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road vehicles

At last, the sixties.

The title for this entry comes from a late 80s advert for the humble Mini.  Perhaps “a mini adventure’ would get the point across easier to the current generation and might be a bit more apt given that’s kind of what its been!

minisAt the start of the process there were several routes to a model mini, the Springside kit, a HO version (under size), the Cararama version (over sized) or the Corgi one.  Since then the Corgi one seems to have disappeared and there’s a version from Oxford Diecast.  Sadly both Oxford and Corgi chose to do the earlier version which surprised me a bit.  I feel Oxford missed a trick not doing a later one.  I’m not talking about the BMC verses BMW type here either.

I chose the Corgi ones and first step is to strip the caked on pain off.  For such a small model the paint all but destroys what is some quite nice detail underneath.  It also suffers from the same problem as a lot of 4mm scale cars – oversized wheels.


Sticking with one original one this was a simple repaint with replacement wheels from the springside kit (as are all except the orangy one).  From left to right numbers 2, 4 and 6 all have new grills again from the springside kit and new rear light clusters (from microstrip) they also have wider back windows and have had the door hinged removed.  Number 4 has the original wheels turned down and wider wheel arches added from scrap brass strip added to the inside of the wheel arch and filler.

Number 3 was a bit of a challenge as I was given a springside Mini Clubman kit and try as I might I couldn’t get the kit to look anything like the real vehicle.  In the end I just used the front of the nose and grafted it onto a corgi one.  The same goes for number 5 (the estate) which started life as a van.

The result is a fleet of minis more suited to a late 80s layout. Still to do are the number plates and tax disks.


british-carsRoad vehicles are a good distraction from all the other projects on the layout and are also quick.  By building them this way you can amas quit a lot without really noticing it.  I have a 3 drawer Ikea box full so far, which as a project on its own would be quite a daunting task.  The cars above are nearly finished except for number plates and tax disks.  They are (left to right)

Austin Princess, from Oxford Diecast.  I was concerned that the tyres looks too big but on looking at the real things, if the are, it’s not by much.  Handily its screwed together so it’s a simple disassembly, matt varnish, add people and weather job.  No excuse really for the tipped straight from the box onto the layout thing that (for me) ruins so many nice layouts.  I also tided up the window frames while I was at it.

Mini – from Corgi but with new wheels and a more modern front grill from the Springside kit. I also enlarged the rear window and replaced the rear lights as well as removing the external door hinges.

Morris Marina – again from Oxford and treated as per the princess.  Nice to see well proportioned tyres on the newer Oxford models.

Austin 1800 – this one is an old Minic model with wheels from a Cararama Mini (tip borrowed from Kier Hardy’s website).  The tyres were cut in half as they were very wide as supplied.

All of these will be kind of old for my layout (the 1800 especially) and there’s still a big gap for 1980’s cars . However I believe a layout should have a good proportion of cars from at least the decade preceding the date it is set and really I probably should have at least as many cars from 1972  as models released in 1987.


Oxford Diecast’s VW transporter

Recently released is the Oxford Diecast model of the VW Transporter (or type 2 (t3) or type 25).  As these were introduced in 1979 and continued in production during the ’80s and into the 90’s in Europe its an ideal candidate for a brummy trader to be pottering around in on the layout.

The model features the end capped bumpers and round headlights that date it between 1980 and 1985 which means it could be either the earlier air cooled or the later water cooled variety.  I don’t know if anything externally differentiates the two. (Hey i’m no expert I’m just reading this from Wiki!) My immediate first impression was that it looked too wide but checking the dimensions it seems to be spot on.  For some reason the van version is left hand drive (the bus version isn’t) but features the seat configuration for right hand drive.

A quick hack

The steering wheel was removed (the model is screwed together by the way), the console above it cut off and both parts were relocated to the right hand side. While I had it in bits I added a driver. The inside of the window frames were painted black (the rubbers are printed on but the insides are white which looks a bit weird) and the bodyshell given a quick coat of matt varnish. I use this one by the way!

Once reassembled the model was given a wash of grime (dark grey for the sides and front, light brown for the roof and back) and the tyres sanded a smidge to give the van some weight (having glued them up solid first).  I just need to sort out the rear view mirrors now.