By Maz Woolley
Photographs of the model by, and copyright of, the Author. Photograph of the real car by, and copyright of, the Car’s owner Robin Allen. Design Cell copyright of Corgi.
From time to time one hears that a particular car has been chosen to be the basis of a model. In this case it was the Volkswagen Beetle owned by South Hants Model Auto Club member Robin Allen. Corgi’s latest Volkswagen Beetle VA01208 is based upon his car shown in the photograph below.
Robin tells of the history of this attractive car.
‘The car was built in May 1957 and shipped directly to London where it was first registered in June 1957. Unfortunately there is no more early history with it, but DVLA records show that by 1966 it had moved to the Portsmouth area. I bought the car in 1989, and having a bit of spare cash from my redundancy at the same time, in 1990 I put it in to a VW specialist in Bournemouth for a bare metal strip and respray. When purchased it had been subjected to a poor repaint in a mid-blue colour although under the wings and interior were still in the original Horizon Blue. Having stripped the car I received a phone call saying “Do you realize how good this car is? There’s practically no rust at all. Can we spend a bit more and lift it off the chassis and clean and detail the underside too?” I agreed. Shortly before all this the engine suddenly began knocking badly and I sourced a spare to keep it going. During the rebuild in Bournemouth they pulled my old engine apart to discover the crankshaft had snapped. I had another spare engine from which the crankshaft appeared ok and my old one was rebuilt. Unfortunately the old engine continued to rumble a bit and leak oil everywhere. Even so I made trips to VW shows in Holland, Germany and around the UK, but the engine really wasn’t happy or as smooth as my other two Beetles’. I intended to get another engine for the car but then I received the “Birth Certificate” from Wolfsburg and was pleased to be told that the car was still running the original engine with which it left the factory in 1957.
Last month I finally took the plunge and sent it off to under go a high quality engine rebuild. Stripped down, I received a call from them to go and have a look.”‘We really don’t know how this engine was still running” was their comment. The centre rib in the crankcase that supports the crankshaft had a huge crack and appeared to be just about to fall apart. The crankshaft had been hammering around with so much play that everything was getting damaged and worn. The sensible answer was to find another engine. The expensive answer was to have the crankcase repaired and machined by a specialist which would cost as much, if not more than the engine rebuild. Having a “matching numbers” car is highly sought after in the VW World and adds a bit to the desirability and value of the car, so I’m having it done. Let’s just hope the most expensive Beetle engine rebuild ever will prove worth it.’
Robin tells us about Corgi deciding to reproduce his car.
“When I was first approached for permission to make this model I was honoured with the idea – I still am. They had seen and photographed the car when it was on the Historic Volkswagen Owners Club stand at the NEC in November 2015, but only approached me about producing a model via the club at the beginning of this year.”
Corgi then carried out their measurements and produced a design cell which Robin has kindly copied for MAR Online and which is shown below.
Original discussions with Corgi indicated that they wished to replicate the blinds over the rear window that are fitted to Robin’s car but in the end these were not replicated. Commenting on the model Robin says:
‘…..the shape of the model isn’t too bad, the Beetle seemingly very difficult to replicate accurately.
Apart from the blinds which did not make it to the Corgi model other features are also missing, or not quite correct, as Robin points out:
(You would need to add) the side-mount radio aerial, the blinds and the centre part of the wheel hubs between hubcaps and rims which should be white. My car also has chrome rim embellishes so you can’t actually see much blue on the wheels on the actual car, unlike the model. The headlights on these Corgi Beetles are a bit disappointing, if you compare their plain chromed blob with the separate lens and rim on other models. My car also has headlight “eyebrows” but I wouldn’t expect anyone to try to model them.
Photographs of the model can be seen below. Please note that the photographs show the model slightly grey in colour, and less blue than it is.
Robin’s comments about the wheels are clearly demonstrated if you compare the photograph of his real car to the picture above. My model also has an issue with the fitting of a hubcap which is far from central.
At the rear the blind is not modelled and the rear lights are pretty poor by today’s standards. A bump with a lick of red paint , rather than a fitted red lens, is now associated with budget models and part works not a full priced model.
The side view shows that Corgi has printed the stone guards fitted to Robin’s model. The rear view mirrors are incorrectly shaped with Robin’s being a rounded wedge shape and the Corgi’s being circular.
Looking inside the car the dashboard is the correct body colour and the steering wheel a nice period white. The cell produced by Corgi records a dark blue for the seats and doors but the seat/interior unit is actually black and the doors have no cards fitted and just show the horizon blue of the painted body shell.
From the front Robin’s criticism of the headlights is justified. Most partwork ranges now have separate headlight lenses as do the generally cheaper Oxford Diecast 1:43 models. It is nice to see that Corgi has printed air vents on the front wings even if they look a little too high to me.
From the rear the correct oval window and venting is modelled and the correct period number plate. The handle to open the engine cover is moulded in and highlighted.
So all in all although the Corgi is not an exact match it does capture the essence of the real car with the main details largely right. With a bit of added detailing I am sure that it will capture Robin’s car very well indeed.
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