All posts by Maz Woolley

Ford in Miniature: Mercury Cougar and Montego 1972-76

By Dave Turner

“Better Ideas make Better Cars”

 Mercury Cougar and Montego 1972-1976 

By the mid 1970s Mercury’s range of models could be guaranteed to leave the most ardent student a trifle confused. The new Montego for 1972 went back to separate body on perimeter frame construction, coming in two lengths of wheelbase, 118” for four door cars and 114” for two door examples. For simplicity the 2 door cars are the subject of this piece. Early Montegos were mentioned in MAR 247 and 248.

Two door Montegos for 1972 came in two styles, having either a formal or fastback roofline, those with the formal roofline were the regular coupe and the more lavishly equipped MX and MX Brougham versions while the fastback was reserved for the Montego GT, this effectively was the former Cyclone GT. 1973 saw the arrival of the heavier energy-absorbing bumpers while the ’74 cars had subtle changes to their grille and headlight surrounds, and the rear lights now wrapped around the rear fenders.

Cougars up to 1973 were featured in MAR 234 and 235. For 1974 Mercury wasn’t quite sure where to place their established Cougar line, the Mustang had downsized to be based on the Pinto and this was too small for the Cougar so it was decided that it should become a ‘personal luxury’ model but just below the now quite large Thunderbird. This is how it came to be based on the two door Montego, using its same 114” chassis and the ‘formal’ roofline. No Montego ‘fastback’ appeared for 1974, and the Cougar was now very similar to the Montego MX Brougham in all but detail around the headlights and grille.

By 1975 auto-makers were not only spending most of their development budget on federally mandated controlled height impact resisting bumpers but the imposition of emission equipment was also responsible for pushing up showroom prices by enormous amounts. The only obvious external indication that the ’75 Montego/Cougar possessed were the twin cooling slots in the central bumper section. The Cougar XR7 was the top seller of the entire Lincoln/Mercury range for 1976, despite having nothing more significant in the way of an annual update than the replacement of the styled steel wheels by full wheel covers.

All-change again for 1977, the name Montego was dropped, replaced by Cougar for the entire mid size range of 2 and 4 door Mercurys as well as wagons, the re-skinned 2 door XR7 now closely resembling the downsized Thunderbird.

The only model from this mid ‘70s range of mid-size two door Mercurys to have been found to date, is that of one of the least numerous, the Montego GT that totalled only around 10,000 during its two-year run 1972 to 73.

Extremely simple in concept, this 1:41 inexpensive toy comes from a range known as Funmate and features a one-piece plastic body clipped to a plastic base, the latter including grille/bumper/light details at the front and lights and bumper at the rear. A brief piece on these distinctive toys can be found in MAR 201 while for US readers a couple of 2007 issues of Toy Cars & Models included more information. The vast majority of the range were part of Proctor & Gambles marketing in the US, all featuring models of 1971/2 Fords of various types and made in Japan. The 1972 Mercury Montego GT appears to be the odd one out being made in Hong Kong.

These toys have done well to survive as they came with a spring catapult type launcher that shot them forward and into any object that happened to be in the way.

Mercury Cougar and Montego   1972-76 

Model Maker Origin Produced Model # Prototype Length Scale Material
Funmate Hong Kong 1970s 797 1972 Montego GT 129mm 1:41 Plastic

Illustrations:

 

  1. Funmate 1:41 plastic from Hong Kong: 797, 1972 Mercury Montego GT, the wheels are incorrect, they should be five-spoke.
  2. Same model, rear view, most details are present in the plastic moulding.
  3. Base showing the slot into which the launcher fits.

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Conrad Christmas 2015

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

Conrad issued two Christmas specials in liveries from well-known operators. These complicated and large diecast models of construction equipment is made to 1:50 scale.

 

2744/04  Terex Superlift 3800 tracked crane

This version of this large crane is in the livery of Franz Bracht a crane hire company based in Erwitte whose yellow coloured equipment is used on large construction projects.
17890 Conrad 2744

2100/43  Liebherr LTM 1070-4.1 Auto crane

Here we have the impressive 8 wheeled mobile crane in the livery of Regel. Albert Regel is a German company based in the Kassel area which is marked on the side of the blue, yellow and white liveried vehicle.
17891 Conrad 2100

Matrix December 2015

Matrix have announced a further set of releases for December 2015. All are to 1:43 scale and cast in resin in China for the Netherlands. The photographs below show Matrix publicity shots and all the models look interesting. Matrix now seem to have settled down to only publicising models shortly before they are ready to launch.

