DINKY 354: PINK PANTHER’S CAR (1972-1980):
This model was released in two separate versions, the Dinky 354 Pink Panther Car (1972 -1977) and then re-released as the Pink Panther’s Jet Car (1977-1980).
DINKY 354 – 1st VERSION PINK PANTHER CAR:
The first Pink Panther car, dinky model # 354, had a large black central wheel in the middle of the car. This was the flywheel that generates its ‘dynamic power’ activated by a rip cord with a serrated edge.
The model came with a pull cord to power up the flywheel or as described in the catalogue; “a central gyroscopic road wheel with pull-through rack rod” and an instruction sheet.
The pink base colour shades could vary from a light to a darker pink which could also result in a mix and match of the nose colour. There is a less common version which had a black nose and this has been seen without a black painted side stripe.
There was also a pink base variation with a pink seat which also appears to be rare.
The wheels were sometimes left unpainted.
DINKY 354 – 2nd VERSION PINK PANTHER CAR:
In 1977 Dinky released a simpler version which underwent many changes. With no large central flywheel, the ‘dynamic power’ went and the labelling now said ‘Jet Car’ There was a large sticker of the Pink Panther on the top of the body. The lines of the doors on the sides were missing and replaced with decals.
The Jet Car wheels were either cast or speed wheels like the original 354 version and again could be silver painted or left black.
The base plate of the 2nd version omitted ‘Dinky Toys’ and replaced this with ‘Meccano’ the parent company.
TV SERIES: THE PANTHERMOBILE:
The Panthermobile was based on a real, fully functional car which was used in the opening credits to The Pink Panther TV show (1969-1976).
PROP V ACTUAL:
The Dinky model lines are spoiled by the flywheel protruding out of the top, but this would have added to the play value. The second version was more accurate physically apart from the decals which were inaccurate visually.
(Top) 1st version (Middle) Panthermobile (Bottom) 2nd version.
(Bottom) There were two versions of the Pink Panther himself, the 1st version car had a simpler two colour figure and the 2nd version a more detailed one.
ODDITIES AND RARITIES:
Original artwork for the all cardboard box
The original box had an image of the actual car used in the TV series plus instructions in a variety of foreign languages.
The original photo used for the first box.
The second box version was a bubble pack, omitting Dinky Toys in favour of Meccano branding. On the back was a picture for colouring in.
The bubble packs were sold in trade boxes of 6.
The 354 Panthermobile first appeared in the Dinky 1972 catalogue.
And the model made its final appearance in the 1980 catalogue which was never published. The image below is from a transparency.