The History of the FALLER AMS Cars.
This compilation deals with all the different car models ever produced in the Faller Auto Motor Sport (AMS) program. It was launched in 1963 as a compliment to model railroading in H0. It reached its heydays in the late 60's, did quite well in the early 70's but then declined in popularity towards the end of the decade and the last remainders were taken out of production around 1980. In Sweden the yellow / red boxes were very common in toys & hobby-shops and department stores during the late 60's and quite a lot were sold back then. One thing to point out is the economic situation in the 60's when the Swedish currency was much stronger, ( 1 DM = 2 SEK) than today ( 1 DM = 5 SEK) (1 Euro = 2 DM) , compared to the German D-Mark. This fact made German import relativley much cheaper for us in these days and far more products like Faller slotcars, Märklin and Fleichmann railroads for instance, were sold in far bigger quantities here in Sweden then than they are today. Therefore I assume that the Swedish market was an important one for Faller in these days. One proof of this is that the catalouges were published in the Swedish language from 1963 when it all started, until the mid 70's.
The number of collectors in Sweden are not by far as big as in Germany, (see below) but we have at least formed a club, as far as I know there's no such thing in Germany. (If anyone reading this has other information, I would be glad to hear from him). It all started in 1994 when I got in contact with a fellow Faller enthusiast, Micke Magnusson, and after some research we decided to form a Swedish Club which we named ¨FALLER AMS CLUB SWEDEN¨. We've now been working for one year and we are today around 25 members but as the word spread around, the number is constantly growing. Our goal is to help the members with information about their cars & accessories, motor maintance and body restoration, and help members get in touch with each other as we suffer from a severe lack of slot-car shows in this country. We also welcome members from abroad but due to high Swedish postal rates the price is 30 US dollars per year.
This article is mainly dealing with the different body-styles of the cars and not so much with chassis and motors as this really is a chapter of it's own as Faller had a habit to change the technical featurs of the cars many times each year. The packages and gift-boxes are dealt with in a separate article as this also is a djungle. I've tried to make up a scale of avilability based on my own experience (not meant to be scientifically correct ) as follows:
Extremely Rare (ER), UnCommon (UC), Medium Available (MA), Fairly Common (FC) and Very Common (VC), all of course not in absolute terms, just each separate car as an average of all colours available, compared with the other Faller models. ¨+¨and ¨-¨are used to distinguish within each category.
Facts are mainly based on 30 years of Faller collecting and modelling, and studying of catalogues and extra booklets from Faller. I would also like to mention a German Faller book, ¨Das Grosse AMS Buch¨ by Ralf Hick and Jürgen Müller, from which you could also get a lot of useful information. Unfortunatley this book is only published in German, and it deals of course with German conditions, and I guess that the circumstances in different countries affected the outlet of cars and accessories, there were for instance export- models more common abroad then inside Germany, which of course is the big Faller country and the place for the collector to find what he's looking for. According to reports from Germany ther could be around 8000 collectors only in that country.
1963: When Faller introduced the AMS line they started off with six different cars, all popular streetmodels at the time in Germany, but also for instance, in Sweden and other Western Euroepan countries. I'm not so familiar with the US conditions, but I suppouse that some of these brands like Opel ( owned by GM) and Ford Taunus ( German Ford) never were sold as real cars in North America.
These six cars were: Mercedes Benz 220 (4801), Opel Kapitän (4802), Volkswagen 1200 ¨Beetle¨ (4803), Ford Taunus 17M (4804), Mercedes Benz 190 SL (4821) and Porsche 356 (4822). They were all moulded in one part with integrated bumpers, headlights etc. The only added part was the clear glass insert. (Compare with Aurora Vibs, early Atlas etc). The chrome parts were painted silver on the body. On pictures in the early Faller catalogues you could often see two-coloured versions of these cars but many of them never appeared in the shops.
The most common of these first Fallers, partly due to it's appearence in two different gift-boxes (4001:1 & 4002), is the Mercedes 220 with a rating of (MA) on the scale for availability. Next comes the Mercedes 190SL with (UC+), and the Porsche 356, which gets (UC).These two were also in two different gift-boxes (4004:1 & 4001:2) The Porsche is the only passenger-car which uses the back position for the front axle to get a shorter wheelbase.
