Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Saint's Car

Here's my prize acquisition from Sunday's antiques show at Alexandra Palace -- a tiny version of Simon Templar's car from "The Saint," the '60s TV show starring Roger Moore.

I have long loved "The Saint," mainly for its euro-groovy fashions and sense of glamor. (The plots sometimes don't make much sense.) Growing up in Florida, I used to watch it in reruns on weekday mornings whenever I was home from school. I still record it on our DVR here in London and inflict it upon Dave occasionally.

"The Saint" chronicles the adventures of Templar (played by Moore), a suave sort of spy hero who works independently to right wrongs and bring about justice. The character was originally the creation of an author named Leslie Charteris, but I'm guessing that today more people know him from television than from books. The series ran from 1962-69 and led to Moore becoming James Bond in the Bond movies of the '70s.

Wandering among the crowded tables at the antiques show, I felt a surge of excitement the minute I saw that famous saintly logo on a toy car squeezed amid other metallic detritus.

The car, a Volvo 1800 by Corgi Toys, was badly battered, and the guy selling it wanted a ridiculous amount of money (£15, or about $24). I talked him down a few pounds, but still wound up paying $20.

As I was admiring my purchase on a quiet staircase a few moments later, some guy wandered past, looked at the car and exclaimed "Simon Templar!" We got into a conversation about the well-worn toy, and when he learned I'd paid £13, he scoffed. "Why, you could get a brand new one in a box for that kind of money!" he said.

I'm not sure that's true. This one, on eBay, is $50, and this one is £99, or $156! (Then again, this one, which looks a little more like mine, is £1.50.)

Besides, I don't want a new one in a box. I want one with some character, one that's been played with and used. I certainly got that here.

I think Simon must have parked it in a tough neighborhood, because its two front tires are missing.

But Simon himself -- or a plastic approximation thereof -- is still in the driver's seat! Something tells me if he were life-sized he'd be quite hellish and terrifying.

Here's a web page that gives some more history about the toy, produced between 1965-68.


  1. How fun to find something you treasure so much.

    I wanted to mention that I have been reading this new book series. It is set in 1876 London, and I found myself thinking about your "Parading with Ringo Star" post.

    I wonder how much of the places I am reading about is still around. See what you started. :P

    Ms. M

  2. What a great find, and while I don't know anything about this dude, I know exactly how thrilled you must be with your purchase!

  3. What fun! I've never seen the series, but I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the Val Kilmer movie adaptation (he's so pretty - ha!).

  4. SCORE! I am such a sucker for old cars and trucks especially in "used" condition! I have a drawer full, they are sort of my secret guilty pleasure.