All posts by Karl Schnelle

1/43 diecast collector

The History of Roly Toys, Part III

By Miguel Stefanelli and Sergio Luis dos Santos

All text and images are copyright of Miguel Stefanelli, except where noted.

As a follow-up to  Part II, we now discuss model numbers 8 to 11. Roly Toys did not produce a catalogue showing these newer models; their one previous catalogue only showed models 1 to 7.

Roly Toys Nº 8 – Centurion Mk III tank

The approximate scale for this model is 1:112. It´s a mystery why Roly Toys introduced this model into its line.  Further analysis suggests that the model is a mix based on two well know Centurions. The body looks like a Dinky Nº 651, but the chassis shows its connection with Matchbox´s Mk III version, available in Major Pack M3: Transporter and Centurion Mk III Tank.

Most common colors for this model are a light sand or an olive green, but like other Roly Toys models, there are always questions and surprises. Years ago on the former Die Cast Cult Virtual Magazine, a collector posted a few images of his camouflaged Centurion in light and medium brown. Another one was offered on a Brazilian auction site in a camouflage with two shades of green. Unfortunately, there are no other details or better images to check their originality.

At least two versions of the rubber tracks are know: a “solid” one in black and a  gray version with perforated tracks.  Four small plastic rollers keep the tracks on place.

Roly Toys Nº 9 –Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia Convertible – flat chassis

Brazil was the only country to produce the VW Karmann Ghia outside Germany, so it caused a sensation when it was released.

Roly Toys introduced some improvements compared to their older models in this one:  integrated wipers, a rear view mirror in the windshield, and a more detailed interior with pedals, shifter and hand brake. Inside the chassis there is a small “step” where a plastic piece is sandwiched in, providing a suspension effect.  The flat chassis has a corrugated finish, which we call a “granulated chassis”.

The windshield is very fragile, so finding a perfect one takes a lot of luck!

Roly Toys Nº 10 – Interlagos – flat chassis

Roly Toys introduced a newer Willys Interlagos with some changes from the previous Nº 1 version. The same upgrades as described above on the Karmann Ghia are found, with the granulated chassis. Another interesting detail is the removal of the ‘Berlineta’ name. This version is very rare.

Roly Toys Nº 11 – Scania-Vabis L76 Dump Truck

Roly Toys also introduced a new Scania-Vabis Dump truck into its lineup, very similar to the previous Nº 4 model. The chassis is now closed and shows a few more details like engine, gear box and prop shaft among other items. The support tab design under the dump changed from a rectangular one to a single pin that locks into a small hole or cradle in the chassis. This design change makes the dump more steady when closed.

They also changed the colors. Earlier Nº 4 models had two different cabin and dump colors, with a black chassis, but this new version is only know in a single color livery, nicknamed the “Monochrome Scania”.  None of the trucks from the Roly Toys line had glazing or interior.

Differences between Scania-Vabis Nº 4 and Nº 11 are shown below.

Scania-Vabis nr 4 chassis
Scania-Vabis nr 11 chassis

The Bólidos Roly Toys

In 1968, a small revolution hit the toy market: Hotwheels released its first series of models with “fast rolling” wheels. A new sensation with fast moving cars in shiny, metallic colors and chrome details, plus tracks to play with!

Hotwheels 1968:

Their success was soon followed by other manufacturers like Johnny Lightning and Matchbox that released their “Superfast” version.

Johnny Lightning 1969:

Matchbox Superfast 1969:

Roly Toys a short time later entered this new era with two models.  The following documentation shows that Roly Toys applied for a registration of the name “Rodas Quentes” (which means Hot Wheels in Portuguese) in December 1969, but in January 1970, they applied for the name Bólidos. In the end, they chose the Bólidos name, which in Portuguese means meteor or fast car, hence ‘superfast”!


Roly Toys Nº 9 –VW Karmann-Ghia Convertible – Bólidos chassis

Using the same body from the regular Nº 9, Roly introduced their new chassis, axles and wheels. A new plastic insert was secured with bolts in the chassis to provide a suspension effect. Like other brands, metallic colors were introduced, sometimes even on the regular models.

This metallic red is another great find with the windsheld intact!

