Baffling toy cars: Excellent Corned Beef sedan delivery and Fast Food taxi

One was a gift from a 24 Hours of Lemons racer, the other was found in a junkyard Chrysler 300M.

Since my job involves a lot of sitting at a desk and writing about automotive stuff, that desk ends up covered with car-related detritus. I have a Childs & Albert aluminum connecting rod from one of Don Prudhomme’s 1990s Sears Point race cars, a still-boxed “Mad Max” Cole-Hersee axle switch, a Dia de los Muertos plaster depiction of skeletal mechanics wrenching on a Vocho and, of course, some toy cars. I try to rotate them, but two have remained in a prominent spot atop my computer case for quite a while: the Fast Food Taxi and the Excellent Corned Beef Sedan Delivery.

Anybody recognize the company logo, above the MADE IN JAPAN lettering?

The Excellent Corned Beef Sedan Delivery (or maybe it’s a severely chopped station wagon) came as a generous bribe from a 24 Hours of Lemons Renault racer, given to to me while I wore the sacred robe of the Lemons Supreme Court. It appears to be a Japanese tin toy from the 1950s, around the same era as my beloved Japanese “1960 Ceresler” medallion. I believe it represents what a postwar Japanese artist believed a typical American food-delivery vehicle looked like, with the super-low roofline a result of the extremely affordable production methods used to stamp the tin. Just look at that tasty cow!

Now I’m hungry!

So the Excellent Corned Beef Sedan Delivery shows up in your neighborhood and delivers… a pink truncated pyramid of pink goo, which should be served on a plate covered with mysterious green blobs. Maybe those are decaying bovine lymph nodes? This is the view of the Excellent Corned Beef Sedan Delivery that fills me with fascinated horror. I’m impressed that the artist remembered the correct left-side placement of the steering wheel (most of these tin car toys were intended for sale in the United States).

Sadly, the Excellent Corned Beef Sedan Delivery is missing the left rear wheel.

Motivation was provided by a simple friction motor with a hexagonal axle driving the rear wheels, but my Excellent Corned Beef Sedan Delivery lacks the left rear wheel and so it must be described as ran when parked.


The headlights are a bit asymmetrical.

I have come to feel affection for my Excellent Corned Beef Sedan Delivery, which combines the endearingly cheap-but-sturdy build quality I love about postwar cheap Japanese cameras with the what-were-they-thinking mystery of the extremely unappetizing corned beef image (and the vision of America it represented to some mid-1950s Japanese artist).

I think this car is a mashup of Toyota Crown, Checker Marathon and Ford Crown Victoria.

I find a lot of forlorn toy cars during my junkyard travels, and I leave 99 out of 100 right where I found them. Something about this Fast Food Taxi (which I found in a fully hooptified late-1990s Chrysler LH) made me pop it into my toolbox, though, and then give it a home on my desk (after running it through the dishwasher, to get the scabies and hantavirus off it). After some research, I determined that it started life as part of the Matchbox City Links Workday Playset, which depicts a cheerful-yet-dystopic urban environment. Would you get in a cab with no identification other than “FAST FOOD” lettering and a speeding wheeled hamburger on the side? I think it pairs well with the Excellent Corned Beef Sedan Delivery.


I think this stuff is supposed to inspire me to greater creative heights.

The two unappetizing-food-related toy cars sit next to the “Pyongyang Player” statue of Kim Jong-Il that once served as hood ornament on a 24 Hours of Lemons Volvo 240 and then traveled with me on a 2,000-mile winter rally in a Mercedes-Benz S550. In the background, a light-up plexiglass Opel Manta icon and a Jamaican mechanic’s sign.

This is the toy car I should have on my desk.

I have decided to upgrade this Tomica 1:64-scale Toyota Corona, a gift from Honda Beat owner and fellow car writer Mike Austin, from garage windowsill to office desk. It’s like a shiny, red right-hand-drive version of my not-at-all shiny, beige left-hand-drive first car!

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