Benbros Zebra Toys

(60) 'AA' Austin Mini Van

Variation 2: Red interior, yellow plastic wheels

Near the time when the Benenson brothers sold the diecast Benbros business in 1965, they issued two models of the Austin Mini Van, one in AA (Automobile Association) livery and the other a blue version in the colours of the RAC (Royal Automobile Club). Both models were the most detailed and innovative which Benbros had made but both had very short lives so they are now rare.

 

The Mini Vans were made from a number of separate castings, the main body, two opening side doors, two opening rear doors, a roof sign and a full-length base. There was a window added to the front screen and inside there were red or yellow plastic seats, a dashboard and steering wheel. There was also a brown plastic driver.

 

The AA Mini Van was painted bright yellow which was the colour of real AA vehicles. Silver trim was added to the grille, bonnet logo, front bumper and little sidelights, and the usual Zebra Toys jewelled headlights were fitted. Decals with the 'AA' logo were placed on both side doors and both rear doors and 'AA Patrol Service' decals on the roof sign and the sides of the van.  Number-plate decals 'WXH 50' were added at the front and rear.

 

The matt-black base was slightly unusual in being stepped in order to create the inner floor and rear wheel covers. 'Austin Mini Van', 'Zebra Toys' and 'Made in England' were cast on the outer surface which was otherwise plain apart from the axle holders. The base was secured to the body at the rear by a tab and at the front by twin rivets. The wheels were yellow or blue plastic with black treaded tyres.

 

As with other Zebra Toys, the AA Mini Van had a black & white striped box with pictures on all four sides. Unusually, the end-flaps were not orange but still included a number, in this case '60'.

 

The AA Mini Van is rare because Benbros ceased trading at the time when they would have gone on sale so not many were made. As a result, mint and boxed examples carry a high value.

Variation 1: Red interior, blue plastic wheels

Benbros Zebra Toys AA Mini Van

Variations

 

1)  YELLOW van   RED interior          Roof sign & 'AA'decals   BROWN driver   BLUE plastic wheels

 

2)  YELLOW van   RED interior          Roof sign & 'AA'decals   BROWN driver   YELLOW plastic wheels

3)  YELLOW van   YELLOW interior   Roof sign & 'AA' decals  BROWN driver   YELLOW plastic wheels  

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Variation 3: Yellow interior, yellow plastic wheels

Variation 1: Red interior, blue plastic wheels

Nicholas Martin Diecast

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