Category Archives: Dinky

I Found an old Corgi and an older Dinky at Dry Bridge Market, Tbilisi

I haven’t been hunting much for diecast cars this year because of the Pandemic restrictions and because I’ve been occupied creating YouTube content. Yesterday (9 June), I made a visit to Dry Bridge Market in Tbilisi, I wasn’t expecting anything much but then I saw a Corgi DeTomaso Mangusta.

From the Corgi Catalogue 1971-72, I have 7 of the 16 Sports Cars, the DeTomaso makes it 8. I really would like to find the Iso Grifo and the Porsche 911 Targa. These have such a nostalgia buzz.

And that was not all…on Zura’s stand I spied a couple of old Dinky Toys, a truck and a Plymouth Woody.

The Plymouth “Woody” Wagon is from about 1950, a previous owner had painted over some of the details but it is still an attractive model.

I am very happy with this small haul.

Dinky Austin A40 Van from the late fifties.

I was very surprised today to find this old Dinky van at Dry Bridge Market here in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Austin A40 Van
Austin Van “Raleigh Cycles”

This model was produced in England between 1956 and 1960, it was from an era before Dinkys had windows. In 1956 Corgi had just entered the market in direct competition with Dinky and their cars were being advertised as “the ones with the windows”. The model is playworn and the front tyre is cracked but, considering it is around 60 years old, it is not in bad shape. It is one of the few models in my collection older than me.

The Austin A40 Van (#472) is advertising “Raleigh Cycles”, others advertised BP and Nestle. A rare version advertising Omnisport, a general store in El Salvador, went for an incredible £6, 400 at auction (Dinky toy van fetches £6,400 in furious bidding at auction).

I don’t have many Dinky Toys, they don’t have the same Nostalgia Buzz as Corgi and Matchbox. This model predates my birth (1964 ) and is unlike the models I remember playing with as a child. I can relate better to the slightly later Triumph Herald (#189) (1960-1964) as this has windows, independent suspension and is closer to the cars I played with as a child.

Austin A40 Van and Triumph Herald
Two Old Dinky Toys: Triumph Herald (1960-1964) and Austin A40 Van (1956-1960)

Dinky Toys

“Dinky” like “Matchbox” is often used as a generic term for all diecast cars. I didn’t have many Dinky toys as a child, they were more expensive than Matchbox and less interesting than Corgi.

Dinky catalogue cover

I have three quite vivid early childhood memories involving Dinky Cars.

  1. I remember stealing a Dinky Lotus Europa from a furniture store that had a toy department, when I was about ten. I’m not proud of the memory, like many kids I went through a brief shoplifting phase. I’m not sure if it was the thrill of doing something wrong or the desire for the particular model but not having the money which drove me to crime at the time.
  2. My brother in a fit of rage threw a Dinky Ford Capri at me. It missed but went on to break a window.
  3. On my first day at school (September 1969) I remember playing with a Dinky Maximum Security Vehicle from the Captain Scarlet TV Programme. That is all I remember of my first day at school. Corgi had most of the good film and TV tie-ins (James Bond, Batman etc….). Dinky just had the Gerry Anderson TV programmes like Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Joe 90.

Today, I have only four Dinky Toys in my collection, the first, a purple Cadillac Eldorado, dating from the early seventies, which I bought from an antique shop in Worcester for £10.

Cadillac Eldorado Dinky 008
Dinky Cadillac Eldorado

I didn’t have this model as a child it was too expensive. I remember seeing it in Hamley’s (a massive toy shop in London) one Christmas (1970, possibly, because it was something like 20 shillings in old money). I came out with a cheaper Dinky Car (Can’t remember if it were the Jensen FF or the Mercury Cougar…I’d love either of those cars now).

Cars don’t have massive bonnets (US: hoods) like that these days. In my 1968 Ladybird Book of Motor Cars, the Cadillac is the last car with the biggest engine, a whopping 8194cc…at the time my dad’s Ford Escort had just 1098cc.

Dinky Toys were made in Liverpool from 1931 until 1979 (Dinky were also made in Bobigny, France until 1970). The fifties were the boom years and the seventies marked a gradual decline as they could not compete with other cheaper manufacturers (like Corgi and Mattel Hot Wheels) and from increasingly sophisticated toys and a growing interest in computer games.

Dinky produced over 1000 models and are much sought after today by collectors. There are a few that would interest me:

  1. Mercury Cougar
  2. Jensen FF
  3. Opel Commodore
  4. Jaguar E-Type
  5. De Tomaso Mangusta 5000
  6. Range Rover (especially in the Fire Chief Livery)
  7. Captain Scarlet Spectrum Patrol car
  8. Lotus Cortina
  9. NSU Ro 80
  10. VW Porsche 914

These were all in the range in the early seventies, I’d be happy to find them but I won’t pay silly money for them.

Dinky Catalogue 1972
1972 Dinky Catalogue…I’d love to find some of these

Dinky Toys are the granddad of British Diecasts, introduced way back in 1931 as “Modelled Miniatures”. I only have four in my collection,  I found a model of a Triumph Herald (#189) at Dry Bridge Market. This model was produced from 1960 to 1964.Triumph Herald in badlands

Triumph Herald

The Triumph has two tone paint and spun wheels (recent innovations at the time of manufacture) but it doesn’t have an interior or any opening parts. The first enclosed Dinky model with an interior was the Kennebrake Standard Atlas Van (released in May 1960). The MGB model of October 1962, was the first Dinky to feature opening doors. Later models had many opening parts, my Dinky Cadillac Eldorado which was introduced in 1969 has opening doors, tipping seats, opening bonnet (hood) and opening boot (trunk).

I also found a Dinky Austin Champ at Drybridge Market, the asking price a mere 10 lari (£2.76). This model was produced from 1958 to 1970. It has holes in the seats where soldiers were attached. I’m not usually interested in military models, but this has no guns, I thought it was a Jeep at first. My final Dinky model is a Jeep De Depannage (# 1412), found again at Drybridge Market, in a rough state, I swapped a Norev Ligier for it. The Jeep was made in France. Dinky has a long history of manufacturing in France, as well as England, dating back to before the second world war.



This is how the Jeep De Depannage looks in mint condition.

Jeep de depannage
Jeep  De Depannage

I will be looking to find a steering wheel from another model but I don’t have the skills to make a full restoration. Atlas Editions have recently made a reproduction of this and other Dinky models.

Update November 2019:
I added a fifth Dinky model to my collection an Austin A40 Van (#472), which I found at Dry Bridge Market.
Austin A40 Van

This model was produced in England between 1956 and 1960, it was from an era before Dinkys had windows. In 1956 Corgi had just entered the market in direct competition with Dinky and their cars were being advertised as “the ones with the windows”. The model is playworn and the front tyre is cracked but, considering it is around 60 years old, it is not in bad shape. It is one of the few models in my collection older than me.

This Austin A40 Van (#472) is advertising “Raleigh Cycles”, others advertised BP and Nestle.