A History of Siku Model Cars - Part I: Plastic Perfection!

Images contributed by Hans Weening
[click to enlarge]
In 1949 the Sieper company decided to complement its assortment of toys, which at that time consisted of mostly mechanical tin toys, with plastic toys. The company registered the name Siku in 1950, which stands for SIeper KUnststoff, and started producing plastic toys. After producing among other things a model railroad and several hundred different plastic figures, the so-called "margarine figures" because they came free with margarine, Sieper began to produce some plastic model cars and trucks. These models did not yet have any identification numbers and were large scale models. The first models that Sieper produced were:

V1 - Mercedes 300 '53 V6 and V21 - Hanomag 2t and Ford 3500 D '51

1951: firetruck
1952: racecar
1953: amphibious truck
1954: removal van
1955: Porsche 356 with Gescha Patent engine

The margarine figures proved to be a big success and provided Sieper with enough capital to expand their toy range. Since cars began to get popular again after WWII the company decided to start production on a series of plastic car models. There were various debates about the scale these models should be in. 1:43 would make the models too expensive and 1:87 (HO) would encounter heavy competition from Wiking, another German based company which dominated the 1:87 model market at the time. (Sieper bought the Wiking company in 1984) The scale that was eventually chosen was 1:60 which was found to be competitive in costs and still large enough for details. The models were to be identifiable as the V-series in which V stands for 'Verkehrsmodelle' (Literally: Traffic Models).

V7 - Opel Rekord '53 V16 - VW Transporter T1 Kombi '50

In 1955 the V-series of plastic models were presented at the 'Nurnberger Spielwarenmesse' an annual convention in Nurnberg on which companies present their new toys. Besides the 32 models that were presented in the Siku V-series there was also a range of accessories consisting of traffic signs, figures, trees and buildings. The main reason these accessories were made was that Sieper wanted their models to be both enjoyable to play with as well as educational.

V40 - Streetcar V55 - Mercedes Metz LF 15 fire engine

The Siku plastic V-series were made to be as accurate as possible, with exception to the larger models which often feature mechanics for their owners to play with. They generally feature clear plastic windows, metal axles that offer good rolling abilities, metal weights to make them a bit heavier, wheels with rims that match those on the real model and the characteristics of the original. Special are the sets produced for driving schools. They have a small magnet glued to the bottom of the model for use with a thin plated table on which traffic situations could be simulated.

V59 - Mercedes 190 SL V142 - Lloyd Arabella

When Sieper switched to die-cast metal models in 1963 (see part II of this story in a future issue) the number of plastic models in the Siku model assortment were gradually reduced. The last of the plastic V-series were produced in 1969.

V172 - Ford M 17 '60 V190 - Mercedes 190 '61

The plastic V-series are now hard to find, especially in good condition. Mostly offered in moderately or heavily damaged condition outrageous prices are asked for them. These prices range from $12 to $750 depending on the model, color and condition. Common defects are dents, missing weights, broken edges on bumpers, scratches and partially or completely repainted models.

V9 - Opel Rekord Caravan + various figures V7, V21, V48 and V429 - Horse with carriage

Models currently in my own collection
[click to enlarge]

V21 - Ford 3500 D '51 V21 - Ford 3500 D '51
V52 - Mercedes 180 police car V52 - Mercedes 180 police car
V56 - Mercedes Metz DL 22 fire engine V56 - Mercedes Metz DL 22 fire engine
V72 - Bussing 1 1/2 Deck Aero Bus V72 - Bussing 1 1/2 Deck Aero Bus
V191 - Mercedes 300 SE V191 - Mercedes 300 SE

Below is a list of the plastic V-series Siku produced between 1955 and 1969:

