Corgi Take-Off Wheels, Part II

BY STÉPHANE PELLISSIER.  EDITED BY KARL SCHNELLE

The following story contains more musings and thoughts by the author on one of his favorite model car ranges. Another version of the story can be found in French at www.corky.fr . Part I of this series is on the Rolls Royce .

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This is really a “backwards” article because the Corgi Toys I am discussing now is in fact the very last one of the Take-Off Wheels range. The #300 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe was launched one month after the Rolls-Royce and just two years after the very first model. Though I’m a Rolls-Royce collector (but not so strict anymore!), I find this the most charming and accomplished model of the entire range. Its features, as well as its delicate engraving and its faithful lines, make it a must have 1970’s model car. Sold in large numbers as were the other Take-Off Wheels models, it was only sold for a very short time.
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Its lacquer paint I had always considered in very bad taste, but now seems to please me more and more. This green lacquer is perfect for this model. It’s a technical exploit, given that this model was a mass produced little toy made to 1:46 scale. As I said, the engraving is very fine, as can be seen on the side gills (grills?) that are topped by the “Stingray” monogram.

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My model was part of a two model lot sold by an American auctioneer. I only was interested in the other nice model, a English car. No doubt I would immediately sell the Corvette, after having received the two Corgi Toys. But after opening my parcel from across the Atlantic and taking the Corvette in my hand, I was conquered. Really, there was no doubt that I had to keep it! Today, this green Corvette has the top place in my collection. Homogeneity, that’s the word that describes it, even if the rear is the most successful part. Not exactly the most faithful model today, it was with no hesitation the most beautiful 45 years ago. This rear view glorifies the Corvette lines, made of a subtle mixture of curves and brute force. Jewelled rear lights are delicate and perfectly mounted, and depending on the way the light falls on them they can look real! They were made to do that, but we could have think that a so glossy a paint would have limited the lights shiny effect. No fear, it seems that each one supports the other.

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The front part is also worth a view, because the headlights are the jewel type as well. As they are in the real vehicle, they’re foldaway. A little mechanism, under the car, allows the lights to be up or down. This front part is all the more worth our interest because of its flat black bonnet, opening to reveal a fully detailed engine. There, we see black plastic mixed with a mazak casting that is chromed. This engine seems to be ready to propel this car on its wide tyres.

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Perhaps the wheels aren’t big enough to fill the arches, but the Vette still looks aggressive. That’s a necessity! If I could mention what I don’t like I would talk about the interior compartment. There is no room between the seat and the steering wheel, which is a separate part. So it’s impossible to put a driver in there. You could reply that there are no opening doors, so there is no way to get a driver in there anyway! However, there is a somewhat incredible feature for this 45-year old toy: a removable T-top (T-bar), in two parts!

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Did I promise you to show you how the Take-Off Wheel system works? The hubs have a hole in their back that allows them to fit onto wheel axle. The hub axle has a groove. This allows the wheel to stay on its axle and not to fall of the car, because then they are restraints on the car chassis, when the lever is lowered. That is so simple an idea that someone just had to think about it and then … manufacture it! On a closer view, the short axle is a single piece. When you press on a wheel the opposite one goes the opposite way. The car has suspension. Obviously!

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My model really has Golden Jacks. As I am French, I asked myself about the meaning of Golden. Some cars have jacks that are gold color, some don’t (are they Silver Jacks?). But could golden also mean lucky? As in case of a flat tyre, the driver has a jack all ready to go, to change the wheel. Could this not but add lots of play value? We can make all kinds of scenes. So I won’t mention the puncture at Fontainebleau again!

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