Ertl Formula 1 Racers set
1977 Lotus F1
1978 Tyrrell Ford F1
1978 Lotus John Player Special F1
1987 Brabbham BT45B F1
McLaren 26 F1
The Ertl story continues with a look at the many international models produced from the 1970's through the early 1990's, prior to the merger with Racing Champions. Part one of this story can be found here.
While Ertl might be best known for their many models of American car of the 1950's and 196's, they also deserve credit for a fine selection of cars from Europe and Asia. As shown on the two blister cards, several series for models from Ertl focused on 'Cars of the World' and 'European Cars'. The VW 1200LS represented West Germany and was one of 12 models offered in this series. The back of the card is shown below, provides a list of all twelve.
This series was later replaced by the 'European Classics' series as shown with the Maserati Merak SS. New models were offered in this series with excellent detail and realistic colors. Some of the cars offered by Ertl remain the only examples in 1:64 scale today. The beautiful Jaguar XJ6 is seriously under-represented in any scale. Ertl's model represent the series II model offered from 1974-1978. It was originally offered with an opening bonnet and visible DOHC 6 cyl. XK engine. Later versions came without the opening bonnet. The loss of opening features occurred on a variety of Ertl models as the castings moved into the 1980's. The early models also came with metal bases that became plastic on later versions. The metal-based cars are quite heavy and have a very solid feel. The wheels on the early Ertl models can be a bit fragile and it is common to find play-worn examples with broken wheels or axles detached from the base.
Mazda RX-7 (Speed Strips)
Ferrari Testarossa (Speed Strips)
Lamborghini Countach (Speed Strips)
Nissan 300ZX (Speed Strips)
Mitsubishi Eclipse (Speed Strips)
Porsche 930 GT racer
Porsche 930 Turbo
The Dino 246GT was first offered as a "European Classic' model in yellow. Later, this casting and the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow joined several American models in a 'Cannonball Run' movie series. Until Kyosho's recent and rare model of the Dino 246GT, Ertl had the only model of this classic sports car. The Maserati Quattroporte is another unique Ertl casting. It came in stock form as shown here and with a Hollywood tie-in to the Rocky III movie.
A rare set of Ertl Formula One cars was also produced. These six models are from the 1977 and 1978 F1 grids. All six models are un-common and several may be unique to Ertl. With F1 producing it's second U.S. champion, Mario Andretti in 1979, Ertl must have figured these would be popular. The Lotus John Player Special is much like Andretti's winning car. The scarcity of these models today indicates that they did not sell well and were quickly dropped by Ertl.
Alfa Romeo 33
BMW Turbo concept
Dino 246GT by Ferrari
Fiat Abarth concept
Jaguar XJ6 SII
n the early 1990's. Ertl produced a set of cars under the 'Speed Strips' name. Five international models were offered and all were new castings. The Mitsubishi Eclipse shown here is from the collection of Jeff Koch. It also represents another unique model for Ertl.
Ertl produced a mix of production, concept and racing cars over the years. The Porsche 930 Turbo was offered in a stock colored brown as well as in quite with Martini racing graphics. It is not known if models like the Alfa Romeo 33 or Porsche 917 were also offered in racing colors. The Fiat Abarth, Mercedes-Benz C111 and BMW Turbo all represent concept cars of the early 1970's. The Fiat and Mercedes-Benz shown here have engine detail.
The Rolls Royce Silver Shadow has a unique feature. The bonnet open in reverse as on the actual car and Ertl must have been worried that little fingers would not be able to get it open. To assist, they added a small ridge on the center of the opening side to provide purchase. The Porsche 911 is a model done by almost every toy car company. Ertl's example is one of very few to offer a peak at the engine in the rear.
Mercedes-Benz C111 concept
McLaren Can Am racer
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
All of the Ertl models shown here are between 1:55 and 1:60 scale. The quality of these models and the uniqueness of the offerings makes them well worth the search. Most are not yet valued beyond $5 although the examples with opening features are the most attractive to collectors. The carded VW 1200LS shown above was purchased in 2004 at a local toy show for just $5. Like Playart and other brands of the 1970's, early Ertl models will see an increase in value as more collectors become aware of these fine models.
Ertl has been re-releasing some of their early castings although none of the models shown here have yet been offered. All of the casting dies exist according to Ertl employees so we may yet see more of these classic models in future. Racing Champions, owner of the Ertl brand would be wise to consider doing so.