Category Archives: Alfa Romeo

Merit 1:24 Scale Racing Car Kits

By Aldo Zana

All text, photographs and models by, and copyright of, Aldo Zana.
Reprinted with permission of VeloceToday.com on-line magazine
.

When the editor of Veloce Today was collecting Merit kits in the late
1950s, he could not have known that another writer-to-be was doing
exactly the same thing, at the same time, but in faraway Italy. His
Italian counterpart, Aldo Zana tells us all about these British models.

The whole range of the Merit 1:24-scale plastic kits assembled and painted in period liveries: mid-Fifties. Front line: British F1 and the Jaguar D-Type. Mid row: Italian F1 and Grand Prix racers and the Lotus 11. Rear row: French racers, Mercedes W196, Cooper 500 MkIX and Aston Martin DB3S.

It was hard times in the second half of the Fifties for European kids in love with Formula One and longing to become part of its world by collecting and playing with model racers. We Italians faced especially limited choices: the hard-to-find die-cast Nigam, the elusive Zax, or the old Mercury racers of the Forties: oddly scaled, with questionable faithfulness and tires fit for an all-terrain army truck. The rise of globalisation brought from the UK to the best Italian toy shops the die-cast Dinky Toys and the first Corgi Toys. The former listed obsolete F1/F2 single seaters of the early Fifties in its catalogue. Corgi featured more updated models of British production: however, merely two, already non-competitive in real life against our all-conquering Ferraris and Maseratis after Mercedes-Benz’ withdrawal in 1955. And they looked too small alongside the Dinkies and Mercuries. And then, out of the blue, cameMerit, although quite difficult to locate among the contemporary fast-growing and highly visible offerings of plastic (polystyrene) kits dominated by the leading US brands of Monogram, Revell, and Aurora.

Italian racers of the Forties and Fifties. From the left: Maserati 250F, Maserati 4CLT/48, Lancia Ferrari, Alfa Romeo 158.

In 1957 Merit produced precise 1:24 scale models of current Formula One protagonists: Lancia-Ferrari V8, Maserati 250F, Gordini T-16, as well as milestones of the pre-1952 F1 seasons: Alfa Romeo 158, Talbot-Lago T26, Maserati 4CLT/48 San Remo”. And thanks to a flurry of new offers in a few months’ span, we could also buy and build the emerging British single-seaters striving for the limelight after a decade of playing second fiddle to the Italians in the form of the Connaught B-Type “Syracuse” 1956, BRM P25 1956, and the Vanwall VW4 1956.

It became easier for Italian kids to become loyal to Merit’s growing offer of racing cars. The company enlarged its range with three sports car icons, all made in the UK: the well-known multiple winner
Jaguar D-Type, the lesser known Aston Martin DB3S and the as yet unknown Lotus Mk XI, a name on the verge of becoming a leader.

All British: the three sports cars in the series. From the left: Aston Martin DB3S, Lotus 11, and Jaguar D in Ecurie Ecosse livery.

The Merit kits came from a company called J & L Randall Ltd., based in the town of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, north of London. They were all sold in a standard, nondescript box, the same for every model: small and unappealing at a time when competing US brands already showcased their products on box-lids with colourful and attractive art to win the prime spots in shop windows . The only way to select the right Merit kit was a small label glued on one of the narrower sides.

The Alfa Romeo 158 with the standard box in the background. The box was the same for every kit.

They were quite expensive for the period, too: 1,100 Liras, when
the average monthly salary of a worker was about 45,000 Liras.
By comparison, a Mercury die-cast model racer cost 180 Liras and a Dinky 230-250 Liras.

The kits were moulded in flawless plastic; the surface was so clean and regular that it was possible to skip painting the body. It wasn’t a simple task for a kid to smoothly hand brush the Humbrol enamels; airbrushes for modellers were still a long way into the future. The solvent used at that time by Humbrol allowed, nevertheless, a clean and uniform finish even when working with the brush.

The instruction sheet of the 4CLT/48 Maserati. The front side tells in short the history and the races of the real car, the back side presents a clear illustration of the easy assembly procedure.

Assembly was quite straightforward too: the body was split in two halves, top and bottom. Axles and driver seat had to be glued to the bottom half, other details (exhaust pipes, windscreen, dashboard, steering wheel) to the top section, before joining these two sub-assemblies. Each wheel/tire was moulded in two halves and the tire had to be carefully painted matte black. The spokes were a decal (transfer, in British parlance) to be applied on a little transparent celluloid disc, subsequently set onto the outside of the wheel prior to gluing the hub cap. The quality of the decals was only fair and I preferred to avoid them.

