Volume IX, Number 4

Champions All - Safir's Champion Racing Series
by Doug Breithaupt

For a period beginning in the 1960's, it became fashionable for makers of 1:43 scale diecast models to offer a companion small-scale line. Such established companies as Dinky, Corgi, Mercury, Norev, Polistil and others offered Mini-Dinky, Husky, Speedy, Mini-Jet and Penny models, respectively. The French company of Safir also followed this pattern in 1969, but with a twist. As Safir was now offering excellent models of current racing cars, they named their small-scale series Champion, a name also used for their 1:43 scale racers, and offered a selection of Formula One, Indy 500 and sport/GT race cars.

The initial series of F1 racers and one Indy 500 model had diecast bodies and bases while the F1 and GT race cars that followed in 1971-72 had plastic bodies and diecast bases while finally both bodies and bases were done in plastic. Perhaps due to the plastic used in many of the Champion models, these have not become as popular with collectors as their diecast cousins. While the diecast models are more pleasing to the eye and feel more substantial in weight, the plastic models are just as accurate. Champion models were offered in actual racing colors of real race cars. Often they include actual driver names like Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren or Jackie Stewart and are identified by the race in which specific colors were seen.

Safir continued to offer their 1:43 and 1:64 scale racing models into the mid 1970's. They expanded the small-scale line to include a few non-racing vehicles like the Citroen 2CV, Renault vans and Saviem trucks. These additional models were short-lived as Safir closed the doors in 1978. In Classic Miniature Vehicles Made in France, published in 1991, Dr. Edward Force provided images of most of the 1:64 scale Champion models. In all, just 18 racing models were produced. Below are examples of 15 different castings. Not shown below are the Ferrari F1 of 1969, Lotus STP Indianapolis of 1969 and the Porsche 917 Short Tail of 1971. All castings came in at least two colors with some having up to nine color/tampo variations.

Values for Champion models are still reasonable, especially for the later all-plastic versions. The best place to find them is Europe although they can sometimes be found elsewhere. They can be somewhat fragile with wheels and rear spoilers the most common problem areas. The F1 cars in particular are well worth the hunt as they represent some of the best small-scale examples from this racing era.

Lotus Ford Formula One (Mexico, Graham Hill) 1969

McLaren Formula One (Monza, Bruce McLaren) 1969

Honda Formula One (Rouen) 1969

Matra Formula One (Madrid, Henri Pescarolo) 1969

B.R.M. Formula One (Beltoise) 1972

Tyrrell-Ford Formula One (Stewart) 1972

March 711 Formula One 1972

Matra MS120 Formula One (Beltoise) 1972

Tyrrell-Ford Formula One (Cevert) 1972

Chapparal 2D (Nurburgriing) 1969

Chapparal 2D 1969

Ferrari 512S (Filipinetti) 1971

Ferrari P4 (Monza) 1969

Ferrari P4 1969

Ford GT II (Sebring) 1969

Lola T70 (Sebring) 1969

Lola T70 (Sebring) 1969

Ford GT II (Le Mans) 1969

Porsche 917 Long Tail 1971

Matra 650 (Pescarolo) 1971