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First Peek with Rusty Hurley Edition Date
2-28-05
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PRECISION MINIATURES 1:18 1959 CADILLAC CROWN ROYALE AMBULANCE
PRECISION MINIATURES 1:18 1959 CADILLAC CROWN ROYALE HEARSE

 

Common Features PRECISION MINIATURES 1:18 1959 CADILLAC CROWN ROYALE AMBULANCE
 
     
 
Rusty Hurley
Rusty Hurley
 

Precision Miniatures, a company equal part car nuts and exquisite model builders, have once again come out with some of the more unique offerings you are ever going to find in the world of diecast. They will fill a unique chapter in automotive history with introduction of their amazing 1959 Cadillac Crown Royale ambulances and hearses, just as they did with their fuel-altered drag series.


 

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  Common Features

Let’s begin with the massive box that comes through your door. The models are packed within a robust Styrofoam shell; no screws, straps or tape. Since the model checks in at over 14” and 4 pounds, you’ll be glad Precision Miniatures paid attention to how it would arrive in your hands. I love not struggling with screws and wires.

I never thought I’d live to see the day when I had a larger diecast car in my collection then the Auto art Maybach 62. Suddenly, there are two of them. Start the car dear, we’re going to Ikea!

Both models are 1959 Fleetwood industrial chassis-based Crown Royale Cadillac’s as built by Superior Coach. As a result, it has all the exuberant styling you’d expect from Mr. Earl’s space age Caddy: unapologetic fin-age, bullet tail lamp housings and generous helpings of smoothly sculptured chrome sporting a sheen that will make your Maisto 59 Caddy instantly jealous.

Everywhere you look there is marvelous detail. On the exterior, thoughtful inclusions are valve stems, period-accurate white wall tires, chromed key locks, and a high definition black-washed grille. The Superior and Cadillac logos are accurately applied. The paint is a rich high-gloss finish and the shades are perfect. It is so nice to be able to take something out of the box and photograph it without having to pull out the Meguiar’s. The lighting is high quality with no signs of mounting posts – always a big plus.

Both models have a reasonably well done chassis and yes, a non-opening hood - but it’s not likely you’ll care about either feature. It’s what goes in the back of these vehicles that separate them from the ordinary diecast. An engine on these models is like the trunk of a Corvette, assume it’s there. Congratulations to Precision Miniatures on investing in the areas that make these cars special.

 

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  PRECISION MINIATURES 1:18 1959 CADILLAC CROWN ROYALE AMBULANCE

According to the Superior Ambulance Company of DuPage county–here was the state of emergency medical care in 1959 in this Chicago suburb: “accident victims were transported to the hospital in converted hearses run by funeral homes. If the nearest funeral home had a wake or funeral in progress, the police would have to call another mortuary until an available vehicle could be located. When a vehicle finally arrived, the driver may not have known enough first aid to stop the bleeding. He merely got the victim to the hospital as quickly as possible.”

When I remember an ambulance from my youth (I was born in 1959), this is the type of vehicle I remember; majestic and imposing. Great ride, of course, but maybe not the most practical vehicle for the task (how many ambulance attendants must have hit their head on the roof while loading or caring for patients?)

The Precision Miniatures ambulance has all the right stuff to transport your eyes and ears back to the Kennedy era. Start with the siren and light pods mounted on the roof in just the right places. The medical logos and striping decals transparently applied to the windows. The front interior includes radio under dash and a bench seat outfitted in an oh-so 50s red and white upholstery.

Open the rear door and you get further insight into a past age. Precision Miniatures has really thought of everything. There’s formica flooring, chrome side rails, oxygen bottles and cabinets. The gurney has real cloth sheets and is real metal. The area with the attendant and jump seats is recreated complete with foot well. The rear of the ambulances is a separate compartment, complete with partition. Even the lock downs for spare tire compartment are captured. [Flat tire in an ambulance, now there’s a sobering set of circumstances.]

The ambulance comes in four color combinations, blue, blue/white, white, red/white. I imagine a cottage industry for decals with local fire department markings for these wonderful chariots of hope is right around the corner. And maybe a 1:18 scale figures of Ben Gazzara to pose meeting the ambulance.

 

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  PRECISION MINIATURES 1:18 1959 CADILLAC CROWN ROYALE HEARSE

There are a total of eight Precision Miniatures hearses available. There are two basic styles, Landau (to conceal the coffin or whatever naughtiness is happening in back) and Limousine (Hello world, I’m dead!). In DuPage county, you could count this as an ambulance, thus getting a ghoulish two-for one.

The review copy I received is a maroon landau version and it’s just drop-dead gorgeous. [Oh yes, please but on your bad pun protection kit]. The paint is a heavenly maroon I can only approximate the Precision 100 Lincoln Zephyr (a gem you should own, irregardless of your collection’s theme or scale of preference).

It’s in the back where the killer features are located. From the flocked curtains to the functional small metal skid plates on the floor and sides, the rear compartment is the perfect resting place. Not that you’d take a nap there unless it was of the permanent variety. The shape and scale of the vehicle are, you guessed it, dead-on. The landau version is such a beautiful design touch – if you get an ambulance and a hearse, get a landau hearse since it offers much more contrast.

And then there’s this grimly accurate casket. I kid you not, a fully functional 1:18 velvet-lined wood grained land-liner to the hereafter, complete with church truck. I’ll take this kind of detail over an opening hood every day of the week. Out of the model it looks positively somber and in the rear compartment it looks to-die-for-real. I asked my daughter if she had a small doll I could pose with it. She ran to her room, shut the door, and I all I’ve heard from her since is muffled screams.

They don’t call the company Precision Miniatures for nothing. They could have skimped on the details to leverage a single mold but they didn’t. Examples include the rear compartments use completely different partitioning systems, the skid plate in the rear compartment of the ambulance is smooth while on the hearse it has casters for easy coffin rolling. The dash systems and their readable gauges and styling are unique to each model. No need for a radio in a hearse – except in Dupage county. Another styling difference is the metal on the rear quarter-panels of the ambulance compared to the relatively understated styling of the hearse. If you could ever call one of Mr. Earl’s rides understated.

There’s not a fatal flaw in either model – not having at least one of these beauties in your collection might be.

Highest Recommendation


How To Get your Models Featured in First Peek If you are a representative of a diecast manufacturer and wish to get your products featured in First Peek, please contact me directly at rhurley@mn.rr.com.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank Precision Miniatures for stepping up to support First Peek.

Proving there’s a website for everything, check out Grim Rides to view a group of people who keep the legacy of the Crown Royale and other hearse and ambulance 1:1 models alive.
 

Next week:

 

Big Daddy

 
     

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