The racing number decals were usually quite hard and dry, prone to
cracking. Yet, it was possible to soften them using highly diluted vinyl glue, given the lack of softening liquids on the market. The instruction sheet had a pedantic list of building steps on the front, ending with the painting scheme, but a clear assembly drawing on the back. More interesting was, at the top of the first page, a short presentation of the real car, a summary of its main successes as well as a basic description of its technical characteristics and performance.

Talbot-Lago T26, 1949, one of the two “super” kits featuring engine detail. The body was left unpainted. Note the smoothness of the plastic injection.

Two kits were super-detailed to include the engine and a removable engine bay cover: the 1950 Alfa Romeo 158 and the 1949 Talbot-Lago T-26 4.5 litre. Both were probably made so detailed because the moulds were already available when pressure to launch new models forced the company to simplify and shorten the production cycle.

The whole range of 1956 F1 and Sports cars went on sale in 1957,
a remarkably short time to market: Lancia-Ferrari, Maserati 250F,
BRM P25, Connaught B-Type “Syracuse”, Gordini T16, Vanwall VW4. A very British choice was the addition of the Cooper 500 Mk IX, 1956.

A tribute to the former German dominance was the kit of the Mercedes-Benz W196, the 1954 road-racing version mistakenly presented as the 1955 model. The Maserati 4CLT/48 was another obsolete racer in the series. The kit didn’t have the inner details of the Alfa Romeo and the Talbot-Lago. It was an unusual selection of a car that wasn’t a winner, yet it was well-known being driven by Thailand’s Prince Bira and Brit Reg Parnell.

A real piece of history outside F1 and sports cars, the Cooper 500 Mk IX, 1956, recalls a glorious period of British racing. Body unpainted.

A final touch of class was the colour of the ink used for the instruction sheets: dark red for the Italians, British Racing Green for the British, blue for the French. The Mercedes sheet fell outside the paradigm, printed in dark blue as the historically correct white or silver would have been impossible to read.

The boxes of the later kits contained a small multi-page
educational leaflet on Motor Racing, a more detailed description of the prototype, and a promotional bottom line advertising the brand of motor oil used in races by the car. The leaflet on the Vanwall doubled to eight pages and ended with a tribute to Tony Vanderwell who “raised the prestige of British Automobile Engineering throughout the world”.

The four-page leaflet in the Jaguar D-Type box. A good recap of the car’s history. Britain still ruled. And the following year it also became true in F1.
Below, all fourteen of the Merit models in individual photos. You won’t see this often!
Vanwall VW4, 1956, when the Brits knocked at the forefront of F1. Decals are original.
1956 Lancia Ferrari. The Merit kits was on sale early 1957, a remarkably short time-to-market.
Gordini six-cylinder F2, 1952. Humbrol paint (“Enamel” on the original British tin) to cover the body.
Alfa Romeo 158 with engine cover removed to show the inner details. The other “super” kit together with the Talbot-Lago
Alfa Romeo 158, 1950, hood in place.
Talbot-Lago T26, 1949. A good representation of the engine.
Mercedes W 196, 1954, open wheel version. Decals are original including the chequered cover of the driver’s seat
The diminutive Cooper Mk IX, 1956. The silver exhaust was easier to paint.
Maserati 4CLT/48 in Argentinian livery, as raced by Fangio in Europe.
Aston Martin DB3S, 1956. The yellow trim is an addition of the kit builder.
Connaught B-Type “Syracuse”, 1956. Quite a rare bird in real and scale model worlds.
Lotus 11, 1956. Airbrush repainted after 60 years when the plastic suffered signs of shrinking.
Jaguar D-Type, 1954. The gap at the rear end of the front section of the body is due to having modified the part to make it tilting forward like the real thing.
Maserati 250F, 1956 version.
BRM P25, 1956. To use the brush for the semi-metallic finish was quite a brave endeavour over- sixty years ago.

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Cult new for 2019

By Maz Woolley

All text by, and copyright of the Author. All photographs provided by the Manufacturer.

Cult models are moulded in resin to 1:18 scale in China and are distributed from the Netherlands. The range policy is to make models of vehicles that have reached cult status. Although most are classic European subjects the range does include some Japanese classics as well.

They have recently announced their new releases for 2019 which are new colours on existing mouldings .

The models span many eras and countries of manufacture. All are of vehicles that influenced design or where popular sellers in their market segment.

CML038-2  Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Zagato silver


CML041-2 Aston Martin DB6 gold 1964


CML044-2 Porsche 356 America Roadster metallic green 1952


CML057-2 Bugatti Type 51 Dubos Coupe black 1931


CML060-2 Rolls Royce 25-30 Gurney Nutting All Weather


CML064-2  Austin Mini Cooper Mark 1 red and black 1961-63


CML074-2 Mercedes-Benz 280SE W126 silver 1980


CML075-2 Mercedes-Benz 380SEC C126 green metallic 1982


CML080-2 Austin 1100 maroon 1969


CML081-2 Land-Rover Discovery Mark 1 silver 1989


CML084-2 Sunbeam Supreme MKIII black 1954

This car is better known here in the UK as a Sunbeam Mark III. Rootes dropped the Talbot name with this model and the ‘Supreme’ tag comes from the radiator badge which says Sunbeam Supreme.


