When I was a kid back in the early 70s I lost a Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5. I remember the traumatic events well. I was on a walk with my parents. We stopped on a bench for a rest, I put down the Aston and a Jaguar D-type ‑ my two favourite toy cars ‑ and when we left, there they stayed. Of course we went back but astonishingly in that apparently deserted wood there was another toy car fan who had made off with my cars. Bugger. I’ve still got the D-type’s little white plastic driver to this day, a memento to my youthful forgetfulness.
Anyway, the point of this is that the Aston Martin is highly collectible now. If you’ve got one that’s immaculate, in its box with the spare villain to be propelled out through the sun roof via working ejector seat, you’re looking at £800. Other models of the era are similarly valuable.
Of course condition is the key. The rubber tyres apparently perish with age and models that weren’t manufactured in any great volume will always be the most valuable. As will cars that are in their boxes. And that’s where it all goes wrong. When you’re a five-year old car fan, you’re not interested in the packaging. You just want to get your hands on the treasure within and start scooting it along the kitchen floor. And let’s be honest, boxes back then could be pretty rudimentary affairs anyway. Saving the packaging was never top of the agenda.
Neither was preserving the condition. I had a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. It was in a metallic red paint. Beautiful. Until it got battered against various skirting boards. So what did I do? Repainted it of course. By hand. It looked worse than in its battered state and now it’s pretty much worthless.
Of course collectors themselves don’t have a great image. You might imagine grown men who spend too much time with their mothers. I would too, except I know a couple of collectors; one of them’s in the family. And they’re both remarkably normal. They collect because people collect things. That their collections will be worth a small fortune in the fullness of time is a happy by product. Did they collect as kids? Of course not. And that’s why their equivalents who stashed toy cars away in attics in their boxes in the 60s and 70s so they’re now in immaculate condition with their boxes were actually remarkably sensible. Even if they did live with their mums…