Corgi Week Day 4 – Vanguards Jaguar is purrfect addition
Welcome to this latest edition of our Diecast Diaries blog – Day FOUR of our inaugural ‘Corgi Week’.
We are on the home straight now and for the final two days, we will be going out with a bang and featuring two of Corgi’s real heavyweight ranges, Vanguards and Aviation Archive. With our usual selection of exclusive imagery, we have two interesting model collecting stories from each range to bring you, along with our final two competitions, which have appropriately linked prizes available for our lucky winners.
Let’s dive straight into Day 4 of Corgi Week by looking at the latest new tooling addition to grace the incredibly popular Vanguards range – a trio of purrfect new models!
Vanguards range benefits from significant investment
In a previously published edition of our blog, we exclusively revealed images of the first component parts produced from the new Jaguar XJ6/XJ12 and Daimler Sovereign tooling, to the delight of Vanguards collectors. The project has come a long way since then
Every diecast model collector knows that the process of developing and manufacturing a new model tooling can be an eye-wateringly expensive business, with the parent company needing several successful releases from the tool to pay for this initial outlay. Most will also tell you that new model toolings greatly enhance the appeal of any model range as far as the collector is concerned, which results in something of a diecast version of a rock and a hard place for companies like ours. As one of the most successful ranges in the current Corgi model portfolio , the Vanguards range has been providing modellers with high quality 1/43rd scale representations of some of the world’s most iconic motor vehicles for over 23 years, however, from the perspective of new model tooling, recent years could be described as being a little quiet. All that changed with the launch of the 2019 range, which included news of significant range investment.
As collectors poured over the contents of the new Corgi model range in January 2019, Vanguards collectors would have been delighted to see three new models included in the range and whilst they all emanated from the same new tooling development, they were an extremely welcome addition to the range. The subject choice for this first new tooling project for some time was something of a British motoring icon and one which offered the exciting prospect of several vehicle derivatives from the same tooling – the distinctive Jaguar XJ6(Series 2)/Daimler Sovereign. For over 50 years, the Jaguar XJ series has come to represent the pinnacle of British motoring style, combining stunning good looks with luxury interiors and impressive performance.
The arrival of the first pre-production sample model of the new Vanguards Police Jaguar XJ6 was an important stage in the development of this ambitious tooling project, but still left the Corgi team with much work to do
Representing pure motoring opulence, the Daimler Sovereign versions of these vehicles utilised the same Jaguar bodyshell and gave this already luxurious car a sumptuous style overhaul. Producing a range of cars which everyone admired, but few could hope to own, as far as motoring enthusiasts are concerned, the Daimler Sovereign Vanden Plas is the very embodiment of luxurious motoring and is widely regarded as only slightly below a Rolls Royce in the motoring pecking order of prestige ranking.
As impressive as the new Jaguar tooling is, this significant development proved to only be the start of exciting things to come for this popular model range. As the Vanguards range for 2020 was announced at the beginning of this year, an incredible THREE new model tooling projects enhanced the range still further, which represented a huge capital investment in the Vanguards range over a twelve month period, something collectors must have been delighted with. Although all of these new models will be receiving the Diecast Diaries treatment as we continue through the year, for the purposes of this blog, it’s going to be Jaguars all the way.
Vanguards range tames the Jaguar
Produced by our Vanguards expert, these product reference files contain all the decoration details the manufacturing facility will need when producing the new model, including the all-important colour references
Over the past 23 years, the way in which new models are developed for inclusion in the Vanguards range has changed significantly. Even though the traditional method of using drawings, measurements and design experience can and often is still used, digital technology has had a major impact on the levels of detail and accuracy which can be incorporated into a models design, not to mention the reassurance this accurate information provides the product designer.
For this new Jaguar XJ6 project, the team were fortunate to be granted access to a Jaguar specialist business in Eastbourne, where they were able to undertake the LIDAR scanning of a suitable subject vehicle. The digital files produced by this scan would prove invaluable during the development stages to come, however, the scanning of a car is not always as straight forward as you might think. As advanced as scanners and scanning software may be these days, if your subject car is too highly polished, when the laser light hits the surface of its bodyshell, it may not return the readings you are looking for and in such cases, a different, less shiny vehicle may be required. Thankfully, after around three hours of scanning, the Jaguar had been committed to SD card and the information was ready to be processed.
This next series of images represent a development snapshot of the various stages which the new Jaguar model has already successfully negotiated. Starting with the scan data produced from a real donor vehicle, this information then has to be converted to a format that can be worked by our design software, eventually allowing the creation a base model, from which the individual components can be designed. When the first test sample models arrive, the project begins to feel much more real, even though there is still much to do before it can be released for production
As impressive and accurate as the LIDAR scan data is, this is only a starting point for any new model tooling project and signifies the beginning of a very busy period for the designer responsible for the project. The information it produces is not in a format which can be used by the CNC milling machines which will eventually be used to produce the model tooling blocks and must be converted using more clever software and lots of model making experience. Using the LIDAR scan as a hollow shape outline, the Corgi design team will need to create a 3D CAD version of the information, which will serve as a base model shell, from which the individual components of the model, both metal and plastic, can be produced.
