In the last few weeks I have been working hard on my annual catalogue supplement for 2017. As I needed some more pictures for that purpose my photo sessions produced some nice new photos, some of which I will use for this contribution. I expect the supplement to be complete approximately next week and possibly some printed copies at the end of next month. So, some text and photos below.
This no. 470 Shell/BP version of the Austin A40 van was announced in May 1954. Meccano Magazine shows it together with the also new 10-ton Army Truck, no. 622. They are introduced and discussed in a review by The Toyman in the next month’s MM issue. First issued, the 'Shell/BP' was also the first one of the well-known Austin van trio to be discontinued, in 1956.
There is some slight variation to the casting in the course of time. Initially, the rear wheel axle ends are practically uncovered, with the risk of the axle to escape when maltreated during rough play. That problem has been solved by adding a small 'lip' to the casting over there, now covering the axle ends. It seems that only the Shell/BP vans have the uncovered appearance and that the subsequent 'Nestles' of October 1955 and the later 'Raleigh' have the axle ends always covered by that extension. Nevertheless, it remains relatively easy to replace the rear tyres by pulling down the base plate with a screwdriver or the like.
In the base plate the number 470 was embossed initially, but on introduction of the 'Nestles' Van, no. 471, the reference number was omitted, making this base plate universally applicable to all three vans. On the base plate drawing no. 13761 that number appears to have been removed on 8 November 1954 already. In fact, the Shell/BP van shows two different base plates, with a slightly different embossed lettering, which can hardly be distinguished from each other, as has been concluded by Jacques Dujardin. The first one has more round characters, the second one a flatter type. They also register slightly differently. With the first one the 'A' from Austin is on the right side of the 'N' of Dinky, with the second he is more or less straight. Both are seen with the number 470.
The Shell/BP is the only one of the three in duo-tone colour. This first version is the only one that still occurs in a US catalogue of 1954 under the originally planned number 32a and under the name Austin 'Service Van'. The number 32a was abandoned on 17 June 1953, as shown in drawing of the base plate mentioned above. A trade box is not known. It must have been one of the first smaller models to have an individual illustrated end flaps box only. The oldest box did not yet bear a catalog number on the illustration sides. Later boxes do show 470 in red ovals on both sides. It is remarkable that the box bears the name Austin Van 'Shell' only, without the addition 'BP', which is used in Meccano Magazine and the catalogues. Since the Shell/BP van was not in production after 1956 anymore, it will never be found with treaded tyres.
In the course of time, the rebates of the rear door window couple may differ, the second change in the casting. In the end, they seem to have completely disappeared at the Raleigh Van, no. 472, possibly as a result of repaired wear of the mould.
In 1963 a second Shell/BP vehicle was introduced, the big Shell-BP Fuel Tanker, no. 944. For this model a new tank unit, made of plastic, was mounted on the cab-chassis combination of the Leyland Octopus that was in use since 1956. Additions and corrections welcome. Kind regards, Jan