MERCURY 1/48

Made in Italy - 1/48 scale
1953-1964
Updated 2018/10/10
ITALIAN
 

I was only one year when the Mercury began producing cars in the original scale 1:48. In fact, in 1953 the Turin-based company, already present in the market for several years, began producing the FIAT 1100/103, with the round-shaped trunk. What a beautiful 103, with bench-shaped front seat and gear-shift at the steering wheel. It reminds me of the many trips taken in the summer to go on holiday to my grandmother's house, in Isili, a village at the heart of Sardinia. We did not own the 103 (the first car in my house, a grey Skoda Octavia, arrived in 1963), but we used to take advantage of the courtesy of a wealthy neighbor who for business reasons traveled to Cagliari on a regular basis. Officially it was a six-seater, but we children traveled on the lap of adults and the 103 fitted as many as 8-9 people at a time and a lot of luggage on the roof. On narrow and bumpy roads, honking at every turn. Upon arrival I was happy to see my grandmother, but my eyes followed the black 1100 that went away grumbling. Good times.

Many other cars of my childhood have been reproduced by Mercury in this scale. Some relatives had the Fiat 600 of the first type, an aunt had a dark gray 1300 (what a luxury!), some family friends had a Lancia Appia first series (as well as a Topolino Belvedere with sunroof) and a neighbor owned a light gray Appia third series. And again other friends had the red Beetle, with reinforced bumpers in American style, others had a 500 with suicide doors. In this neighborhood, you could always see a dark blue Innocenti 950S, that was so low that it wasn't very difficult for me to see the interior and its rich instrumentation, and a red Giulietta Sprint, a spectacular car, whose owner did not even want us kids to get near it. I wonder if he had had as many as you can see here below ...

These Mercury models are very beautiful, much more beautiful now, half a century later than at their time. And, above all, painted in different colors, as if the company had had a premonition of the demand of the future collectors for those who were in reality just toys. Note, in fact, that with a few hundred lire (the price of a pair of daily newspapers) you could buy a brand new Cadillac with its box. Today the same model, if you find it, is sold at the equivalent of 150-200 daily newspapers. A substantial appreciation. Of course, if you consider the color of the bodywork, of the seats and of the roof covers, the rear badges (gold or silver) and of tires, the variations are so many that the poor collector (in the sense that his commitment is heavy) easily becomes poor (in the sense that he needs a fortune to buy them all). But it is great to see them all together.

The simple Fiat 600 Multipla, two-tone, and in good condition with the original box can easily exceed 100 euro, while originally was bought with about 500 lire. It is this same model, always made in a two-tone livery, that holds the record of color variations. In the big picture, on the top of this page, you can count 31 pieces, all different. Looking at the picture you might think of some duplication, but it is not true: some variants show different interiors, others do not have them at all. You can get crazy! And these models are mostly without windows, without suspension, without rhinestone headlights, no decals, no interior... There is only the shell of zamak (what is more, it is poorly finished and smudged), the base and the wheels. Is it possible to have, apart from the different colors, many other variations? The answer is yes!

To help my fellow collectors to view the various series in chronological order, I reported on the right side some useful tips about dating and classification, without claiming to have offered a comprehensive discussion, which remains open to contributions from everyone. In the information sheets of the individual models will be found less generic elements of cataloging.

Thanks, dear friends, for visiting this page.

Alberto Spano

GENERAL
CLASSIFICATION
CRITERIA


The models in this series have very similar characteristics (apart from the scale, which often falls outside the declared 1:48) and they have evolved, over time, depending on taste, competition and technological developments. In general, models produced up to 1956-57 don't have glasses and interiors. They haven't suspension and the axles of the wheels are held in place by two narrow transversal plaques, one at the front axle and one at the back. The base (without any mechanical parts in relief) is painted silver and riveted to the bodywork. The transversal plaques can be painted or not. The bumpers are fused together to the base or to the bodywork and to the front grille. The headlights are made of silver painted metal, and fixed with a tack. The rear lights are painted red or orange. The number plate is painted as the bodywork. Tyres are gray or black, but it is possible to find white tyres in some models. Below, you can see the base of a 1100/103 of the first series, with painted transversal plaques, and that of a Giulietta Sprint with unpainted plaques.


Later (from 1957 onwards, depending on the models) models are fitted with windows and interiors. In some cases, we only find the interior (600 Multipla) and in other models just the windows. The base, of the same kind as the first series, is now chromed instead of just painted. See below the chrome plated base of a Studebaker Golden Hawk.

After a few years, 1959-60, the Mercury tried to reduce costs by eliminating the chromework of the bases, which became silver painted again, and adopting the headlights included in the molds of the body and then painted in silver. Some models did not have suspensions for some time. Since 1960-61, however, the competition imposed to install the suspension on the car models and this necessitated the study of new bases for fix them.
The new bases are first silver painted and then painted in matt black. See below, the base of a Flaminia (black, without suspension), and the base of two Giulietta TI, first chrome plated and then black, with suspension and no plaques.



On some models we begin also to see some embossed mechanical parts, as you can see below in a Fiat 1300 with a smooth base, which precedes the Fiat 1300 with embossed mechanical parts..


Unlike other brands such as Dinky Toys or Politoys Plast, the color of the tires says very little about the chronological development of the models. In fact, many models have always been produced with black tires, while others were produced mostly with gray tires. When a model had both types of tires, generally, the gray tires preceded the blacks ones, but ... tires are not riveted, and can easily be replaced.

In the specifications of the individual models will be found more precise cataloging elements.


THE MERCURY 1/48 CATALOGUE (1953-1964 PRODUCTION)

Art. 1
Art. 2
Art. 3
Art. 4
Art. 5
FIAT Nuova 500
FIAT 1800 Berlina
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint
Ford Continental
Lancia Appia III Serie

Art. 6
Art. 7
Art. 8
Art. 9
Art. 10
Autobianchi Bianchina
FIAT 1500 Spider
Lancia Flaminia
FIAT 1300/1500
Innocenti 950 S

Art. 11
Art. 13
Art. 14
Art. 15
Art. 16
A. Bianchina Panoramica
FIAT 1100/103
Lancia Appia I Serie
Volkswagen 1200
Alfa Romeo 1900 Super

Art. 17
Art. 18
Art. 19
Art. 20
Art. 27
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Berlina
FIAT 600 Berlina
FIAT 600 Multipla
Alfa Romeo Giulietta TI
Studebaker Golden Hawk

Art. 28
Art. 29
Art. 30
Art. 31
Art. 35
Cadillac Eldorado
Rolls Royce Silver Cloud
Bentley S
Lancia Flavia Berlina
FIAT 1300 Polizia