CORGI TOYS

'CORGI' were the competitor to 'DINKY', whatever one company made, the other would try and 'outdo'.

Corgi's first model Rolls-Royce was actually a Bentley, made in their old 1/48th scale, in 1962. It was based on a Series II 'Continental' and marked underneath by Corgi as a sports saloon. It was in fact based on a design by H.J. Mulliner and modelled on an actual car used by The Barron Knights band, in the Northampton area, not far from the Corgi design department.

The next model from Corgi was to be made in the new 1/43rd scale and yet another Bentley was made. This time they based their model on the 3 Ltr 'Le Mans' style tourer, the winning car from the 1927 'White house crash' event.

This new Bentley was launched in 1964, in a medium green. A red road car version was launched a little later, but in 1966, we got our first model Rolls-Royce from Corgi.

A superb 1912 Silver Ghost in silver-grey with a large 'pullman' type body, it was launched onto the UK market with great fanfare.

This model has become a 'classic', in the seventies, this was on more collector's top ten most treasured models list, than any other model car!

Also in 1966, Corgi continued the older Bentley theme by launching the GS 40
'Avengers' set, with another red 3 Ltr.

In 1967 they launched their second TV tie-in model Bentley, from the "World of Wooster" series, but during 1969, the whole range was suspended due to a serious fire.

In 1970, Corgi managed to launch two new Rolls-Royce model cars. Really this is one and a half new cars, be-
cause the 'half' car was the previous Silver Ghost, dressed-up in bright colours for the US markets and based on a TV series about a pop band.

The proper new model was a fully feat-
ured all parts opening Silver Shadow.

This was based on the 2 door body design by H.J. Mulliner Park Ward from 1967 and an achievement for Corgi to get this to market, having been designed before the factory fire, but luckily not affected by it. The special working feature on this model was the removable road wheels and little jacks to support the car, while the wheel was off!

This model was kept in production until 1978, receiving a number of different wheel designs and main body colour schemes, the 'Golden Jacks' feature was sadly deleted, only months after it was introduced, to make way for the 
'Whizzwheels' low-friction wheel design.

In 1979, Corgi designed a whole new Rolls-Royce model car, based on the 1971 Corniche. Unfortunately, this was made in the larger 1/36th scale and not as collectible as their earlier models were, it still stayed in production until 1994.

In 1984, Corgi added a Silver Dawn and Bentley R-Type to their "Cars of the 50's" range and these were also in 1/36th scale.

1986 saw a surprise re-release of the original 'Classics' from the Sixties, in-
cluding the 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost and Bentley 3 Ltr tourers.

In 1989, a Pewter version of the Bentley 3 Ltr was made, shown below.

Another 'Blower' Bentley was made but in an unusual 40th scale as part of a Mobil petrol promotion and a small pull-back Rolls-Royce Phanton VI has appeared.


The most recent Rolls-Royce models from Corgi are based on a Phantom III from the James Bond film "Goldfinger" and the "FAB 1" Rolls-Royce from the TV series, "Thunderbirds".


The 3 Ltr Bentley and the Silver Ghost are based on real cars. The Bentley was the race winning car from the 1927 Le Mans, the infamous 'White House' crash event. This car no longer survives.


The Silver Ghost does survive and has been in some high profile collections but has recently been sold at Auction for record sums of Money!

MODEL No. 224.
               The first Corgi model allowed on this Website, the superb Bentley 'Continental'.
Corgi toys were actually of a finer design than their Dinky counterpart. They managed to get shut lines of opening parts to look smooth.

The Bentley 'Continental' above is a stunning model and for purists, a shame it was not in 1/43rd scale. It had a superb steering mechanism, an opening boot with a spare wheel, front and rear jeweled lamps, 'Chrome' plating and unique to this model, Grey tyres.
 
There are five distinct colours for this model...
Silver over Black,
White over Green,
Cream over Green,
Two-tone Green
and
'Gold' plate effect finish.
All versions have a bright Red interior with a Grey steering wheel.
 
Shortly after this model was deleted from the range in 1964, Corgi announced a super Rolls-Royce was to be introduced and clearly the above Bentley gave them the inspiration to go ahead with it and sure enough in March 1970, a superb Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was launched.
 

Shown above is just two of the several colour versions available, the model at the back is off-White over sage Green, the front model is two-tone Green, (I am not sure why the back model has Black tyres apart from the fact there was one version fitted from the factory with Black tyres, it may be this model).

The next model in order though, is another Bentley, a 1927 3 Litre 'Le Mans' tourer, launched in February 1964.

