By Terry Hardgrave
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
With all toy production halted during World War II, Meccano Ltd. was anxious to start up again, and in early 1946 production resumed, albeit at a fairly low level. At first, almost all of these Dinky Toys were re-issues of pre-war models that were easy to put into production or use up existing stocks of leftover parts. But very quickly, a decision was made to design and build a new series of models, which would feature the latest English production cars, as the automotive industry was also getting back on its feet. New, modern cars were going to be in demand, and young boys would want the latest Dinky Toys that modeled them.
So, starting in 1947, and ending in 1954, ten new models were introduced, which were to prove very popular, and along with new models of American cars, propelled Meccano into it’s best sales years ever by the mid-1950’s. These new models comprised the 40 Series, and along with two other cars labeled 140a and 140b, are the subject of this article. These models were very long lived in the Dinky Toys lineup… they were in production for 7 to 12 years and were arguably one of the most important series of models that Dinky Toys produced. Dinky did a masterful job in modeling each of these to very high standards for that era.
The first 40 series model Dinky Toys introduced, in 1947, was 40a, the Riley Saloon. The real car was a Riley RMA 4-door sedan, which was introduced in 1945 and in production until 1952. This car really retained pre-war styling, and the body was still framed with wood. Dinky Toys finished it in several shades of green, grey, or blue, and it was re-numbered in 1954 to 158. Like most of the 40 series of models, it was discontinued in 1960.
The next model, introduced in 1948, was 40b, the Triumph 1800 Saloon. The real car was also known as the Renown, and it was introduced in 1946 and was famous for its “razor edge styling”. Looking very much like a smaller Bentley, these were comfortable and well built cars, and Dinky was very quick to design and build a model of it. It was offered in grey, black (very rare), fawn, and two shades of blue, and was re-numbered in 1954 to 151. Also in production until 1960. This is my personal favorite of this series of models.
Next was 40e, the Standard Vanguard Saloon, also introduced in 1948. This was a model of a brand new car introduced in England in 1947, and it was made in several different versions until 1963. The early Dinky models had open rear wheel arches and a unique rear axle clip. In 1950, the model was changed to show covered spats or wheelcovers at the rear, and the rear axle clip was discontinued. Colors were several shades of tan, two shades of blue, cream, or maroon. In 1954 it was re-numbered to 153, and it remained in production until 1960.
Next in line for 1949 was 40d, the Austin Devon Saloon. The actual car was called the Austin A-40 Devon and was an all-new design introduced in late 1947. It continued until 1952 when it was replaced by the Somerset model. This Dinky model was also re-numbered in 1954 to 152. Available colors were red, maroon, green, tan, several shades of blue, or a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1960.
1950 saw the introduction of 40g, the Morris Oxford Saloon. The actual car was called an Oxford Series MO and was in production from 1948 through 1954, when it was replaced by the Oxford Series II. Another Dinky Toys re-numbered in 1954 to 159. Colors from Dinky were dark green, fawn, grey, light tan, or a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1960.
40h, the Austin Taxi, was introduced in 1951. The actual vehicle was named the Austin FX3 Metropolitan Taxi and was first shown in 1948, then produced starting in 1949. It was a very popular taxi in London and was made until 1958, when it was replaced by the FX4. Renumbered in 1954 to 254. Colors from Dinky were dark blue, black, yellow and a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1962.
The other model Dinky Toys released in 1951 was 40f, the Hillman Minx Saloon. The actual car, the Hillman Minx Mark IV, was introduced in 1949. Over the subsequent years, several newer versions were built. Renumbered in 1954 to 154. Dinky colors were light or dark tan, pale or dark green, and a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1958.
The last of the 40 series of saloon cars was 40j, the Austin Somerset Saloon, brought out in 1954. It was quickly re-numbered later in the year to 161. The real car was called the Austin A-40 Somerset and was produced from 1952-1954, when it was replaced by the then new Austin A-40 Cambridge. Colors available from Dinky included red, blue, or a later two tone scheme. Also discontinued in 1960.
I have included the next two models, even though they are not technically part of the 40 Series, as shown above. But they were issued at the same time and are also British automobiles of that period, so they rightly belong here.
140a, the Austin Atlantic Convertible, was introduced in 1951 and was the first Dinky Toys convertible to feature a fully detailed interior, including a dashboard. The actual car was labeled the Austin A90 Atlantic and was made in several versions. This was a nice, more sporting car, aimed largely at the US market, but the introduction of the all-new Jaguar XK120 at the same time basically doomed this car to very mediocre sales; it was only made from 1949-1952. Renumbered in 1954 to 106. Dinky Toys produced this in blue, pink, or black, and rare red or medium blue export versions. It was discontinued in 1958.
140b, the Rover 75 Saloon, was also introduced by Dinky Toys in 1951. It was based on the Rover P4 75 model, first shown in late 1949 at the Earl’s Court Motor Show and then available in 1950. It was an upscale automobile, with styling influenced by the early 1950’s Studebaker’s. This version was made until 1954 and was very highly regarded as a quality automobile. Renumbered in 1954 to 156. Dinky Toys colors were maroon, cream, or a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1958.
Footnote: The keen reader will observe that 40c was never issued but was planned to be a Jowett Javelin. 40i was skipped perhaps because it was too similar to the letter j.
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