The Solido Series 100, what a revolution! Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a young boy, dreaming of the exploits of Fangio, Moss and Trintignant. To imagine himself steering the racing car of one of these champions, he had a choice of models from Dinky Toys, Crescent Toys or Mercury. Let’s look at Dinky Toys (the French arm). The company from Bobigny missed out on anticipating the trend and did not see the growing youthful infatuation for racing cars. On the opposite end, Corgi Toys immediately put into its catalog the BRM and other Vanwall cars. Both at Bobigny and at Liverpool, however, the preference remained to rely on road cars. It was a stroke of genius on the part of the Solido leadership to show their understanding of market changes.
Monsieur de Vazeilles, with his two sisters, who led Solido, was very much abreast of car racing competitions. He himself acknowledged how he benefited from the lucky kickoff of the Series 100 with the scheduling of the Jaguar Type D which won a victory at Le Mans several years in a row. This fact alone immediately gave an excellent image to the Solido company. If you look at the Series 100, aside from one or two exceptions, all the models are of cars which have left their imprint on the sport of car racing. But we are not giving enough credit to the person who made the choice. While today it is possible for the collector to obtain a reproduction of the winning car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans within three months of the checkered flag being dropped, at the time the creation of a Solido mold required 5,000-man-hours of labor (source: M. Vazeilles). So modelling winning cars required a sustained effort combining judicious anticipation and an attentive following of all races.
This is exactly what happened with the Cooper. When Solido selected this car for production, it was 1958. Fitted with its small 1.5 L engine, it started its climb to power and confirmed its potential the following year by winning the world championship. The only regret is the loss of the grille on the right after changing the engine design and acquiring a side hood with a fin.
While the going was good, Solido also introduced the other great star of the racing tracks, the Lotus 18 champion. These models show innovation in more than one respect: they are the first Solido cars to have a cast-in steering wheel. There's also a new driver figure, better suited to the car, who over time will replace the previously used (limbless) driver that had been used before. A plastic windscreen finished off the model nicely. Yet the most incredible detail is in the suspension: a spring over each axle. This gives the car a flexible suspension never seen before in miniatures. And last but not least there was a separate exhaust. Until now, all the single-seaters made by Dinky Toys had these detaile cast as part of the body. Solido introduced even greater realism - their model had a beautifully cast separate exhaust cast in zinc alloy, reproducing the characteristic twist pipe of this single seater.
We have grouped the models in the photographs by production period. The first ones have a two-tone finish, with the tip end of the front hood decorated with a mask-sprayed stripe of paint. Later, Solido re-introduced the models using decals. This would be the series known as ‘luxe 65’ – a decal with a white band and a red strip with the number 5; or more rarely, two white parallel stripes with the number 4. At the end of the production run, the small Cooper came out in a single color and was fitted with molded zinc alloy wheel rims (referred to as “standard” by Monsieur Azema, in his reference book on Solido cars). These final models are rare.
Eventually, the mold crossed the Pyrenees, which allows Dalia to introduce this model. It returned to its first color scheme, with the tip of the hood painted in contrasting colors. There are numerous combinations and we are showing you just three of those here. Bertrand Azema, in his other book dedicated to foreign-made Solidos, indicates there is an olive green version. According to Pierre Ferrer, a yellow version and a light green version also exist.
I hope you will no longer view this little Cooper in the same old way again!
Isabelle and Vincent Espinasse. Autojaune.fr