                              MODEL No.900, The 1927 Bentley 3 Litre, 'Le Mans' Tourer.

The Corgi toys Bentley 3 Litre was part of their new for 1964, 'CLASSICS' range and the first two models for the launch line up were the Ford model 'T' and the Bentley here.


The models were allocated a three digit number, the Bentley was number '900' but as the range progressed with additional colours on the same castings, it became clear to Corgi, they messed up on the numbering system. It was just a few months after the introduction of the models, that they had to modify this three digit system, to a four digit system and the Bentley became model number '9001' allowing the red 'Road Car' to become model number '9002', (the Ford had already used the number '902' as it's initial launch number) and by simply adding this fourth digit, Corgi could now add more models to the range.

                      MODEL No.9001, The re-numbered Bentley on it's new stiffer card box.

                              MODEL No.9002, The Red 'Road Car' version of the Bentley.

The 'Road Car' Bentley was introduced in March 1964 as an alternative to the Green car, but of the known colour trial models, they chose a bright Red, which on its own is not a problem, but the main production of the Avengers Gift Set Bentley, also used a bright Red car, possibly the remaining stocks of the 'Road Car', but rather annoying for collectors, when down the years, people put Red 'Road Cars' in the Avengers sets to complete them and pass them off as original!

    GS 40, an adopted model number for this model, because of it's inclusion in the "Avengers" set.

The Red Bentley shown above is an original "Avengers" car, it has the 'Brass' effect wheel rims, but bare metal grille & lights casting. Like the two earlier Bentley models above, there are many versions of GS 40, including three main body colours, dark or light Grey John Steed figures and nylon or rubber tyres.

Before we leave the Bentley, here is an unusual version in bright 'Chrome' plate finish. It is part of a series based on the Corgi 'Trophy' series, which included a few race cars finished in a similar bright finish. That series made it to market, but sales were low compaired to the normal models in the range, so it seems the decision to market some of the 'Classics' as further 'Trophy' models did not go ahead and the few that have survived are very sought-after.

We now come to our first Rolls-Royce.

August 1966, saw the release of Corgi Toys first Rolls-Royce, it was part of the 'Corgi Classics' range and based on an actual 1912 Silver Ghost 'Pullman' limousine by Barker.


Model number 9041 came to the U.K. market at 14/11 and came in a unique full-view window box. It was an instant success and featured a marvelous miniture 'Spirit of Ecstacy' mascot on a really good, solid looking traditional Rolls-Royce grille.

           MODEL No.9041(A), The 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 'Pullman' Limousine by Barker.

This model was about the best you could get at the time, it really is superb. It was kept in full production until 1969. The tooling was modified for an additional version, to tie-in with an American Television cartoon series during 1970, but the production was of a limited quantity of 45,000, this was split up to allocate 40,000 to the U.S. with the remaining 5.000 coming to the U.K.


On the back of this, a further production run of the 'normal' non TV tie-in model was done, but for only a few months and this last version is now very hard to find. If you have both Silver coloured models together, you can notice several differences between them, the most obvious being the treatment of the cars springs, the early version has open springs, while the later version has them all filled-in.

                                      MODEL No.805, The "Hardy Boys" Rolls-Royce.

                                            MODEL No.9041(B), The 1970 Re-issue.

This is the 1970 re-issue, using the "Hardy Boys" castings. The gaps between the springs have been filled-in, there are two little guide pins on the top rail of the luggage rack, where the plastic ladder is held in place on the 'Hardy' version and if you measure the two models, this one is actually longer by a millimeter!

                         A 'SUPER' ROLLS-ROYCE

The second of two new Rolls-Royce models announced by Corgi in 1963, was their proposed 'Super' Rolls-Royce. It was a model based on the 1967, Silver Shadow 2 door saloon, with coachbuilt body by H.J. Mulliner Park Ward. Corgi pulled out all the stops to make it live up to the claim of 'Super', it had opening doors, boot and bonnet, tipping front seat backs, a detailed dashpanel, 4 jewelled headlamps, a detailed engine bay and to really make sure, it had the then new 'Golden Jacks' feature, where you could remove all four wheels and leave the car supported on four little 'Gold' jacks!

                                      Model No. 273, A 1967 Silver Shadow 2 door saloon.

The model was released onto the UK market in March 1970, but these were very early production issues and had to be hand finished to cover up paint loss around wheel arches and the top surface of the sill areas. The next production batches were properly finished but these were short lived because of a colour change in July 1970, where the White upper area was changed to Silver-Grey, but the model was due to change again very soon and production of the Silver-Grey over Blue models was very low and today these versions are very sought-after.

