Automotive history

The Creme Egg cars were little Rascals

by Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
5 April 2023 3 min read
The Creme Egg cars were little Rascals
Motor racing commentator Murray Walker gets the 1995 Cadbury Creme Egg 2000 mile round-the-country creme egg run underway. Photo: Tony Harris/PA Images/Alamy

Nobody has ever asked us to name our favourite promotional vehicles, but the Creme Egg car would be close to the top of the list. Up there with the Outspan orange cars, the Pepsi Ford Transit and the Churchmobile.

Yes, the Churchmobile was a thing. Commissioned in 1972, it was based on a Leyland bus and featured a portable pulpit, electronic organ and a foldaway spire. Because every vehicle needs a foldaway spire. [What did they do with the bell-ringers? Ed]

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But while a mobile church has its place, ahead of Easter on 9 April, we’re here to worship at the altar of the Cadbury Creme Egg car. We’d call it the most egg-cellent promotional vehicle ever created, but we wouldn’t lower ourselves to the use of lame egg-related yokes and wisecracks.

It’s 60 years since the first Creme Egg as we know it today rolled out of the coop. At launch, it was known as the Fry’s Creme Egg, before adopting the Cadbury branding in 1971.

Since then, it has cemented itself as one of the nation’s favourite confectionary products, aided by strong branding and several memorable ad campaigns.

You might recall the dulcet tones of Frank Muir in the ‘Can’t resist them’ television adverts, or maybe the famous ‘How do you eat yours?’ campaign, which kicked off in 1985.

This year, Cadbury has reprised its ‘How do you NOT eat yours?’ campaign, following what The Drum calls an “insatiable public demand for the half-milk, half-white chocolate eggs”. Anyone who resists the temptation to eat one of the lucky eggs can win between £50 and £10,000.

We suspect Joby Pool had his eyes on the prize when he used a stolen tractor unit to steal 200,000 Creme Eggs from an industrial unit in Telford. Police described the incident as an ‘eggs-travagent theft’, but we understand there was no need to scramble a helicopter in the hunt for the egg thief.

We’d hesitate to label a criminal facing a two-year stretch in jail a ‘rascal’, but you’ll forgive us for using the word as a segue to the Creme Egg car, which was based on the chassis of a Bedford Rascal.

Bedford Rascal
Pre-scrambled Bedford Rascal. Photo: Vauxford/Wikipedia

Cadbury Schweppes commissioned five ovoid vehicles, and we’ve used our detective skills honed after participating in many Easter Egg hunts to decipher that three wore Creme Egg branding, while the other two were flying the flag for Mini Eggs.

Thanks to James Hale’s brilliantly egg-centric book on The Wonderful Wacky World of MarketingMobiles, we’ve discovered that the extreme curvature of the glassfibre body required that the pedal box had to be realigned, making it extremely difficult to drive.

The headlights will look familiar to fans of the Citroën 2CV, while the brackets for the mirrors had to be shaped to allow some degree of rearward visibility. The bespoke split windscreen was custom-made for the cars, with wipers sourced from a commercial vehicle. Entry and egg­­ress was via an upward-lifting door on the left-hand side.

Originally, the egg-shaped cars wore Cadbury’s Creme Egg and Cadbury’s Mini Egg liveries, but these were later switched to the Cadbury name to reflect the modern branding.

Early Creme Egg cars also featured the famous yellow chick on the body, headlight cowlings and wheel trims. We’re not saying that the chick hubcaps can rival the trims on the Fiat Panda Italia 90’s for nostalgic brilliance, but they’re up there.

Creme Egg car at Beaulieu
You’d look bewildered if you happened across a Creme Egg with jazz hands. Photo: Beaulieu

The cars also featured slogans that echoed some of the ‘hilarious’ stickers you used to find on cars in the 1980s and 1990s. You know, lines like ‘If you can read this sticker I’ve lost my caravan’ and ’My other car’s a Porsche’.

The Cadbury Schweppes marketing team hatched a plan and went all in with ‘You should see the bird that laid this!’, ‘My other car is a Mini Egg’ and ‘Painted in eggshell finish’. We’re disappointed that they didn’t run with ‘Go to work on an egg’.

A spokesperson for the Beaulieu Motor Museum, where one of the cars was on display until a few years ago, told us that the three Creme Egg cars are in the hands of a private collector. ‘G780 CPG’ and ‘Q943 VOG’ are registered as SORN, while ‘F381 SPK’ has a current MOT and is taxed until November. If you’re the mother (or father) hen of this brood, get in touch, as we’d clucking love to have a drive.

As this Instagram post from December 2022 reveals, the cars have been re-wrapped to former glory.

If this has whetted your appetite for a Creme Egg car, you’ll be egg-static to discover that, in 1993, Corgi launched a die-cast version of the ovoid obscurity. They’re available on eBay and are guaranteed to be better for your waistline than a milk chocolate shell with a soft fondant centre.

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  • Smith Simon says:

    Mostly correct.

  • Phil says:

    I was the Cadbury procurement manager at the time charged with commissioning the original Creme Egg cars. I spoke to the curator at Beaulieu (Michael Ware??) as I’d seen the Outspan Orange vehicle there. He put me on to John (Toby) Mitchell who had built their replica veteran open top bus. John was quite a character. He ran a Hispano Suiza and as a VSCC member myself (with a Riley 12/4) we got on well.
    It is not true that he used a Bedford rascal chassis. We bought 3 Rascals with the intention of using the floorpan and as much as possible in terms of running gear etc.. However, when he came to design the car (working literally from nothing more than a plastic egg shape that we gave him) he realised that it would not be possible. As a consequence he designed & built a bespoke chassis from 2″ box section steel. He was undoubtedly a very talented chap and had done a lot of work for the film & tv industry – Chitty Chitty, Lady Penelope’s pink Roller etc etc.
    I took the C-S audio/video team down to his workshop in Biggleswade each week to record progress. The resulting video was shown at the Easter Programme Sales Conference at the Chateau Impney to great acclaim – the video ending with the car being driven up the driveway of the hotel (on the video) and then physically bursting through the projection screen!! Quite spectacular. The Chateau was chosen as it was the only conference venue where we could get a car onto the stage.
    I have a video of the whole process somewhere.
    As with most such marketing projects we were very pushed for time and deadlines were tight. We managed to get the 3 original cars road registered for the grand launch (which also included a Creme Egg hot air balloon sourced from Richard Branson’s company in Telford). The registration documents showed them as Bedford Rascals with nothing more than a simple colour change to red/blue/green!!
    Happy Days!

  • Al Bennett says:

    I used to have the matchbox (or whichever brand made the miniature) great story Phil! Back when marketing was more than just the general insta/social media/celebrity endorsed crap we see these days.

  • Paul says:

    I work at the Cadbury Factory Bournville. The egg car F381SPK is currently on the grounds of the factory. You can see it from the birdcage walk.

    I’m hoping they will let me drive it in the Birmingham pride parade.

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