Roly Toys Nº 10 – Willys Interlagos – Bólidos chassis

Again, Roly Toys used the previous body and numbering with the new Bólidos chassis. Roly Toys never produced the plastic tracks to race on, but these models could run on the Hotwheels or Matchbox tracks.

The image below shows the difference between the flat chassis from the Nº 1 version and the new Nº10 Bólidos version. The new plastic part holds both axles and provides the suspension effect.

Photo credit: Automodelli – Projeto Fênix

Part IV will bring more info on these models as well as more Roly Toy curiosities about these small jewels manufactured in Rio de Janeiro from 1964 to 1970.

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Dinky Toys Alfa Romeo 1900

By Terry Hardgrave

All text and photographs copyright of the Author, unless otherwise noted.

1959 was a momentous year for me, in my early days of collecting Dinky Toys. I was 14 and totally hooked on buying every new one I could afford, so I managed to acquire quite a few that year.

One of my favorites has always been the French produced 24j Alfa Romeo 1900 Super Sport. A superb diecast model, nicely painted in the proper red for this car.  Dinky renumbered their models later on so this one became 527, and at some point came also in blue before being cancelled in 1963.

One more photo with its box… amazingly, after almost 60 years, the original box is practically like new and still crisp.

The French factory shared the molds, so English Dinky also produced this Alfa as number 185 from 1961-63.   This version came in yellow with a red interior (or red with white interior).

photo credit: Karl Schnelle

Both factories made this great 1900 for just a short time, which is a bit strange because many Dinkys in the 1960’s were made for years and years!

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The Negrão Racing Dynasty

By Sergio Luis dos Santos

All text and photographs copyright of the Author.

Throughout all  sports it’s fairly common to find family dynasties where generations from the same family play the same sport. In motorsports it’s the same.  We may remember some well known racing dynasties, from short-lived ones like Hill, Villeneuve and Senna, to the longest ones like the Andretti, Piquet or Fittipaldi, just to name a few.

Here are some models from the Brazilian family Negrão: Alexandre Furnari Negrão (Xandi Negrão), Alexandre Sarnes Negrão (Xandinho Negrão or Alexandre Negrão Jr.) , Antônio Augusto Furnari Negrão (Guto Negrão) and André Negrão.

All models are in 1:43 scale.  [Click photo for larger image.]

  1. Audi TT-R – Mil Milhas de Interlagos 2004 – Xandi Negrão, Xandinho Negrão and Guto Negrão. Schuco.
  2. Ferrari F 430 GT2 – Mil Milhas Brasileiras 2007 – Alexandre Negrão, Alexandre Negrão Jr and Andreas Mattheis – ProModelTek.
  3. Aston Martin DBR9 – 24 Hours Le Mans 2008 – Xandinho Negrão with Peter Hardman and Nicki Leventis – IXO.
  4. Aston Martin DBR9 – 24 Hours Le Mans 2008 – Xandinho Negrão with Peter Hardman and Nicki Leventis – Spark.
  5. Alpine A-470 – 24 Hours Le Mans 2017 – André Negrão with N. Panciatici and P. Ragues – Spark.

And here are views of their other ends!

I hope you like them.

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Mercedes-Benz Pagoda Slot Cars

Two Fifty Year-Old SL Pagoda Slot Cars from Germany

By Frank Koh

MAR Online does not publish about slot cars very often, but these cars are so nice that they can act as static display models in any cabinet!  Two of my favorite slot cars are models of my favorite European sports car: the W113 Mercedes-Benz “Pagoda” SL. I took these two units out which I have owned for a couple of years now, so I could simply re-live my love affair with them.

The orange Fleischmann roadster and the maroon Stabo coupe shown above are, in my humble opinion, much more realistic than the contemporary Scalextric slot car model, which is considerably more common and well-known to slot car mavens.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz 230SL/ 250SL/ 280SL of 1963-71 needs no introduction. The “SL Pagoda” as it was fondly referred to because of its unique hardtop design was Stuttgart-Sindelfingen’s sports car of the sixties that was revered for its sparkling grand touring performance, exceptional comfort, leading-edge safety and timeless beauty.