Once this has been done, every aspect of its design must be checked and perfected, before it can proceed to the tooling quotation stage. For the purposes of our blog, we are simplifying the process dramatically, but needless to say, this is a very lengthy process and draws upon every ounce of experience the Corgi team have gained over the years. The first stage in converting the scan software into a set of 3D drawings from which base model files can be created, is to carefully draw a series of 2D curves, following the contours of the scan data. Sharing much commonality with other tooling development projects within the Hornby Hobbies group, Corgi designers differ in their approach as their files must be suitable for use in the diecast manufacturing process. Not only must they allow for the accurate representation of the unique shape of the vehicle to be replicated, but they must also plan how all the different components will assemble, both diecast, plastic and clear.
Staying as close to the LIDAR scan data as possible, the model tooling blocks these digital files will be used to create will need to incorporate all the metal, plastic and Crystal Styrene parts needed to produce the new model, including all additional components which will allow different variations of the model to be produced in future releases. This highly complex work may take several weeks to complete, before the project can advance to the next stage, which will be sending the files to a toolmaker for quotes and eventually for the production of the model tooling blocks themselves. Once the first test sample models arrive in the Corgi offices, the project really takes on a new dimension and whilst there will still be much work to do before the model is released for production, they now have something ‘in the metal’ to show for all their efforts.
‘Big Cats’ on the horizon
An exclusive trio. Published in the blog for the first time, this appealing image shows all three of the new Jaguar models in ‘Signed Sample’ form, highlighting the fact that these much anticipated models are now fast approaching release
As our latest Diecast Diaries blog scoop, we are delighted to inform readers that all three of the first releases from the new Jaguar XJ series/Daimler Sovereign tooling have now been manufactured and have started their journey to our warehouse. Barring any further unforeseen delays, these magnificent new models should be heading out to model stores and collectors who placed web pre-orders by the end of June, with their arrival heralding the start of an exciting period for the Vanguards range. Thanks to the endeavours of our fastidious company photographer David, who has turned his spare bedroom into a satellite Hornby product photography studio, we also have an exclusive selection of ‘Signed Sample’ images to share with you, with all three new models covered.
The sight of signed sample models in any range project represents the final stage in a model’s development and a sure sign that the model will be gracing display shelves all over the world in just a matter of weeks. Following close inspection of the model and assessing it against all available research information, the model is only released for production once the Development Manager is happy. In most cases though, once a model reaches this stage, all additions and alterations have been actioned and even though this final check is never taken lightly, it is usually just to check that everything has been included as instructed. Once he gives the go ahead, the factory are instructed to produce the models and the Development Manager can get back to the multitude of other Corgi projects which will be awaiting his intention.
It is rather unusual for a new tooling addition to any Corgi range to include three completely separate releases from a newly tooled model, however, it was decided in this case that our Vanguards collectors deserved a little treat, so we have three new models with which to temp you. Let’s take a closer look at each new model in turn, using David’s new ‘Signed Sample’ photographs to illustrate them:
VA13900 - Daimler Sovereign (Series 2) Double Six Vanden Plas, Caramel (metallic)
The Daimler modelled was built in Jaguar's Coventry factory then shipped to Vanden Plas' Kingsbury Works in North West London (their home since 1923) to be trimmed. It was finished on December 3rd, 1973, and registered by dealers Drabble and Allen, Manchester, on March 11th, 1974, to first owner Grangewood Allan Co Ltd, London. Both the exterior and the exquisite hand-made Chamois coloured leather interior (one of three available colours, the others being Deep Olive and Tuscan) have survived well because the car has always been looked after. The current owner, Northampton-based Paul Somerscales, is the eighth and bought it in March 2018, at which point it had covered only 68,000 miles from new.
The next few Jaguar images all feature the ‘signed sample’ models of the first three releases from this new model tooling, models which will be gracing our display cabinets in no time at all
The Double Six Vanden Plas was the flagship of the Daimler range and only 1,723 were made between September 1973 and March 1979. The aim was to produce a car with the cachet to be chauffeur driven during the week but which was cheaper than a Rolls-Royce, and could be driven by the owner over the weekend. It featured a bright silver side moulding with a coachline below it, Vanden Plas' unique leather seats, Birstall Evlan carpets, nylon footwell-rugs, adjustable rear-quarter reading lamps, red door-opening lights, a rear console cigar lighter and a vinyl roof. For these, a unique colour scheme and other luxuries the purchaser paid a premium of £1256 over the £4812 cost of the Double Six on which it was based.
Details - Engine: 5343cc V12 SOHC, Power: 285bhp@5750rpm, Torque: 294lb.ft@3500rpm, 0-60mph: 7.8 seconds, Maximum speed: 147mph, Price: £6068 including taxes
VA13901 - Jaguar XJ6 Series 2 4.2-litre, Avon & Somerset Constabulary
The 4-speed manual overdrive XJ6 modelled was based at the Avon & Somerset Constabulary's Motorway Traffic base at Almondsbury, just off the motorway intersection of the M5 and M4 near Bristol. It was only used for motorway work, on both the M4 and M5, and carried the requisite equipment for dealing with incidents, including a medical kit, traffic cones and basic, but important, items such as a broom for sweeping away broken glass. It carried the call sign Tango Whiskey 1 and was one of a number of Jaguar XJ6s operated in this role as their power and high-speed stability made them ideal although officers also appreciated the comfort their sophisticated suspension provided.