CML091-2 Triumph Spitfire Mark II red


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Mercury La Collezionne Part Three

By Fabrizio Panico

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

Here we have the latest parts, #4 to #6, in the Mercury partwork collection being sold in Italy by Hachette.

No. 4 is the Lancia D24, a 1:43 scale model from 1957. A simple model, but very faithful to the real one. Proving this is the inclusion of the small air scoop over the right headlight.

Alas, they didn’t add the windscreen and the rear lights. But it is a worthy reproduction of a car that won so many races, from the 1953 Carrera Panamericana, to the 1954 Mille Miglia and Targa Florio.


No. 5 is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta saloon, in a rare two-colour livery, very likely available originally only on the Swiss market as it was produced at the special request by the Swiss importer, Count Giansanti Coluzzi.

The real car was never offered by Alfa Romeo with a two-tone finish, but some were painted like that by Italian coachbuilders. The Giulietta is a 1:48 scale model from 1956, and the Hachette reproduction is faithful to its first version, where the headlights are like small aluminium nails, inserted into the body.


No 6 is a Volkswagen Beetle in PTT livery. The Beetle was a ‘must’ for all toy car ranges from the early 1950s onwards. Models in the PTT livery have featured in many ranges right up to the current date.

The Volkswagen Beetle was introduced into the Mercury range as model #15. This was produced in several colours with three shades of blue alone! The model represents a 1954 oval rear window Volkswagen and #15A was the same casting finished in PTT livery. There were variations on this model with Paolo Rampini‘s Modelcars in the World showing models with different colour tyres: black and grey tyres. Hachette has chosen to use black tyres and has created a convincing replica.

The next model due in the collection with be the Lancia Appia.


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Alfa Romeo Guilia Part Four

By Robin Godwin

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

Finally we’ll look at one of Italy’s older toymakers, Mercury, and a relative newcomer, Mebetoys. With lots of time to examine real prototypes, and for Mercury at least, with many years of diecast experience behind them, one would expect nothing short of perfection. Alas, these two examples are among the worst.

Mercury #4 was introduced in 1965, according to Mercury Tutta la Produzione, by Bocco, Clemente, Coen, Pereo and Pontoni, published in 2005. It is identified as a Giulia Super on the box, but as a Giulia TI on the base (Alfa Romeo made a Giulia TI, a Giulia TI Super, and a Giulia Super, all different). Perhaps pedantic, but according to Wikipedia, the Giulia TI Super was a special lightened road going (but produced for racing) version introduced in 1963. Only 501 were built, all white save for one red and one grey version. They were easily identified by having mesh grills in place of the inner two headlights, and no overriders on the bumpers. The Giulia Super was introduced at the March 1965 Geneva Auto Show and was a regular road-going sedan that incorporated some of the performance features of the earlier Giulia TI Super. My guess is the tooling was underway for a regular Giulia TI when the Giulia Super was introduced at Geneva. It was easy to change the box printing to give the impression that they were first with the latest model, but they never updated the base of the model. That said, they also managed to put a three-spoke plastic steering wheel into the interior, which was a standard Giulia Super feature. But that is the only discernable feature in 1:43. Enough history. The model is otherwise pretty abysmal with half opening doors and a totally incorrect rear window profile. They completely missed the notchback styling with wrap around rear window. The top rear passenger side window profile is incorrect as well, being too rounded.

A Super box but with a TI inside. Colour illustration shows a properly drawn rear notchback whereas line drawing shows the incorrect lines actually modelled

The model comes with opening doors and a separate detailed engine part underneath the opening bonnet. Jewelled headlights adorn the front but rear lights are painted. There is a separate oil pan/ transmission housing casting screwed into the base plate. Bumpers are separate chrome plastic pieces. There is a reasonable attempt at the Alfa Romeo steel wheels. That they are chromed is a good thing, as that provides a barrier between plastic wheels and rubber tires. There is evidence of wheel melt on the inner surfaces of my wheels, but that does not affect displayability.