The VW Beetle (ER, first version), The Opel (ER+) and the Ford Taunus (ER+) are all among the rarest of the Faller cars and therefore also the most sought after. The Ford Taunus is also the only of the first six cars never to appear in a Faller gift-pack. You should also notice that both the VW and the Ford were reworked in 1965 together with the Porsche, and then given new article-numbers (4833, 4834 & 4835). They all got chrome-plated bumpers who were glued to the body. In case of the Ford this resulted in a strange ¨bastard¨ as the full scale protoype now was the new 20M model but Faller kept the old 17M body and equipped it with both rear and front bumpers from 20M and thus became the most odd of all the Faller cars (ER-). The VW was reworked a third time in 1968 as ¨1300¨, when windshield wipers and a roof hatch was added. Second versions of VW and Porsche and third version of VW are more common than the older ones, from (MA) to (FC)
The remaining three models, Mercedes 220, Opel Kapitän, and Mercedes 190SL were unfortunatley short-lived. Especially the MB 190 is a very nice model, neatley moulded and one of my favourites. They were all withdrawn in 1965 and replaced by, by then, more modern models.
1964-65: After having started off with only six cars the first year of AMS, Faller now was ready for the big time and launched 12 new models the following year. You can clearly see that the leading manufacturers at the time checked out their competitors quite well, and as Aurora had changed t from ¨Vibs¨to ¨T-Jets¨ the year before, and now produced cars with chrome plated bumpers not integrated in the bodies, the same did Faller.
The new models were Mercedes Benz 230SL Hardtop + Roadster (4851 & 4852), ;Jaguar E-Type (4853), Citroën DS 19 (4854), Fiat 1800B (4855), Cadillac Hardtop + Convertible (4856 & 4857), Mercedes Benz 300 SE Hardtop + Convertible (4858 & 4859), Volkswagen Van (4873) and a Büssing Flatbed Truck and a Trailer (4871 & 4872). The MB 230 was the successor of the MB 190 while the MB 300 was to replace MB 220 to get a more ¨up to date¨ product line. The first year all the cars had German prototypes but now it was time to get more international with models from England (Jaguar), France (Citroën), Italy (Fiat) and USA (Cadillac), maybe an attempt to increase sales abroad? .
None of these cars are among the rarest today, in fact they're all, with a few exceptions, pretty easy to find. The Mercedes 230 is in fact the most produced of all the Faller cars, part of many ¨packages¨(4001,4007, 3900) and made in more than 15 colours with a rating (VC+), and also the most long-lived, from 1964 to the bitter end in 1980. Also the MB 300 is an easy-to -find model (VC) due to it's apperance in package ¨4002¨, with the Fiat and the Cadillacs not far behind on the scale (FC) The Fiat was not so ¨hot¨ back in the 60's as it looked a little clumsy and this goes for the Cadillac too, wich is a pity because if you cut off the mounting posts a little it looks much neater with its heavy chrome work, but thats not possible due to the fitting of the body onto the chassi.The Truck appeared in different versions, there were two or three axles and later, beside the Büssing, there was also a Mercedes Truck. (MA) for the trucks and the same for the trailer.
On the contrary the Jaguar is a real ¨hit¨, one of Faller's most successful models when it comes to design, but also a little bit harder to find
(MA+). With this model Faller also copied the Aurora T-Jet chassi to get a smoother fit into the Jaguar where the normal Faller chassi was to big . The Citroën, another favourite but with the rear wheels a little bit too far forward, is also among the ¨harder-to-find¨ items (MA-) In fact this car was delayed and not delivered until 1966.
The real oddity in this assembly ,is a mint green version of the Mercedes 300SL Convertible (UC-), which in 1964 was made much wider, 29 mm instead of later 26 mm. Why this remake was made is unclear as this, in my opinion, is a better follower of the original than the later narrower model. It also lacks the Mercedes star on the front hood the later models have, at least when they were brand new.
There were also two emergency vehicles in the catalogue, VW Van Ambulance (4874) and Mercedes Benz 220 Police (4875) with flashing blue rooflights, but due to technical problems with the flash-mechanism, they were severly delayed, the VW came into the shops in 1967 while the Mercedes never got into production as a policecar because the 220 model was out of production in 1967 and so it was substituted by two other models (see below) There are also rumours of a prototype of MB 300SL HT Policecar made by Faller to try out the flashing techniques but it's pretty hard to estimate the truth of this, there could be some odd copy in the hands of a (German?) collector.
