Emergency Vehicle Models
The first emergency vehicles produced by Corgi Toys were issued as part of the launch range in July 1956, and were based on the Bedford Utilicon light commercial. It was issued in red as a 'Fire Dept' vehicle (405M) and in green as an 'Army Fire Service' vehicle (405), both with a tin plate ladder attached to the roof of the vehicle. These were followed in June 1958 by the company's first police vehicle; a Riley Pathfinder patrol car (209), finished in black and with a die cast police sign fitted to the roof complete with siren and bell. In January 1959 a Jaguar 2.4 Fire Chief car (213) was added to the range, finished in red and with a nylon aerial, crest transfers on the front doors and the same cast sign as the Pathfinder but modified to read 'Fire Chief'. The first American emergency vehicle to be produced by Corgi Toys was the Chevrolet Impala State Patrol car (223) introduced in December 1959. It was painted black and featured a nylon aerial and 'State Patrol' stickers on the vehicle's front doors. An updated version finished in black and white was issued in 1965.
By 1959 the M1, the UK's first motorway, had opened to the public and this prompted the introduction of a new breed of powerful police vehicle able to carry a large payload. The Ford Zodiac Motorway Patrol Car (419) was introduced in August 1960 and was finished in white with a plastic aerial fitted to the front wing, a blue light attached to the roof, a 'Police' decal on the bonnet and a vac-formed interior detailing rescue equipment in the luggage compartment and in June 1962 the Oldsmobile Super 88 County Sheriff car (237) was added to the range. Painted black and white it featured a red light fitted to the roof and 'County Sheriff' stickers on the doors. This model became the company's first million seller. The Superior Ambulance on Cadillac Chassis (437) introduced in October 1962 was from the latest generation of models and featured red and white paintwork, a working battery operated flashing light on the roof and four trans-o-lite fibre optic lights in each corner of the roof that flashed in unison with the main bulb. This model was re-issued in blue and white in 1966. In January 1963 the existing Chevrolet Impala was introduced as a Fire Chief car (439), painted red with a light on the roof, crests decals on the doors and a 'Fire Chief' transfer on the bonnet, and was also updated with a red and white finish in 1966. In June 1963 the Commer Police Van (464) was released, painted blue with a battery operated flashing light on the roof, barred side windows and 'County Police' transfers along the sides, and this model was also updated in 1967. An ambulance version (463) painted white was issued in February 1964.
In October 1964 a Police Dog Handler Mini van (450) was introduced painted dark blue with 'Police' in white letters on the sides, a nylon aerial fitted to the front wing and came with models of the police dog handler and police Alsatian dog. The Volkswagen European Police Car (492) issued in May 1966 was finished in the green and white of the German police force, and carried 'Polizei' transfers on the doors. It also featured steerable front wheels operated by the blue metal 'light' on the roof and two policemen sitting inside the vehicle, not to mention opening boot and rear engine cover. Another rear engined police car was introduced in May 1968, the Sunbeam Imp 'Panda' car (506). It was painted black and white initially but this colour scheme was soon changed to authentic 'Panda' car colours of pale blue with a white vertical centre section.
By 1970 Corgi Toys were fitting their models with Whizzwheels in response to the current market trends. In June 1970 a Porsche 911 Targa 'Polizei' car (509) was released, based on a real German police vehicle. It was painted red and white and was fitted with a blue light on an extension next to the door and a die-cast loud hailer on the engine cover. The Fire Bug (395) appeared in December 1971, and was based on a GP Beach Buggy fitted with fire fighting equipment. British police vehicles were well represented with the Police 'Vigilant' Range Rover (461) released in January 1972 and the Ford Cortina Police Car (402) released in August of the same year. Both models were finished in the contemporary white with red/blue side stripes, which would have been familiar to many motorists at the time. The Range Rover came complete with a model policeman and emergency road signs.
The remaining years that the company was in existence saw police cars based on such subjects as a Porsche 924 (430), a Renault 5 (428), a Mercedes 240D 'Polizei' (412) and a Buick Regal (416) which had previously seen service as 'Kojak's' car. There was also a Metropolitan Police Land Rover and Horse box (GS44) complete with a model Police horse and rider, which was also available in RCMP finish (GS45). Ambulances were issued based on the Range Rover 'Vigilant' (482), a Mercedes Benz 'Bonna' (406) and a Chevrolet Superior Ambulance (405). There appears, however, to have been a lack of fire fighting machinery released in this time, although the American LaFrance ladder truck and Simon Snorkel were still available along with the modern Chubb Pathfinder airport crash tender. Two models from this era do warrant attention. Riot Police Truck (422) released in September 1977 was a squat armoured military vehicle painted white and red with twin water cannons fitted to the rear, and perhaps reflected the turbulent times in Britain towards the end of the 1970s, and the Jaguar XJ12 Coupe which was released in December 1975 finished in the white and pale blue livery of the Coastguard (414), complete with die-cast light and twin foghorns on the roof. The model was updated as a police vehicle (429) in February 1978. In 1980 the first of the later 'Corgitronics' range was introduced: the HCB-Angus Firestreak (1001) with battery-operated siren and flashing red lights, complete with two figures in silver protective clothing.
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