By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of the Author.
After a longer gap than usual the next car in the Atlas UK Deluxe Dinky series has been delivered. This is Dinky France #525 and is a model of the Peugeot 404 Commerciale. This is known to have been made in cream and blue in some numbers and as a rare Pompiers version in red which commands a large price premium. Luckily Atlas has decided to have the model made in blue with a red interior which I think suits it much better than cream. The model is made in China under license from Mattel who own the Dinky brand and is marked as 1:43 scale.
The 404 was styled by Pininfarina and launched in 1960 with the estate coming along in 1962 in three versions, Familiale, Break and Commerciale. The Family version had three rows of seats whereas the other two just had two rows and the Commerciale was designed to capture the commercial travellers market. There was a choice between two petrol engines of 1400 and 1500cc and a diesel of 1900cc. The 404 finally ended production in Kenya in the 1990s so it stood the test of time as a tough car, especially in places where rust was unlikely.
Rear seat upThe Dinky model is nicely reproduced. This model replaced the Peugeot 403 Estate which had been sold since 1959 in 1964. It enjoyed several neat features: the opening rear door will clip into the open position firmly holding the door open. The rear seat can be raised or lowered using a knurled wheels just ahead of the drivers side rear wheel. Some semblance of steering is provided but it is poor, to balance that it is fitted with Dinky France’s jaunty white tyres. The badging is moulded in in a basic manner and there is no paint on door handles or other fitments other than bumpers, side lights and rear light surrounds. The headlights are yellow jewels which reflect what was originally fitted. All true to the illustrations I have seen of the original.
Comments on collectors bulletin boards show that some people are very disappointed with the Deluxe Dinky series and even if they like the models they don’t consider them special enough to match the original way the series was sold. I imagine subscriber numbers are falling jow, especially when DeAgostini sell some of the models directly on their own web site.
Bulletin boards also reveal the fact that Atlas are closing series down all across Europe and are failing to provide all the models released in the series to later subscribers. There are many complaints about the Stobart and UK Dinky Truck Series which appear to be ended for some collectors without several models being supplied. UK wholesalers now seem to have substantial stocks of Atlas models from UK and Continental series so it does seem that the rumours that Atlas are closing down their sales of transport models may not be far from the mark.
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