1965-66: This was a year of consolidation for Faller that actually brought down the number of models from 18 to 16 due to the fact that the first six cars now went out of production. Three of them were kept in reworked versions (see above), the fwo Mercedes were followed by newer models and the remaining Opel Kapitän now was replaced by the newer Opel Diplomat (4832), today one of the most common Faller cars (VC) as it was part of the big-selling package ¨4002¨. Unfortunatley it's one of Faller's less successfully designed models, not so well proportioned and with a misfitting glass insert which gives the windshield and the sidewindows a distorted look.
1967: 5 noveltys and 2 withdrawals made a total of 20 produced models this year. The news started in the fall of 1966 when the two sportscars Ferrari GT (4836) and Porsche GT (4837) arrived in the shops. They were both produced in relativley big quantities, often for packages (4004:2,4008, 3901,3902:2, 3903) and are fairly common today (FC). There exists some minor differencies, the earliest cars were narrower than the later versions, and they are also found with and without windshield wipers.
Now Faller also had got their flashing lights for emergency vehichles in order and the long awaited VW Ambulance (4874)(see above) now finally arrived , along with two police-cars a VW 1300 Police (4876) and an Opel Diplomat Police (4877) They are all really nice models with their flashing blue roof lights and delivered with a decal sheet, red crosses for the ambulance and police signs in German and English for the other two who were mostly dark green, but they also appered in white export versions. These are all sought after by collectors, ratings : Ambulance(UC) and Polices: (MA)
At last there was a new truck in the line-up, an ARAL Tank Truck (4880) based on the same chassi and cab as the Platform Truck 4871, and in the same way a very attractive model much sought after today (MA).
The two withdrawals then? Well according to the catalogue the convertibles of Cadillac and Mercedes 300SL were no longer in production but in reality this does not seem to have been correct as they kept appearing in the shops for some more years.
1968: This year a new way of numbering the cars was introduced. The racing models with faster motors started with 56.., the slower ¨street¨ cars with 58.., special vehicles (police, trucks etc) with 57.. and trailers with 59...
The reworked version of the old Porsche 356 was replaced by the new Porsche 911 (5635) which was produced in fairly big numbers and among the easiest to find today (VC). The design is a little to flat and compressed in my opinion, the older Porsche was ¨cooler¨. Another new car was more successful, a BMW 2000 CS (5639) with a neat design that makes this one of the favourites among collectors, a bit tricky to obtain (MA-).
Faller also kept on launching new trucks and came up with two real ¨goodies¨, a Crane Truck (5781) and a Gravel Dump Truck (5783), both with moving parts, crane or dumper. Mercedes or Büssing cabs were available, the crane often in orange, the dumper mostly blue/red. Due to their fine design very popular among collectors but pretty hard to find (UC+). They were sold in minor quantities as they were more expensive when produced.
Another fine model was the Mercedes Tourist Bus (5784). It's based on the same chassi as the normal cars and is, due to this, very short to be a tourist bus, but never the less a very attractive model, with fine details and often in two colours, red/white or blue/white. A very sought -after item and quite hard to find today (MA-). At last, let's not forget the nice little Caravan (5969) delivered with a small brass hook to connect it after the car. Moulded in two colours and sometimes with a decal of a swallow on the side. Not so common today (MA-). Was sold after the AMS era to a company called ¨Noch¨ who kept producing it as a model train accessory. The total amount of produced models had by now reached 25.
1969: After a good year 1968, it was far thinner the year after. The only real new car was a Formula 1 (5601), a really odd model as it just doesn't fit into the ¨Faller standard¨. It has a special chassi with a prolonged wheelbase and bigger tyres and is not compatible with the other models. The colours were different shades of metallic, often gold or silver and it came both with and without spoiler in the back. Not so common (MA). The other new item, due to the catalogue, was a Truck (5270) with two axles instead of three, but it's in fact the same model as 4871 (see above). 27 different models were by now in production.
