The Cyclo Benelux Mark 7 was the seminal mid-price, mass-market, derailleur in Britain in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In many ways it is one of history's best designed and best constructed pull-chain derailleurs. The machined parts had tight tolerances, the chrome was good, the design was, arguably, superior to a Simplex or Huret offering at a similar price point and spare parts were readily available - all good.
Despite this I came to dislike it in a resigned kind of way - just looking at one brings on a deep sigh. As a young bicycle mechanic in the late 1970s I still came across bikes fitted with Benelux Mark 7s. The 20 year-old derailleurs were were, invariably, rusted solid, the chainwheel and freewheel had teeth that were worn to needle points that wouldn't embarrass a vampire, the frame had the, inevitable, tell-tale, kinks in the top and down tubes from a head-on collision, the perished tyres looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the seatpost had, helpfully, permanently welded itself into the seat tube, etc. etc. - and the customer wanted the whole thing 'made roadworthy' for less than the a groat and three farthings. By this time anyone who cared about their bike had long moved on to a more modern transmission - leaving the Benelux Mark 7 as a mark of the meanest of hard-core skinflints. Time for another sigh.
I now find that this history is reflected in the examples of the Cyclo Benelux Mark 7 that I have in my collection. Most are rather nastily battered and rusted. You can tell that I did not spend a lot of energy looking for resplendant examples in gleaming New-Old-Stock condition. In some ways I apologise for this - but in another way it captures a tiny sliver of reality.
I am aware of at least five versions of the Cyclo Benelux Mark 7, with minor cosmetic differences, as follows:
As you will see from the dates that I have guessed, I vaguely think that this is the chronological order in which these versions appear - but I am not completely sure. I also think that the images that Cyclo used in its catalogues are not necessarily a reliable guide to dates. I think that old images were frequently reused.
This is an unused example of the fourth version listed above. But despite its excellent condition it noticeably cheaply finished with crinkly chrome and ridgy machining. By this point in its life Cyclo clearly views the Benelux Mark 7 as a budget item.
This is a 4-speed 3/32" or 3-speed 1/8" version.