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Giuseppe Conti founded his company Giuseppe Conti & Co. in 1889 in Bollate, near Milan, Italy. He specialized in the production of wooden rocking horses and dolls (known for sparkling eyes of fake diamonds).

In 1946 the cousins Parretti, three railwaymen of the Italian Railways FS (Ferrovie dello Stato), built for themselves a scale model of a locomotive. After showing it to friends, who praised the quality of the model, they decided to start a small scale production with the trade mark CO.MO.G.E., which means Costruzione Motori Giocattoli Elettrici (Electric Toy Engine Construction).

In 1947, the Parretti cousins, decided to professionalise and joined forces with Giuseppe Conti and focused on electric toys, especially trains. The factory remained in Bollate. The joint venture, with the CO.MO.G.E. trade mark, lasted from 1947 to the beginning of the 1960’s, when the Parrettis left the company as Conti sold the business to Oreste Cicchetti. During this time, they produced a maximum of 55000 train toys (each toy was individually numbered) and a very limited amount of cars.

The trains and the cars they made are not explicitly modelled to a 1:1 example, although the ultra-rare Autopista car set, which we show here, is either inspired by the Volkswagen Split Window Beetle and/or by the Lancia Aprilia or Lancia Ardea. Sources at VW Wolfsburg claim it is a VW, but it certainly also has many characteristics of the Lancia. For reasons of completeness, we list it as VW, but we are in doubt. Autopista means car track in English. This Autopista set was produced in very limited numbers in or around 1947/48 and was very expensive to buy.

The oval track set, measuring app. 81 cm long, 53 cm wide and 33 cm tall is handmade of wood and metal, with a fabric roof covering a metal screen and uses an electric transformer. The 1/41 scale cars (98 mm) are made of die-cast aluminium and pick up their electricity through their antenna connection from the metal screen roof. The cars, 5 are believed to belong to a set, race around the oval metal track and when one bumps into the front car, its bumper turns the front wheels (via a metal wire) and the car can then pass and go into the front. Each car featured racing numbers as well as a trademark sticker. The cars make a lot of noise and one can see sparks where the antenna and screen roof contact. The signs and fence are made of metal. There is also a small wooden booth with 2 referees or judges.

Additional Info

  • Manufacturer: CONTI
  • Scale: 1/41
  • Length: 98MM
  • Production Era: 1947-1948
  • Country: Italy
  • Materials: Cast Aluminum
  • Color: Green, Grey, Blue, Red, Yellow, Orange
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