                                            Model No. 273, in Silver-Grey over Blue.

The model shown above in this colour scheme would be converted into 'Whizzwheels' during the later part of 1970, and given a new catalogue number of 280, but would not be released as such because the specification of the wheel design was to change from what collectors have classed as 'Red-Spot' (shown below), into the 'Ro-Style' design, doing away with separate rubber tyres in favour of a single moulded all Nylon based plastic wheel. The model with the new plastic 'Whizzwheels' was then introduced into the range during September 1970.

                   Model No. 280, ('Red-Spot'), 'Whizzwheels' version in Silver-Grey over Blue.

                    Model No. 280, ('Ro-Style'), 'Whizzwheels' version in Silver-Grey over Blue.

The model in the above colour scheme stayed in production until 1972, when the colour was changed to all-over Blue, in a much darker shade than the side-panel Blue above and it was in a much more pronounced Metallic texture. The wheels stayed the same as those on the model above.



                Model No. 280, ('Ro-Style'), 'Whizzwheels' in the new for 1972, fine Metallic Blue.

From 1972 onwards, the model was finished in fine Metallic Blue. The interior was still the previous Brown colour for both the seats and dashpanel, but this would change later as the colour became lighter and more of a Tan colour.


During 1974, this Metallic Blue became quite bright to create another version and this is shown below.

                              Model No. 280, in the new 1974 Metallic bright Blue colour.

There are Three distinct 'Course' Metallic Blue versions, 'Dusty Blue', 'Bright Blue' and 'Dark Blue' and all these colours took the model into 1977, when the colour was dramatically changed into a Metallic Silver, shown below.

             Model No. 280, now with less pronounced 'Whizzwheels' and the new colour for 1977.

It is safe to say that this new Metallic Silver was put on the model because of the Queens Silver Jubilee celebrations during 1977, despite nothing appearing on the model's box to confirm this, but so many toy and model companies took advantage of the event, you did not have to make it obvious on the packaging, people just knew it!

The car's trim was now finished in a 'Gold' effect finish (shown above), which helped to separate these parts from the Silver-Grey body colour, but it worked in reverse when the model was also in a Beige-Gold colour!

The Silver soon made way for yet another colour change, this time to a metallic Beige-Gold finish, but because the grille and bumpers were also plated in a 'Gold' effect, it did little to lift the model and Corgi really should have paid more attention to the look of this model, which sadly would not see production after 1979.
                       Model No. 280, in it's last colour scheme, Beige-Gold for 1978-79 only.
The model in this colour scheme was replaced during 1979 by a brand new casting in 1/36th scale and marketed as a Corniche. The 1/43rd version would not be re-issued by Corgi anymore and we don't know where the tooling has gone. This was one of Corgi's most popular models and a nice partner to the Dinky Toys Silver Shadow saloon.

                                  A Bigger Scale.

Once Corgi and Dinky had exhausted the available features they could put on their models, the next marketing trick is to make your models bigger. Moving up to 1/36th scale gave the impression of a much bigger model for your money, instantly suggesting better value for money products!


Launched in July 1979, the brand new Rolls-Royce from Corgi was a rather stunning 1971 Corniche saloon, which really was not that new, because it had the same body style as the model it was replacing!


However, the overall look of the new version was better than the older model. 

                         Model No. 279, The new 1/36th scale Rolls-Royce Corniche saloon.

As with previous models, this one would enjoy a long production run but with surprisingly few modifications, the 'Stand-Out' casting change concerns the Rolls-Royce Corniche name script on the baseplate, shown below.

There is no logical reason for doing this modification, it serves no obvious benefit, but does give us collectors something to chase many Years later, when somebody points it out and you realize you don't have both versions in your collection!!


For 1981, the model received it's first re-colour of Cream with Grey tinted glazing and the introduction of an alternative wheel design. The design shown below will now be known as a Mk1 design, which consists of a sculpted disc with the centre-hole showing the axle-end.

             Model No. 279 in Cream, with Light Grey tinted glazing and Mk1 wheels from 1981.

               Model No. 279 in Cream with clear glazing and the Mk2 wheel design, from 1981.

The Mk2 wheel design has a more 'Sporting' look about it with 8 fine spokes paired together to create collectively a 4 spoke design. A centre hole still allows the axle-end to be seen.


This model was kept in full production until 1994 when it was finally deleted from the range, but in that time a fair number of colours and colour combinations were applied to it. A couple of 'Promotional' versions also exist and many different box designs were used.

The above picture shows 9 main versions of this model from the 1979 to late 1983 production period.