Vanguards of the range
We're pleased to bring you the latest edition of our Die-cast Diaries blog, where we give the model collector an insight into everything that is going on in the world of Corgi. In a slight break from our usual format this week, we will be taking a closer look at the popular Vanguards classic vehicle range and how the passionate team behind these models research and select the vehicles and liveries that appear in the Corgi catalogues.
The successful Corgi Vanguards range is a highly collectable series of 1/43rd scale model vehicles that have become some of the most popular and best loved models produced by the company. They feature subject matter from many different areas of British motoring, including police and emergency vehicles, standard road cars, restored classic vehicles and the adrenalin fuelled world of motorsport. The range is put together by the Corgi development team, but utilising the vast knowledge of a number of trusted motoring professionals, who have a long history with both Corgi model production and the motoring industry in general. Let’s take a closer look at how a Vanguards model makes its way into the range and takes its place in the Corgi catalogue.
Vanguards – A passion for motor vehicles
When you are dealing with much loved, collector based products such as the Corgi Vanguards range, there is no doubt that a passion for cars and the motoring industry in general is absolutely essential. There is also a need for a certain amount of die-cast production knowledge and also some commercial acumen into the bargain – these people are clearly few and far between, but they are essential for the continued success of this popular range. Thankfully, Corgi are fortunate enough to have the support of such special people and collectors of the Vanguards range continue to benefit from their extensive expertise.
When you speak to Mark Pinnigar on the subject of motor vehicles, it does not take you long to realize that you are talking to a man who has an absolute passion for the subject. He will happily tell you that his whole life revolves around cars and as with many people who are lucky enough to have a passion for a particular subject, he can inform and captivate with his infectious enthusiasm.
During his formative years, Mark describes how he was always around cars and was never afraid to get his hands dirty. His father was an engineer working for the famous Lucas automotive and aerospace company and was always helping the neighbours out, when they had a problem with their cars. As a consequence, Mark was quickly introduced to the subject of mechanical engineering and a sound working knowledge of motor vehicles – indeed, he will tell you that from this very early age, he always had a consuming passion for anything that has wings and/or wheels.
Although Mark still enjoys working on and restoring his own vehicle projects, he also has many years of experience in working with die-cast manufacturing companies and has been involved in the production of collectable model vehicles since 1991. Along side advising companies on potential new model tooling options and suggesting liveries for new model projects, Mark has now established his own business, which produces graphics for use on both scale model and full size vehicles.
When producing external research files for potential future use in the Vanguards model range, Mark can rely on the help and support of his good friend and motoring industry colleague John Lakey. John also has a passion for cars and has been involved in the automotive industry for a great many years, bringing a wealth of knowledge in motoring history and journalism - we will hopefully feature the research work of Mr Lakey in a future edition of Die-cast Diaries.
As the Corgi design team begin looking at potential model selection for a future new catalogue, Mark and John will help put together a series of research files, which will include detailed information for use on the Vanguards range and a host of model proposals. They will include a selection of potential new tooling subjects, including a number of associated livery options and give their views on sales viability for each suggestion. For existing tooling, they will provide livery suggestions for consideration by the Corgi team, using their unique motoring credentials to suggest roughly double the number of liveries that will actually be needed for the next catalogue. From these meetings, the future development of the Vanguards range will be finalised, even though there is clearly much work still to be done.
Once the livery options for the new Vanguards models have been agreed upon, the projects can advance to a really interesting stage of the development process. Mark and John will attempt to complete the research files for each model project, by contacting current, or previous owners of the cars if they possibly can, so they can obtain a much more personal angle on the stories connected with these particular vehicles. In almost every case, these cars have a very interesting story of their own and are very much linked with the lives of the people who came into contact with them. It may be the story of a long term restoration project, or simply the desire to own an example of a vehicle someone remembers from their youth, but whatever the reason, many of the models covered in the Vanguards range mark vehicles that have a life all of their own. Let’s take a closer look at some of the interesting stories behind a number of the recent Vanguards model announcements.
