Featuring 1:64 scale diecast vehicles of all makes and models.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Summer Toyota Celica LB Turbo GR.5 Restoration

Summer Metal Products Manufacturing, Ltd., began making 1:64 scale toy diecast vehicles in the mid-1970's and marketed them under the name Summer (SM). Their first cars released used the numbers S671 through S698, starting approximately 1976-1978. Later in the same decade, they came out with their second group of vehicles using the numbers S8001 through S8108. It is from this second group and time period that the title car of this post first joined my collection. By 1980, my collection consisted of only two Summer vehicles, both acquired around the same time. The first one was a silver 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, with the base number S692. It is pictured below:

Knowing that the numbering system they used for their first run of cars ended at S698, I noticed that my Rolls-Royce was among their final castings in this group. In fact, it was the next to last release in that first collection. The other car I purchased was the Toyota Celica LB Turbo GR.5, with the base number S8001. Seeing as how it was the first casting in the second list of numbers they used, it made sense to me that I got them both around the same time and that they had both been released close together. The Roll-Royce still looks like the picture above, but the Toyota Celica suffered more abuse. I suppose it was bias on my part that saw me treating the Rolls-Royce with more care than a Toyota. Through the early years I had it, the paint faded and chipped off in several places and the adhesive paper decals it had come with became very worn. Perhaps the paint on this first version wasn't as sturdy or something. Anyway, I decided to customize my Toyota and repaint it a bright red. Here is what it looked like for that first "restoration" attempt:

When it was originally released, it was blue and had a racing theme with decals that consisted of a number "1" and Esso sponsorship. Over time, my original car became so worn it looked a lot like this other one now in my collection:

I have also seen this same Toyota Celica with different decals, real tampos this time, and sporting the number "12" and Marlboro sponsorship. This model looks like this:

The reason I know that mine was the earlier release is by examining the base of both of these models closely. The first one, the Esso "1," has a base that shows the Summer logo, the model number, the name of the car and where it was made - "Made in Hong Kong. " The second release, the Marlboro "12," has had the name of the car and the country of manufacture routed out of the original mold. To me, that signifies that it is a later release rather than earlier. I'm told by Steve Masson that the reason the name was removed from the bottom of the car is probable licensing issues with Toyota. That makes sense, now that I think about it. Compare both bases and see what I mean:

Esso "1" base

Marlboro "12" base

Esso "1" base detail

Marlboro "12" base detail

Tampo detail on the hood of the Marlboro "12" version

Decal detail on the hood of the Esso "1" version

Back wing detail of the Esso "1"
You can see that the decals are obviously paper on the earlier version. Even though the name "Esso" was all but obliterated on the back of the car, I was able to recognize that it was the Esso logo. Compare below to see what I mean:

I have seen four different styles of wheels used on this model and they include a "5 Star" wheel, a "6 Point" wheel and a "4 Spoke" wheel. I have also seen a version with an un-chromed, white plastic "5 Star" wheel used.

The wheels on my car were all used up, but you can still see that they were "6 Point" wheels:

Seeing it's deteriorated condition, even after I had repainted it years ago, made me want to "bring it back to life," so to speak and make it look like it did when I first got it. It deserved that much. Most Summer models have a simple chrome-plated plastic interior, which in the case of my Toyota, held the front and rear wheels in place. Here is what the base and interior looks like, with the addition of the new wheels it so needed:

I decided to paint it close to the original color, a dark blue, but I wanted it have a little extra sheen. I used an automotive paint which first required a silver basecoat. Here is the basecoat with some early wheels holding it up for a picture:

I have since painted it with a couple coats of the upper color and reassembled it. I'd like to recreate the exact look of the original adhesive decals and add them on in the proper places, but I don't know - I think it looks kind of nice with no designs on it anywhere. What do you think?

So, there is the complete story of my Summer Toyota Celica LB Turbo GR.5 - from it's humble beginnings to it's colorful present restored appearance. Tomica has made a version of this casting, so it must be popular with other people besides me. Even though Summer vehicles are considered to be some of the cheapest made, I think there's a certain attraction to some of their models. Does anybody else have Summer models in their collection that they treasure? I'm almost certain that I've seen this same casting of a Toyota Celica race car in a group of non-descript vehicles packaged in a big set. It's tempting to buy this set just to have a new version of my old favorite to go along with it's older sibling!
I've also been informed by Steve that this little Toyota was based upon a real-life race car driven by Harald Ertl, in 1977, and Rolf Stommeln in 1978. While my car seems loosely based on the paint scheme that was used in 1977, the Tomica version of this same car is almost identical to the 1978 paint scheme. The actual car showed speed and promise, but in the end turned out to be disappointing in it's racing results. Too bad! But I like my little version anyway!
As you can see, I have found a new version of this venerable casting. The only thing about it is that it is a cheaper version - the seats (there are two of them now instead of only one) are molded into the base and there's no dash or steering wheel; and the body looks similar but it is slightly different. It's much thinner metal, too. There are also side windows molded in, not just the windshield piece. I suppose it's mainly interesting in that they just won't let this casting die. It's painted with no racing decals on it and made to resemble a regular car:


  1. Thanks for letting me know about the Summer model. Didn't even know it existed. Despite the poor race results, the car must have made a real impact on the public in the late '70s because, as you probably know, Tamiya did a 1:24 scale motorised plastic kit at the time. For my sins, I recently purchased a 1:43 EBBRO diecast model of it (produced in 2002).

    Great resto job too! You are right, it looks damn good and I would be tempted to leave it as is - unless you can get hold of another one to restore.

    FYI, the original car is now in Bavaria at Autohaus Engel. It is still in the red 1978 livery but is looking a little unloved. Pictures on this page:


  2. Thanks for letting me know it's current whereabouts - it does look kind of dusty and unloved, doesn't it? I think I can lay my hands on another one of these, brand new at a particular store I visit. If it's still there on Friday, I'm thinking about getting it. I might need to do one in red, too!

  3. I wonder if I can get hold of them here in the Philippines. They look great.

  4. Aya Mizumi, the original casting doesn't seem to be sold still, but a recasting that looks identical, but made of thinner metal, (such as the last image above), is still being made. I find it in sets every now and then. I've seen it in a big semi truck that carries about 12-14 different cars like a car-hauler and the latest one I've found was a 10-pack distributed by Dollar General Corporation. The last one also comes with street signs. It says "Made in China" on the bottom, so maybe it available in other parts of the world. Thanks for commenting!

  5. I have what appears to be a car with a new chassis and and windows and old body it is a variation of the Marlboro car with the yellpw parts being blue the chassis and windows appear to be the new one but has the original s8001 base code but without the summer logo