Benbros Zebra Toys
RAC Austin Mini Van
photos David Stead
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 plastic seats, a dashboard and steering wheel. For the RAC version there was also a blue plastic driver.
The RAC Mini Van was painted blue which was the colour of real RAC 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 'RAC' logo were placed on both side doors and both rear doors and 'RAC Road 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 blue (and possibly sometimes yellow) plastic with black treaded tyres.
As with other Zebra Toys, the RAC Mini Van had a black & white striped box with pictures on all four sides. Unusually, the end-flaps were not orange and for the RAC Van there seems to have been no number.
The RAC 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.
Benbros Zebra Toys RAC Mini Van
1) BLUE van incl.doors, Roof sign, 'RAC Service' decals, BLUE driver, BLUE plastic wheels
2) BLUE van incl.doors, Roof sign, 'RAC Service' decals, BLUE driver, YELLOW plastic wheels