VA11910A – Ford Cortina Mk.4 2.0 Ghia YEW 922T
Corgi Vanguards livery details for the VA11910A Cortina release
The same Peterborough family has owned this beautiful Ford Cortina Mk.4 since it was first purchased in March 1979 and there is no doubt that it is in superb, original condition. When Mark and John began to compile the research file for this car, they uncovered its fascinating history.
Known as 'Gina', after the Salford Jets song 'Gina, I've got a Cortina', this Mk.4 2.0 Ghia Cortina was originally purchased new from Ford dealers Peterborough Motors of New Road Peterborough on March 19th 1979, by local farmer Arthur Lindsey. At the time, Mr Lindsey was 70 years old and had ordered the car three months previously. The car cost him £4389.57, which included £326.23 vehicle tax, £321.45 in VAT and £18.50 for the number plates. Being the luxurious Ghia model, 'Gina' featured tan-velour seats, a vinyl-roof, interior wood-trim and an AM/FM radio. The only extras were Jupiter Red metallic paint at a cost of £24.26 plus £2.02 tax and a body underseal treatment, which has helped to preserve the car in perfect condition.
‘Gina’ is in fantastic condition and always attracts plenty of attention
The Cortina was driven home from the dealers by Arthur's son Roger, also a farmer and thereafter was stored in a garage and only used on special occasions. In 1989, the vehicle was taken off the road when Arthur retired from driving having covered only 7,400 miles in his Cortina - it remained in dry storage until 2009 when Roger and his wife Ginny decided to re-commission their still immaculate Cortina. Bringing the car to roadworthy condition involved fitting a new cambelt, replacing the hydraulic seals and obtaining new tyres to replace the hard, but relatively unworn, original Michelin tyres. They joined the Mk1-5 Cortina Owners Club and have since exhibited the car regularly at local shows - they were delighted when their 11,000 mile example won ‘Best in Show’ at the 2014 Baston Car & Bike Show, when Gina was pitted against some more glamorous automotive opposition.
The Vanguards example of this interesting Ford Cortina (VA11910A) is available on the Corgi website now.
VA10207 – Leyland Princess 2, 2.0 HL YBJ 243X
2015 was the 40th Anniversary year of the Leyland Princess
This beautiful Snapdragon Yellow Leyland Princess is owned by a vehicle enthusiast from Southampton and is a poignant addition to the 2015 catalogue, as the Princess celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
Corgi Vanguards livery details for the VA10207 Leyland Princess release
The radical looking Harris Mann designed 'wedge' was originally launched as the Austin, Morris and Wolseley 18/22 Series in March 1975 then quickly re-christened 'Princess’ by Leyland when British Leyland rationalised their badges. Originally designed as a hatchback, it actually has a traditional boot because British Leyland's planners worried that, with a tailgate, it would steal sales from their older Maxi model. Its ride, handling and comfort were praised when the car was launched but its gearbox, engines and build quality received some criticism. The Princess 2 of July 1978 addressed some of these issues with new 1.7 or 2.0-litre O-Series OHC units. Almost 250,000 Princesses were produced before it was re-engineered in 1982 into the hatchback Austin Ambassador.
The Leyland Princess was a particularly handsome design
The 1980 Princess 2 automatic, which is modelled here in the Vanguards range, is one of a batch of Snapdragon Yellow Princesses made on the production line at Cowley, in response to customer demand. Although this colour was available on most British Leyland cars, it was never officially offered on the Princess' colour charts. It sat in a dealership in Ipswich for over 18 months after being produced but was eventually registered in September 1981 and has been owned since 2003 by Southampton based Kevin Davis, who is the Chairman of www.leylandprincess.co.uk, an online club for Princess enthusiasts. He has since re-sprayed his car, as the original paint had been polished through - he also fitted the Leyland Special Tuning twin-carburettor conversion, which has improved the cars performance. This 39,000 mile example remains in good, original condition and has never been welded. It goes without saying that Mr Davis is extremely attached to his Princess.
The Vanguards Leyland Princess (VA10207) is out today.