Totally wrong rear window treatment. Correct-for-a-Super three spoked steering wheel just visible here. I have seen a white steering wheel version on eBay but could not tell if it was two spoke or three spoke

Mercury issued a rallye Giulia version, also as model #4 in 1971. Bumpers were removed with the holes thru the body filled in, and additional spotlights were cast in the grill. Jewelled headlights were deleted, but the remainder of the casting looks unchanged. I have seen one of these on eBay for hundreds of euros, possibly the most expensive early Giulia you can buy. I have seen replacement racing decals online, so caution must be exercised if one is in the market for an original version. Although the Mercury scale is listed as 1:43, it is noticeably larger than the Edil and French Dinky 1:43 versions. The wheelbase is exaggerated, being longer than the (claimed) 1:42 Mebetoys and also longer than the two 1:41 plastic models from Politoys and INGAP, so something was amiss at the design stage.


Mercury Giulia rallye version (photo: from internet search)

Mebetoys was the most prolific of the early Giulia modelers, producing a regular TI in many versions starting in 1966, a Giulia Super from 1968, and later, a Nuova Giulia with horrible whizzwheels from 1978. I have not seen in the flesh a Giulia Super from Mebetoys and suspect it may be a nomenclature version (or just the addition of a three spoke steering wheel). The Nuova is a casting change. If anybody has a Super, can they please send a photo to the editor. I have seen a Nuova with earlier more accurate wheels on eBay, but suspect it may be a fake. The base on the Mebetoys attaches with screws, so all bets are off when it comes to purported wheel and interior colour variations.

Mebetoys A7 Giulia TI Carabinieri with early domed wheels from 1967. Body shape is just too squared and casting is a bit rough

The model came with opening front doors, less quarter windows, chromed plastic bumpers, front and rear, a chromed one-piece plastic insert for the headlights and grill, and working suspension. There were no jewelled headlights, like most of the other models in this review. The scale is cast as 1/42 on the base, and when placed alongside the French Dinky and Edil, seems about correct – the Mebetoys has a slightly longer wheelbase and body. Curiously, the box is marked 1/43.

Mebetoys base with SCALA 1/42 cast in
Mebetoys box indicating 1/43

I don’t have a later variation of the model, so cannot say if the scale on the base was eventually changed to match the box, or vice versa. The improved wheels appeared sometime after 1967, which was the issue date of the model pictured. They look to be quite accurate renditions of the Alfa Romeo steel wheels.

Mebetoys, left, and Mercury. This picture does not really show the size difference between the two

I talked about the Edil moulds moving to Turkey, but of course it is well known that Politoys  (plastic, fibreglass, and metal) and Mebetoys moulds also travelled to different countries. However, I have never seen a Giulia TI from these early issues reproduced in their new homes. If any reader has proof otherwise, please send a photo to the editor.

So there is a summary of the contemporary models issued shortly after the first Giulia TI rolled off the assembly lines. We have highlighted six companies that produced miniatures, some very well, and others less so. I was fortunate to start collecting these in the eighties, since they have more recently become extremely sought after and, accordingly, very expensive.


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Retromobile 2019

By Fabrizio Panico

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

Once again February brings us back to Paris, both for Retromobile, and for the traditional auctions of Artcurial, RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams, a visual overdose enriched by a certain elegance, even if you start to perceive some slight fogging due to the changing tastes of the public. On the other hand it is for the market to dictate the show and not our personal interests.

This year Paris greeted us with windy days, but fortunately without the snow of last year. Alas the defections of the big automakers continue from their previous showcase of the Champs Elysées. First Citroen, Mercedes and Toyota left, now Peugeot has left its showroom too, leaving only Renault in the place that was a symbol of French motoring. How much longer before there are no showrooms on the Champs Elysées?

As usual, the Parisian show has attracted fans from all over the world. It is rich in novelties, celebrations of anniversaries, and exhibitions dedicated to specific brands. Even here there were alternate presences and absences: FCA is back, the absence of Mercedes-Benz is alas confirmed. Brand and/or model clubs attend in abundance, although their grouping together in Hall 3 reduces their presence a little.

Big celebrations took place of the centenary of Citroen with a great review of cars and prototypes, unfortunately narrow corridors meant the exhibits were difficult to walk around. Peugeot was a little poorly represented , maybe we had become used to better shows in previous years, whilst Renault chose to devote itself entirely to the ‘Turbo Years’, with the result of a series of cars of relative ‘aesthetic’ interest.

The general impression was of a reduced presence of real “vintage” cars in flavor of newer ‘classics’, which are evidently the most requested by the public today. This is the market! Fortunately the Teuf Teuf Club and the Compiègne Museum exhibited a rich collection of De Dion Bouton vehicles, while a specific exhibition was dedicated to the Bédélia, a classic of French cyclecars.

Another ‘gem’ on show was the monstrous Berliet T100, a giant destined for the African deserts and whose journey from Lyon to Paris constituted an adventure, considering its dimensions are ‘out of the norm’.

