by Alberto Spano (Trans. and Ed. Karl Schnelle)
Dugu produced two series of model cars. Part II of these articles concentrates on the first range, called the MiniautoToy Series. Two types of boxes and all 24 models are described and pictured below.
MiniautoToy Series – The Boxes
The first type boxes were cardboard with two circular windows on opposite sides in order to see the color of the model inside. The same heat-sealing material for the windows, were very fragile. The boxes were customized to individual model: the item number was printed in a colored circle and the type of model was written in white on a yellow rectangle. Exposure to sunlight fades the yellow rectangle making it unreadable. The little car was held in place by a thin strip of soft foam or small pieces of the same material.
The first boxes were of two different sizes: big, pictured above (Itala “Palombella”), or small, pictured below (Fiat 3.5 HP).
Using this same type of box, Rio were initially marketed by Dugu. In that case the item number used the letter “R” at the beginning.
The second type box is composed of a transparent plastic case with colored plastic base, contained in an outer box with a large open side. The excessive size of the opening made the outer box easily torn. For this reason it is sometimes difficult to find one in good condition.
The box came in two different sizes: large models (Duesenberg pictured above) and small models (Fiat 509, Fiat 3.5 HP, …). The model was held in place by pads or rubber bands). These boxes were generic: the model name was found on a label applied to the case, visible through the window (pictured below, Fiat 509).
MiniautoToy Series – The Models
Twenty-four models were released from 1962-1971.
1 FIAT TIPO 4 (COPERTA) 1911-1918
Coperta means closed top, which was held on by two, real leather straps. Diecast zamak body with plastic parts ans rubber tires. The model was produced in three different colors: red brick, dark green, and gray. The fenders, the interior and the soft top are always black. Introduced 1962.
2 LANCIA LAMBDA TIPO 67 HARDTOP 1925
The model was produced in different colors: red lacquer, dark green, beige, sand yellow, and light gray. The fenders, the interior and roof are always black. Introduced 1962.
3 FIAT TIPO 4 (SCOPERTA) 1911-1918
This is the open (scoperta) version of # 1. Same colors were offered. Introduced 1963.
4 FIAT 130 HP F2 “GRAND PRIX” 1907
A splendid model with a wealth of detail: instrumentation, chain drive, leather hood strap, copper coils and fuel lines, brass fittings,, side panels made of canvas, rubber grooved tires. One color choice: red, but there are three versions of the base depending on how much writing is there. Introduced 1964. Also was sold or given away in the US in the Brown Box series.
5 LANCIA LAMBDA TORPEDO 1925
Open version of # 2 with a nice instrument panel. In the same five color choices. Introduced 1964.
6 ITALA 35/45 HP “PALOMBELLA” 1909
The nickname “Palombella” was coined by Queen Mother Margherita of Savoy, who owned one of these Italas. The model was produced in only one color:very dark green with black roof. The seat, rear fenders, running boards and the seats are always black. Silver accessories. Introduced 1965.
7 ITALA 25/35 HP (COPERTA) 1912
More leather straps to hold down the roof! The model was produced in a unique combination of colors: bright red, white convertible top, and blacks seats and fenders. Red wheels. Note the very spectacular serpent horn! Introduced 1965.
8 ITALA 25/35 HP (SCOPERTA) 1912
Same color and same snake as # 7, but in open version! Introduced 1965.
9 BERNARDI 3½ HP (COPERTA) 1896
This little tricycle car is now quite rare: only 2000 examples were produced (documented by the enclosed certificate) and was never listing for sale. It was available only to members of Dugu HiFi Club when they subscribed. They then had to pay 3,500 lira. (Regular issues were 2000 lira back then) Only one color combination: red with a white roof. Introduced 1966.
10 BERNARDI 3½ HP (SCOPERTA) 1896
Same color as #9 but in open form. Was in the normal series sold to the public, but is still very rare. Introduced 1966.
11 FIAT 3½ HP (SCOPERTA) 1899
No steering wheel but a control column! One color choice only, dark blue and yellow. Introduced 1966.
12 FIAT 3½ HP (COPERTA) 1899
Same as #11 but with top up. Same colors. Introduced 1966.
13 DUESENBERG “J” – 1931
With a “Coupe de Ville” or “Town Car” body, three colors were offered: light green, ivory, and yellow . Chrome exhaust pipes are nicely done on the side. Fits the Dugu plastic box perfectly, tight from bumper to bumper! Introduced in 1967.
14 FIAT 509 A (CHIUSA) 1925
Dark red hard top with black roof only. Introduced in 1967.
15 FIAT 509 A (SCOPERTA) 1925
Same as #14 but with open soft top. Same color. Introduced in 1967.
16 ITALA 35/45 HP 1909
Same as # 6 but with gold accessories. Red with black roof. Introduced in 1968.
17 FIAT 508 SC BALILLA “COPPA D’ORO” 1934
A delicate, all plastic model. Built with opening hood and doors. Introduced in 1968.
18 CORD 812 SC PHAETON SEDAN – 1937
The model was produced in three different colors: light green, violet, and orange-red. The red one on the left in the photo below is a Model of Yesteryear for comparison. Note that in the Dugu catalog, this model is called a Cord Phaeton 1936. The 1936 (the Cord 810) is similar but did not have the chrome side exhaust pipes. Introduced in 1968.
19 DUESENBERG “J” SCOPERTA – 1931
Same as # 13 but with top down. Came in many colors, with red or white being common. Introduced in 1968.
20 CORD 812 SC PHAETON SCOPERTA – 1937
Same as #18 but with no top. Seen in orange-red or light green online but never with a # 20 box. Introduced in 1968 (perhaps?).
21 ROLLS ROYCE SILVER GHOST – 1933
Actually the car produced by Dugu is a Phantom II Continental DHC. Most common color is black , then yellow, green, white. [Third photo: Ghosthunter] Introduced in 1969.
22 ROLLS ROYCE SILVER GHOST (OPEN) – 1933
Same as # 21, but with roof down. The most common color is yellow, then dark green, white, black. Introduced in 1969. [Third photo: Corky]
23 FIAT SB4 “ELDRIDGE” (MEFISTOFELE) – 1924
Who knows how many beautiful patterns Dugu would have been able to produce if economic difficulties had not brought them to closure! Really, this model is beautiful, but it does not show the owl nor the Dugu name on the baseplate or the box. Dugu was able to make the molds and some prototypes, but then nothing… A few years later, those molds produced a thousand copies by the owner of the Italian shop Zeppelin. One thousand numbered copies (this is the 304). Only the edition number are on the box and the baseplate, and no manufacturer’s marks anywhere.
This Fiat is a land speed record car prepared the Englishman Ernest Eldridge in 1924. It was immense and hellish – and not by chance it was renamed “Mephistopheles.”
But we collectors consider them a Dugu and collect them with the others. Produced in 1972.
24 FIAT S.76 (RECORD DI VELOCITA’) – 1911
This beautiful model, produced in 1971, depicts the mammoth by FIAT record car, S.76 of 1911, also known as the FIAT 300HP RECORD, or even more appropriately as “The Beast of Turin.” Look at the two seats and imagine in proportion to the size of the driver: standing next to the car, his head just reaches the top of the bonnet. A real monster propelled by a four-cylinder of over 28,000 cc (7,000 cc per cylinder!!)
It is, unfortunately, the last model produced by Dugu. Produced in 1971.
The original article appeared online in 2015 in Italian. The author kindly gave his permission for these English translations. Part I covered background and history, and Part III will cover the Serie Museo. Finally, Part IV will cover Sispla, catalogs and other topics.
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