VA04116 – Ford Cortina Mk.2 1300 De Luxe – RVX 584D Manchester & Salford Police
Corgi Vanguards livery details for the VA04116 Police Cortina Mk.2
As Police forces began to modernise in the early 1960s, the UBP (Urban Beat Policing) cars required by the Home Office's plan for future policing became known as Pandas because they were often in a black (or blue) and white livery. Manufacturers soon realised the sales potential this policy offered and prepared Police specification 1300cc saloons as 'Panda demonstration cars’, which were then loaned to regional forces for evaluation. The car modelled for the Vanguards range was one such vehicle and was loaned by Ford to various forces in the months after the Mk2 Cortina was launched in October 1966. It is presented in the livery it wore when being evaluated by the Manchester & Salford Police Force.
This interesting image is used courtesy of the Greater Manchester Police Museum
Panda cars were usually in near base model trim (De Luxe on a Mk2 Cortina) and used smaller engines as the majority of police drivers using cars in this role were only qualified to standard level and not allowed to drive more powerful cars. Despite Ford's attempt to gain Panda car sales with the 1.3 litre pre-crossflow engined demonstrator we see here, they were not successful as Police Forces across the UK elected to order smaller cars for this role - Ford Anglias, Morris Minors or 1100s and from 1968, Ford Escorts. The Mk.2 Cortina was, however, very widely used by the Police in a variety of other roles including traffic patrol and C.I.D. investigation, who tended to use discreet, unmarked examples. Many police forces also used the Lotus engined Mk.2 as high-speed pursuit cars.
Again, this latest model in the popular Police vehicle range (VA04116) is released today.
We know that many readers of Die-cast Diaries will have large collections of Vanguards models and we hope that you have enjoyed this week’s focus on this popular range of collectables. When the 2016 model range is announced, we will certainly be looking to feature more of the stories behind these much loved vehicles.
Latest Corgi Hurricane release commemorates Polish Battle of Britain Squadron
Aviation Archive collectors will be pleased to learn that the second release from the new Hawker Hurricane Mk.I tooling has just been released and it marks an aircraft that played an important role during the Battle of Britain. Churchill’s celebrated ‘Few’ comprised of pilots from no less than fourteen nations and Polish squadrons flying with the RAF contributed significantly to Britain’s eventual victory. The latest edition of Aerodrome looks at the fascinating story of the Polish fighter pilots of the Battle of Britain and this latest model release is a fine tribute to these brave airmen.
AA27602 is presented as Hurricane Mk.I P3120, RF-A and was flown by Polish pilot Zdzislaw Karol Henneberg from RAF Northolt in September 1940. During the intense air battles at the height of the Battle of Britain, Henneberg managed to score a number of victories against Luftwaffe aircraft and helped to ensure that No.303 Squadron became the most successful RAF fighter Squadron of the battle.
This fine example of a No.303 Squadron Battle of Britain Hurricane is available now on the Corgi website.
Corgi January to June 2016 Launch
It is almost time to announce the new 2016 Corgi catalogue
Rather than end the latest Die-cast Diaries with our traditional ‘What’s on the desk’ feature, we need to draw your attention to an important future event in the die-cast collectables calendar – the impending launch of the new January – June 2016 Corgi catalogue. Always a time of great excitement amongst Corgi collectors, the new range will hopefully include something for everyone, but will definitely mark the 60th Anniversary of the Corgi brand.
The launch will take place in early December on the Corgi website, closely followed by the websites of all good model retailers - make sure that you're signed up to the Corgi email newsletter for more information, or keep your eye on the Corgi Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition, to receive your free copy of the Corgi Direct catalogue enter your details here.
There is not long to wait now and we are really looking forward to showing you all the new models for the first half of 2016 – we will also be bringing you plenty of development information in future editions of Die-cast Diaries.
We hope that you have enjoyed this week’s closer look at the Corgi Vanguards range and we are extremely grateful to Mark Pinnigar, for his invaluable assistance in the production of this blog. If you have a Vanguards model in your collection that has special meaning for you, please let us have your story and we may well feature it in a future edition of Die-cast Diaries. Similarly, if there is something that you would particularly like to see covered in a future edition, please do not hesitate in letting us know by using any of our social media channels detailed below.
Until the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, enjoy your collecting!
The Corgi Team
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