While the real car was being produced, two West German slot car manufacturers released scale masterpieces of the Pagoda, the Stabo 230 SL Coupe and the Fleischmann 280 SL Roadster. The external dimensions of both appear to be nearly-identical; hence we can take an educated guess that these two West German beauties are spot-on at 1:32 scale.  The photos speak for themselves.

By its very nature, a closed coupe would be less susceptible to damage than an open roadster, both in real life and in slot car parlance. The Stabo SL has that distinct advantage, but there are no plans to even take a low-speed “cruise” on the slot car track with this rare, well-preserved model.

Working headlights came standard on the Fleischmann SL Roadster. I don’t know if the lenses turned yellow from age, or the manufacturer sought to replicate a “French Market” headlight setup. The photo does not do justice to the very accurate and crisp detail on that signature “SL” grille.

The W113 230SL/ 250SL/ 280SL got its “Pagoda” moniker from the unique hardtop that was designed by Bela Barenyi, and the recessed center portion with raised sides are evident from this angle. An inside joke at the design studio of Mercedes-Benz was that the roof was created when a tree fell lengthwise on the car.

While Barenyi created the roof of the SL Pagoda, it is renowned French designer Paul Bracq who penned those very pleasing, timeless lines of the overall car. With its large “greenhouse” and stately yet flamboyant stance and the unmistakable Mercedes-Benz Three Pointed Star on that lovely SL radiator grille, the SL Pagoda looks as fresh and fast today as it did when it first debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1963.

The Stabo slot car featured revolutionary front wheels that “steered” in the direction the car would take on the track. Truly ingenious. While this particular unit appears to have seen some serious track use, it is nevertheless very well preserved for its half century-old age.

This particular Fleischmann unit does not appear to have been used at all. The contact brushes show practically no wear, the chassis plate is devoid of scratches, and the metal case of the high speed motor maintains a uniform shine with no abrasion. There’s even an “Ein/Aus” (“On/Off”) switch for the headlights.

Sadly, there is no public slot car track in Manila at this time; hence, these beauties will remain as display models, and “out of trouble”, indefinitely.   For any avid SL Pagoda enthusiast, this vintage pair is irreplaceable!

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A Brazilian in Australian V8 Supercars

By Sergio Luis dos Santos

I live in Brazil and collect 1:43 scale cars from Brazilian drivers but no “open wheels” like Formula 1 or Indy cars. This makes my collection very specialized and keeps me on the hunt for hard-to-find and special editions, as well as some modified models.

As for the Australian V8 Supercars, Max Wilson raced there from 2002 to 08;  some info his career is here: Unfortunately,  only the cars from 2002, 03 and 04 seasons were released by Biante. They are also found in 1:64 and 1:18 scale. They are hard to find outside Australia so my search went through Australian eBay and some local shops that would ship the models to Brasil.

The Biante cars are:
  1. Ford AU Falcon Nº 65, 2002 season. Model nº 286 of 2000 released.
  2. Ford BA Falcon Nº 18, 2003 season. Model nº 193 of 2000 released.
  3. Ford BA Falcon Nº 888, 2004 season. Model nº 242 of 1000 released.

The models are very finely done (good details and tampo printing) but were manufactured years ago.  Looking at Biante’s current offerings, they may look even better.  Since there are no more Brazilian drivers racing them, I haven´t bought any of the newer releases.  Maybe one day Biante will release the other Max Wilson cars so I could fill in the gap years: 2005 to 08.

To show some further models, here are two more cars raced by Max Wilson in Brasil.
  1. Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI Nº 19. He raced at Interlagos, São Paulo, in the ITC Championship in 1996.  An easy mod using an HPI model.
  2. Chevrolet Sonic Nº 65 from the Brazilian Stock Car partworks. He raced this car in the 2016 season.

I hope you enjoy these photos!

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And Now for Something Completely Different: the Cityrama Bus

By Robert Brodowski

All text and images are copyright of the Author.

In 1950’s Paris, tour operator Groupe Cityrama commissioned French coachbuilder Currus to create hyper-futuristic double-decker buses built atop a Citroën U55 truck chassis. The result? The Citroën U55 Cityrama Currus, Flash Gordon’s bus.

