01 February 2019
In this series featuring Corgi and Dinky toys from the 1950s up to the 1970s, we 'unwrap' a few of the models to reveal a sprinkling of detail.
Corgi verses Dinky: Ambulances
In this series featuring Corgi and Dinky toys from the 1950s up to the 1970s, we 'unwrap' a few of the models to reveal a sprinkling of detail. These two market leaders were once great rivals, and yet both gave such pleasure to collectors of all ages.
The earliest of these Emergency Vehicles to be featured is the Daimler Ambulance, which was released as model No 30h in 1950. This iconic Ambulance was purchased from a trade box of six, and is a basic model with a tinplate base, with no windows or interior. It appeared in various shades of off-white to cream with red crosses on the side, and red hubs with smooth black tyres. The detail shown on the casting is very good for the period. It was re-numbered and re-released as model No.253 in 1954.
The Superior Criterion Ambulance was released by Dinky in 1962, as model No.263. This model appeared in off-white, with a light coloured interior. It had a red flash along the length of the body, together with roof lights, a main roof beacon and over-cab siren. It was a suitably impressive vehicle to attend any emergency, and carried a driver and attendant, plus a patient on a stretcher in the rear of the vehicle. The stretcher area in the rear of the Ambulance, could be accessed through the opening rear tailgate door. This Ambulance also had ‘fingertip steering’ and was available for six years until 1968.
A Superior Criterion Ambulance with ‘Flashing Lights’ was also released. This model was finished in metallic blue with a white roof and white tyres, and also contained a driver and attendant. The light mechanism was housed in the rear of the vehicle, which was blacked-out, and so there was no stretcher, or patient, or opening rear hatch. Both versions were available in a red and yellow picture box
The Vauxhall Victor ‘Ambulance’ was released in 1964, as model No.278. It was finished in white with a green interior. This model had a raised roof area, with an ‘Ambulance’ sign and a blue light beacon. There was a driver at the wheel and a patient on a stretcher in the rear of the vehicle. The Vauxhall Victor had an opening tailgate, a tinplate base, aluminium hubs, detailed tyres and was fitted with ‘Prestomatic Steering’. It came in a yellow and red picture box, and was available until 1969.
The Superior Cadillac Ambulance was released in 1967, as model No.267. After Lines Bros. took over Meccano in 1964, most of the new releases from Dinky Toys were produced in a slightly larger scale. This model is probably a good example. There are a few similarities between the new Dinky toys and the Spot-On toys, made by Lines Brothers under the Tri-ang brand name. The aluminium turned hubs always seem rather familiar. This is a fabulous model of the Cadillac. In white, with red lower sides, and blue tinted windows, it is a particularly colourful Ambulance. It has a ‘battery operated flashing light’, as the main roof beacon, together with corner lights, and an over cab siren. The rear door opens to reveal a patient on a stretcher, which can be removed. By 1967, this Dinky would have been purchased in a white, yellow and black picture box, with a detailed illustration.
The early Corgi Bedford Ambulance was modelled on the Bedford Van, and was released in 1957 as model No.412. It was finished in cream with silver trim and opaque side windows. It had the ‘Ambulance’ logo on the side but no roof beacon or interior. It was a very popular model in its day, with a basic tinplate base and no suspension. It had flat aluminium hubs, detailed tyres, and was available in an all blue box until 1960.
The Cadillac Superior Ambulance was released in 1962, as model No.437. This model was finished in red on the lower part of the vehicle, including the bonnet, and cream on the upper half, together with silver trim. It had ‘battery operated flashing roof lights’, and ‘Ambulance’ transfers on the rear windows, which were blacked out. This Cadillac had a brown interior, excellent suspension, shaped hubs and detailed tyres. The battery box was housed within the cast base. This version was available until 1965 and came in a yellow and blue box.
The same casting was used for a blue and white version of the Cadillac Superior Ambulance. This variation was released in 1965 with the same model number.
The Commer Ambulance was released by Corgi in 1964, as model No.463. It was available in a comparatively new yellow and blue box, and appeared in white with silver trim and a red interior. The Commer Ambulance had blue side windows, a blue roof light and ‘Ambulance’ transfers along both sides of the vehicle. This was a rather sturdy model with a grey cast base and excellent suspension for those fast corners. The aluminium shaped hubs were fitted with detailed tyres. There is also a version of this ambulance in the Corgi Constructor Gift Set (GS24). This model has a ‘turn-key lock’ button on the base to secure the rear body shell to the cab and chassis.
The last of our Corgi’s to be featured is the Range Rover Ambulance, which was released in 1974, as model No.482. This model appears in white with a red interior and silver trim. The lower half of the model along the length of the Range Rover is red, and it has a red cross on the bonnet and a red cross on a white square, on the doors. There are two roof beacons in blue, above the extended roof sign. The rear hatch opens to accommodate a stretcher and patient, which is carried by two crew members. The exterior side panels on all the Range Rover variations slide down to open. This model also has an extra quick response time as it is fitted with Whizzwheels. By 1974 Corgi models were issued in window boxes, which were more fragile but allowed the purchaser to see the model more easily. The Range Rover Ambulance was available until 1977.
With so many Ambulances from the Dinky and Corgi range of toys to choose from, collectors of the day were rather spoilt for choice. The various models included a number of American vehicles, which were always popular. There were, of course, a few toys with flashing lights and opening rear doors, and these features all added to the excitement of driving an Ambulance on call.