By Robin Godwin
Looking back through old print copies of MAR, I came across North American Editor Karl Schnelle’s article on Tekno models in MAR #205 (Where Did All The Tekno Go?). It was an excellent summary of a great marque, and even included Tekno derivatives, such as Joal in Spain (and later of Macau, when Joal moved manufacture to Asia). In a post-script, MAR Editor Rod Ward mentioned that there had been earlier discussion as to whether the Joals were cast from the original Tekno moulds, or were copies, but it was never fully confirmed or denied.
I hauled out my (Macau made, but no different than the Spanish made except for “Made in Macau” on the base) Joal E-Type and compared it to my Tekno original. Without using a micrometer, I found 23 casting differences, all fairly obvious. The biggest appears to be the steering, which was retained, but changed enough that it became almost useless. The Tekno MacPherson strut type assembly (actually wrongly modelled, as E-Type suspension featured upper and lower “A-arms”) tilts back about 20 degrees, so that the top of the strut is “behind” the bottom. This allows a rotation of the king pin around that canted axis when pressure is applied, allowing the steering function, giving that quirky Tekno “left pressure for right steering”. Joal made the struts vertical, so pressure on one side or the other does not provide the rotation essential for the king pin. You can make the steering work by physically turning the wheels with your hand, but not by manoeuvring the car while rolling it on the floor, so play value is much reduced. I won’t bore readers with a list of all 23 differences on the E-Type (unless Karl wants to see them), but this fact puts me in the “copy camp” instead of the original mould camp. I don’t know for sure, but perhaps the Tekno steering carried a patent, necessitating a change big enough to avoid infringement (assuming a copy). I don’t have sufficient other Tekno/Joal models to compare.
This leads me to fairly recent eBay purchase, which is a completely unmarked diecast copy of the Tekno E-Type that I had never seen before. Examine the pictures (shown below with commentary) closely and it is obviously copied from the Tekno, and the big differences are very evident – no opening features or steering, and the base is cut from tinplate, without markings. It would appear to be an industrial product – the casting is good, but not Tekno good, and the tinplate base is obviously die cut – nothing hand build about this model.
There are two threaded screw holes inboard of the two base rivets, so the model likely came on a plinth of sorts. A third, larger hole seems to serve no purpose, unless there was originally some intent to mechanise the model with a wind up motor and this would be the keyhole. I don’t really think this this would have been possible in the small vertical cavity offered by the body casting. Again, I think this is a copy and not from an original Tekno mould (even allowing for closing of all the opening features on the Tekno). A couple of obvious differences include fewer bonnet vents (13 vs 14 on the Tekno), and a larger Jaguar font cast into the boot. Perhaps this last point is a partial clue to when this model was made, since it at least includes the Jaguar logo, whereas the Joal does not. Karl mentioned that he had heard rumours that someone in Eastern Europe had bought the old moulds and were going to reissue Teknos – could this be one of those?
Joal Macau left, and Tekno original right. Note “mirror imaging” of base cast details
Tekno steering mechanism. Note backwards of the strut – this enables the steering function
The mystery model – Tekno copy
Overhead view with Tekno on top and copy on bottom. Differences noted in text are clearly visible
Joal base, top. Tekno copy bottom. The copy base is clearly die cut
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