The Cityrama buses were built exclusively as tour buses in the bustling post-war era of Paris, when optimism and looking to the future was the order of the day. Underpinned by Citroën’s workhorse U55 chassis, Currus designed a daring, Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers double-decker bus with elegantly curved, wrap around glass at all vantage points. The roof was also all glass and could be configured for open-air driving during summer months.

It’s outrageous styling managed to get it into several movies of the era, including Le Corniaud and Zazie Dans Le Métro. The pointy roof ornament above the driver seems a perfect way to spear that treacherous Ming the Merciless, should the opportunity ever present itself.

My model here is a 1/43 scale diecast and plastic model produced by Ixo and was part of a series of iconic buses from around the world sold under the Hachette label. This Citroën bus is so utterly outrageous that I couldn’t resist.

Here are some online photos of the real one:

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The BATs are Back!

By Karl Schnelle

Alfa Romeo BATs, that is!  Earlier this year, I heard from a  fellow collector that AutoCult was making a small batch of 1:43 Alfa Romeos. Known for making models of strange, rare vehicles, I had to investigate. It turns out that AuoCult made them for a German distributor, Ravensberger Handelskontor, so the model appears in blue ‘Masterpiece’ packaging.

Perhaps because this is a commission, their Alfa is not all that strange or unknown like most AutoCults: it’s a BAT 7 from 1954. Here it is with its mini-me (a MicroMachine)!

Then, the same collector (thanks, Harvey) informed me in August that they released the BAT 5 in the same limited series.  After a quick search, I had that BAT in hand as well!

Why is AutoCult doing these now, and will BAT 9 be far behind?

Franco Scaglione designed these three concepts while working  at Bertone  in 1953/4/5.  BAT stands for Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica.  If I remember correctly, they were restored over 10 years ago and are now owned by the same person.  All three were united at Pebble Beach in 2006 (Motor Trend).   As far as I know, the Blackhawk Collection has them now but not on display any more (Petrolicious).  How unfortunate!

I am not sure if this is a global trend or not, bur several art museums here in the USA have presented special art exhibits on car design featuring  the actual concept cars or classic collector cars.   I am aware of the High Museum in Atlanta (2014), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (2015) , and the Frist Museum in Nashville (2016).  I made a special trip to Nashville to see that exhibit because the three BATS were on display!

That was an amazing experience for me.  To absorb all the angles and wings took some time.   I was entranced enough to only get a few quick photos.   I have a few other BATs in 1:43, but to see them in full-scale was a different experience.

Comparison to SMTS

Back in the 1990s, I bought the 5 and 7, and I assume they were fairly new then, by SMTS, 1:43 white metal made in England.  I don’t think they ever did the BAT 9.   Provence Moulage from France also did a 1:43 resin kit of the BAT 9.  Looksmart from Italy might have come out soon after the SMTS with all three, but they were more expensive, and I did not think they looked better than the SMTSs I already had.

Here is the SMTS BAT 7; I hope the green background keeps you awake!  This BAT is an old white metal handbuilt, but it has beautiful paint – a little grayer perhaps than the AutoCult. The SMTS is 1990s white metal technology and really nice, just missing the PE window surrounds, triple wipers, and recessed headlights!

The AutoCult and the SMTS are very similar in scale. The SMTS may be just slightly more narrow in the roof (on the bottom of the photo below).

Comparison to Bizarre

Then, about twelve years ago, Bizarre (a brand made by Spark) brought out all three in resin.  Here is their BAT 5.

Looking at the AutoCult, I am  glad I did not spring for the more expensive Looksmart several years ago! The older Bizarre is more bluish and wider in the photo below.

The Bizarre also has a lower stance and seems meaner. However, the new AutoCult seem closer in color, in stance, and in width. It was 1953 so a pretty high road clearance was probably common.

Their BAT 7 is below with the AutoCult on the right.

On the green background, the colors are about right on the two models. I think the full-size is a bit more bluish, but who knows how many times its been repainted? But without a birds-eye view at the Frist, I am not sure which one is more accurate on shape. The AutoCult/Masterpiece is again much more narrow and closer to 1:43 scale in wheelbase. The Bizarre is closer to 1:42, but is from 12 years ago!

