German Sports Cars 85 Years Apart – Two Acquisitions from B&G and BMW

by Harvey Goranson

 

Mikhail Bashmashnikov has just introduced a new resin model in the B&G Euroline series, No. EL-5, a 1929 Mercedes-Benz SSK with a boattail body by Murphy. Now that I have my own, I was able to make better pictures than I could at Countryside last month.

B_G_EL-5_M-B_SSK_Murphy_pic1_small

[Click photos to enlarge.]

Around 3 dozen or so SSKs were ever built, and the few remaining ones command multi-million dollar prices on the rare occasions one sells. Harold Ishman acquired SSK Chassis 36248 and contracted Murphy of Pasadena to provide a speedster body for it. The car, now restored in maroon, is in the collection of Arturo and Deborah Keller.

B_G_EL-5_M-B_SSK_Murphy_pic3
This shot shows the excellent detail on the grille. Check out the tire tread pattern and the tiny steering arm.

B_G_EL-5_M-B_SSK_Murphy_pic2_small

The B&G model in maroon is an LE of 130. Later, an earlier white version is to be offered. With this model you get six beautiful wire wheels.

B_G_EL-5_M-B_SSK_Murphy_pic4

A nice touch is the California plate. Even the tailpipe mount is done well.  All the dashboard details are there.

Now fast forward to 2014 (model year 2015):

BMW_80_42_2_336_838_i8_pic1_small
Got $140K to spend for a hybrid gasoline-electric car that goes 0-60 in 4.4 seconds? Then BMW’s i8 is the car for you. The engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder.

BMW_80_42_2_336_838_i8_pic2_small
This is offered as BMW part No. 80 42 2 336 838. I chose Protonic Blue (also available in white or silver – yawn). BMW’s diecast shows no evidence of the manufacturer, if I were to guess, I’d say Maisto or Ixo. Diecast with plastic details, and very well done, though side marker lights were missed (and costs less than 10% of the SSK!)

BMW_i8_pic1_small

Here’s the real thing, a picture I took in Knoxville in October 2014 (probably the first in town). Note that the wheels are different from the diecast.

 


Editor’s note:  The i8 is not too common in the US, but I did just see this white one in Charleston in February,

BMW

And back in 2014, there was this dark grey one at the Indianapolis Auto Show.

BMW


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Catalog Corner: Märklin RAK

by Karl Schnelle

Dr Horst Macalka published  a great series of Catalogue Corners in the print version of MAR.   He wrote about many different toy car companies over many issues.  Since then,  I have been documenting the Märklin RAK series at HobbyDB, so I decided it was time for an updated Catalog Corner.   Horst wrote about all Märklin auto catalogs from 1935 to 1972 (MAR, No 67, Nov/Dec 1992, p 3374) that he had in his collection, but I will cover only the newer RAK series from 1968 to 1975.

RAK 1968

[Click photos to enlarge.]

Märklin RAK  were mostly German cars from the 1960s and 70s, race cars, sports cars, and sedans.  The casting were very precise and reminded me of their diecast HO train engines of the period.  Most had opening doors and came in various colors.   Not much documentation about the series is available except for an excellent booklet in German (2001) with all the details.  The hardcopy MAR also had a short article about them years ago written by me (MAR, No 39 Extra, 1989)!

The oldest catalog I have is from 1968 (above) when the RAK series was introduced.  The cover shows the #1810 Porsche 910, and it opens from the top.  The 12-p catalog has the older 8000 range of cars and trucks in the back half.  This copy is all in English.  At the back, 1800, 1803 ,and 1811 are listed as coming shortly.   So the  RAK series must not have been introduced in numerical order.  That seems strange to me.  1805 is the lowest number in this first catalog.

Rak 1968-2

The catalog with the 1802 Chaparral 2F on the cover is in German with DM prices but has no date or Märklin part number as the other catalogs do.  Since 1802 is marked Neu (New) inside the catalog, it has to be late 1968.  Half the contents are Mercury model cars from Italy; they were imported by Märklin into Germany at this time.  Soft rubber  tires are shown as in the earlier 1968 catalog.  The catalog is a fan-fold style.

RAK 1969

Then, for 1969, a large ‘psychedelic’ catalog was issued with five abstract speeding cars on the cover.  Dated by the part number on the back, it opens from the top and is also a fan-fold.  Both front and back are shown above. Five models are marked as new this time and my copy is in English. The Hot Wheels revolution has caught up to even Märklin by now and two of the five new cars are shown with hard plastic whizzwheels. The rac name is also used on the cover for the first time, rac with a c!  The old 8000 series of trucks is still shown on the other side.

