Dinky Toys #277 Superior Criterion Ambulance, produced 1962 – 1968.
The #277 model of the Criterion Ambulance has an operating flashing red roof light. Powered by an AAA battery, the light flashes on and off as the model is pushed along, by means of a cam on the rear axle which rubs against metal contacts. A single screw secures the baseplate to the body, which may be removed to enable battery replacement.
In my play-worn example, the translucent red paint(?)/coating(?) on the light bulb has long since all worn away. One day I may put a battery in it and see if it stills works; if it does I’ll find a 1.5v red bulb for it...
I don’t remember ever having it working (it was, after all, 50 years ago, and I don’t even remember what I had for lunch yesterday), but I’m sure I must have.
The bodywork is metallic blue on the lower part and off-white on the upper. The front interior features driver and assistant figures. The rear side windows have ‘Ambulance’ lettering in red and white, and the rear door opens.
The sister model, #263, was either white or cream over dark red and had a patient on a stretcher and paramedic figures (instead of the battery) in the back.
According to Meccano Magazine the Superior Criterion is based on a 1961 Pontiac Bonneville, with bodywork by the Superior Coach Corporation of Lima, Michigan. Meccano Magazine goes on to state that a 289 V8 was fitted (to the real vehicle, not the toy!), giving 281bhp on the manual version and 303bhp with an automatic.
The 1:1 - A History of Superior Coach Company
The roots of the Superior Coaches date back to 1915 when The Garford Motor Truck Company of Elyria, Ohio, transferred its production operations to Lima, Ohio. Garford, established in 1909, manufactured heavy trucks. In 1923, Garford introduced a special, 25-29 passenger bus chassis and a group of local Lima businessmen formed the Superior Motor Coach Body Company to produce deluxe motor coach bodies for the locally built Garford bus chassis.
In 1925, The Superior Motor Coach Body Company introduced a line of hearse and ambulance bodies. These professional cars, built on the Studebaker chassis, were contemporary in appearance and constructed to high quality standards. Later in the early ‘30s, after Studebaker had merged with Pierce-Arrow, Superior began producing a line of hearses on the Pierce Arrow chassis. By 1936, the company expanded its product offerings to include hearse models on a Pontiac chassis. The first Superior Cadillac coaches were produced in 1938.
The company’s name was changed to The Superior Coach Corporation in 1940. And the years that followed saw hearses styled on Cadillac, LaSalle and Pontiac chassis. By 1949, the company had added Chrysler, DeSoto and Dodge chassis to its funeral coach line, offering customers a smaller investment and lower overhead.
The 1950s were a time of major styling changes, both inside the vehicles and out. Many models were offered at this time, as well. Major redesigns came in 1957, 1965, 1971 and 1977, the year professional vehicles were dramatically downsized. During that time span, the company had been purchased by Sheller-Globe Corporation which later sold its Superior Coach funeral-car business in 1981 to a group of private investors who re-named the Company Superior Coaches. Darrel Metzger, Superior’s long-time funeral car and ambulance sales manager became president of the new operation which remained in Lima, Ohio.
In 1981, Superior Coaches acquired the Sayers & Scovill funeral coach business, better known as The S&S Coach Company. At that time, all S&S Coach designs, dies, fixtures and manufacturing techniques were merged into the Lima operation and the Company name became S&S/Superior of Ohio.
As sales grew, the company constructed a new 180,000 square foot Lima plant in 1995 which is where Superior Coaches funeral coaches and six-door limousines are built today on Cadillac and Lincoln chassis. In 1999, the Company acquired the Eureka Coach and Miller-Meteor funeral vehicle lines and the Company name was changed to Accubuilt in 2000. In 2005, the Company acquired the rights to produce LCW by Accubuilt six-door limousines.
With more than 80 years in the funeral coach business, Superior Coaches has made significant contributions to the advancement of the modern hearse. More Superior Coaches funeral vehicles are in service today than any other brand. Today, as we enter the third millennium, Superior Coaches is recognized as the leader in traditional styling in its design and manufacture of funeral coaches and limousines. The vehicles are still built in Lima, Ohio, but today under the Accubuilt, Inc. corporate umbrella. This state-of-the-art facility also manufactures quality professional vehicles for four other distinct brand names.
This history has been partially excerpted from: Superior: The Complete History, by Thomas A. McPherson, Specialty Vehicle Press, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada: 1995.