By Maz Woolley
A reader’s letter in Diecast Collector, a magazine published here in the UK, revived discussions about the 1:43 scale white metal kits of Rootes Group cars made in the late 1980s by Sanger Engineering in the UK. Auto Review 82 says that these were modelled by Gerald Elliot who made the masters, which are said to be derived from diecast models, for a customer who did not pay so he had to sell them himself to recover his costs. That certainly fits in with a telephone call I had with Sangers to find out where the models I had ordered had got too! The kits were certainly cheap, from memory they were not much dearer than a diecast model, and my impression was that they were being cleared as quickly as possible as a nuisance. I made three Sangers kits and would be interested to hear if readers know if there were any other 1:43 vehicles modelled.
Sanger Engineering still exists today and is still run by Gerald Elliot, though now based in Wales and devoted to making model aircraft kits, see http://www.sangereng.co.uk/.
The models I have are made largely of white metal with quite a few parts, chromed where necessary. The body shells were a little heavy and slightly crude but they were interesting none the less and filled gaps in my collection.
Hillman Minx Mark Six
This model is very interesting. It has the short boot of the early Hillman Minx Mark Four and Five but features the front end and large grille which was seen on later Mark Minx cars until they were replaced by the Series One Audax range in 1956. I had previously questioned if such a combination was authentic but Rootes Cars: A Pictorial History by David Rowe shows pictures of the Mark Six which had the new front end mated to the existing back end. This was the rare Anniversary Minx that was produced for only 8 months in 1953.
As the pictures show the castings were not particularly crisp but the overall shape did capture the original car quite well.
Dinky and Somerville made models of the Hillman Minx Mark Five but the Sanger is the only model I know of the rare Mark Six.
Hillman Californian Mark 6
The Hillman Minx Californian was built on the Minx Convertible body shell fitted with a fixed head and with windows that would wind down completely leaving the whole side open with no frames intruding a feature that continued into the Sunbeam Rapier models that replaced the Californian in the Audax range in 1956.
Again I was concerned that the Californian may never have appeared with the short boot but it appears from information on the web that the Californian was introduced in 1953 with the Mark Six. Any survivors of this very short period of production must be very rare indeed.
Kits of the Somerville Hillman Minx Californian and Convertible have been re-issued by Promod claiming to be from 1952 but with the oval front grille. They also appear to be of a Mark Six from 1953 looking at web pictures. The Lansdowne model of the Californian is a a 1955 car with the later Mark Eight grille which has a dividing bar and the longer boot which was added for the Mark Seven.
Humber Super Snipe
The final Sanger model that I have is a Humber Super Snipe. A car modelled by many including Sun Models and Lansdowne and more recently Oxford Diecast. The Sanger model is again heavy but it captures this large car well.
Widely adopted as Mayoral cars for smaller towns and formal car hire and even for Goverment transport. Winston Churchill’s own Super Snipe is exhibited at a museum in the Netherlands.
Sanger never made any more vehicles as far as I know and faded into history one of the many firms that made a small number of auto models and then moved on. Any reader with more information on Sanger or the vehicles modelled is invited to get in touch to add to what little is known.
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