David Saunders’ recent Storage Field Classic on the Rover 2000TC reminded me of my own metallic green version. Unlike most of the Rover P6s, mine has never rusted and has needed nothing in over ten years of ownership save the occasional dusting. Yes, it’s time for another Miniature Curbside Classic.
The Corgi models of the 1960s are my favorite die-cast cars. They were just so well done. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: These toys were high-quality and remarkably detailed, despite being toys intended for rough-and-tumble play. Many of today’s die-castings from M2 Machines, Sun Star and others, while just as detailed, are intended for grownups. Corgi Toys weren’t, yet Corgi still made the effort. That impresses me.
This was not the first Corgi Rover 2000; the original miniature Corgi #252, released in 1963, debuted about the same time as the real, full-size 2000. It came in your choice of ice blue metallic or maroon with Monte Carlo livery.
Although it had no opening features, it did have “Trans-O-Lite” headlamps which, thanks to simple plastic tubing connecting the interior glass to the headlights, used ambient light to make the car’s headlamps (and, in some cases, tail lights) glow.
As the ’60s marched on, such new toy cars as Hot Wheels prompted traditional British toy makers to add more sizzle to their lineups. One interesting feature Corgi added to selected models was Golden Jacks, which were levers on the base plate that enabled the removal and replacement of all four wheels. The Rover was one of the models updated with this interesting feature.
While other Golden Jacks models like the Olds Toronado and Mini-Marcos made do with one wheel at each corner, the revamped 2000 (updated to TC specs and with a snazzy sunroof and jeweled headlights) replicated the real 2000 TC’s optional deck lid-mounted spare tire carrier, spare included.
Like Continental kits on American cars of the ’50s, and virtually all prewar non-trunkback makes, the real-life and mini TCs wore a spare tire on the trunk. While it did open up trunk space (which was rather small due to the complicated rear suspension), I imagine it hindered over-the-shoulder visibility.
My own Corgi TC, purchased off of that big online auction site in the late ’90s, had all four wheels–and the spare–accounted for. While mine has a couple of nicks and some worn chrome, overall it’s in fine shape. It’s also right-hand drive. Notice that the wheels are true to the full-size version, as is the case with all Golden Jacks Corgis.
Looking underneath, we can see the release levers for the wheels and tires. In the down position, they actually held up their respective corner so that the pint-sized original owner could fix the “flat.”
It was a neat idea, but perhaps not 100% thought out. As you would expect, many of the kids who got these toys managed to lose the wheels in short order. Corgi attempted to correct this problem by offering sets of wheels and tires sold in separate packaging, but that solution didn’t last too long. Most Golden Jacks models were refitted with Hot Wheels-like “Whizzwheels” and new paint jobs in the early ’70s; eventually, the Golden Jacks were quietly discontinued. Nevertheless, it’s still an interesting chapter in Corgi history. Thanks for reminding me, David!