The 1970 catalog returns to the smaller size of the very first catalog and is in five languages. It is dated by the part number on the back and has the 1815 Porsche 907 on the cover.  The rac name is now spelled rak with a k!   It opens from the left and shows actual photos of five cars to be released in 1970.

Marklin RAK 1971

The 1971 example (above)  is also in five languages but is sized like the Matchbox, Dinky, and Corgi catalogs of the time.  Two cars are on the cover with the large 4-door BMW 2500 crash-landing on top of the Mercedes C111!!! Three models are listed as new for 1971 and are shown with photos again of the actual cars.

Marklin RAK 1972

The 72 catalog that I have is a small tri-fold thing with one side covered with all the models.  The back shows Mercury 1:43 “Märklin -Import”.  My copy is German only and prices in DM.

Marklin RAK 1973

1973 returns to the larger, more-colorful format but is still a tri-fold design.  Sadly no new models are shown.  The inside is a similar matrix design like 72 of all the models, but the other side has a lot of marketing talk in 5 languages:  “The raks of the famous 1800 series are displaying their amazing true-to-life characteristics, their beauty, and their extras!”  Translation at its best! 🙂

Marklin RAK 1974

The next to last one, ’74 (above),  is also a tri-fold but opens the other direction, left-to-right. The exact  same marketing lingo is present.  No new issues are marked.

RAK 1975

And finally, the last catalog from ’75 is a multi-fold poster style with lots of Mercury cars and motorcycles.  All in German and still no new models.

The large Märklin train catalogs from the same years also showed the RAK series.  After 1975, the RAK series disappeared from those catalogs as well.  Some RAK models were reissued over time after 1975, but I have seen no catalogs since the ’75 example above.  If any readers have any other RAK catalogs, please let MAR Online know!


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Nacoral vs. Tekno – a Volvo FB89 comparison

by Karl Schnelle

In my last post, I talked about the first Tekno car; now I would like to discuss the last Tekno truck!  Volvo came out with their 3-axle FB 88 heavy truck in 1965 and Tekno’s version appeared in their 1968-69 catalog as new and with a photo of the real double-truck (3-axle truck + 2-axle trailer).   Their 1970-71 and 1971-72 catalogs  showed the actual toy in 2 versions: ASG transport-spedition and transport-spedition.

However, in 1972 a larger 12 liter turbodiesel engine was introduced by Volvo, easily distinguished by its wider black radiator – this was called the FB 89.   The same year in August, Tekno Denmark was declared bankrupt and sadly out of business, so the FB 89 never made it into a catalog.    This version must have been made for only a few months so could be the very last Tekno truck from Denmark!

I have had a #425 Tekno FB 89 for many years and have heard rumors that Nacoral of Spain copied Tekno’s.  So I recently acquired a copy to do the face-to-face comparison.  Volvo ended the series in 1977 so I assume the two companies made their 1:50 versions around the same time frame.  The orange Nacoral is on the left (below) and the blue Tekno on the right.

Volvo FB89 f

The front of the cabs show that the Nacoral has slightly smaller windows and an air intake behind the cab.  This version of the Tekno has a signboard (other versions did not).  The front bumper design is very different as well.  Both cabs tip to reveal the big engine.

The doors of the Nacoral have window frames – more delicate and nicer than the Tekno, I think.  the canopy is plastic (Tekno’s is tinplate).

Nacoral Volvo FB89

The Tekno has the nice paint job and decals of a real Swedish transport company, ASG.  This same version as well as plain ones was released by Tekno Holland and shown in their 77/78 catalog.  So The Dutch did acquire the Danish molds for this truck and trailer.

Tekno Volvo FB89

Like the front, the rear ends are different.  The rear lights on the Nacoral are plastic lenses, not decals.  The design details of the entire rear are different as well. Both have a tow hook for the trailer that both also made to go with the truck.

Volvo FB89 b

Finally the undersides reveal several similarities and differences.  The truck frames are similar but not identical with plastic parts hanging off on different sides.  The Tekno has sophisticated steering while the Nacoral is much simplified with a plain front axle.   The printing on the cab is in the same location and the rear suspension is the same design.

Tekno Nacoral Volvos

Everything so far could be accounted for by two companies making a good quality 1:50 scale toy of the same truck – similarities in the toy design are bound to happen when the prototype is the same thing.  However, if you look at the mechanism that hold the rear axle up (not needed when the truck has no load), that extra play feature looks identical.   The Tekno has the sliding bar engaged; the Nacoral has the axle free and the bar slid to the right.

