast models manufactured in Macau by Minimax. The Citation was the top-of-the-line Edsel model. It rode on a 124-inch wheelbase and weighed 4,136 pounds. It was powered by a 345 horsepower V8 engine and commanded a list price of $3,535.
In 1958, 63,100 Edsels were sold, including 2,535 Citation hardtop coupes. This was a remarkable achievement, considering that 1958 was the first model year for the brand. Edsel outsold DeSoto, Studebaker, Lincoln and Imperial in 1958.
More information about the '58 Edsel can be found here.
This limited production 1:43 scale model was made from cast resin by Neo Limited - only 300 examples were produced. The Pacific designation was used only in 1954 for Packard's hardtop coupe.
The Pacific was powered by a 359 cubic-inch flathead inline straight eight engine, which produced 212 horsepower - making the Packard least powerful of America's luxury brands. Lincolns, Cadillacs and Chryslers were powered by mighty overhead-valve V8 motors.
Packard sold 31,291 models in 1954, including 1,189 Pacific hardtop coupes. (posted 1/11/16, permalink)
Banks On Wheels: Mark Litwin has written a brief history of Banthrico, the maker of toy car banks, posted on Hemmings website.
"Everyone had a piggy bank. Other than being used to store newfound wealth due to a paper route or other part-time job, it was employed to teach us currency and fractional math. Fortunately, not all piggy banks were modeled after the animal. Many a budding auto enthusiast preferred a small stowage unit that came with four wheels, and for that they sought banking institutions that provided "gift" solutions via a contract with Banthrico, Inc.
The Chicago, Illinois, firm started life as Banker's Thrift Corporation in 1914. Its core product consisted of small, personal home-use coin banks. ... Known as 'The Coin Bank People', Banthrico's staff of roughly 75 highly skilled employees, by all accounts, had crafted over 900 varieties of monetary storage molds through the ensuing decades. Within that list were modes of transportation, including the automobile.
As was the case with most of Banthrico's products, including the 1937 Rolls-Royce we recently discovered, the autos were hand-cast using white metal (95% zinc, 5% aluminum and traces of lead, brass and copper). Molds were poured individually; imperfections were later eliminated through a variety of methods before being sealed in a clear lacquer. The most popular finishes were pewter and antique brass, and each featured a keyed trap door and coin slot on the underside."
"Banthrico expanded its product line beyond scale banks: trophies, figurines, bookends and lamp parts were part of its portfolio when purchased by Toystalgia known for small-scale wooden coin banks in 1985. Auto bank production continued with the same molds still emblazoned with the Banthrico name. Toystalgia was eventually purchased as well, and, in the ensuing years, the remnants of Banthrico survived.
Today, many of the original molds, now without the Banthrico name, are used for continued coin bank production by Cutting Edge Industries of Linden, New Jersey, including 98 varieties of autos. They are made on-demand with a minimum production run of 24 per mold."
I've written more about Banthrico here. (posted 1/8/16, permalink)
Another Scale Christmas Gift: This diecast 1946 DeSoto Suburban is a 1:43 scale model made by White Box:
Production of this model was limited to 1,000 pieces.
The DeSoto Suburban was big; it rode on a 139.5-inch wheelbase and weighed 4,012 pounds. It was powered by a flathead inline six-cylinder engine, which had 236 cubic-inches displacement and produced 109 horsepower. With all that weight to carry around and with the relatively low horsepower motor, it must have been sluggish. I guess that's why I've never seen a DeSoto Suburban at a drag strip.
Prices for the '46 DeSoto Suburban began at $2,093. In 1946, DeSoto sales totaled 66,900. (posted 1/8/16, permalink)
Swoopy Christmas Gift: A model of a 1938 Delahaye 165 V12 Grand Sport convertible was a nice gift from my wife.
The sleek bodywork was supplied by coachbuilder Figoni & Filaschi. The Delahaye 165 was derived from the famous Delahaye 145 racer and used a detuned form of the V12 racing engine.
This 1:43 scale model was made by WhiteBox on old Ixo tooling and the run size was limited to 1,000 pieces. (posted 1/6/16, permalink)
From Russia With Love: My son and daughter-in-law presented me with two scale models of Russian automobiles as Christmas gifts.
The 1946 Zis four-door limousine is dolled up in a generic 'Taxi' livery. The Russian Zis automobile was developed by reverse-engineering a 1942 Packard Super Eight. It was powered by a 6-liter, 8-cylinder engine producing 140 hp and giving a claimed top speed of over 87 mph. These vehicles were generally used by-upper level Soviet officials. The limousine had a 148-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 236 inches - almost 20 feet. Production of the Zis 110 ended in 1958 with a total of just over 2,000 cars produced.
Its replacement was this 1958 Gaz 13 Chaika diecast four-door limousine. Chaika, which means gull, was a luxury automobile from the Soviet Union made by Gaz. During its 13-year production run, a total of 3,179 limos were produced. Chaikas were used by Soviet ambassadors and Communist Party First Secretaries in East Germany, Korea, Bulgaria, Hungary, Mongolia, and Finland, among others; Fidel Castro was given one by General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev.
It looks vaguely like a 1955-56 Packard.
Both of these diecast 1:43 scale models were marketed by SpecialC and were manufactured in China. (posted 1/4/16, permalink)
More toy car photos and stories are posted here.
Read more about the model car business here.
Other Pages Of Interest
copyright 2016 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved
The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.
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