Final Words

In March this year, I attended the 1:43 get-together in Countryside, Chicago.  Harvey brought his Looksmart BAT 7.  So here are all 4 examples together in one place: AutoCult – SMTS – Bizarre – Looksmart!!!

Some people upgrade their collection and dispose of the older one when a better representation comes out.  In this case, I think I will keep all my BATs.  It’s fun to compare and contrast them!

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The Soviet Era START Passenger Van

By John-William Greenbaum, with photos by the author, Robert Brodowski, and Eugen Pedersen

One of the most revolutionary designs to be produced on a somewhat large-scale basis in the USSR was a rather bizarre looking minibus known as a SARB START.

A few years ago, the DeAgostini partworks people brought out a 1/43 version that they called a SARB START passenger van.  It was part of their Autolegends USSR series and sometimes listed as a GAZ START.  Here it is in a nice diorama setting.  It was probably made by IXO.

The actual name is the SARB START (it used a GAZ-M21 engine and running gear). It was pretty much manufactured by two guys in their garage in what is now Eastern Ukraine, but the Soviet Government took notice and proceeded to run the project into the ground in spectacular fashion!

Here is the Spark Models version done for VVM Models.

Next, here is one of the late production versions done by IXO for DeAgostini,

And finally, here is a rare version, handmade in Ukraine by Vector Models, Kherson.

Some History of the Actual Thing

The SARB START was the brainchild of a pair of young designers named A.S. Antonov and Yuri S. Andros.  It had its roots in the early 1960’s in the Severodonetskaya Avtoremontnaya Baza (“Severodonetsk Automotive Repair Center”), better known as SARB, which was a small car, truck, and bus repair facility that typically dealt with a large number of cars produced by GAZ. Severodonetsk is not a very large town and is currently located in Eastern Ukraine.  How this vehicle, therefore, came to the eventual attention of almost everyone in the USSR is a bit surprising, but perhaps it should also be a sign of just how good the design was, at least on paper.

Because SARB typically serviced GAZ vehicles, it should come as no surprise that at the heart of the SARB START is a 70 horsepower, 4-cylinder engine, slightly down-rated (by five horsepower) from what was standard fare on the GAZ-M21I, GAZ-M21L, and GAZ-21R Volga sedans. Also identical was the car’s running gear, and indeed, it had the same wheelbase as the “Volga 21”. However, that was about it in terms of similarities and that’s where the design really started to deviate from the norm not just of Soviet or East Bloc automotive production, but quite frankly all automotive production. A.S. Antonov and Yuri Andros were fascinated by the use of alternative materials to construct vehicles. In mid-1963, while reading about VNIITE’s proposed-but-at-the-time-unbuilt PT Taxi that used fiberglass panels over a steel frame as well as what the East Germans had hoped to accomplish with their Trabant cars made completely of Duroplast (albeit very poor quality Duroplast), the two believed that they could do better by simply building an all-fiberglass vehicle with high-grade fiberglass mixed with granite restoration paste.

Within months, the duo had a 1/10 scale prototype designed and had envisioned how to build it and even use it. Its purposes would be as a combination van, a fixed route taxi, a tourist minibus, and a panel van (the only one of Antonov and Andros’ ideas that would never be realized). By mid-December 1963, Antonov’s design began attracting more than a bit of attention. The Ukrainian SSR’s government also recognized the vehicle’s potential by submitting it without Antonov’s knowledge to the MinAvtoProm (Soviet Ministry of Automotive Production) as an “unofficial” evaluation. When the MinAvtoProm’s bureaucrats, incensed at Nikita Khrushchev for going around them to build the VNIITE PT Taxi, got word of a potential competitor, they co-opted the design and began having stories run in Pravda about the brilliant Antonov and his minibus, which he had dubbed the START. They also began supplying Antonov and Andros with the materials they would need to make the START as a way of getting back at VNIITE.

Yuri Andros, who designed most of the vehicle’s actual body, did so with an eye not toward beauty (indeed, he believed the START to be quite ugly according to an interview), but rather toward reducing drag, yet still keeping a spacious passenger or freight compartment. Despite the ungainly look of the vehicle, it actually had a fairly typical Soviet minibus layout: two front doors, a service door behind the passenger side front door, and also a large, rather spacious trunk. A.S. Antonov, meanwhile, did not believe a front-mounted engine to be safe in a crash test. Therefore, the SARB START would be a mid-engined design; the first and only Soviet minibus to hold that distinction (Save the LASZ “START Luganchyk” and Glavdonbasstroe Donbass, which were descendants of the START.).

