In July 1964, Meccano announced in the pages of the Meccano Magazine, a new addition to the Dinky Toys ambulance fleet, Sales Number 278 VAUXHALL VICTOR AMBULANCE. Of the prototype, only one of these was in service in Nottingham at that time with others being ordered from various Hospital Management Committees in the UK, a sole example for Cadbury (surely their products were not that bad!!) and a single model that had been shipped to Israel in May 1964.
The interesting aspect of this model is its title. As can be seen with the above images, the vehicle was referred to as a Vauxhall VICTOR Ambulance in the advertisement on the back page but as 278 Vauxhall Ambulance throughout Chris Jelley’s article, with the only reference to Victor being on what the ambulance was based, the Victor Estate Car. The 278 Box always had VAUXHALL AMBULANCE.
With the catalogues, the second printing of the 1964 catalogue in July, we see the start of a little confusion as shown with the catalogue listing below:
1964 Catalogue, 2nd Printing - the illustration refers to it as 278 Vauxhall Ambulance but Vauxhall Victor Ambulance in the accompanying price list
1965 Catalogue – a repeat of the 1964 2nd printing catalogue
1966 Catalogue refers to the model as a Vauxhall Ambulance in the illustration as well as the price list
1967 Catalogue – a return to the 1964 and 1965 catalogues as the illustration refers to it as 278 Vauxhall Ambulance but Vauxhall Victor Ambulance in the price list
1968 Catalogue has no illustration but the price list maintains Vauxhall Victor Ambulance
What I found fascinating with this model is its base plate, or more correctly, the two different base plates. My interest originally centred on the interior, and having already obtained a 278 with a beige interior, when a green interior was seen, I “had” to have it. It was only on its arrival that I noticed that it had a different base plate than the example with beige interior. The base plate only had one word describing the model, “VICTOR”. A friend advised me his beige example had Vauxhall Victor on the base plate, similar to mine, so I went in pursuit of another example with the green interior. This duly arrived and it was identical to my existing green interior with “VICTOR” on its base plate.
When I first started researching this model, I was uncertain as to which came first, the beige interior or the mid green, although with the catalogues showing a lighter green interior, perhaps the green came first. There is also the real possibility the beige interior came first with the base plate inscribed VAUXHALL VICTOR whereas the mid green interior simply has VICTOR. What happened to ‘VAUXHALL”? Why not delete the word VICTOR as “VAUXHALL” seems to have been more in use rather than just “VICTOR”?
Not having a 141 Vauxhall Victor Estate Car in my collection, I turned to Adrian’s excellent article on the 141 Vauxhall Victor Estate Car “Fasteners” where I saw the image of the base plate for the 141 Vauxhall Victor Estate Car - inscribed VICTOR ESTATE together with the sales number 141 with no mention of “VAUXHALL”. For the ambulance version to save money and as a matter of expediency the base plate had ‘ESTATE” and 141 deleted, leaving just VICTOR. This would then make the green version the first issue with the same base plate being able to be used for both the 141 as well as the 278. Perhaps the answer although purely conjecture it is possible that “someone” considered the name “VAUXHALL” should be included as the model is based on the Vauxhall Victor Estate Car and he/she did his/her best to confuse the description by amending the base plate yet again that had become “Victor” to “Vauxhall Victor”!
Just a brief off-topic comment on the 141 Vauxhall Victor Estate Car, but I wonder why the base plate excluded the manufacturer’s name and it was only inscribed Victor Estate? And has anyone seen or have a 141 in their collection with the base plate inscribed VAUXHALL VICTOR in the same manner as the base plate for the 278 with the beige interior.
Returning to the 278 does anyone have in their collection a model with a base plate correctly inscribed “VAUXHALL AMBULANCE”?
As for its deletion date, 278 Vauxhall (Victor) Ambulance was omitted from the December 1968 Dealer Order Form and the model was not included in the July 1969 Dealer Order Form. The last Dealer Order Form I have prior to December 1968 is that for July to August 1968 and the model is included. Of course its absence from the December 1968 Order Form may have been due to insufficient stock being available.
Unless additional Dealer Order Forms can be located for September to November 1968, and January to June 1969, it is possible the model had been deleted shortly after August 1968.
Bruce H. (150)