In conclusion, I think that Nacoral took the Tekno design as inspiration and improved it (window frames, more detailed front and rear bumpers, etc) but liked the sliding axle mechanism and kept that design exactly as-is.  Tekno had it on their FB 88 since 1968, while Nacoral probably introduced theirs around 1973 (source: http://nacoral.jimdo.com/inter-cars/).  That’s just my opinion; what do you think?


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Readers Response

From Randal Baron of Philadelphia

Randal responds to the April 2016 Editorial

In response to your article on pricing.

I would add that from my standpoint models have been getting cheaper not more expensive. I used to spend 250 to 300 dollars to get Conquest and Madison models of American cars. Now you can buy the same level of detail for 60 to 90 dollars from Neo and Matrix. I think the variety of models and the price points have more variety than ever.

My pet peeve is the amount of duplication of subjects when there is still so much that has not been modelled at all. I suppose that this sometimes allows for a variety of prices for the same subject, but more often it results in getting stuck with a lesser quality model when the better one comes out.

I would like to commend Autocult for really trying to fill some gaps. Now I would like to see someone fill holes in the brass era and 1920s. 

I have been collecting for more than 50 years and I would say we have never had it better than today in terms of variety. I do however miss the comradery of the model car meets we had before the internet. 

Randal Baron
Philadelphia

Editorial April 2016

By Maz Woolley and Rod Ward

Recent postings to MAR Online have covered a wide range of subjects, thanks to your contributions. Our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ModelAutoReviewOnline/ features interesting comments from readers.

Don’t forget that you can sign up to get new articles emailed to you by using the widget at the bottom of the MAR Online page, or you can follow our Facebook page to be alerted when new items are posted.

Leigh Hobden of Diecast Legends asks an interesting question in the May issue of ‘Diecast Collector’. Has the large increase in prices over the last five years made models unaffordable? It seems a good question to me. Leigh says that manufacturers are seeking to address this issue by reducing retailers’ margins, which is only likely to reduce the number of sales outlets and thus further reduce sales volumes. He suggests that manufacturers could cut their costs by simplifying models, rather than making more and more detailed models for higher and higher prices. It is well-known that model collectors are often retired, or heading towards retirement, so the answer to Leigh’s question may be that even current prices may not be sustainable. Lower-price ‘Best of Show’ models based on resin castings with printed features, rather than photo etched components may be an example of what the general market will want in the future, whilst the sales of more detailed and increasingly expensive models will decline.

The structure of the toy and model industry was always like a pyramid. The base consisted of cheap and accessible toy cars which were good enough to fill a gap in a collection, if no better model was available. Above that were increasingly sophisticated levels of toy cars, then collectors’ diecast models of ever-increasing quality and cost, with the peak being made up from expensive handbuilt white metal and resin productions. The scale of that pyramid was what made the collectors’ world sustainable; the top-quality peak was a tiny part of the total volume, maybe only one or two per cent of the total market. Buyers would move upwards through the various levels, gradually spending more per model as the collecting fever took hold, but stopping at whatever level represented ‘too expensive’ for them.

If the ‘peak’ creeps downwards to take up too large a proportion of the pyramid, then there will be an insufficient number of potential buyers moving upwards to sustain sales of expensive models. Makers of complex collectors’ models may be able to simplify their specification a little, to introduce a layer below the peak, but unless quantities of less-expensive diecast models and better-quality toys are constantly being added at the intermediate levels, the pyramid will become top-heavy.

Existing customers fall away, and new collectors don’t join the process, as there is no natural and gradual progression from the cheap toys, where we all start, to the most expensive models. Hardly any collector will jump straight from buying a £4.99 toy to a £95.00 model. The prognosis is not good, therefore.

The new format of MAR Online has been running for over three months now. We hope that you continue to find items of interest. We love to hear your opinions – email me at maronlineeditor@gmail.com or post on our Facebook page. And as ever we would be pleased to publish your information and articles to ensure that MAR Online continues to have an interesting variety of postings.


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APS plastic toys

By Maz Woolley

Bruno Boracco recently sent some photographs of 1:77 scale plastic models from APS to the Executive Editor, Rod Ward, who says: “I remember the larger (1:50-ish?) APS cars suddenly turning up in my local Woollies in the 1950s-early 60s. Very crude and simple plastic mouldings, but I think they were only sixpence or so each!”

The 1:77 models are photographed below and look very much like cereal premiums given away  by Kelloggs and others.

APS Alfa Guiletta Berlina
APS Alfa Guiletta Berlina
APS Alfa Giulietta station wagon
APS Alfa Giulietta station wagon

1:77 scale APS models were moulded in Italy between 1958 and 1962 and their place on the Italian market was then taken by Ingap who made similar if slightly better detailed models.