A rich collection of motorcycles from Gnome & Rhone was on show, as well as a display of the Citroen DS Chapron, in all their variants. Honda was celebrating the twenty years of the S2000 (too new in the Author’s opinion to be at such a show). The long suspension bridge between Hall 1 and 2 housed the Mini exhibition, celebrating their 60 years. There was an interesting cutaway Mini, but perhaps they could have included more variants : the Moke and the Mini Marcos appeared a bit lonely. As usual, the Saumur museum presented two tanks, a Sherman and a Panzer IV.

After lookinmg at all the displays there were plenty of opportunities to spend your money. There were many Dealers with their “jewels” and of course scale models, spare parts, books, and accessories. Add to that the wide range of goods from the many artists and artisans.

Again a show not to be missed where there is so much on offer that everyone can find lots of interest. The photographs below show some of the highlights of the show.

Citroën – 100 Years Display


Citroen GS Camargue Bertone 1972


Renault 1000kg Voltigeur 1956


Delahaye 135 M Figoni Falaschi 1946


BMW 320 Group 5 Junior Team 1977


Alfa Romeo 750 Competizione 1955


Lancia Rally 037 1982


Abarth 1000 monoposto record 1960


Jensen CV8 Mark III 1965


Classic early Léon Bollée advertising material


Wolseley Hornet Mark III 1969


Gnome Rhone motorcycle and side car outfit


Bédélia BD2 1912


Tiffany Golden Spirit 1986


Alfa Romeo 8c 2900 B Berlinetta Touring 1939


Scale Models Club display on the theme – Peugeot


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Alfa Romeo Giulia Part Three

By Robin Godwin

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

1966 saw a giant in the industry, French Dinky Toys, and a newcomer, Edil Toys of Italy, enter the Giulia TI fray with the best two miniatures in this review. Both were produced to 1:43 scale and both got the complex lines of the car almost perfect, and way better than the competition. French Dinky is actually the only company that got the most major details correct, by which I mean they included the quarter window frames, which nobody else did. Unfortunately, the only thing that spoils the Dinky is the standard dished wheel, common at the time. However, it features well fitting opening hood and trunk (bonnet/boot), along with driver and passenger side windows that operate. Suspension, the fairy crude but effective Dinky steering, and jeweled headlights/ruby taillights clearly place this model in the late 60s. Bumpers and grill are part of the body casting which has generated some unsightly casting join lines on the body. One year later, Dinky released a Rallye version, #1401, in red with period decals, and a casting variation to the front grill, incorporating extra spotlights, also jeweled. Both of these versions have been reproduced accurately in the Atlas Dinky series, nice alternatives to the now very expensive originals.

Original French Dinky #514 was also available in metallic grey. Right is the Atlas reproduction #1401 Rallye version. The Atlas is a much cleaner casting with no mould join lines visible. Tough to see in the photo, but mould lines aft of the headlights on the fender, and aft of the rear door panel are evident on the original
Again, the original casting showing some rough edges, whereas the Atlas is beautiful and smooth. Atlas, similar to Dinky, also went to the effort of modifying the die to incorporate additional headlights on the Rallye version. Note bumpers and grill cast as part of the body

The Edil Toys Giulia Polizia, #5 in this small Italian range, is an absolute gem, with everything opening and accurate wheels (with no axle protrusions on the early versions. An Italian website shows protruding axles on a later version), only missing the quarter window frames. While most others in this comparison (Politoys and, to come, Mercury) only did “half doors,” Edil modelled the window surrounds. It also features suspension, but no steering. Rear taillights are the most accurate of the lot, if only represented by decals, a point to note when buying online. The engine representation under the bonnet is a separate insert (unlike the Dinky which is part of the body casting), and is done in silver. I can’t really tell is this is plastic or metal, but the fine engine detail makes me lean towards plastic. It is much more detailed than the French Dinky engine representation.  Bumpers and grill are separate chromed plastic pieces. Front seat backs also tilt forward, and all four doors have inner door panels in plastic. A note of caution is that the rear plastic inner door panel is part of the door hinge structure, so careful handling is required. If the plastic were to be damaged, the door would not sit correctly. Only the oversize antenna and lack of quarter window frame detract, but the regular sedan, ie, the non-police version (#4), would be close to perfection for its time.

Two “Goldilocks” models – just right. Edil Polizia, left and French Dinky sedan

The regular Edil sedan came in several colours. Edil’s previous history involved plastic construction buildings, similar to LEGO. Edil jumped into the diecast market at that period when manufacturers were competing with operable features. They clearly had to be special to take on the likes of Mercury, Politoys, and Mebetoys. Hence, everything opened, including all four doors for the appropriate sedans in the range. However, they did not survive, with production ceasing in 1968, and the dies passing to Orfey of Turkey. As is usually the case with second owners of the dies, the Orfeys were a bit cruder, and came with “Whizzwheel” style wheels. Bases were modified, but some apparently still had Made in Italy cast in. Anything Edil is now very difficult to find and expensive to acquire. Despite the Orfey Giulia having bad wheels, it is even more difficult to find and more expensive that the original Edil.     

