By Stéphane Pellissier
Edited by Karl Schnelle
6 May 2015
The following story contains some musings and thoughts by the author on one of his favorite model cars. Another version of the story can be found in French on the author’s website at http://www.corky.fr/.
There are many mythical series from various model car brands: the 100 series from Solido and the 23 series from Dinky Toys, for instance. Also, there are model cars with certain characteristics that don’t make them a series but a specific range or sub-range. Just talking about that characteristic immediately makes us know what brand they are.
Over the years, many model car brands offered opening doors, boot, bonnets, drivers and passengers, sliding windows, or even luggage, but only one made detachable wheels in our beloved scale of 1:43.
Launched in March 1968, this Corgi Toys model group has had newer generation boxes. Even with their usual colors, this marked Corgi entering a new area. The boxes still had four illustrated sides, but the two other ones are now mainly made of cellophane allowing us to admire the model inside.
Corgi Toys had already offered these new box types for some models (i.e., Lincoln Continental, Corgi Classics). In this case, the Rover and Marcos boxes have splendid illustrations, looking like dioramas that we have seen in other places. Here we can see the cars in real-world situations. On many of the boxes, we can see a kneeling man symbolizing the fact that the wheel can be removed. In fact, the inside flap indicates the spare wheels pack reference number for the model in the box.
There is no reason to be surprised that the boxes are as sought after as the cars. It’s a part of the time machine. And these ones are real gems.
Forget about chronology, because I consider model collecting is just recreation, musing where emotion guides discovery. Then with my own personal logical, I will begin with the number 273. It’s a Silver Shadow coupé, and not a Corniche, the name given to this car in 1971. This Rolls-Royce replica was launched in March 1970, and the name Corniche was not mentioned then.
I long stayed away from this model because of its unrefined grille, headlights and mascot, and its huge and golden steering wheel. But I recently learned to appreciate this model car. And this is now one of my favorite vintage RR replicas. I first had the most common body color combination, pearly white on greyish blue and liked its paintwork quality. And even its jewel lights are appealing now, after I had disdained them for such a long time as I collected premium and highly detailed RR models.
I’ve learned to favour its well adjusted opening parts and its spare wheel. It’s the only one, along with the Rover 2000TC, to provide some material to fix a flat wheel without having to purchase a spare wheel pack! All the Golden Jack models have a common quality: their wheel and tyre sizes look appropriate. Many of today’s brands should strive more diligently for this, producing vintage cars with such large wheels that they seemed to have been tuned! No, a 1960’s saloon does not have wheels that fill the entire arch. This fidelity to the real cars Corgi has reproduced is enhanced by the car having specific and superb hubs with real rubber tyres. The Silver Shadow itself has double RR cast hubs, totally fitting in the era of the disc wheel.
We easily imagine how lucky boys were back then to have been given one to play with! I still today let my daughter play with mine, who not only changes the wheels but puts it on an elevating ramp in her garage to fix some problems that we invent. If its destiny is just to be exposed in a display cabinet, it can be shown in many various situations. On a ramp to change oil, open boot to load luggage for a holiday week-end. Or it may be in an even more complex situation.
As we can notice on the 1970 catalogue shown here, this Rolls-Royce is announced as “no longer in production”. The first catalogue in which it appears says it won’t be produced any more. It seems that this model and all this series in fact have lived a short time. Two reasons can be postulated for that. First, these peculiar toys were expensive to build, just because of their sophisticated, exchangeable wheels system. Second, Mattel launched Hot Wheels, followed quickly by Matchbox and then Corgi and Dinky.
This luxurious huge coupé, if you’ve noticed, has an opening bonnet showing a detailed engine. It has a spare wheel in its boot in a dedicated place, and opening doors with matching upholstery door trim and deflectors. There are foldaway seats and jewel lights that are a classic feature by Corgi Toys. Then you could obtain from your dealer spare wheels for each car of this series. The pack for the Rolls Royce is numbered 1354 as it’s written on the inside box flaps.
These packs are very easy to find today. They were expensive, and did children really need a dozen in a pack? To lose one or two wheels could be possible, but not very likely. Even dealers, that might have needed a wheel or two, couldn’t have sold all the packs they had. It’s just evidence that Corgi had their young customers in mind, allowing them the chance to lose a wheel or two or twelve!
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