During the 1930s the British Army approached the British motor industry with requirements for a lightweight truck. By 1935 Commer had produced 2 prototypes and after a very short Army trial an order for nearly 500 vehicles was placed for a vehicle that became known as the Beetle, a light weight Army work horse conceived long before the Land Rover was invented. It took Britains a further five years to produce their own version of the model, which they made both pre & post war making a big difference to the model value, below are the subtle differences:
Pre war version
Khaki matt paint finish
White solid rubber tyres
Cabin tilt & door screens in lighter khaki paint shade to simulate canvas
No windscreen or side windows
No tow hook
Hood/tilt with 2 removable rectangular rear viewing slits
Moulded leather style front seats
Driver wearing shrapnel helmet
4 spoke steering wheel in unpainted lead
Vertical radiator with 2 silver painted headlights
Front bumper only, painted cream
2 bench seats moulded into the rear
Underside modelling includes exhaust pipe & transmission
Post war version
Darker gloss green paint finish
Black plastic tyres
Rear moulded floor looks simulating timber
Post war it continued with the reference no.1877 but was incorporated into Set no. 2048 along with a Trailer (no. 2041) and 25 Pounder Gun (no. 2026)
In 1961 Corgi released their Bentley Continental model and in keeping with the reputation of the ‘real thing’ they included several new special features and marketed it as ‘the most wonderful model ever produced!’
Along with the usual Corgi features, standard by 1961, plastic windows, glidamatic spring suspension, plastic vac-formed interior and jewelled headlights were added together with a very impressive new feature, the Automatic Steering System which was added to only 3 models produced in the year; 230 Mercedes Benz 220SE & the Ecurie Ecosse Racing Transporter. Corgi found the new steering system difficult and expensive produce and in 1964 they re-issued 230 Mercedes-Benz without automatic steering and discontinued the system.
Jewelled headlights became a near standard on future Corgi cars and together with rear light reflectors which had 4 small ruby coloured stones set in the model certainly lived up to Bentley quality. The Bentley was Corgi’s second only car to be fitted with an opening part (after the Aston Martin DB4) and inside the boot there was an added feature of a spare wheel placed in a recess.
Adding further glamour a silver plated radiator grille and mascot was included together with a rear bumper for the very first time. The Bentley also had new style ‘shaped’ wheels and hub caps, however one unique feature to the Bentley was the grey coloured tyres, which became the only Corgi model ever fitted with this colour tyre.
Black upper body – silver lower sides
White body – lower side’s metallic lime green
Cream upper body – metallic lime green lower sides
Gold plated (available in Golden Guinea GS20)
Although not produced in many variations Corgi’s Bentley is a very important model in the company’s history, by adding these innovations it moved ahead of Dinky Toys in the eyes of young children establishing itself as the UK’s No.1 diecast model maker. In 1965, after sales of nearly one million units, the Bentley was withdrawn.