APS would appear to have made the following additional models to 1:77 scale.

  • Alfa Romeo 1900
  • Alfa Romeo Guiletta Sprint
  • Autobianchi Bianchina
  • Buick Roadmaster
  • Cadillac Eldorado
  • Citroen 2CV
  • Fiat 500
  • Fiat 600
  • Fiat 600 Multipla
  • Fiat 1100 Familiare
  • Fiat 1200 Grandluce
  • Ford Continental
  • Jaguar D Type
  • Lancia Appia
  • Lancia Flaminia
  • Mercedes Benz 190
  • Mercedes Benz W196
  • Porsche 356
  • Renault Dauphine
  • Studebaker Golden Hawk
  • Volkswagen Beetle

If any readers have pictures of the other models in this series, or the Ingap models, the editor would welcome pictures and stories. These models were cheap children’s toys like Blue Box models in the UK and are an interesting part of modelling history.


 

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Auto Review News: April 2016

By Rod Ward

AUTO REVIEW NEWS

The latest two Auto Review titles, now available, are 119 Atkinson, Seddon and Seddon Atkinson and 120 A car less ordinary. You can read more about these new publications below.

You can order any Auto Review book direct from us by email telephone or snail mail (payments by Paypal to rod-ward@tiscali.co.uk) – add £1.00 p&p per title UK, £2.00 EU, £3.00 elsewhere. Send mail orders to R & V Ward, 81 Main Street, Monk Fryston, Leeds LS25 5DU (for payments by cheque or via Paypal) or if you wish to pay by credit card you can order online via Oxford Diecast online at our new link: autoreviewbooks.co.uk. From May 2016 we hope to have a new and updated presence at:
zeteo.com.

If you have any material we can use for any of our future publications, please send it to me as soon as possible. A big thank you to all those who have recently supplied photos and other material, especially Fabrizio Panico, Peter Seaword, Harvey Goranson, Bruno Boracco, Tony Greaves and Dave Turner.

I am currently working on 123 Tiny Wheels, for publication in 2016. It is almost complete, so within the next week I will have moved on to 124 Volvo Album.


Auto Review 2016 titles

117 Cord Corporation: obviously Cord-Auburn-Duesenberg, but also Checker cab, Stinson aircraft, Vultee, American Airlines and much more, all owned by E L Cord at one time or another..
Available now
118 Borgward Album – including Pionier, Borgward, Hansa, Lloyd, Goliath, etc
Available now
119 Atkinson, Seddon and Seddon Atkinson
Available now
120 A car less ordinary: Retro, repro & pastiche cars, plus novelty vehicles
Available now
121 Made in Spain: Hispano-Suiza, Pegaso, Seat, Voisin, and many, many others
for publication in May-June 2016
122 Dennis Album: including cars, buses, trucks, fire appliances etc
for publication in May-June 2016
123 Tiny Wheels: micro cars, city cars, bubble cars, Aixam, Ligier, Keicars, Smart etc
for publication in August 2016
124 Volvo Album :  All cars, trucks, buses etc
for publication in August 2016
125 Gloster Aircraft: Including Nieuport etc, and Gloster-Saro
for publication in October 2016
126 Optare, plus Charles Roe, East Lancs, etc By Tony Greaves
for publication in October 2016


Your suggestions for new titles are always welcome; we have already pencilled in some titles for 2017, but we can replace any of them with a more interesting subject, if it is requested. We hope to release the full 2017 publishing programme this summer.


Here is a little introduction to each of the new Auto Review titles recently released:

Auto Review 119 Atkinson, Seddon and Seddon Atkinson
by Rod Ward
AR119 atkinson cover

Here we have the stories of two classic British commercial vehicle manufacturers, Atkinson and Seddon. Both firms had separate lives until 1970, when Seddon took over Atkinson, but only four years later the combined entity was acquired by a multi-national corporation.

The two firms came from different traditions; in Preston, Atkinson distributed Sentinel waggons, then began manufacturing their own steam vehicles during the Great War. Having tried to carry on with outdated steam technology for too long, the firm was reorganised in 1933 as a maker of diesel lorries, building up a fine reputation over the following decades for customer service.

Seddon ran a vehicle dealership and operated excursion buses in East Lancashire, before designing their own lightweight diesel lorries just before the Second World War. Good management and profitable products enabled Seddon to grow big enough to take over Atkinson in 1970.

The new Seddon Atkinson group went through a number of hands after 1974; first International Harvester, then ENASA and Iveco, before fading into non-existence in 2005.