MX40703-011 Gordon Keeble GT blue 1960
MX42101-051 Vanden Plas Princess 3-litre MKII blue / blue 1961
MX50102-031 Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS Speciale Ghia silver 1954
MX50402-021 Daimler DE36 FHC Blue Clover Hooper blue 1953


 

Atlas Dinky Collection

By Maz Woolley

The UK Atlas Dinky series continues with a mixture of models originally released in the UK and France. The quality still remains consistent and deliveries seem to have quickened again. As ever the models released have been seen in the continental series already.

23C Mercedes-Benz Racing Car

I have finally received this model which many collectors were sent some time ago. This model is issued in ‘saxe blue’ with silver detailing, black hubs and a tan driver. It is a replica of the model as reissued in 1946. I suspect that all of these models were sold in trade trays so the yellow box though attractive is probably not authentic.

The model is based on the famous and successful Mercedes-Benz W25 racing car launched in the 1934 Grand Prix season and originally launched by Dinky in the same year.

This casting has also been released in the range sold by Atlas on the continent as a Mercedes Benz Voiture du Course in silver with red exhaust and wheel hubs with a white driver.


 

104 Aston Martin DB3S

Here Atlas choose to paint the model shocking pink which is an authentic Dinky colour even though I believe that no-one would ever have painted a real car that colour. Here the box is a neat replica showing the model in pink on one side and blue on the other. Personally I would have preferred the model in blue the other colour available when the model was launched in 1957. The driver sits much too high which is again authentic to the original toy.

On the continent Atlas used the casting to produce #506 launched in 1960 as the Aston Martin DB3 Sport using UK castings in racing green with race number 15 with silver hubs. A rather nicer model to my eye and one we may yet see in the UK range at some point perhaps.


 

551 Ford Taunus Polizeiwagen

This model is a replica of a model from the French Dinky range. Launched in 1965, based upon a casting for the saloon car which had been in production since 1962, the original model is rare and sought after. The replica is attractive and was also sold in this form in the continental series. The original saloon painted yellow was also produced by Atlas for the French series in a boxed set with the BMW 1500 in blue.

The model features replicas of the Dinky steering front wheels and the box is printed in German.


 

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Atlas Jaguar Collection XJ8

By Maz Woolley

Atlas Jaguar XJ8

The latest model shipped by Atlas is not the same casting seen before made by PCT (Ixo) for the James Bond Collection in black. This issue is of the earlier x308 version of the XJ8 and is painted British racing green. [Thanks to Dave Gambling who pointed out the error in the earlier version of this post in which the Editor suggested it was the same casting as the one in the James Bond collection which after checking it is not.]  It has a cream interior with neatly reproduced wood trim, as well as instrumentation and console printed to good effect.

The XJ8 was the third generation of the XJ model and featured extensive use of aluminium to keep down weight whilst the car was designed to give a roomy interior and a boot large enough to swallow several sets of golf clubs. Launched in 1997 this car used the modern Jaguar AJ-V8 in 3.2 litre and 4.0 litre versions. It also came in short wheelbase as modelled here and long wheelbase versions. Production ended in 2002.

The gallery below shows photographs of the model. 

 


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Atlas Jaguar Collection – XK, XKR-S, and XK-SS

By Maz Woolley

The Atlas Jaguar Collection continues with more models which have already been seen produced by Ixo for their own and other ranges. All models are produced to a high standard of detailing superior to that seen in most part works. This includes some nice interior printing for example.

Jaguar XK Coupe

This model is of the car launched in 2006 replacing the XK8 and XKR. Nicely made in red with a beige interior the model is LHD which is slightly dissapointing for a collection sold in the UK. The casting has previously been seen in other ranges in colours such as silver and light metallic blue. The interior has nicely printed central console and instrument panels. Badging is neatly printed.

Jaguar XKR-S

Fitted with a huge 5.0 litre engine this car took just 4.2 seconds to get to 60mph and was limited to a top speed of 186mph. Ixo had already sold this model in red in their own range and here Atlas have had it produced in black which suits the vehicle well. The model is to a high standard with neat badging and another good interior. This time the model is RHD.

Jaguar XK-SS

This is a nice model of a very rare car. Based on D Type chassis left over after the factory pulled out of racing in 1956 the XK-SS was launched in 1957 as road legal car with shattering performance. Sadly a fire at Jaguar’s factory destroyed 9 of the cars leaving just 16 which were mostly sold in the US to wealthy people with a taste for fast cars like Steve McQueen.

The model has been seen before from Ixo in dark blue. [Correction added – The Ixo model is currently showing as a pre-release – thanks to Hans Nordstrom from Helsinki for pointing this out].  Here Atlas have it produced in British Racing Green which looks good and in RHD. Interior detailing is too a reasonable standard and the steering wheel is a nice brown rimmed item.