Nicely actuating doors with no “dogleg” hinges. Better than lots of larger scale stuff available today
Taillights are decals on the Edil, as is the Polizia 777 plate. Dinky has ruby taillights

An Orfey Giulia TI from original Edil moulds. Simplified a bit with non-chrome bumpers and grill, but everything still opens

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Togi History – Part X

by Koen Beekmann and Karl Schnelle

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Authors unless otherwise stated.

We have now come to the tenth part in this long series about the 1:23 scale Togi models made in Italy. The very first part was published back in Aug 2017, and the previous part was about the 2000 Berlina in Sep 2018. Now we move on to the Alfasud and its variations.

To bring employment to the south of Italy, the Italian government decided to have Alfa Romeo open a plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, a suburb of Naples. The first Alfa from the South, the Alfasud, was produced in 1972. The last ‘Sud’ come off the production line there in 1984. Today, Fiat makes the Panda in the same plant!

Togi introduced their ‘Sud’ soon after in 1974. The first version had four opening doors, just like Giulia and the 2000 Berlina. This version is shown below on top of the box on the left in light blue. The beige-yellow one on the right is the Alfasud L, introduced by Togi in 1978.

Photo copyright Benjan Spiele

What is striking is the large number of small differences between the first Alfasud and the Alfasud L. The bodywork is different in many details: the bonnet mounting and the bonnet itself, the grill, headlights and Alfa shield, the Alfasud script on the back, the bumpers now with overriders, and the fastening of the hinged rear doors and thus also the bottom plate. In addition, the seats now have headrests. 

On the right the oldest Alfasud, on the left the later Alfasud L. See the different grills, headlights, bumpers and seats: 

Lots of small things were changed that you could easily overlook.  Why put so much energy into such small details? That is a question we would like to answer.

The different scripts on the back and the bumpers with over-riders are shown below. 

With the 4-door Alfasud, you see the same development work on the rear doors as with the Berlina. Here too, the second version of the Sud has a black bridge on which the doors are attached. The beige one shown below is the newer L version, the blue the oldest version.

The different bottom plates are shown below; the newer Alfasud L in beige on the top has 2 holes in the baseplate where the rear door posts attach.

Finally, the different bonnet hinges are shown below. The one in front is the oldest version; the rear one is the L. Both bonnets are fully open. The different headlights, bumpers and front seats are also clearly visible.

Photo copyright Benjan Spiele

The reason for all these changes could be that it is done on behalf of their largest customer: Alfa Romeo.  Togis were shown in the accessory catalog of this Italian brand for many years. On the other hand, the owner may have wanted to innovate which could have also played a role.


The four-door Sud has been out of production for many years.  Why did Togi switch to a two-door version, the second generation Sud TI? Perhaps the molds had been lost at the injection molding company (where the castings were outsourced to a nearby, small company). When the current owner took over Togi in 1995, he tried to get all the molds from the various local casting companies into his own hands. Unfortunately a few were missing, making these 4-door models more rare and expensive.

So at some point after 1995, the two-door Alfasud Ti was introduced, even though the last Alfasud rolled off the assembly line in 1983! In the first photo above, the dark blue model under the box is the Ti version. It seems all the revisions that went into the L version are still present. Even the baseplate has the 2 holes for the rear door posts, even though it no longer has those doors! The main difference in the front are the twin headlights, as shown below.

In the back, the difference is the script and the rear spoiler, which is a separate piece fit into a new groove in the casting. The photo shows the bonnet fully extended like the Alfasud L version. This version is currently available in multiple colors and decals on the Togi website.


A while ago, the first author was dreaming about non-existent or future Togi’s. He decided to see what they would look like. After a little Photoshop (more than 50 layers each), this is the result: two Sud variations.  It was just a nice exercise and is nothing more than a little practical joke. So please do not search for these non-existent Togi’s!!!

The Togi Sud that these were based on lacks a steering wheel and a driver’s seat, which made the Photoshop’s even more challenging.


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Autocult News December 2018/January 2019

By Maz Woolley

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

December 2018

A glitch means that the December announcement by AutoCult did not arrive in the editor’s email. As there were some interesting models announced we have summarised them here.

#05024 Bentley Type R Gooda

This model is of a sports racer built on a Bentley R type chassis in 1966. It was created for Robert (Bob) Gooda by Peel Coachworks who fitted it with a shorter fastback body with a significantly lower weight, Bob Gouda gave the racer its only public outing at the Bentley Driver’s Club race that was held at the Silverstone circuit in August of 1967. In the hands of co-owner Brian Dumps, the car started with race number 21 and did its laps on the wet racetrack.


