1951 Niedermeier Buick Lesabre Concept Car In Original Box

1951 Niedermeier Buick Lesabre Concept Car In Original Box

It seems that no matter how long you've been collecting antique toys there's always something you've never seen before. Maybe that's why I couldn't believe it when I recently found this vehicle. Called the "Continental Super Special" it's actually a version of Buick's LeSabre Concept Car that I never knew existed. Complete with original composition driver it's in incredible excellent+ to near mint condition. Even more amazing is that it comes with it's original box!

The car is all tin litho, but no where will you find the name of the actual manufacturer. In addition to "Continental Super Special" lithoed onto the two rear quarter panel fins, only the names "Cragstan" and "New York" were used. And incredibly enough these two names were lithoed on opposite sides of each wheel cover! I've never seen this before on any car, truck, motorcycle, plane, or boat. Cragstan was the name of the U.S. importer and distributor. Their offices were located on 5th Avenue, New York City, NY.

I was able to identify Philipp Niedermeier, Nurnberg, West Germany as the original manufacturer. This was based on a combination of the style of driver used, overall body composition and design, and it's windshield with automatic moving windshield wipers. No other company produced vehicles that have all of these specific characteristics. "Made In Western Germany" printed onto the box endflaps was the only "given" clue.

The fact that it's a Buick LeSabre Concept Car is obvious. The centrally located oval grille with parallel vertical embossed lines, with mustache type front bumper extensions, and the single large exhaust port located in the center of the rear bumper are clear give-aways. There's been no other car like it. In terms of toy production I was aware of toy manufacturers in Japan, Linemar and Yonezawa, but I never knew that a German version was also "out there". After many hours I could find no existing reference. That includes several German toy books printed in Germany as well as European and American printed auction catalogs.

As I mentioned it's all tin litho. The body is a deep metallic burgundy; possibly close to a shade of copper or bronze. The tail fins are silver with black details. The immense front bumper assembly, which includes the grille, bumpers, and headlights was pressed from a single piece of tinplate. The rear bumper with the exhaust port is actually golden in color although it's difficult to see and looks like silver. The red tail lights and black details were all lithoed onto the single part which makes up the rear bumper, exhaust, and tail lights.

The tin interior was lithoed with twin black and beige bucket sets plus an extensively detailed dashboard. The steering wheel appears to be celluloid, not plastic. The gray painted composition driver wears a gray cap, red shirt front, and sunglasses. The windshield, which is also indicative of Niedermeier, consists of a single wide strip of polished tin with a celluloid windshield. The two wipers are connected internally to the friction motor. Whenever the front wheels turn, the motor revs, and the wipers...wipe! Everything works well; motor, wheels, and wipers.

Also indicative of Niedermeier is the embossed, single plate chassis which has been polished to a brilliant mirror finish. It's not plated.

The tires are solid black rubber. And then of course there are the wheel covers. Each is embossed with a raised silver cap in the center. Surrounding the cap is a whitewall with the black text "New York" and "Cragstan" lithoed on opposite sides. There is no other text on the car. Frequently, the Niedermeier company did not identify their toys by name, but almost always the letters "PN" were left as clues...but not this time.

The front and rear box panels were printed with an illustration of the LeSabre, although it appears slightly "truncated". However, that characteristic front grille and squiggly rear fins are unmistakable. "Continental Super Special" beginning with a large capital "C" was printed across the top of the box. The Cragstan name was printed in the lower left corner. The front and rear aprons have a series of multicolored elongated diamond shapes with the words "toy" and "friction" inside each one. The Cragstan name and address appear below. The endflaps include the catalog number, 20522 and country of origin. The remnants of a hand or machine stamped "Made In Western Germany" in black ink was also added to one endflap.

Size: 13½".

Date Sold: Dec. 2009

Price Sold: $ 645


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Subject: 1951 Niedermeier Buick Lesabre Concept Car In Original Box

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