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THREE TOPPING TOYS

Put simply; these are three toys – or pastimes if you prefer – that should grace the home of any automotive enthusiast -

SCALEXTRIC

It’s 1957 and to add to the current sensations – skiffle, Tommy Steele & The Steelmen and espresso bars – comes a table top racing circuit that allows you to be the Mike Hawthorn of your living room. Scalextric was the creation of the toolmaker Freddie Francis, whose company Minimodels originally made clockwork “Scalex” models, and five years later, the electrically powered models made their debut at the Harrogate Toy Fair. A price tag of £5 was steep (this was a sum of money that presented half the average weekly wage) but virtually every junior motorists (and not a few full-scale ones) craved a set with the Maserati 250F and the Ferrari 375 Grand Prix as a Christmas present. In 1958 Francis sold the rights to Lines Brothers, the manufacturers of Triang Toys and in 1960 plastic replaced metal bodies, a move which only increased the game’s appeal as it made the cars even faster. One early enthusiast was a young Stirling Moss - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eleIkvR9oeg and by the 1960s Scalextric was endorsed by none other than Jim Clark. N.B. For anyone not converted to the cause of this most splendid of pastimes, this advertisement says it all - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUBAlyAwd5U

CORGI FORD CONSUL CORTINA SUPER ESTATE CAR ‘GOLFER’

Of all the die-cast models produced by Corgi my own favourite – even more so than the Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5 – is the Ford Consul Cortina “Woody”. When Gift Set No, 440 first graced the nation’s toy shops in January 1965 the facelifted Cortina “Aeroflow” had already been in production for several months but the die-cast model is a prime example of the high standards that the brand had come to embody.  It is a beautifully detailed representation of the estate car that was so stylish that it was decorated with the finest of “Di-Noc” plastic timber trim while the theme is a perfect encapsulation of the dreams of your average Cortina Super owner circa 1963. After all, what better way could there be to celebrate your enhanced social status than a round of golf with MD?

TOP TRUMPS

Not really a toy per se but certainly one of the most enjoyable automotive pastimes of the past five decades. It comes as quite a surprise to realise that the origins of Top Trumps dates back to 1968 with the game as we know and love it appearing in 1976.  Anyone who ever spent 50p on the motoring version game will probably remember how you would often be encounter pictures of cars that were rarely or never seen in the UK (the Audi 50 comes to mind) but this was all part of the enjoyment. The theme of the game, as many of us will recall, was to exceed the numerical data on the other player’s card and so when playing “Rally Cars” you would constantly be wondering if your Datsun 260Z would trump your opponent’s Porsche Carrera RSR. And to look at any pack from the 1970s and 1980s is to be afforded a fascinating insight into motoring history.

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