#06028 Skoda 440 Spartak Polytex

In 1955 Škoda launched the Type 440 sedan and it remained in production with evolutionary upgrades until 1971. Once in production an idea was developed to build a sports version and Czeck architect Otakar Diblik was commissioned to design a suitable car body.

The new body was in fibreglass hand laid in one piece. The doors and hood were formed as separate pieces fitted to the main body. A removable roof was fitted that used Plexiglass, which was completely clear. With a total weight of only 56 kg (123.2 pounds), the body was very light. The prototype used the standard 1,089cc Skoda four cyclinder engine with only 40HP and the car struggled to go faster than 70MPH. The warping of the body lead to the exrcise being consigned to history and the project car was left in a boiler room. Today, the prototype has been restored in a form very close to the original, although the roof is different.


#09009 Berggren Future Car

In 1951 28 year old Swede Sigvard Berggren started to create a car based upon his own futuristic vision. The base was a chassis from a 1938 Dodge originally used on a taxi. Berggren and his assistant, Lennart Josefson, welded a tubular structure made from lightweight steel tube based on contemporary aircraft construction. The framework also acted as a roll cage in the event of an accident. Shaped body panels were fitted over the steel structure and the result looked like an aircraft without wings. The driver sat ahead of the front wheels and the large air intakes fitted to each side provided cooling for the 100HP flathead Ford V-8 engine.

As often happens, the novelty wore off and the owner lost interest with the car being passed to the Museum Svedinos in Ugglarp, Sweden.


January 2019

The announcements for the first release of 2019 are another set of curiosities. Ranging from the streamlined Horch 930 S Stromlinie through a Cadillac Coupe de Ville prototype from Raymond Loewy to a South American small series car the FNM Alfa Romeo Furia G.


Horsch 930S Streamliner

Initially shown at the 1939 Berlin Motor Show this vehicle showcased Horsch ability to create a streamliner, a style that was very fashionable in Germany due to the new Autobahns which allowed journeys to be made at high average speeds. The car was fitted with luxury touches like a radio and a sink!

The Second World War stopped production after two or three were made and a couple with modified front ends were built from parts in 1945. But at that point the Zwickau was part of the DDR and such luxury cars were no longer any priority for the newly nationalised car industry.


Cadillac Coupe de Ville prototype Raymond Loewy

Raymond Loewy the well know US car designer designed this car to appear at the 1959 Paris motor show. Based on a standard Cadillac Coupe de Ville the cars body work was largely re-created in only a few days by a French coachbuilder Pichon-Parat. After the show Loewy drove the car round Europe bringing it back to the US. The car has recently been fully restored to show condition.


FNM Alfa Romeo Furia G.

FNM ( Fábrica Nacional de Motores ) made Alfa Romeo cars under license in their factory in Rio de Janiero. With models based on the 1900 saloon being a strong seller in the local market. In 1968 Alfa Romeo actually bought FNM from the Brazilian state.

The Furia was made after came about after a tie-up with
Tony Bianca of Comionauto another local factory, who made his own sports model to compete in Brazilian races. The Alfa tie-in was based on the FNM 2000 chassis and a handful of prototypes were made of this pretty car before Cominauto terminated the project.

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More on Mercury Partwork

By Fabrizio Panico

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

Questions have been asked about the baseplates on the reproduction Mercury Models being sold as partworks in Italy by Hachette.

The first model in the series is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta shown above and its baseplate is as shown below. NB the axle retainers replicated from the original. The base cannot be confused with one on the original model as the copyright has been altered, Hachette’s name added, and ‘Made in China’ stated clearly.

The attached magazine shows a clear picture of the original baseplate on a ‘real’ Mercury model. which lacks the A.P. next to the logo, Hachette’s name, and has ‘Made in Italy’ included.

Collectors often wonder about these replicas being passed off as originals. Here any collector with any interest in Mercury models would quickly see that this is a replica and not the original model.


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Alfa Romeo Giulia Part Two

By Robin Godwin

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

As alluded to in Part 1, next up is the Politoys Giulia TI in 1:41 scale plastic. Most collectors know that Politoys started in plastic, and had a brief foray into “Fibre-glass” (actually resin and I’m pretty sure there were no “glass fibers” used) before settling on diecast metal. I’m not sure where the scale of 1:41 comes from; it could be as simple as a response to the use of the scale by INGAP. In any case, Politoys labelled many of their early plastic vehicles as 1:41, but issued many of the models in totally different scales. The early “Veicoli Militari” series is a prime example (covered in an early print MAR). That said, the Giulia seems to be correct in scale as it compares favourably to the INGAP, and is slightly larger than their 1:43 metal version issued a couple of years later. (I must emphasise that I am not a diehard scale checker).

