DINKY 352 ED STRAKER’S CAR (1971-1975):
Another TV tie in from the U.F.O. series was Ed Straker’s Car. It featured a ‘keyless clockwork motor’ and was produced for four years. The most common colour was a gold chrome finish.
The car was named after Col. Edward “Ed” Straker, played in the TV series by Ed Bishop, who set up SHADO following a series of UFO attacks in 1970. Straker masquerades as the head of Harlington-Straker Film Studios.
The other models from the U.F.O. programmes were the 353 SHADO 2 Mobile and the 351 SHADO Interceptor which had eight year production runs.
The car featured a ‘keyless clockwork motor’, activated by reversing car whilst pressing the rear down to wind up the spring and then letting the car go. Many versions have bumps and dings to the front bumper paintwork as a result. This motor was the same as used in 108 Sam’s Car.
The car most prominently featured in the U.F.O. TV series was the brown coupe which SHADO’s Commander Straker used as his runabout. The car was based on a vehicle used in the 1969 movie, Doppelgänger, also known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun which Gerry and Sylvia Anderson wrote and produced.
The car was described as turbine powered with power-operated gull wing doors and a built-in mobile phone. But actually beneath the aluminium bodywork was a modified Zephyr-Zodiac Mk IV chassis fitted with an Escort engine and gearbox, the phone was a prop and the doors had to be manually hauled up! See the picture below to see a rod holding the door open.
PROP v ACTUAL:
The model is a little squatter than the actual prop used which was dark brown in colour. The shiny gold and later yellow livery of the Dinky version were presumably thought to be more attractive colours.
A later version of Ed Straker’s car was also widely produced in yellow but is still rarer than the gold chrome version.
The interiors for both the Gold and the Yellow versions could be white, light or mid blue or the rarer black.
The Gold version could have a painted/polished or bare metal base. The Yellow version had a black painted base.
There were two different cast wheel types, concentric rings and spoked. The gold chrome version had both types but I’ve only seen the concentric rings wheel on the yellow version.
This is a chrome version of the 352, recently obtained. I am 99% sure its genuine as it had aged tell-tale overspray marks. I’ve done my best photographically to show the car but it looks far more play worn than it is in reality! If a collector has better pictures or can corroborate the production of this version, it would be much appreciated.
According to the Dinky Toys Encyclopedia there are other chrome Dinkys : 39eu Chrysler Royal, 149 Citroën Dyane, 965 Euclid rear dump truck and the 925 Leyland dump truck.
As with the 101 Thunderbird 2 and 103 Spectrum Patrol Car, experimental models with a plastic body with a metal base were made. They were a cost saving experiment which never went into full production and only a handful of these were ever made. They were not prototypes for the original model.
Both a red version, often incorrectly quoted as a full metal colour variant, and a green version are known to exist. Note the red version is sporting the later speed wheels.
ODDITIES AND RARITIES:
Claimed as genuine but this is only version seen on an auction site.
A bubble box was produced for a short while. Only the Yellow variant was available in this box type.
The tall bubble version below has been seen once on a reputable auction site. One expert has commented that the bubble top looks too high for the model. Are there any other examples out there?
The first appearance of Ed Straker’s car was in the 1972 Dinky catalogue and its last appearance in the 1975 version.
After filming finished, the ex BBC Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis (DLT) owned Ed Straker’s car for a while and then sold it. This car was discovered in 2011 and a fibreglass mould of the original body was taken with the intention of recreating Ed’s car.
11 thoughts on “352: Ed Straker’s Car”
Excellent site, most impressed. One small correction: Doppleganger was directed by Robert Parrish not Gerry Anderson.
How do i recreate the gold finish as a restoration please,
You can but the what I call the gaudy bright paint in Gold or Silver in a rattle can, a godsend for Dinky restorations I may add, and its great stuff to apply, I recently purchased two large cans of each colour for around £8.00 ! from Aldi!.
Hi John, You’re absolutely right, Gerry and Sylvia produced the movie and wrote the script whilst Robert Parrish directed. Text corrected. Thank you Kevin
You noted that the original prop car had Power doors. In reality it did not, every time you see the door(s) auto open, one side of the door will be out of shot. That is so you don’t see the hand of one of the crew, pulling the door up! Not really relevant for your site, but I have always found it fun trivia.
Hi Richard, You are right, the actual prop looked far better than its construction implied and the doors were manually operated. From Wikipedia: “Both Ed Bishop and Michael Billington commented that the futuristic cars were “impossible to drive”, partly because the steering wheel was designed for looks rather than functionality. Also, the gull-wing doors did not open automatically. Every shot in which the car door was seen to open automatically had to be arranged so that a prop man could run up to the car, just outside the frame, open the door, and hold it open while Ed Bishop stepped out. In certain episodes (most notably “Court Martial”) the prop man can be seen.” I’ve modified the text slightly to clarify the fact from the fiction. Thank you for calling this out. Cheers Kevin
These cars should be found and restored to show Generations what our parents thought the future Vehicles would look like The Innovation that went into these vehicles was astounding for its time most of the things that you see in the futuristic vehicles are in today’s automobiles
Totally agree Douglas, apart from the rear facing driving position on the SPV! Cheers Kevin
I bought a 352 ed strakers car silver chrome because the person who sold it to me lives in liverpool he told me that it is really the factory paint and the interior is black
I suspect the blue mettallic version is not genuine, simply because the silver trim is painted to well!!…
Hi Alan, Fair comment! And so far have not seen another one like this. Cheers Kevin