Corgi Toys 1956-73
400 VW 1300 Corgi Driving School

400 VW 1300 Corgi Driving School

60 GBP
Two of the very last 1:43 scale Corgis were VW Beetles. The very last was a strangely late Rally edition in 1977 but in 1974 they used the ageing cast to make this Corgi Driving School model. This is lovely and terrible in equal measure. It is lovely because it is well-made, has nice cast wheels in the style familiar from earlier times when you might have found them on a racing car or Ford Mustang. It has an extended bright silver metal base bearing the L plates. The front looks normal but the one at the back is rather too far out. I did wonder whether the original idea might have been to have the engine compartment opening as on the East Africa Safari edition. 

I have just noticed that there is no steering wheel. It seems that this is how all the models were produced. There are indents in the yellow plastic dashboard for where they might have considered adding one, and, as this is available in several countries with different stickers attached, that would have enabled the position to be changed from RHD to LHD. However, simply leaving the thing out completely is even easier, I suppose.

There are 1200 and 1300 versions, the latter having a plate added to the base to enable the 1300 text to be entered on top of the 1200. From what I can gather the 1200 is quite rare. It does not seem to tie in with the 400 / 401 catalogue numbers either. 400 was the first one produced in 1974 and then in 1975 it was boxed as 401 and supplied with some bollards to steer around. I don't believe that the switch from 400 to 401 ties in with any switch from 1200 to 1300 but would expect all the 1200 models to be 400. There is no way to distinguish 1300 models.

The 'terrible' thing I referred to at the start is the dreadful steering wheel device that erupts from the roof and  makes the whole model look ridiculous. The Austin A60 had a crazy big red thing but that wasn't as bad as this and I do remember seeing some pretty awful box affairs to promote the school on various cars at the time. Never did I see anything like this, though. They did really well with the European Police Car and East African Safari models to disguise the steering device.