I’ve had this little oddity for a while now but have only just sat down to put some words together. And I’m glad to be finally giving it some airtime as it really does deserve a place here at Lamley. My aim with covering these unique brands and models is always to educate readers eager to learn about new brands and castings and also to give a glimpse into the history of our hobby. So without further ado this is the Volkswagen 412 by Stelco of West Germany.
In 1935 a Dr. Adolf Kürschner set up a small factory building metal toys in the city of Fürth, Germany. Production halted during the war but by the early 1950s “Metallwarenfabrik Dr. Adolf Kürschner” were back in business. They began making scale vehicles crafted from soft vinyl as well as plastic car park sets which were a fixture in the life of many West German children in the 1960s and 70s. In 1973 Kürschner handed over to his son-in-law Heino Stelter who renamed the firm “Spielwarenfabrik Dr. Adolf Kürschner – Inhaber Stelter & co.” which is a huge mouthful but thankfully was normally referred to as “AK Stelco”. By the 1970s the Japanese company Tomy had taken an interest, but in April 1976 a fire gutted the factory causing over 5 million Deutschmarks of damage. By 1979 the company had been declared bankrupt and was entirely swallowed up by Tomy.
The VW 412 isn’t something I think has been replicated in 1:64/3-inch before so the Stelco replica is a unique thing. The Volkswagen 412 was the second generation of Volkswagen’s Type 4 family car. Arriving in 1972, the 412 featured a restyled front end with new Halogen lights and headlight surrounds. The 412 was available in 2 and 4-door guises as well as an estate model with power coming from a 1679cc or 1795cc rear mounted flat-4 engine. Production was also undertaken in South Africa with the final cars rolling off the line in July 1974.
The Stelco car is constructed in plastic with a metal weight affixed to the chassis (à la early Schuco) and is a well proportioned little model, capturing the odd looks of the 412 very well. There are no markings to indicate scale though it is often listed in sources as 1:66.
There’s a sparsely detailed interior moulded in one piece which is rather ingeniously tooled to clip into the body where the door handles sit. The bright green colour and silver hubcaps could quite easily be straight from the Volkswagen options list!
Stelco also did a few other vehicles in this range including the Opel Commodore and Ford Taunus Coupe, but the VW is my favourite and was available in several colours. They can be found occasionally on Ebay once you’ve trawled through many listings for Stelco’s vinyl cars, but they are out there. If you’re a collector, a hoarder like me or a fan of Volkswagen in general then the Stelco 412 would make a great acquisition.