1970-72: In 1970 Faller reached its peak in the number of produced models, 28 different cars at the same time, and this lasted until 1972 when the decline started. The last two ¨street cars¨ came out. The first was a new version of the old and once reworked Ford Taunus 17M who now became Ford Taunus 20M (5834) Strangley enough Faller kept the old article number although it was a brand new car, with a loose roof glued to the body and far more true to the original than the old one (MA). The other newcomer was a Ford Capri (5650)(MA-) equipped with a new chassi in die-cast metal to improve the action at lower speed as this model also was sold in a ¨car-on-rail¨ set (4005) with a possibility to drive the car via a loading-ramp onto a special made flatcar with built-in slottrack.
1973-80: Although Faller in 1973 took some of the older models, like Fiat 1800, Cadillac, Mercedes 300SL, Opel Diplomat, Opel Police and VW Van Ambulance, out of production; and replacing the ¨flashing¨ VW Police by a model with a ¨dummie ¨blue-light, they still kept comming with a few more new items.
The most interesting of these is the Streetsweeper Truck 5790 . It was equipped with a working metal plough that was aimed to get rid of the oxidation on the electric leaders on the slottrack, causing annoying stoppage if the track had been unused for some time. This machine is, in many ways, the ¨heaviest¨ of all Faller vehicles, with a weight of approx. 125 grams, compared to a normal Faller truck approx. 40 grams, due to the fact that it was loaded with a bunch of heavy metal packing-cases, to increase the plough's pressure against the track. A real smooth runner with a long braking distance. Only available with a Mercedes cab. As this model came out when the demand for, and thus the sales of Faller AMS, was on its way down, it was sold in rather small numbers and is therefore one of the most sought-after cars today (UC-).
Another newcomer in 1974 was the Container Truck 480/481 (MA), sold in three different sets, but unfortunatley this very fine idea, that you should load and unload containers onto trucks and trains, seemed to have come a little bit to late as the AMS heydays now definitley was over. But maybe these sets gave TYCO some ideas for their ¨US 1 Electric Trucking¨ system?
The last new car from Faller was a Chapparal 5603 which like the Formula 1 is an odd member of the family (MA-). Inspired by Aurora, with whom Faller now started to collaborate in the racing field, thay launched this car with a very AFX-like chassi, but with ¨Faller¨ moulded on the flip side. Later in the 70's Faller supplied Aurora AFX and G-plus cars as original accessories for their ¨AMS Racing¨ line as a last attempt to compete in the racing scene, but they are not dealt with here as they are, in my opinion, no ¨real Fallers¨!
The last years of the AMS era the cars ( except 5790) were sold as loose bodies in sets of 3 (passenger cars) or 2 (trucks & trailers), and with three separate chassis for either slow cars , fast cars or trucks, that you had to combine yourself to appropriate models. The following sets were available until 1980, except 5411 that disappeared around 1977:
5411 (Ferrari GT, Porsche GT, Jaguar E)
5412 (Mercedes 230SL Convertible., Ford Capri, Porsche 911)
5413 (BMW 2000, Mercedes 230SL Hardtop, Ford 20M)
5415 (Flatbed Truck, Tank Truck)
5416 (Crane Truck, Gravel Dump Truck)
5417 ( VW Van, Mercedes Tourist Bus, VW 1300 Police)
5419 (Caravan, Trailer))
At last some oddities. There are some ¨non-excisting¨ Faller cars, models either never shown in catalogues but found among collectors or on the other hand cars shown in the catalogue but never appearing in reality. In the first category there is as an example, a Porsche 911 Police (dummie rooflight) that was part of the Faller ¨Hit-car¨program, cars for kids to play with without motors. These bodies were in many cases similar to the AMS bodies and could easily be mounted on AMS chassis. Other possible ¨fakes¨ are ¨Hit-car¨ bodies Mercedes 350 SLC, VW Porsche 914, Ford GT 40 and Porsche 917.
The second category consists mostly of Faller cars as handpainted prototypes like some two-coloured versions of the first six cars. There are also some photos on Faller accessory-boxes where you can see a white and black Chevrolet Impala and a red and white Ford T-Bird HT, both old Atlas models, and a blue and whiteChevrolet Impala '58 from Playcraft Highways.
