Armstrong Siddeley open-top car, Bakelite (Codeg)

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Armstrong Siddeley open-top car, Bakelite (Codeg)

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Arch Two , Area 17
Toy Variety (display)


A largeish Art Deco pre-war mottled brown Bakelite toy Armstrong-Siddeley open-top two-seater car, by Codeg. The shape of the moulding and the colour almost make it look as if it's moulded from chocolate. The car would be pre-war, probably 1930s.


The car has "CODEG" moulded into the location of its rear numberplate, and "MADE IN ENGLAND" moulded into the underside.


Although the car is clearly based on an Armstrong-Siddeley, the design has some striking abstractions that make it look more like a model of an Art Deco illustration of an Armstrong-Siddley. The graphic design touches include a flattening of the bonnet top, speed stripes along the the side that arc down to point towards the lower leading edge of the rear tyres, and – most strikingly – and extension of the side stripes to wrap around the front of the bonnet, where the radiator ought to be. This is such a striking design departure from the standard Armstrong Siddeleys (and probably impractical due to the lack of a radiator grille unless this was an electric variant), that we can't help wondering whether it might have been inspired by a concept car or an actual illustration (such as a book cover).

While the modified front might have simply been a way for the toy designer to make the shape easier to mould in Bakelite (by eliminating the radiator grille), if the design wasn't based on an existing shape, the change is so radical that it'd suggest that the sculptor had a real talent for original Art Deco and/or automobile design.


Although Cowan DeGroot (CODEG) usually distributed pieces made outside the UK, this one, made in England, begs the question of who might have manufactured it. Our guess it that it might have been designed and made by a small engineering company - the axles push-fit in through the sides, but instead of being kept captive with crimping (the way a toymaking company would tend to do it), each axle has two holes drilled in it, threaded with split pins - an "engineering" solution that one wouldn't expect to see on a floor toy.

The mottled brown Bakelite is very similar to the formulation used for a short period on "oak-effect" Bayko, making us wonder if Plimpton Engineering might have manufactured it for Codeg ... But Codeg had no shortage of contacts in manufacturing, so this is probably a coincidence.