The very first issues in July 1956 were all British models. There were many of the common cars that our dads might have had. Mine had an Austin A40 like this one. It would be 1970, however, before a Rolls Royce would appear and even then not for long in this range.
The first American cars were the Studebaker Golden Hawk and Ford Thunderbird, so different to the first British models that had been issued. Everything began to get more galmorous thereafter.
The Citroen DS19 was the first car from across the Channel. Mercedes-Benz and Citroen dominate this category but Renault, Fiat, Lancia, Volvo, VW and a Heinkel Trojan get one or two models featured.
This category features pure racing cars and rally cars, many of which were based on the Monte Carlo Rally successes that British cars had in the mid 1960s. There are also one or two others that were issued with stripes and numbers and probably would have looked a bit odd on the road. Some may feature in their own region categories too.
TV & Film Specials
Corgi created a tremendously popular range of James Bond cars, starting with their iconic Aston Martin. They also issued some lovely models in connection with some TV Series like Batman, The Saint, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers. Later they would also issue many children's screen characters' models like Noddy's car, a range from The Magic Roundabout as well as The Green Hornet's car and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Farming Models & Equipment
Always in the range from the late 1950s on were agricultural items, very popular in those days. Really intricately designed farm machinery and just Massey-Fergusson and Fordson tractors.
Miltary vehicles & Equipment
In the early 1960s there were many military vehicles and equipment for carrying and launching not just one but three types of missile. There was even a Rocket Age Gift Set! These were all very detailed models with various working mechanisms that were precisely engineered. Sales were poor, though, for most and few stayed in the range for more than a couple of years. A range of US Army models was also available, some the same model as before but now with a white star added.
Chipperfields Circus Vehicles
Corgi must have had some deal with Chipperfields Circus because there would be two whole pages of models in their catalogues for many years. All sorts of animal carriers and heavy equipment were produced in the instantly recorgnisable red and blue colour scheme.
Public Service Vehicles
Police vehicles were popular and there also ambulances of all shapes and sizes, taxis from New York, London and even Bermuda! Many items made use of the Bedford CA Van casting or, later, a Commer, Bedford or VW truck chassis.
The very initial lanch included some Bedford CA vans and Commer lorries. After that, commercial vehicles made up a susbtantial part of the Corgi model range all the way through. The scale of some lorries, though, was a little small and they can look a bit odd next to the cars.
Corgi Majors solved the scale problem of the lorries that had been too small by issuing more realistically scaled models. Most were 1:47 and much closer to the 1:43 main scale used, whereas the early lorries had been around 1:56. The first issue was a Car Transporter in late 1957, with a Machinery Carrier, Low Loader and Bulldozer following in 1958. Many more were to follow and the military equipment would also be part of the Majors range.
In 1964 the first Classics came out, models of old cars like the Bentley 3 1/2 litre, Renault 12/16 and Model T Ford. Although a few additional models appeared in Catalogues there were only a handful actually available. Although beautifully made, these were models for someone to display not play with and so it was probably a different, and smaller, audience that bought these.
Expensive then and ridiculously expensive now, Corgi Gift Sets have always been the most desired items in the whole range. There is a wide range of these, from Farming sets with tractors, Land Rover, machinery and animals, haybales etc. through Racing sets with Competition models, drivers, racecourse characters and bollards to The Avengers Gift Set, featuring Steeds Bentley and Emma Peels's Lotus S2.
In September 1969 a Ferrari Dino was released, 344.In the Corgi Catalogue that had been issued a while before it was shown as having take-off wheels using the Golden Jacks system but this was not to be. Along with the Pontiac Firebird it had a new type of wheel - in a range called Whizzwheels - that with a low friction hub and thin axle would spin much faster and make the car seem quicker across the carpet. Certainly it would go much better when pushed than the dreadfully slow Golden Jacks cars. Brilliant as the concept of take-off wheels had been, Corgi needed to compete with others who were making models go fast along tracks. Whizzwheels was their answer. Initially, these were quite smart-looking 'red-spot' types but, regrettably for all us collectors, by 1970 the cars were being fitted with a horrid plastic wheel. Every car had the same wheel. It was not a good time. Now some Whizzwheel models that only had an exceedingly short life are very scarce and much sought after but many still fail to make good prices.
The Black List
Amongst the items that I acquire there are sometimes models that are simply too damaged or messed up to try and sell again. I take these to pieces, fit new parts as necessary and spray them a different colour. Initially I always used black, hence 'The Black List', but nowadays I tend to use more silver and white colours. I am not trying to restore any model ,merely create something that looks attractive and may find a good new home rather than being lost for good.
In this Category are items that would not have appeared in the Corgi Catalogues. They may be Spot-On or Dinky models that I have acquired or had in my own early collection. There may also be some more recent models where an old Land Rover cast has ben re-used or simply an interesting model has come my way and it doesn't fit any other category but deserves to be featured.