V 1 Mercedes 300 '53
V 2 Mercedes 180 '53
V 3 Mercedes 220 '51
V 4 Mercedes 170 S '49
V 5 Lloyd LP 400 S
V 6 Hanomag 2t '52
V 7 Opel Rekord '53
V 8 Opel Kapitan '54
V 9 Opel Caravan '53
V 10 Opel Blitz 1 3/4t '52
V 11 Goliath threewheeler
V 12 Goliath 30
V 13 VW 1300 '53 and '57
V 14 VW T1 ambulance '50
V 15 VW TI pick-up '52
V 16 VW TI mini van '50
V 17 VW transporter I '50
V 18 Porsche 356
V 19 Ford M 12
V 20 Ford FK 1000
V 21 Ford 3500 D '51
V 22 Ford M 12 stationw. '53
V 23 DKW Kombi
V 24 DKW pick-up
V 25 DKW pick-up
V 26 DKW Sonderklasse '53
V 27 Borgward 2400
V 28 Borgward 1800
V 29 Borgward 2400 Pullmann
V 30 Messerschmitt Kabinenr.
V 31 Mercedes L 3500 tipper
V 32 Borgward Diesel 4t tipper
V 33 Mercedes 220 A
V 34 NSU-Fiat 1100 '53
V 35 Borgward Hansa 1500 '54
V 36 BMW 501
V 37 Trailer
V 38 Goggomobil '55
V 39 Bussing Trambus 6t
V 40 Streetcar
V 41 Henschel semi-tanker
V 42 Henschel tow-truck
V 43 Henschel breakdown truck
V 44 Trailer for small truck
V 45 Henschel tanker "Aral"
V 46 Henschel tanker "Shell"
V 47 Henschel tanker "Esso"
V 48 Fahr dieselpuller
V 49 Fiat 600 '56
V 50 Renault 4
V 51 BMW Isetta '55 and '57
V 52 MB Policecar 180 or 190
V 53 Trailer for cars
V 54 Whittener caravan
V 55 Mercedes Metz LF 15 f.b.
V 56 Mercedes Metz DL 22 f.b.
V 57 Trailer for streetcar
V 58 Henschel tanker "PAM"
V 59 Mercedes 190 SL
V 60 Trailer for tractor
V 61 Borgward wood trans.
V 62 Trailer for wood trans.
V 63 Mercedes glass transporter
V 64 Hayrake for tractor
V 65 Hanomag livestock truck
V 66 Borgward with ski-gear
V 67 Opel Caravan with imperial
V 68 Circus trailer
V 69 Animal trailer
V 70 Opel Blitz mail van
V 71 Mercedes 180 ambulance
V 72 Bussing 1,5 Deck aero-bus
V 73 Zundapp Janus 250
V 74 Buick
V 75 Citroen 2 CV
V 76 Citroen DS 19
V 77 Ford Fairlane Sunliner
V 78 Mercedes Taxi
V 79 Kemna Gigant street-roller
V 80 VW Karmann Coupe
V 81 VW Karmann Cabriolet
V 82 Ford M 17 Coupe '57
V 83 Opel Rekord '58
V 84 NSU Prinz
V 85 Goggo Coupe '57
V 86 BMW 600
V 87 Porsche Spyder
V 88 Mercedes LP 315 truck
V 89 Borgward tr. with snowpl.
V 90 Potato plucker
V 91 Mercedes box truck
V 92 Jeep
V 93 Trailer for Jeep
V 94 Borgward army truck
V 95 Ford 3t army truck
V 96 Mercedes refr. truck
V 97 Mercedes removal truck
V 98 Ford Edsel
V 99 Hanomag K 60 E
V100 Henschel auto-transporter
V101 V100 + 5 cars
V102 Borgward grocery truck
V103 Hatra-Schwenk loader
V104 Unimog
V105 Krupp 15 C 5 tipper truck
V106 Hanomag poultry trans.
V107 Cultivator
V108 Unimog with bridge
V109 V 10 + V 44
V110 V 21 + V 37
V111 V 8 + V 54
V112 V 13 + V 53
V113 V 40 + V 57
V114 V 48 + V 62
V115 V 48 + V 60
V116 V 48 + V 64
V117 V 48 + V 68 + V 69
V118 V 48 + V 90
V119 V 92 + V 93
V120 Scheuerle low-loader
V121 Trailer with canoe
V122 V 48 + V107
V123 Ford truck radar
V124 Henschel with semi-trailer
V125 OGM transport band
V126 Magirus garbage truck
V127 V 82 + V121
V128 Trailer for MB LP 315
V129 Daf - Hentocar bus
V130 Menck M 60 Excavator
V131 Unimog (army colors)
V132 Crede DFG 3500 forklift
V133 Miag airport lorry
V134 Miag trailer with luggage
V135 V133 + V134 (2x)
V136 Trailer with army kitchen
V137 V 95 + V138
V138 Ford mil. hospital truck
V139 BMW 700 Coupe '59
V140 Renault Dauphine
V141 DKW Junior
V142 Lloyd Arabella
V143 Opel 1200
V144 Ford M 17 station '59
V145 Auto-Union 1000 '58
V146 Mercedes 220 S '60
V147 Opel Caravan '60
V148 Opel Kapitan '60
V149 Trailer for horse trans.
V150 V 2 + V149
V151 Robuster III/48
V152 Henschel cable trans.
V153 V 88 + V128
V154 Cobolt tipper-trailer
V155 MB/Hoschle silo trans.
V156 Mercedes overhead maint.
V157 Magirus road cleaner
V158 V 99 + V 154 (2x)
V159 Liebherr mobile crane
V160 Porsche 356 patrol car
V161 Renault Floride Cabriolet
V162 Airplane tow-truck
V163 Meiller skip lorry (Krupp)
V164 Henschel with cement mix.
V165 Hanomag tractor + tipper
V166 Tempo Matador Wumag
V167 Flexmobil
V168 Opel Blitz '60
V169 Swiss container car
V170 Mercury Voyager
V171 Opel Rekord '60
V172 Ford M 17 '60
V173 Meilli Agromobil
V174 Zettelmeyer rollertrailer
V175 Hanomag Markant 3t
V176 Overhead maint. trailer
V177 Henschel Scraper
V178 3-axled tipper-trailer
V179 Henschel with Atlas rock.
V180 VW 1500
V181 Porsche 1,5 l racecar
V182 Hanomag 55 PS
V183 Duck amphibious truck
V184 Tempo overh. maint.
V185 Klaus Autoshovel
V186 Chrysler Windsor '60
V187 VW 1500 Kombi
V188 Liebherr A 350 excavator
V189 DKW/Auto-Union 4x4
V190 Mercedes 190 '61
V191 Mercedes 300 SE
V192 Mercedes 190 Taxi
V193 Krupp-Ardelt 15t crane
V194 VW T1 police van
V195 Borgward personnel truck
V196 1-axled trailer with cover
V197 Jeep with cover (military)
V198 Faun UK 10 tipper truck
V199 VW 1200 radar det. car
V200 Berliet heavy-duty tipper
V205 Ford Transit pick-up
V207 Trailer with roll of cable
V208 Krupp DK 801 tipper
V210 Hanomag Markant tanker
V213 Menck M 60 grabber
V214 Crane bridge with magnet
V215 Ford mobile cat. lab
V216 MB mail truck + 6 cont.
V217 Trailer + 4 mail cont.
V219 VW 1500 driving school