Morris Mini-Minor & Austin Se7en
Another keystone of the Sixties Corgi range - the BMC Mini. There was the basic Morris, the Austin and all the Cooper and Rally variants, never mind the Pop-Art ones, Wicker jobs and promotional cars, this casting must have paid for its self many times over.
226 Morris Mini Minor
Corgi released the Morris Mini Minor in 1960 and it remained in production up to 1968 during which time many millions of pieces were produced. It is most commonly found in pale blue with red or yellow seats. It is also seen in dark red, yellow and in lilac, Ramsay mentions a red version, but I suspect this is the Austin (225). Early cars have flat turned wheel hubs, migrating to spun hubs and later models will have cast spokes.
The prize version is the Jensen's promotional version which is worth well into four figures, the picture below is one of Chris Davidson's and a fantastic rarity. It is one of a batch made for Jensen's department store in Denmark. These make hens teeth look common. It is super-rare and super-valuable. When Chris sent me the picture I looked around the internet and saw one for sale on a dealer's site. It had the highest price tag of any Corgi I have ever seen. It was worth more than six times its own weight in gold, seriously.
Of the core production versions look for pale blue or lilac with spun hubs and red seats or yellow seats in any variant. Cast hub versions tend to be more desirable than turned or spun hubs.
225 Austin Se7en
You could tell the full size Austins and Morrisses apart by the radiator grille - if it had straight bars it was a Morris, wavy bars and it was an Austin. Usually the cars were identical except occasionally the Austin would have some wood veneer on the dashboard and a clock. This is the Corgi equivalent - change the shape of the badge, wavy lines on the grille and its an Austin.
The Austin Mini was usually seen in red, there is a scarce yellow version and an even scarcer pale blue version, the really rare one though is a red car produced as a promotional model for Jensen's department store in Copenhagen, they are seriously valuable.
These minis are not all the same. There are at least two very distinct castings. This is genuinely the first time I've spotted this in nearly 60 years of familiarity with Corgi Minis. The early casting has a thinner C pillar and a more prominent 'bum'. The newer one has a horizontal ridge in the casting on the front wing and more pointed indicator lamps. In fact they are completely differently modelled toys, every panel and window aperture is different. The one thing they have in common is that in neither case did they get the back end right.
There appear to be three 'families' of the saloon casting. My early 226, my Austin Seven, Competition models, Wicker and 1965 Monte Carlo are all similar, given that the Austin grille and jewelled lights drive their own differences. The ones with six jewels are later casting which is slightly wider and has a taller windscreen, they also have rally front seats and recovery gear where the back seats should be. The later 226's and the 'civilian' Whizzwheels are also similar, except for the flares on the wheel arches. I counted thirteen models i which appear on the surface to be the same all have their own characteristics.
Looking at the cars I have had the early Morris Mini and Austin 7, the Competition models, the Wicker Mini and the first Monte Carlo mini are on the old casting. The cast wheel models, later Monte Carlos, Sun Rally and Whizzwheels models are on the new one. I wonder why they changed it, maybe it wore out. Obviously the Magnifique was a newly modelled car and to be fair it was the Mini Mk2 which was a different car, the vans and Countryman were new models too - bigger slightly. Add to this the Austin/Morris grille differences early on and the flared arches on the Whizzwheels models and you get a lot of different castings on this apparently homogenous set of model cars.
204 Morris Mini with WhizzWheels
The old 226 Mini-Minor was changed to Whizzwheels and renumbered 204 in 1972. It remained in the range for another year. There are large a number of variations for a model which was produced for such a brief time. you will see it in dark blue, deep blue, metallic blue and metallic blue with a black roof. It is also orange or orange with a black roof. The orange car is known with either red or yellow seats. Despite my low opinion of this car it is expensive and scarce - presumably because not many were sold and because of the wide range of finishes available each one would have been sold only in small quantities. All versions are highly priced but the best ones are deep blue or orange with a red interior.
|Corgi Toys 226; Morris Mini-Minor; Light Blue, Spun Hubs||Corgi Toys 226; Morris Mini-Minor; Lilac Blue||Corgi Toys 226; Morris Mini-Minor; Pale Blue, Red Seats, Turned Hubs||Corgi Toys 226; Morris Mini-Minor; Pale Blue, Yellow Seats, Turned Hubs||Corgi Toys 226; Morris Mini-Minor; Sky Blue With Cast Wheels|
|Corgi Toys 226; Morris Mini-Minor; Metallic Maroon, Cast Wheels||Corgi Toys 225; Austin Mini Seven; Red||Corgi Toys 204; Morris Mini-Minor Whizzwheels; Dark Blue||Corgi Toys 204; Morris Mini-Minor Whizzwheels; Orange With Yellow Interior|