DINKY 109 ‘GABRIEL’ MODEL T FORD (1969-1971)
Riding on the back of previous successes with Gerry Anderson TV series related models, Dinky came up with ‘Gabriel’ the Model T Ford driven by Father Unwin in the not so successful TV Series, ‘The Secret Service’. With very little play value it lasted just about two years.
Dinky already had a model T the 475 Model T Ford (1964-1966) and the chassis mould was used for this model and for the 485 Santa Special Model T Ford.
The real life Model T Ford, first produced in 1917, was the world’s first mass produced car. Henry Ford was quoted as saying “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as its black”
THE TV SERIES:
The Secret Service was a British children’s espionage television series, filmed by Century 21 for ITC Entertainment and broadcast in 1969. Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and produced by David Lane and Reg Hill, it was the eighth and last Century 21 production to feature, marionette puppet characters as part of a filming technique known as “Supermarionation”. The Secret Service also incorporated footage of live actors.
Father Unwin, marionette, driving ‘Gabriel’
The series follows the adventures of Father Stanley Unwin, a character both voiced by and acted by the real-life comedian, rather than a priest, of the same name.
Outwardly the parish priest of a rural English village, Unwin is in fact a secret agent for BISHOP, a covert branch of British Intelligence that counters criminal and terrorist threats from abroad.
Aided by junior operative Matthew Harding, the Father answers to his London-based superior, “The Bishop”. Whenever they must gather intelligence in a hostile situation, Unwin and Matthew deploy the “Minimiser” – a gadget capable of shrinking people and objects to a fraction of their normal size – to carry out secret reconnaissance.
Father Stanley Unwin’s mode of transport is a Model T Ford named ‘Gabriel’. There was a full size car as well as a miniature prop version operated by remote control.
The full size version of ‘Gabriel’ can also be seen in the UFO episodes,’ Identified’ and ‘A Question of Priorities’.
PROP v ACTUAL:
The model is a good replica of the real thing with an accurate colour scheme and good attention to detail.
There were minor variants to the model over the two years of production. A yellow steering wheel was used rather than the more common black one probably using excess stock as this colour was used on the 475 Model T ford which finished production in 1968.
Also the windscreen and radiator finishes could be bright metallic gold or a duller brass finish.
The cardboard box has great artwork of the car and the inner tray has a picture of Father Unwin’s house and the garage where Gabriel resides.
With packing piece
Despite its TV pedigree and looks the model was never pictured in the Dinky Toy catalogues of the period although Meccano magazine gave it a good write up.
Model Cars magazine featured Space Models TV prop of Gabriel.
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