While building their first prototype, the two engineers received a rather chilling visit from the KGB: if the design succeeded, they would be obligated to provide SARB START Minibuses to the KGB free of charge. The somewhat apolitical designers quickly said yes in order to save their own skins, with some of the first START minibuses ever built going to the KGB for evaluation purposes. Yuri Andros quickly became convinced that the fiberglass/GRP body was close to indestructible. Getting all the free press he wanted between the MinAvtoProm and Pravda, he arranged to have one of the very first body shells dropped from a height of nearly 40 feet. With cameras rolling, a crane placed on a platform first raised and then dropped the body shell. Although there were obviously dents and scrapes, the fact that the body neither shattered nor crumpled shocked just about everyone present, Andros and Antonov included.

In January 1964, the two men were given the go-ahead to start serial production of the SARB START, as you see it here. And that’s when the roof caved in the entire project. Andros and Antonov had envisioned specific, rather utilitarian roles for the START (as well as being a KGB SIGINT vehicle), but apparently, the Soviet government had absolutely no idea what to do with the design. Instead of Andros and Antonov’s specific wish that it be a combination van first and everything else second, they turned it into a tourist minibus. Indeed, it went quite a bit overboard: three, three-seat sofas were installed inside the back, there were cabinets for dishes, a serving table was placed over the engine access door, and a sink with faucet was placed in the trunk in case anyone needed to wash their hands. A.S. Antonov is said to have remarked “at least they kept the AM radio”, or something to that effect.

Antonov believed the START had turned into something ridiculous and, in an attempt to get the project back on line the way he wanted it to, he formed a second production line in Donetsk called Glavdonbasstroe, trusting Andros to try and keep production going at SARB. Antonov’s production line produced the far more utilitarian but otherwise identical Donbass minibus, which unfortunately has yet to be modeled. The Donbass holds the interesting distinction of being the only “START-type” minibus exported, with at least two going to Poland. The Donbass was never produced in quantity, however, and it eventually ended Antonov’s association with the project.

By late 1965, problems started to be reported with the SARB START Minibus’s body. Andros was confused, given the high-quality fiberglass combined with the GRP paste he’d been given. However, sure enough, on many of the 1965-built STARTs, the body started to become warped. Andros never learned it until many years later, but it turned out that he was being supplied with low-quality fiberglass. The SARB START was also slow to build. By the first few months of 1967 (i.e. when production ended), just over 100 STARTs had been built since 1964.

The production output apparently wasn’t efficient enough for the MinAvtoProm and despite Andros needing help with better quality materials, he never got them due to this reason. By 1967, despite a successful design, Yuri Andros had enough. With funding problems of all kinds cropping up, he turned production over to a fellow by the name of D.A. Melkonov, who built twenty LASZ “START Luganchyk” Minibuses in Luhansk. By adding a better suspension as well as redesigning the hourglass-shaped C-pillar into something far more conventional, Melkonov basically solved all but the problems with low-quality materials. But even then, Melkonov put wood pulp into the fiberglass to prevent warping. However, by this time, it was too late. The MinAvtoProm and most government agencies had withdrawn their support.

The “START-type” minibus was now a thing of the past and neither Andros nor Antonov ever designed another vehicle. When one examines it, however, the SARB START was a terrific idea that was far ahead of its time. Unfortunately, it was too far ahead of its time, in the wrong country, and being produced under the wrong system of government to succeed in any way, shape, or form.

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1991 Alfa Romeo SZ

By Karl Schnelle

For the last couple years, I have driven down to Nashville, TN, in the autumn to drive a car from the Lane Motor Museum.    If you are lucky enough and have the funds, you can sign up for a Rally to drive their cars if you donate a certain amount to the museum.  The museum wins and the participants win!  Plus the cars get to be driven as they should be on the back roads of Tennessee for a day.

