A thought occurred to me while inspecting a new purchase of a Norev Jet Car Chrysler 180 about its rear doors which open as do the front doors, bonnet and boot lid.
That might not sound too remarkable but it actually is because I could only think of and find in my collection one other saloon car in around and about 1:43 scale with functioning rear doors which is the Dinky Ford Zodiac.
Now I can see the reason for that as it adds a lot of complication to the design and makes the model either much more fragile and prone to damage as with the Chrysler or overly big and chunky as with the Zodiac. They make an interesting comparison though in the different designs used, the Norev which was available in plastic or metal as most of their range was at the time, my version is metal and with the doors closed you see only a nicely proportional centre pillar but opening the front door shows a huge lower section of the pillar where the rear door hinge is mounted. The neat design of this model gives an advantage over the Dinky in that the rear door can be opened independently to the front door.
The Zodiac came to the market first in 1966 but was dropped in 1971 possibly to coincide with the end of the rear car and its replacement by the Granada? Also how come they modelled the Zodiac which in mark IV form was not very popular in real life yet they didn’t model the new Granada which was a huge success. Dinky were in the process of making a mark II version of the Granada when they went bust in 1979 and a few examples have survived in both resin and in diecast finishes and it looked a pretty good model which would surely have been a big seller as the real car was very popular and being on TV every week used by George Cowley in The Professionals could have been a great TV tie in model.
The Dinky Zodiac which is most commonly seen in Police spec also came in silver, bronze and light metallic blue with various coloured bases and it’s a model I have always liked but it does get a lot of criticism for looking a bit clunky and toy like with those overly thick window frames and massive door gaps but it does score points from me for having individual plastic interior door trim panels on all four doors which is a nice touch. The lack of any central door pillar on this car means the front seat is the top mount for the door hinge pin. This sounds like a clever idea but it means the plastic edge of the seat chips off quite easily and then your door falls off and with the doors open and no central pillar it just looks a bit odd, that missing pillar also means the front windscreen pillars had to be beefed up adding to the cars overall clumsy appearance. Dinky could have easily and cheaply made a Zephyr version of this car just by changing the front and rear plastic mouldings to the single headlamp plain grill Zephyr look, wonder why they didn’t ?
To conclude this ramble I think that the Norev Chrysler is the better looking model with much more realistic detail and good fit and finish, not so easy to find a good example though.
Dinky over in France also made the Chrysler 180 from 1970-71 but theirs had only opening front doors, the very short production run is odd, maybe they dropped it because everyone just chose the Norev version instead with its full array of opening parts, who knows but that one is also a nice model to have.
If your pressed for space then Matchbox produced a smaller Zodiac Mk IV in light blue and green with several shades and wheel designs plus an opening bonnet, and Majorette made the 180 with opening front doors and sprung suspension, the body is particularly weak on these and is usually broken around the front roof pillar or sill but it comes in a wide range of colours and sometimes with a trailer.
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