Rampini lists 1964 as the year of issue for the plastic Giulia. I don’t think it captures the style of the original as well as the INGAP, nor do any of the subsequent metal issues from Politoys. To me, the roof is too tall, making the windows too big. It includes many of the features prevalent on contemporary models: glazing, a full interior, jewelled headlights, separate chrome pieces, and suspension. There are no opening features, likely due to strength considerations of the small plastic components that would have been involved. I have always been impressed with the stability of the plastic used by early Politoys. This one features no warping at all, but does suffer from some post-manufacture shrinkage evident in the slight deformation seen in the door panels.


Politoys, left, roof too high. INGAP, too low. A Goldilocks model (‘just right’) comes later

Roof appears too tall. Plastic shrinkage has led to deformation on door panels

It would seem that Politoys quickly discovered the wisdom of diecasting in metal, especially as the toy car market was now demanding a variety of operating features and manufacturers were competing with more and more opening parts. The plastic models had no opening panels; the ‘fibreglass’ models had some (and note, there was no ‘fibreglass’ Giulia), but the big change came with metal toys, and the Politoys M series of models in “proper” 1:43 scale, which first appeared in 1965. There was certainly some overlap between all three mediums (plastic, fibreglass, and metal), but metal was the future.

A completely remastered Giulia TI appeared in metal in 1966, as number 523, with opening front doors (half doors, with no window frames), hood and trunk. Typical of the diecasters art of the time, the opening features spoil the lines somewhat. In reality, the rear window is a beautiful wrap around affair, but Politoys managed to square it off at the corners, which really detracts from the rear view. The A pillars are sloped back a little too far; the real vehicle had a more upright windshield profile. Alfa Romeo and Giulia TI are cast into the back of the trunk lid, albeit, overscale. A Carabinieri version was issued in 1967 as number 531 in the M series, with antenna and roof light. The base casting was changed to reflect the new number.


Politoys 523, rear. A move to metal and 1:43 scale didn’t necessarily improve the overall representation of the Giulia. Exaggerated slope of front windscreen evident on the metal model

“Squaring” of rear window can be seen on the metal version at right

Politoys 523, left and Carabinieri version, 531 on the right. Same casting except for antenna and light holes, and model number on the base was changed

Polistoys introduced the Penny range in 1966, about the same time as the Impy Roadmasters Super Car range from Lone Star. These cars provided competition for Matchbox and were done to a constant scale of 1:66, unlike the other two whose scales varied. The Pennys had lots of opening features, but were not nearly as feature laden as the Impys. Shortly after their introduction, the range was rationalised, and simplified with the loss of opening features. An early catalogue illustrates (as in a diagram) model #0/41 Giulia with opening doors, along with #0/47, a Carabinieri version. However, it was caught up in the rationalisation process and was eventually released in 1968 (after Politoys had become Polistil) as #0/201-A. The Carabinieri version was never released. It is easy to tell that the model is a Guilia, but that is about as generous as one can get. The front windshield is even more sloped than the 1:43 versions, and the interior lacks a steering wheel. Oddly, bonnet and boot shut lines stand proud, while the door lines are indented, with bigger gaps for the front doors. It is possible that the dies had been cut for the original plan of opening front doors, but were reworked when the range was rationalised. Rear and front bumpers, along with grill and headlights are all one chromed casting, making the front end appear way too bright. Wheels are common across the range, a generic (and wrong for this model) set of simulated wire wheels.


Front windshield slope on the Penny Giulia is just plain bad modelling. Note more pronounced front door gaps. Front door side trim is misaligned with the rest of the trim on the 1:43 version

Politoys/Polistil produced other Giulias as well – a 1:20 scale plastic model, a slightly-smaller-than-1:43 estate (station wagon, or familiare), mostly in emergency/police versions (the estate was bodied by Carrozzeria Colli of Milan) in the AE series from the 70s (a nasty model all round, with bad whizzwheels), and a 1:55 Nuova Giulia 1300 from the RJ Series dating from the 80s, also with whizzwheels. It should be noted that many early Politoys dies travelled to Mexico, and were subsequently produced as McGregor Politoys. Plastic, resin and metal models were included, as well as Penny. I have no conclusive evidence to prove that any Giulia die travelled to Mexico, but a Dutch Alfa Romeo Forum shows photos of a McGregor Politoys 1:43 Giulia Carabinieri in its box, but not the base of the model. Another site, worthpoint.com (similar to eBay), shows a McGregor Politoys #523 sedan exactly the same as the one pictured above, but the description goes on to say that McGregor imported Made in Italy Politoys, and boxed and sold them as McGregors for awhile. This model was one of those.   

To be continued…


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