Being an Alfafanatic, I saw that the museum had just acquired an Alfa Romeo SZ (Sport Zagato) and it was on the 2018 Rally list!   Somehow, I was so extremely fortunate that I was the first in line for this car.  I got my buddy Skip, a fellow car guy and 1/43 collector,  to co-drive since you really need a navigator to read the Rally book and call out directions. He did not need any convincing!

The museum has a short write-up on the car, so I won’t repeat the whole story.  In 1988, Alfa Romeo and Zagato collaborated on a show car based on the Alfa 75 (Milano) sedan, but with 3L V-6 engine, called the ES-30.  The slab-sided body was a little ‘wedgy’ (it was the 1980s!) and nicknamed “Il Mostro”, the Monster.  Either you love it, or you hate it, as they say.  Enough people liked it that they produced 1000 red examples for sale and 1 black one for Signor Zagato from 1989-91.

The Models

After the Rally, I came home and dug out my SZ models.  I have three or four.  I am mainly a 1:43 guy, so I do not have the 1:18 from BBR Top Marques, the 1:24 Alfa Centenary partwork by Hachette, or the small 1:64 from Kyosho.

Being in the US, Matchbox are common so I do have this little 1:55 Matchbox in all red.  Matchbox made many different ones right after the real one came out.

SMTS in their 1/43 Voiturette series made a very nice white metal version.  I acquired this heavy Monster in 1993, so I did not get the newer handmade resin Make Up model later.

Finally, Spark made both the red and black versions in 1:43 over ten years ago, so I picked up the black one.

Have you seen other SZs out there in model form?  Please let me know.

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Togi History – Part IX

by Karl Schnelle and Koen Beekmann

We are now more than half way through the Togi story! In Part VIII of this series, we looked at the Togi Alfa Romeo Carabo and Montreal.    Now, we will examine the more sedate sedan from the early 1970s.  The actual 1750 Berlina  came out in 1968, and then Alfa Romeo upgraded it to the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder, the 2000,  in 1971.  Production at Alfa lasted until 1977.

In 1972, a year after the Montreal, Togi introduced the 2000 Berlina.   The baseplate is marked “Scala 1:23-8/72”.   The red Togi below was bought in Belgium at the local Alfa dealer in the mid 1990s.

As a side note, my Dad bought a 1972 2000 in the USA new.  I remember it being a metallic light blue.  I don’t remember ever seeing a family photo of it, oh well.

The Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina is perhaps the most beautiful Togi casting.  There are a few different evolutions. The oldest model has 4 opening doors, hood, and trunk.  That 4 door version is special because they seem to be very rare. You usually find the model with only the front doors that can be opened (like the red one above). The model was developed in 1972 and at some point later, Togi decided to simplify the molds and to close those rear doors, unfortunately.

Here are two prototype bodies sitting on a Togi bench (photo from an old 1970’s Alfa Romeo magazine):

It turns out that differences can also be seen in the first version; the hinges on those rear doors were redesigned. The very first version had a base that was part of the bodywork and  the door was hinged to  the body with a thin pin (a kind of clipped pin).  A later version has a kind of (black) bridge that is screwed to the bottom plate by means of 2 screws to which the doors hang.

So there are three different versions and not two. In the photos are three old versions, borrowed from a fellow Alfa Romeo collector (Frank Janssen, with photos by Benjan Spiele).  The dark blue is a special version that has been fitted with other wheels by Togi:

The beige one has the oldest hinge design:

Raw castings of the later version (2 opening doors) were pictured in the Togi article in Quattroruotine magazine N°206, Nov. 1997:

Many different views of a later version one can be seen in the next photo.  The baseplate shows where the two holes for the rear doors were filled in. 

And with all parts opened:

A few special versions exist.  Were they one-off, limited editions, or promotional items?   An early 2000 Berlina with 4 opening doors could be a promo for the Mondialpol security company. Striking is the searchlight on the roof that can not be found on any other Togi. This model was on display ten years ago at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo in Arese. (photo Dinky Boy)

Other specials are the Carabinieri and a Polizia (with Togi scratched off the baseplate).   Was that a prototype from the factory or a 3rd party version?  Who knows.

And finally, here is an early advertisement from a 1973 magazine:

Next in Part X, we will look at all the Togi Alsasud variations!

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