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June 29, 2014

Die-cast: Phoenix Mint 1937 Studebaker Army Ambulance

by Mark Savage


Phoenix Mint delivers high value 1937 Studebaker ambulance

Not every new diecast vehicle is a muscle car or modern model. The Phoenix Mint reaches back to World War II for its vintage 1937 Studebaker Army Ambulance in 1:43 scale.

In this scale and at this price, this 1937 Studebaker ambulance is a deal.

In this scale and at this price, this 1937 Studebaker ambulance is a deal.

Studebaker, an Indiana-based automaker that got its start by making wagons for farmers in the 1850s, was still a thriving company during the war. It had supplied wagons and vehicles to the military for years and its truck lineup was extremely popular in the day. So converting a Coupe Express, that was similar to today’s pickups, or just buying and converting a chassis, engine and cab into useful Army vehicles was easy. Studebaker also made many heavier duty trucks for the military over the years.

For the record, Studebaker merged with Packard in the mid-1950s and made its final car in 1966, at its Canadian plant.

The model:

Phoenix Mint’s version is a no-brainer buy if you love Studebakers or enjoy collecting military vehicles in all their iterations. This is a high value model. Here’s why.

First, it looks good and with a solid diecast body feels substantial, certainly not as inexpensive as its $22 price tag might indicate. Plus both the doors and hood are functional. Flip up the long hood and underneath is a simple black Studebaker 6-cylinder flathead engine. The hood ornament and trim are painted silver while the rest of the vehicle is, naturally, Army green.

For less than $25 this model features an opening hood and doors, plus some engine detail.

For less than $25 this model features an opening hood and doors, plus some engine detail.

The classic Studebaker grille is black as are the front and rear bumpers. No chrome on military vehicles naturally. The bullet-shaped front lights look good and are aimed slightly downward to help the truck avoid detection when driving at night. There’s also a covered spare tire in the passenger’s side fender and black running boards. Windshield wipers are part of the black plastic molding around the windshield.
Red Cross emblems are small on the truck’s side panels and there’s a white and red US Army Medical Department logo on the rear door, whose hinges are painted silver. However, the rear door does not open, which was disappointing.

The truck also features a white star on each door and a white Army identification number on the back and both engine cowls.

As in the original 1937 Studebakers, the interior is sparsely decorated. This one has a tan bench seat and black plastic molded dash and steering wheel along with gas, brake and clutch pedals. A tall black shifter also is visible.

Tires and wheels are basic black with no markings, but the model’s chassis, gas tank, exhaust, engine and suspension are visible when you look at undercarriage.

Detail is moderate, but there’s a lot of shelf appeal and the truck comes in a clear acrylic case, so is immediately ready for display. In this scale it also could be used with an O-gauge train layout.

Overall, Phoenix Mint delivers a nicely executed vintage Studebaker truck at an almost unheard of price in today’s diecast market.

FAST Stats: 1937 Studebaker Army Ambulance
Maker: The Phoenix Mint
Scale: 1/43
Stock No.: 18376
MSRP: $22


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