Mike Neale profiles the development of the Standard Motor Company’s Vanguard range, and the collectable models that sprang from it.
Following WW2, the Standard Motor Company adopted a single model policy, leading to the launch of the Standard Vanguard in 1947, named after the famous battleship and designed very much with export sales in mind. The beetle-back design of the Phase 1, by Walter Belgrove, was inspired by the 1942 Plymouth. The engine was a 2,088cc four-cylinder OHV unit. Four-door estate car, and two-door 12cwt van and pick-up versions followed, based on the saloon, with panels supplied by Fisher & Ludlow and built by Mulliners.
The grille and bumper design were changed in late 1951, with a bigger rear window on the saloons, known as the Phase 1A. The Phase 2 saloon of 1952 had a three-box design with a projecting boot, but the front end remained the same as the Phase 1A. The estates and vans thus continued largely unchanged, but the pick-up gained a longer, squarer rear bed with a larger rear overhang.
The commercials were built until 1958, despite the radically different Vanguard Phase 3 saloons being launched in 1955, followed by estates. Neither van nor pick-up versions of the Phase 3 were sold by Standard in the UK, but in Australia they did produce a stylish Phase 3 pick-up, or ute, and a few of these have more recently been imported to Britain. Chassis-cab versions were, however, supplied in the UK to be bodied by external coachbuilders.
From October 1954, 6cwt van and pick-up versions of the Standard 10 were introduced, and later 7cwt commercials, but as far as I know, no models of these have yet been produced apart from a 1/76 scale 6cwt van by John Day Models, intended for use with OO model railways.
In 1958, Standard launched the forward-control Atlas van, with a load capacity of 10cwt or 12cwt. Pick-up versions were also produced, while minibus and camper van versions with side windows were converted by the likes of Kenex, Martin Walter and Calthorpe. However, the Atlas used the 948cc engine from the Standard 10, making it woefully underpowered until the 1,670cc Standard Ensign engine was fitted, at which point it was badged as the Atlas Major. This was replaced by the Standard 15 (later badged as Leyland 15) with beefier suspension and a heavy-duty rear axle. There was also a longer Standard 20 (later Leyland 20) with a 2,138cc Ensign engine, or a 2,260cc diesel option. The Atlas was also built in India, with redesigned versions produced into the 1980s.
Dinky Toys launched model number 295, Atlas Kenebrake bus in 1960. It was produced until 1964, in light grey over pale blue or all-over pale blue, with a red plastic interior – the first Dinky Toy to have one. The Atlas was also included in the 1963-64 Touring Gift Set No. 122 along with a Rambler Station Wagon, Caravan, Jaguar 3.4 Mk2, sports boat on a trailer and AA Motor Cycle Patrol. The scale was approx. 1/45. I can’t help but feeling that Dinky could have made more use of this casting, perhaps producing other colours or liveries, or even a van version. I do have a couple of Code 3 versions in my collection (repainted by others), in Hall & Co. and BOAC liveries.
The same casting was, however, issued by Nicky Toys in India, again as model No. 295, Standard 20 Mini-bus, manufactured by S Kumar & Co., trading as Atamco (P) Ltd. of Calcutta, who purchased a number of old Dinky dies. The words ‘Dinky’ and ‘Meccano’ were removed from the baseplates. Various colours were issued; I’ve seen both red and silver versions. As usual with Nicky Toys, overall quality was far below that of the original Dinkies.
Other Standard van models were conspicuous by their absence while the real ones were in production. Although Dinky did make a Standard Vanguard Phase 1 saloon, and Corgi a Vanguard Phase 3 saloon, neither firm made any commercial variants. Micro Models in Australia (later made in New Zealand) did, however, produce a Vanguard Phase 1A estate in around 1/43 scale in various colours from 1954. It was a simple model with no glazing, but captured the shape well.
It fell to Pete Kenna of Kenna Models to produce an extensive range of well detailed 1/43 scale white metal hand-built Standard Vanguard Phase 1, 1A & 2 models from the early 1990s onwards. Pete is a toolmaker and pattern maker by trade and produced the patterns for many other white metal model firms, including Spa Croft, Pathfinder and Conquest Models.
As well as saloon cars, Kenna Models produced a Vanguard Phase 1A estate, colours of which included grey, silver, metallic green, maroon, black Nottingham City Police and blue RAF Police. A promotional version in red was also made in JM Toys livery, for the Hampshire-based model dealer, the late John Martin (now called RM Toys, run by his son, Russell Martin).
Kenna’s Phase 1A Van appeared in dark green Standard Motor Co. Ltd. livery, orange Electro-Hydraulics Ltd. livery, yellow & black Dunlop International Racing Service, light grey Harry Ferguson Ltd., red JM Toys, dark green Het Jensen Genootschap (Dutch Jensen owners’ society), and dark green St. Martins Accessories (the former model shop in central London where I once worked). There were also various fireworks liveries, including light brown Pains Fireworks, red Amazing Fireworks, and red Theatrical Pyrotechnics.
Kenna Models also made a Phase 1 pick-up with a rear tilt in grey and red Massey Ferguson Tractors livery, blue-grey RAF livery, white & red JM Toys and plain dark green, among others.
A dark green Standard Vanguard Phase 1 transporter of Mike Anthony Racing was designed to carry a matching green Lotus 11 racing car (sold separately).
A Phase 2 Vanguard ambulance with a coachbuilt rear body was produced in cream Standard Motor Company and Massey Ferguson liveries, while a long wheelbase ambulance, based on the Phase 1A estate, appeared in white Norwegian red cross livery.
With thanks to Pete Kenna for his assistance in providing information and some of the photographs.
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