Jaguars started being used by the UK police after the launch of the legendary XK engine in 1948, but it was the compact Jaguar 2.4 Saloon (retrospectively known as the Mk1), announced in late 1955, which was really adopted by the police. The much more powerful 3.4-litre version of the XK unit was fitted into the compact bodyshell in 1957, making it easily the fastest mass produced saloon of its era, and it was progressively modified, first into the Mk2 of 1959 then more radically the S-type of 1963. All served with distinction throughout the UK, especially on motorways, and the XJ6 Series 1 continued that tradition when launched in 1968, as did the 1973-1979 Series 2, including the 1975 example modelled here.
Details - Engine: 4235cc 6IL DOHC, Power: 170bhp@4500rpm, Torque: 231lb.ft@3500rpm, 0-60mph: 8.9 seconds, Maximum speed: 125mph, Unladen weight: 3808Lbs
VA13902 - Jaguar XJ12 Series 2 LWB, Juniper Green
The XJ12 modelled was a well known Jaguar Public Relations car that featured in the 1977 Series 2 V12 brochure where it was shown with a raffish roll-neck wearing owner in front of a hot air balloon. The brochure states, 'You have a taste for excitement in life. Yet with a subtlety and refinement you appreciate through experience. We believe we can offer you a car which comes closer to your lifestyle than you ever thought possible'. It goes on to proclaim it 'the pinnacle of luxury' and that is confirmed by contemporary car magazine group tests, which the XJ12 continued to win with ease, even when competing with cars of twice the price.
The XJ series' unmatched refinement, superb ride and sophisticated road manners were the result of careful development work by unsung Jaguar design genius Bob Knight. When this was paired with the mellifluous V12 designed by former Coventry Climax man Wally Hassan, which is still one of the smoothest engines ever produced, the result was, without question, the best car in the world. The Series 2 was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 13th, 1973 and continued in production until 1979. It was a great sales success, with well over a 120,000 examples being produced and prevented Jaguar being drawn into the maelstrom of parent company British Leyland. It featured a more modern dashboard layout, improved air conditioning and revised styling.
Vanguards collectors do not have long to wait now before they can add one or all of these magnificent new models to their collections, as they have been produced and are already on the way to the UK. If you have them on order, you will not be disappointed, but if you are still sitting on the Vanguards fence, what on earth are you waiting for? Whichever camp you currently find yourself in, how would you like to win a unique pairing of Jaguar models which would be the pride of any model collection? If this is of interest to you, please read on.
Win a unique Vanguards Jaguar ‘Collector’s pairing’
We have something really special for our latest ‘Corgi Week’ competition, the chance to own a production model AND the pre-production sample model of the Avon & Somerset Constabulary Jaguar XJ6 model VA13901. A unique collector’s pairing
As many Diecast Diaries readers all share the same collector gene, we undoubtedly also share a similar desire to own something that no other person has in their collection. For our latest ‘Corgi Week’ competition, we are going to give one lucky reader the opportunity to be able to boast just that, a unique piece of Vanguards model collectability which will definitely set your collection apart.
Although the development team can be rather reluctant for us to show images of the first Pre-Production models produced from any new tooling, collectors and Diecast Diaries readers in particular love to see them at every stage possible, as this help to tell the fascinating story of how a new model makes it to our display cabinets.
In a real coup for ‘Corgi Week’ and with grateful thanks to the Corgi Brand Manager, we are offering one lucky reader the opportunity to not only own a pristine example of the soon to be released VA13901 - Jaguar XJ6 Series 2 4.2-litre, Avon & Somerset Constabulary Vanguards model, but also the unique Pre-Production sample model which was produced during its development. With both models displayed side-by-side in your display cabinet, this will make for a unique model collecting talking point and something no other collector will be able to boast.
To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, simply head over to the Corgi Competitions page where you will find all the information you will need, including the Vanguards Jaguar related question you will need to answer. As usual, there will be three possible answers for you to select from, but only one will be correct. Our lucky winner will be selected at random from the list of correct answers and we will contact them directly with news of their success after the closing date. There will be more competitions to enter throughout ‘Corgi Week’, so please keep checking back.
With just one day of ‘Corgi Week’ to go, have we saved the best until last.? Well, we suppose that depends on your preferred area of collecting, however, our final feature illustrates how sometimes, researching and developing Corgi models can unearth information which can actually increase historical accuracy. As usual, this final blog of the week will be posted at midday tomorrow.
As usual, Corgi fans can continue their collector discussions on our official Facebook and Twitter social media pages, where your contributions are always welcome. Thank you for your continued support and we hope you enjoy the rest of ‘Corgi Week’.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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