FALLER AMS GIFT SETS 1963- 1974
To make a simple compilation of the gift sets in The FALLER AMS line is not
so easy, because several of the boxes came in different versions, sometimes the same box with diversing content, sometimes different boxes with almost the same things inside. Let's start off with the fact that the number of boxes made, ranges between 15 and 30 depending on how exact one is.
The boxcovers were in most cases very exciting with neat paintings of AMS-cars in action on the road, on the racetrack and so on, a little bit in the same fashion as the Märklin train-boxes from the same period, the mid-sixties. Today it's mainly these features that make these boxes such a sought after collector's item among Faller friends around the world.
1963-64: In the catalogue this year when the AMS line was introduced, three different boxes were presented. ¨One Car Package¨ 4001 with a Mercedes 220 (4801), ¨Standard Package¨ 4002 with the same Mercedes 220 and an Opel Kapitän (4802) and a ¨Sportscar Package¨ 4004 with a Mercedes 190 SL (4821) and a Porsche 356 (4822).
There was also a box called 4003 that was planned to get into production in 1964, as you can see by the trackplan on the inside of the cover of 4002. Although never produced at this early stage, a smaller reworked version was released later, in 1968. If you take a look at the car line-up this first year it consisted only of six cars, the two remaining being the VW 1200 Beetle (4803) and the Ford Taunus 17M (4804). It's not a too unlogic guess that these two cars were the ones that should have been in this package, they were even painted on the cover of the box that appeared in 1968, although the Ford Taunus was then changed to a ¨Büssing¨ Truck (a German brand)
1964-65: In the next catalogue the following year things have slightly started to change. The ¨One Car Package¨ 4001 has got a new number, 4000, and the Mercedes 220 is replaced by a VW 1200 Beetle (4803), and a new box is introduced called ¨Basic Package¨ 4001 with two cars, a Mercedes 190 SL (4821) and a Porsche 356 (4822) (the former replaced by Mercedes 230 SL (4851) in 1965). The ¨Standard Package¨ 4002 is still there but with different cars, the Mercedes 220 and the Opel Kapitän are replaced by a Mercedes 300 SL and an Opel Diplomat, but also boxes with the Mercedes 300SL and a Cadillac appears. The ¨Sportscar package¨ 4004 is also out of buisness and replaced by the bigger ¨Racing Package Solitude¨ 4007 containing a Jaguar E-type and a Mercedes 230 SL Convertible,
This year Faller is also introducing the ¨legendary¨ ¨Universal Package¨ 4009 containing three cars, a Mercedes 300 SL, a Citroën DS 19 and a Fiat 1300, and all then excisting extra features like double lane crossing, narrowing road, one lane turn-out, and even an overtaking track. This package is suppoused to have been produced in about 100 units, before it was withdrawn by technical reasons, since Faller had trouble with the overtaking track wich caused shortage in the electric circuit. This package is therefore the most sought after collector's item among these gift-sets.
1966 doesn't see any big changes, but one new box is introduced, the ¨Big Racing Package Nürnburgring¨ 4008 with a Ferrari GT and a Porsche GT
1967 comes the beginner's set ¨Junior¨3900 with a Mercedess 230SL and a Porsche 911, and here starts a new line of racing boxes with numbers 39.. .
1968 sees more changes when the three old boxes 4000, 4001 & 4002 disappears and are replaced by Traffic Package ¨City¨ 4003 with a
VW 1300 and a Büssing Truck (see 1963-64 above); and Racing Package ¨Avus¨4004 with a Ferrari GT and a Porsche GT. The 4007 & 4008 is still around another year.
1969. This year 3900 changes number to 3901 and a new Racing Package 3902, containing Formula 1 cars, gets into production, but not for very long because the following year it's replaced by the 4004 (Avus) which now gets this new number 3902.
1970. Now the 4003 set gets a new bigger box with a new picture on the cover where a Truck appears for the first time. Another innovation this year is a ¨Auto-Rail Package¨4005 with a Ford Capri and a special made loading ramp and a flatcar with built in slot-track for the cars to drive onto.
1972 is the year of the new ¨Big Traffic Package ¨4009 with a Ford Capri and a BMW 2000 CS, also containing double lane turn-outs and a double lane crossing.