ISBN 978-1-85482-118-1  £5.95


Auto Review 120 A Car Less Ordinary
by Rod Ward

AR120 a car less ordinary cover

It is often said that the choice of vehicle you drive is a reflection of your personality, or possibly of hidden personality traits. In an age of mass-production it is understandable that some people find off-the-shelf vehicles driven by everyone else are too ‘ordinary’. Those who want something less ordinary may choose to paint their car like a flower garden or a brick wall, but others try to find something even less ordinary, so included in this publication are unusual vehicles which enliven the conformist traffic on the roads of the world.
This is a wide and complex field of interest, so we can only include an arbitrary selection of the most important, the most interesting, or the merely odd. First, some notes on the broad groupings of vehicles covered in these pages.

Repro: reproductions of classic vehicles, sometimes known as ‘replicars’. We exclude cars which are continuations of classic models (ie Morgan or Caterham) or relaunches of a car almost unchanged (such as the Middlebridge Scimitars or the Jensen revivals). This category mostly covers attempts to make a replica as accurate as reasonably possible; vague approximations are regarded here as ‘pastiches’.

Pastiche vehicles are in an old style, but not copies of any specific car (Excalibur, Panther, Asquith etc).

Following public interest in retro design, major manufacturers got in on the act with Retro-style cars; the VW New Beetle, BMW Mini, Fiat 500 etc, in the spirit of earlier cars by the same maker.

Novelty vehicles are often ‘productmobiles’ for advertising purposes, where the bodywork is styled like some unlikely object; an orange, a bottle, a hot dog sausage etc. Also in this category are a few Parade floats and other novelties.

Often a give-away that a supposedly ‘prewar’ vehicle is actually a pastiche is that the radiator grille is set too far forward, due to modern engine locations. In the 1970s many US-made pastiches or replicars were VW-based, resulting in much scorn being heaped on them by purists, due to the rear-mounted engine. This meant, however, that the front end of the vehicle could more accurately replicate the grille and front axle set-up.

ISBN 978-1-85482-119-8   £5.95

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The Very First Tekno Cars?

by Karl Schnelle

Miraco Gyro

Andreas Siegumfeldt, a former plumber, started making various tinplate toys in his basement on the outskirts of Copenhagen, DK, in 1928.  He switched to metal construction sets similar to Meccano from England or to Marklin from Germany in 1932 and called them Tekno! Finally, in 1937, he expanded his business and started to make tinplate fire engines, based on a Bedford with many sporting the famous  Danish Falck logo.  They lasted until after the war, until 1955.  During WWII, tinplate was hard to come by so they switched to wooden toys.   The first Tekno cars then were made sometime between ’37 and ’55, but probably not during the war.

The dark green metallic one pictured here is the MIRACO car, as identified on the front of the car is raised lettering.   On the opposite side is a hole for the key to windup the mechanism.  Underneath are five wheels: four metal ones on the outside and a very small rubber-tires on in the middle.  the small middle one is perpendicular to the other four and sits right in front of the rear wheel sin the middle.  As the car goes over the edge of the table, the front falls off and this little central wheel catches and drives the car to one side; hence, a miracle happens and the car does not fall off the table!

Miraco

I do not have a key to dare try it, but the mechanism seems to be still working . I have read that Siegumfeldt collaborated with Schuco of Germany to use this design for this car.  I am not sure if that is true nor not.  See this link for Schuco’s Mirakocar 1001 (Mirako with a k!) – I can not see any real differences except for the printing on the baseplate and Schuco in place of MIRACO on the front!  The Schuco does say Made in US Zone – Germany on the baseplate which was 1945 to up to perhaps 1955, so maybe these Teknos are post-war only.


The lighter green car pictured is the identical body but has GYRO printed on the front grill.  As with the MIRACO, the only ID on the baseplate is Tekno Denmark.  The tires are white rubber and there is not a fifth wheel underneath.  Not a windup either (no hole), so it must be a pull-back mechanism.  Mine is frozen up (two rear wheels), but I dare not open up the tinplate tabs underneath to investigate.

Gyro n

Perhaps Siegumfeldt  tried to improve on the key windup mechanism and brought out a second type?  He was known to have not liked the idea because the mechanisms were not sturdy enough (Teknosamleren, 2013).  Perhaps this issue drove him to start doing diecast cars, a great win-win for us collectors!!!

These two cars came in a few other colors and I am assuming these are the first Tekno cars.  Documentation on their origins is hard to come by.  A French collector/dealer did find another version of the MIRACO, made by Mecline in Norway.  Mecline assembled several Tekno cars and vans to avoid paying high import duties into Norway on foreign toys in the 1950s.


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