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Generation GTI

By Maz Woolley

The UK model press is including inserted loose advertising material for a European Diecast sales organisation styling itself www.diecast-club.com. Looking  at the web site it seems to also be known as Direkt Collections. Unlike Atlas they do not have seperate operations in each country but sell Europe-wide priced in Euros from an Austrian phone number. The company itself operates under French Law but appears to have a headquarters in Switzerland.
Models are not sold on subscription but have to be ordered with discounts for multiple purchases. Prices are roughly on par with more recent Atlas series.
There appear to be two current collections: Rally Collection 2015, and Generation GTi. The latter is the series on the flyers that I have seen. The advertising and web material make a great play of Ixo quality and no wonder hidden on a sub-page is the statement that “PCT helps us design our products to the highest standard” and “We are proud to be part of the PCT Group”. Ixo is of course a brand name used by the PCT Group! So it would appear that PCT are now trying direct sales themselves, perhaps because of the slow down of the partwork market over the last year.
We would like to hear from readers who have collected models from this mail order operation. It would be interesting to know about the quality of the models supplied.
 

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Trax Wolseley 15/60

By John Quilter

 

Trax, an Australian based model producer and vendor concentrates on Australian  vehicles, many of which are completely home grown and many of which are adaptations of US built cars from the Big Three, or English cars from BMC, British Leyland or Ford UK.    This example is the late 1950s early 1960s Farina styled Wolseley 15/60 which was for all intents and purposes exactly the same as the version sold in the UK.   It was essentially a upmarket version of the Morris Oxford and Austin Cambridge.  The first version used the evergreen BMC B series engine of 1489cc using one SU carburettor.  The UK also had twin SU carburettor Riley and MG Magnette versions taking the badge engineering under BMC to new heights. Later versions featured the somewhat larger 1622cc engine and sometimes with an automatic gearbox the Borg Warner 35.   It was felt necessary to cater to all the loyal MG, Wolseley,  Morris, etc. buyers and the diverse and separate dealer network in the UK at the time.  Everybody had to have a piece of the action in this medium saloon market.  This basic body and estate car version of the Austin and Morris  lasted until 1971 and some were even fitted with BMC diesel engines.

The Wolseley by Trax and sold by Top Gear (TRR18) is resin and comes in the usual clear Perspex display box  with a small introduction card.   This is the early version the Farina styled cars having the taller and more pointed fins and different tail lamps.   For comparison I have pictured it with the Vanguards Morris Oxford showing the slight restyle and muting of the fins in the second generation of these cars.    In Australia there was also an Austin Freeway which was essentially an Austin Cambridge but with minor differences including a different grille treatment.

Going by the Vanguards Morris Oxford,  Trax got the scale correct and the only obvious flaw is that the A pillars are a bit too fat.   The distinctive Wolseley grill is nicely replicated as is some detail on the undercarriage.  Separate chrome door handles, photo etched wipers,  and badging are provided.

Trax models are produced in relatively limited quantities and often sell out.   Shipping from Australia to the USA is $19.50 Australian dollars ($14.00 USD) and in my case took over a month to arrive.


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M2 Autohauler Shelby Ford

By Maz Woolley

M2 Shelby Ford Autohauler
M2 Shelby Ford Autohauler

M2 have produced a number of these Autohaulers with various cabs, the Dodge COE for example. The latest cab is the classic Ford tractor unit from the 1960s which is well captured on this model. The models is made in a mixture of diecast and plastic components in 1:64 scale in China for the US. The cab is shown here on a hauler in Shelby livery and it can also be found in white  in Shelby livery with a hot Mustang in red.

The Mustang on this blue outfit looks very like the classic models that Hertz rented out.

M2 products are relatively inexpensive so the rather plastic appearance of the grille and trailer unit can be accepted. They even supply a set of plastic ramps to help get your models on board.


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Oxford Diecast Ford Thames 400E

By Maz Woolley

Oxford Diecast have long had a 1:43 scale Ford Thames 400E in their range and it has now been “shrunk” to feature in their 1:76 scale range. The model is produced in Oxford’s Chinese factory for the UK.

The Ford 400E replaced the venerable E83W and was produced from 1957 to 1965. It was fitted with the 4 cylinder 1700cc engine also used in the Ford Consul. It was replaced in 1965 by Ford’s first pan-European product the Transit Van.

Some readers will remember the Matchbox regular wheels model of a Ford Thames usually in yellow and blue and with side windows. It will be interesting to see whether Oxford produce a similar model since they already have one in the 1:43 range. It would also be nice if Oxford could adapt the moulds to produce a motor caravan of some kind. Many readers will remember the Corgi Airborne Caravan but many other makers produced products based upon the 400E so Oxford would have quite a range to choose from.

The model translates to 1:76 very well. It loses plastic headlights and a separate grill, replaced by tampo printed items, but this is not an issue in this smaller scale.

This British Railways liveried model will be popular with railway modellers as well as collectors. A Royal Mail liveried van will be produced in 2016 in this scale.

 


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