One of my favourite models, actually it’s arguably more of a toy than a model but let’s not argue, is the Corgi Jaguar XJ12C from 1975.
It was a good seller for them shifting over 900,000 over its five-year production run and doing rather better than Jaguar themselves as they only managed 5181 full sized XJ12C models out of the total 20470 XJ Coupe models made.
The approximately 1:36 scale version came in a range of three bright colours and was later complimented by a pair of emergency liveried cars.
Bizarrely after a two decade retirement it reappeared without a hint of irony in Corgi’s new range as a ‘Central Police Jaguar Saloon’ with a modern high viz yellow stripe and blue light roof bar. It looked as incongruous as the elderly MkII Jag police car that appeared in a 1985 episode of ‘Murder She Wrote’ where one of Jessica’s many cousins was run over in London!
I’m probably a bit biased in liking this model as I’ve had several full sized XJ cars over the years, and one of the earliest toy cars I remember having, and is in several vintage 1980’s photos of me with my chunky knit jumpers and flammable shorts is the blue XJ12C which I still have.
It’s a very pleasing model even though it isn’t one of Corgi’s most accurately sculpted castings, the shape losing some of its elegance in the scaling down. But the real faux pas for me is the chunky B pillar, for one of the actual car’s big selling points was the pillar-less design. I suppose that the model car may have been too weak without it, but they could have at least painted it black.
At launch in 1975 you could choose between what Corgi called pearlescent blue, red or tangerine all had a black painted roof, and all can be found with a brown or white interior fitted.
There is a less common red version without the black roof, but I can’t find any information to say if this was available at the same time as the red/black one or if it was a late version perhaps but all the plain red ones I’ve seen have the brown interior. If anyone has an all red Coupe with a white interior, please send us a picture.
Next came the rather odd choice of a ‘Coastguard’ version which was all white with a thin blue stripe and a large roof mounted box with a blue light and twin air horns on it.
I think I can safely say that the Coastguard Service never had such a vehicle as it would have been pretty useless, and the sea air would have soon finished it off!
This was replaced in 1978 by the slightly more plausible Police version, I say plausible because several Police forces did use the XJ though not the 2-door model.
It had a traditional ‘jam sandwich’ livery and now sported a plastic aerial on the boot and roof box with blue light but no horns this time.
At the same time Marks and Spencer sold a range of Corgi cars but in their own St. Michael branded boxes and with the Corgi name removed from the underside of the cars.
Some of these also came in different colours and liveries to the Corgi version as with their Police XJ12C which was white with a thin orange stripe on the side, black and yellow chevrons on the bonnet and shared the Corgi Police car’s plastic aerial but with the Coastguard style roof box, light and horn arrangement.
According to most sources that is how many versions there are to collect but as well as the three main colour versions, you have the two-colour interiors, then the all red car, then the Coastguard and Police and M&S Police versions.
But wait there’s more: there are versions of the blue car that have a noticeably darker metallic blue finish and come with the 4 spoke alloy style wheel. I have never seen a yellow or red car with these wheels, so I don’t know the reason for the change, possibly the blue version was in production for a little bit longer and had an update?
There is also an obvious difference in the ‘tangerine’ model as some are very yellow and some much more orange.
Both the Corgi Police and Coastguard versions also switched to the 4 spoke wheels but the M&S Police car did not as far as I know.
The Corgi Police car’s stripe can also vary from pink to dark red and it’s not simply a fading issue.
Another oddity is that in the Corgi catalogue showing the new Police car it had a bright red interior, but I have never seen one in real life however you can find a few Coastguard models with the red interior although they seem to be pretty rare.
The millennial re-introduction Police car reverted to the older wheel type but without the axle holes and the interior was now dark grey. One improvement on this model was the chrome finish to the bumpers was much more realistic.
All models except the Corgi branded Police cars came with a tow hook fitted but none was ever sold with a trailer.
I’m leaving you with a mystery to solve now, the Big Book of Corgi says that there was also an all blue version without the black roof, but I have never seen one and cannot find any images or other mention of such a car on line so is it just a mistake or do you know otherwise?
I make that 16 possible versions, but if you have any that I have not thought of then please send us a picture. We’d love to hear from you!
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