Model Auto Review Magazine 1983

By Karl Schnelle


This is the second in a series of articles looking at each year’s output of the original Model Auto Review magazine. Last month we started with our very first year, 1982.  This month we will review 1983 using images of the Cover and Contents pages of the four quarterly magazines and one extra colour issue. (Click on the images to get a larger copy.)

In 1983, the internet was just getting started, and Apple introduced the Lisa, one of the first PCs with a GUI.  Microsoft released Word (which I use everyday at work!).  The movie Return of the Jedi was released. Swatch produced their first watch.  And my favorite band back then was The Police! In automotive news, Chrysler introduced  the first-ever minivan, the Dodge Caravan.  And in toy news, Mettoy Playcraft Ltd,  the owner of Corgi Toys, was called into receivership.

No 4, Spring 1983

Front Cover


The year started off with an orange colored cover with a Michel Conti Testa Rossa on the lower third!  Also on the cover was Matchbox Yesteryear Y12 van – back then we were in the throws of the Yesteryear promo van craze. MAR continued the unique page numbering system by starting the year with page 113.

Jim McLachlan had another VW Review, and Yesteryear promo vans were listed – factory made and factory-approved versions – in another article!  However, the reason I was attracted to MAR as a reader was Clive Chick’s series of articles on Danish Tekno.  In this issue, one page was devoted to the Tekno tankers.  Many other articles appeared – from Peugeot to Citroen to Trolleybuses.

The back cover had a Tri-ang Minic catalog page reproduced, and in fact large-scale Minic and Victory were written about on the center spread.

No 5, Summer 1983

Front Cover



Three pages of this issue start off with readers’ letters.   News & Views and Truck Stop continue as regular columns.  Also the VW, Peugeot, Citroen, fire appliances, and Yesteryear sagas continue with the same authors as before.  Part Two of the MINIC article appears with many B&W photos.

A review of the 1/43 Politoys E Series (Economy) piqued my curiosity, since I have their two Alfa Romeos. A brief description is given of each model.   To tie us to the current online version of the magazine, the first RAMI article appeared by Charles Barnett in this issue; models 1-5 were covered in No 5 with B&W photos.  This article was updated online here and then more color photos of RAMI models were added here!

The nice back cover had a Spot-On catalog page from their first catalog reproduced in blue, black, and white.

No 6, Autumn 1983

Front Cover


The previous two 1983 issues had cars on their covers, but now No 6 shows a van, bus, truck, and tractors.  This is one reason I liked the MAR early issues – because they were truly not just Autos even though the middle name of the publication says that!  🙂  The breadth of models covered kept the hardcopy magazine interesting for many, many years for many, many readers!   To support that statement, another three full pages of letters were published in No 6.   One letter notes that Lledo seemed to be really taking off with collectors; 1983 was a long time ago.

Two toy cars books are reviewed next and then the VW, Tekno, RAMI,  Yesteryear, Fire, Peugeot  articles continue!   Corgi farm tractors, Rovers, Politoys M, and Talbot Lago race cars are also described.

Pages from a 1963 Norev catalog are on the back cover this time, with a note that plastic Norevs might appear again!

Colour Extra 1983

Front Cover


Now many years later, it was not obvious where the Colour Extra fit in the production timeline, but because the original Editor, Rod Ward, had decided to number the pages of all issues consecutively, I could put them back in order easily.   Color (sorry, I am an American.) was expensive and there were extra articles still to publish, so MAR decided to try an ‘extra’ issue with a color insert for the middle page, as well as full color front and back pages, double-sided!  This extra issue was published on Oct 1st.

Eight small B&W photos were included on the other pages with each model from the color pages marked with a number.  Next to those images, each model was captioned as there were no words on the color pages.   The use of captions on B&W pages with all pictures on separate colour pages was common throughout MAR’s existence.  It was to make the most of the expensive colour pages – if you used captions as well on the colour pages, it would have meant about 30% fewer pictures.

The center colour page (without captions) is seen below.

Four pages were devoted to an Index of the first four issues, while the remaining articles followed a similar format to the regular issues.  See the Content page above for exact titles.  TB, FGT, and BS on page 262 refer to three pages on Taylor & Barrett,  F G Taylor, and Barrett & Sons.

No 7, Winter 1983

Front Cover


The Editorial remarked about the MAR policy for publishing articles. To this day, the same  guidelines are used: any article from a knowledgeable collector or author is encouraged.   A scope ranging from in-depth, long term research projects to short, new product reviews are encouraged.  From Issue No 1 to today’s virtual blog format, this policy has not changed.

The same type of articles continue in this issue with the same continuing series on Rover, Tekno, RAMI, etc.  The Gallic Gossip page includes a short article on Marmande, a small but famous, French concern that made detailed wooden 1/43 models.  As with the other issues, 9 or so pages of advertisements are included in the back: both for model car shops and for swapmeets.  These are a real step back in time 30+ YEARS ago!  The inside cover color pages are ads for mail order from Modelauto in Leeds (no website or even email yet!).

The yellow back cover is a fascinating collage of 3 Dinky scale drawings for models that never were (maybe)!  Geoff Moorhouse had sent them in with a Letter about Dinky scales.  On top is the recently famous Austin ‘Omnisport‘ van, then a Guy Warrior ‘Golden Shred‘, and finally the ‘Sweeteners for Industry‘ tanker.

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