1974 the 3902 set gets a new number again, 3903, and soon also an orange colored box, and another ¨Racing Package Super GT¨3904 with two Chaparall cars is added to the, by this time, somewhat fading line of AMS packages. The 4005 is slimmed down to 405 with a Mercedes 230 SL and is the last gift package, along with the Container Sets 402, 406 & 408 to be produced until the bitter end in 1980 when the Faller AMS line goes out of production.
Unfortunatley the box-art of the later boxes of the70's are not of the same high standard as the classic boxes from the 60's, where the original paintings of cars in action are replaced by bigger AUTO MOTOR SPORT logos in bright colours (4003:3), photos of road-signs (4009:2) etc.
There are some more things to point out. 4001:2 is found in two different versions, the earliest with a smaller box, the later in a bigger box. in 4002 the older and bigger speed contol panels 4030 are in later versions replaced by the smaller 4031 + the ¨Universal switch box¨ 4019. You can also recognize the very first version of the 4002 by looking at the inside of the box-cover sides, where there are only pictures of the first six cars on the early version. while there are a long row of cars on the later versions.
At last some words about the frequency of the different boxes based on experiences of Swedish and German conditions. It's completley clear that the old 4009 ( it's almost as that old Beach Boys' tune 409! ) is in a class of its own when it comes to ¨hard to find items¨. In Germany they call it ¨Das Phantom unter den AMS packungen¨ ( The Phantom of AMS packages) (see above).
Other boxes that are hard to find are the first versions of 4001 and 4004 which appeared in the catalogue only once (1963-64). The more expensive big ones like 4007 and 4008 were sold in smaller quantites and are therefor less frequent than the cheaper and thus more common 4001:2 and 4002.
4000 and 4003 are somewhere in the middle. Among the race-sets 39XX, the 3900 and 3901 are very common, at least in Germany, and the others, 3902 - 3904, are more unusual.
4000 VW 12 /1300 *1964-67
4001:1 MB 220, 1963-64
4001: 2Porsche 356 / MB 190 SL, small box, 1964
4001: 3A Porsche 356 / MB 230 SL, bigger box, 1965-67
4001: 3B Porsche 911 / MB 230 SL, bigger box, 1967
4002: 1MB 220 / Opel Kapitän, 1963-65
4002: 2AMB 220 / Opel Diplomat , speed contol 4030, 1965-66
4002: 2B MB 300SL / Opel Diplomat **, speed contol 4030,1966
4002: 3MB 300SL / Opel Diplomat **, speed contol 4031, 1967
4003:1 mentioned in booklet 851 as planned 1964
but never got into production (see above) -----
4003: 2 ¨City¨ VW + Truck, small box, 1968-69
4003: 3 VW + Truck, bigger box, 1970-76
4004: 1 Porsche 356 / MB 190 SL 1963-64
4004: 2 ¨Avus ¨ Ferrari GT + Porsche GT 1968
4004:3 Almost like 3902:2 and 3903, 1969
4005 Ford Capri + autorail train waggon, 1970-73
4006 mentioned in booklet 851 as planned 1964
but number later changed to 4009 -----
4007:1 ¨Solitude ¨, MB 230 SL Conv . + Jaguar , 40301964 - 66
4007:2 ¨Solitude ¨, MB 230 SL Conv. + Jaguar , 40331967 - 68
4008 ¨Nürnburgring¨, Ferrari GT + Porsche GT, 1966-68
4009 :1 MB 300SL, Citroën DS 19, Fiat 1300; 1964-65
4009 :2 Ford Capri, BMW 2000CS, 1972-75
3900 ¨Junior¨ Porsche 356 or 911 + MB 230 SL, 1967-68
3901 3900, but with Ferrari GT + Porsche GT, 1969-73
3902: 1 Formula Cars on cover1969-70
3902: 2 Almost like 4004: 3 and 3903, Ferrari + Porsche GT, 1970-73
3903 Almost like 4004: 3 and 3902: 2 , 1974-76
3904 ¨Super GT¨, Chaparall X 2, 1974-75
3990 3900/ 01 as battery package 1974-75
* = even Fiat 1300 possible** = Opel sometimes replaced by Cadillac or Citroën
Copyright: Bo Janson 1996 & 2011 http://faller-ams.se/