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The Way Things were – with the strangest of coincidences!

Mark was looking through Phil’s back catalogue of articles to pick one out for this week, over breakfast this morning – he liked this with all the prices, published in 1997. He was reading it out loud and got to the bit near the bottom that refers to a prize Auto Union – Phil asks “I wonder where it is now”
– and it dawned on me (we have it). Yesterday John came to see us, and we purchased some cars from him. Now that is what I call a coincidence, 40 years after it was won, and 26 years after Phil asked the question – Fate gave us the answer.

The world of Scalextric collecting probably goes back to the very early days of production if you accept the reliveries in the old tinplate newsletters. However, it is accepted that toy collecting as we now know it developed in the 1960’s with the first swopmeet as such being held by invitation only in Leicestershire in 1967.
The first references to Scalextric collecting appear to have been through adverts in Exchange and Mart in the mid/late I 970’s. These adverts drew together early Scalextric collectors most of whom seemed to gravitate towards the London Scalextric Club. From the historical perspective of the old newsletters people such as Roy Charlesworth, Eddie Collins, Martin O’Reilly and Sean Claremont would appear to have been the leading active collectors of the day, one or two familiar names appearing in the newsletter Chris Gregory, Chuck Lawrence.
Prices were very different to today. A good example being the No. 4 newsletter (photocopied typed A4 sheet) which highlighted examples of he items recently received through the London Scalextric Club and their prices. An Auto Union made £30 whilst an Alfa Romeo sold for £32! A green Electra and a cube motor Airfix Mini sold for £7 each.
Newsletter No. 5 announced that one of the members, Eddie Collins, (now of Tottenhams ‘Shunting Yard’), had opened a shop for Scalextric collectors in Hendon and the message clearly comes that the Bugatti Type 59’s were already the Holy Grail of Scalextric collectors.
Following on from the London Scalextric Club, in 1981 the National Scalextric Collectors Club was founded by four like minded individuals. The fledgling club published single sheet A4 newsletters during 1981, but the early days of the club were fraught with difficulties and accordingly the newsletter ground to a halt in late 1981.
The remaining members took stock and appointed Rob Britain secretary and re-launched the club in February 1982. Therefore this months newsletter is the 15th anniversary of the contemporary run of newsletters. No newsletters were published in August ’92, November ’92 or April ’93, therefore this newsletter is No. 178 not 182 as it should be!!
To mark this occasion I thought it would be nice to take a look at some examples of what the ‘Scalextric Dollar’ would have purchased in those early formative days. Bearing in mind average salaries have probably increased three to four fold in that time it is interesting to see how some items have appreciated in real terms!
Whilst the early newsletters contained a significant number of adverts for swops and wants, no items were advertised for outright sale in the first newsletters. However, newsletter I started a project to generate a second-hand price guide. Each month members sent in a list of their knowledge of prices for cars in varying condition. The questionnaire in newsletter I produced interesting results m newsletter 2.
C1 Alpine mb £16
C2 Matra mb £16
C3 Javelin mb £9
C4 Electra mb £9
C5 Europa Vee mb £9
C6 Panther mb £9
C7 Mini mb £9
C8 Lotus Indy mb £11
C9 Ferrari mb £10
C10 Super Javelin mb £13
C11 Super Electra mb £13
C12 Shadow mb £6
C13 Tiger Special mb £13
C14 Matra mb £12
C15 Mirage mb £8
C16 Ferrari mb £9
C17 Lamborghini mb £10
C18 Ford 3l mb £11

quite clearly when you consider the 3 – 4 fold increase in salary levels, a significant number of these items have actually depreciated in relative terms (who would pay £24 for a MB Shadow?). What this illustrates is not that Scalextric was a bad investment, just that at this early stage of the hobby it was till a period of settlement when collectors were still unclear as to the rarity of most models (excepting obvious rarities) and the impact colour can have on prices was yet to be realised with my earlier example of a green Electra a £7 whilst the price guide offered a MB price on all Electras of £9.
The third edition of the N.S.C.C. newsletter also provided interesting food for thought as it contained the second part of the price survey.
Cl9 Team car MB £13
C20 Dart MB £9
C21 Cougar Sports MB £12
C22 Porsche 917 MB £13
C23 Scalletti Arrow MB £8
C24 Team Car Mk11 MB £12
C25 Ferrari 312 b2 MB £8
C26 March Ford 721 MB £8
C27 Lotus Turbine MB £13
C28 Renault Alpine MB £16
C29 Ferrari 312 MB £8
C32 Mercedes 250 MB £16
C34 E Type MB £13
C36 Honda MB £11
C37 BRM MB £11
C41 Ferrari 330GT MB £12
C43 McLaren F1 MB £12
C44 Mercedes c111 MB £11
Interestingly enough prices have been rounded and in fact the C43 McLaren was valued above the C4 l Ferrari 330GT not to mention the French C27+28+29 being rated above the C32 -anyone got a C32 they want to swopll). Things became even more interesting with the results of the third part of the survey. Particularly note the Bentley and Alfa prices in relation to the prices generally, and especially in relation to prices of the Spanish models (I’d certainly swop two MB C32’s for a MB C64 or C65 1).
C46 Porsche 917K MB £12
C48 Tyrell MB £12
CSO JPS Lotus 72 MB £7
C51 BRM Pl60 MB £5
C52 Escort Mexico MB £6
C53 Datsun 260Z MB £7
C54 Lotus 16 MB £11
C55 Vanwall MB £12
C56 Lister Jaguar MB £13
C57 Aston Martin DB MB £13
C58 Cooper MB £10
C60 DType MB £12
C61 Porsche Spyder MB £13
C62 Ferrari 156 MB £11
C63 Lotus 21 MB £11
(listed as a Lotus 18)
C64 Bentley MB £30
C65 Alfa Romeo MB £32
listed as Lotus 18 !
C64 Bentley MB 30
C65 Alfa Romeo MB 32
The price list above once again reflects the fact that it was still not clear which the rarer/ more desirable models were ( or at leastthe pricing didn’t yet reflect it). Certainly today you would struggle to buy mint boxed Aston DBR / Lister jag/ Porsche Spyder / D Type for the same price as mint boxed Lotus 16 /Cooper/ Van wall / BRM.
At this point the price guide disappeared. The newsletter was reduced in size due to the clubs financial predicament (it had to merge issues for July and August, and appealed for a donation of £2 from each member (approx. 50 at that time) to keep the club running to the year end). The price guide was a victim of these cuts.
It was due to the commitment of those early members in the crisis that you still have a club today.
One of the strategies to raise money was a monthly raffle for a car, from a list of donated items. The premo prize was a C96 Race Tuned Auto Union donated by Steve DeHavilland, and chosen as the prize the following month by John Kinsey (I wonder where that car is now, and if any current trader would bear to dig that deep in the time of crisis!). By December 1982 (newsletter IO) club membership had reached 85 and the future looked a whole lot brighter.
Here’s to the next fifteen years of the N.S.C.C. newsletter.

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