Thursday, August 23, 2012

#185 DARDA – TURBO, TORNADO, FORMULA 1, STRATOS and GT (from SERIES 10: Nr. 1608) (1979 and 1980)

The Dardas labelled as “Series 10” are the ones manufactured before 1984. Prior to that year, all models shared the same chassis, wheels and motor. Only the body of the car (plus seat, pilot or whatever) varied from one model to other. We are talking about many years of production (1977 to 1984) but there were only around 22 models casted. Each of them was normally released in 4 or 5 colours, so kids could choose the car in their favourite colour or even buy it more than once in different versions. The “variations” story is something new invented by (and for) collectors, I guess at the time it was very unimportant if the race number was yellow or white over red or green background.

Talking about variations, according the german site, these models have 80 (Turbo), 42 (Tornado) and 115 (Formula 1) registered variants…

Apart from this, in this website we can find a lot of catalogues, as well as many interesting information, for example the many patents from Helmut Darda, his biography, technical details, even physic lessons with darda racetracks, and a very nice (although short) trivia section telling that Darda cars were part of a NASA experiment, and they were actually taken to space in a mission, or used as part of a CERN experiment for which Carlo Rubbia received a Nobel Prize in 1984.

This time I think it would be ok to talk about Helmut Darda, the inventor of the Darda motor:

Helmut Darda (taken from

Helmut Darda was born in 1927 in Westfalia, a German region. When we was only 16 he was conscripted to fight in WW2. He was made war prisoner and freed at the end of the war. At that time he was 25 and continued his studies to be a machine fitter, started before the war. In the year 1954 he came to Blumberg, a village next to the Swiss border, halfway between Freiburg and Kostanz, and got a job, but only 4 years later decided to work for himself in machines to process stones and also in casting machines.

For the first type of work, he designed a machine that would be his first invention and first patent. That was in 1964, and the world success of this invention gave him the economic support to keep inventing. His “hit” was the Beach-Buggy, a scale car with motor that could roll for- and backwards. In the Nürnberg Toy Fair they called it “genial and revolutionary”, and “motor of the century”. Helmut Darda, feet on the ground, said that he had only luck.

Despite his great success, he kept working in his workshop, with the rest of the employees. Even in hard times, he did not stopped or shortened the production, but the opposite, employed 50 people more. The workshop was replaced by a new building, two times bigger, and the production was accordingly increased. The new building had a swimming pool for the people working there, and in the upper floor, a nice entertainment room, where the works of Blumberg’s artists usually hanged. At the time, Helmut Darda had collected over 200 patents in Germany and worldwide. His hobbies were hiking in the mountains and ski, but also, and above all, working.

UPDATE: Pictures of new cars:

STRATOS (Nr. 1608-341)

FORMULA 1 (Nr. 1608-150)

GT (Nr. 1608-243)

UPDATE2: Second GT in grey (1608-266)

And Turbo in white with broken spoiler (very fragile!) (1608-576) and black (1608-550)

UPDATE 3 (May/2017) Stratos in white

  • Name: TURBO, TORNADO, FORMULA 1, STRATOS and GT (from SERIES 10)  (Nrs. 1608-540, 1608-421, 1608-100, 1608-341, 1608-150 and 1608-243)
  • Scale: 1:64 (approx.)
  • Year: 1979, 1980
  • Company: Darda (West-Germany)
  • Size: approx. 7 cm


  1. I had these when I was a kid and I loved the pull back cars. Recently I got my kid a Darda Car and I was so disappointed. They are made from plastic, fall apart whenever they hit a solid object (which pull back cars do often) and the engine sometimes works and sometimes gets stuck. Some have even reported complete pull engine failure on day 1.

    Check the photos in my Darda Cars article, and a complete review.

    I am really sad because Darda cars were the best pull back cars.

  2. Hi, Thanks for your comment!

    I read the complete story on your blog and it's a bit sad. It surprises me a bit, since German products have severe quality controls and they should work as expected. Darda cars are not cheap toys, I think I saw them for around 7 or 8 Euros a few months ago.

    I only collect "old" toys, so my dozen Darda cars are all second hand. Most of them are working perfectly, only 2 or 3 are broken or the motor has lost power. Try to get a few old models on eBay, they shouldn't be very expensive!

    See you!

    1. It is of German design but the production has been moved to China :(. Also, yeah. I bought my son a new one in a shop called Muller for 9 Euros.

    2. Hi again,
      Just a bit of information, don't know if you know it already.
      I took a catalogue in my last visit to the toy store, and I have seen that there is a series of metal die-cast cars (like the old ones) called "Darda Classic" There are a few models available, mostly classic models, like the Porsche Targa (as seen in my blog entry #127), the VW Beetle, or some invented models (similar to those shown in this same entry), plus two police cars. There is also a "retro" track with bold colours instead of the shiny new ones, and includes a Porsche Targa made with "the original cast from 1984". If your complaint is about the material, maybe you should try this other series better.

      See you!

    3. Hey there! Visited your blog the other day and came to your last comment. I lost my Domagoj account :(

      so I'm using this one

      Thx for the info! I will keep my eyes open. But I'm afraid the engine will be poor like with the plastic one or will even be worse since metal is heavier than plastic.

      BTW.. my son got a Darda track set, the tracks are great actually... but the car that came with it lost power pretty soon. We took good care of it and it still stopped running :(
      updated the article I linked to in my first comment


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