The Commer FC was a commercial vehicle produced by Commer from 1960 to 1976. During its lifespan, it was developed into the Commer PB in 1967, and the Commer SpaceVan in 1974. After the Rootes Group, which owned Commer, was purchased by Chrysler, the SpaceVan was also sold under the Dodge and Fargo marques. From 1976 onwards, the van was only sold as the Dodge SpaceVan, and it remained in production until 1983.
Another Corgi love affair begins -Corgi and the Commer FC- and it was a long and happy relationship, Corgi has moved on from the Bedford CA, it's behind them. The idea of giving the Commer a detachable back body was brilliant - was it originally a way of changing the batteries for the flashing light on the Police van that led on to the idea of the Constructor set? Another thing. Commer vans are not Ferraris and the modellers could be forgiven for skimping on the detail. It is worth looking closely at these photos and checking just how much care they did take. This is a true hard-core Corgi from the absolute peak of the brand. This old Commer FC/PB van did such great service for them appearing in all sorts of finishes and a number of underlying structures, while always looking consistent. It is a really well solved set of engineering puzzles. Not only to you get vans, mini-buses, pickups, milk floats and emergency service vehicles, some of which have electrics of a couple of different designs, you also have the Constructor set.
464 Police - 1963 & 1967
The original 1963 release of this van has the police lettering on the side as decals reading 'County Police' or City Police', on the base it has both an on/off switch and a cam- based flasher unit on the front axle to manage the working flashing beacon. It is the good old Commer FC and similar to the back-body swapping 'Constructor' set - only on this one the back comes off to change the battery or the bulb. I suppose you could put a milk-float back on the chassis or a van, pickup or ambulance - but it would look a bit odd.
You will find British, German, Dutch and French versions of this van, all are in shades of blue and metallic blue except for the German vans which are green. the German vans can read either 'Police' or 'POLIZEI', on the French vans it is 'SECOURS' on the Dutch vans: ‘Rijks Politie’. Beacons can be clear, red or blue.
Values vary significantly with the version. The rarest and most expensive are the German vans with 'Police' and the Dutch export models. Values though are pretty high for all flavours of the van, the most common and lowest priced item though is the later (1967) dark blue British issue with 'POLICE' cast in the sides.
You will see at least three versions of this pick-up. It appeared as a stand-alone model in two different colour schemes or as part of the 'Constructor' gift set, GS24, which came with two chassis/cab units and a variety of back-bodies. The 'genuine' 465 does not have the turn-buckle on the base to remove the back body. They all have Trans-o-Lite headlamps
The truck from the Constructor Set has a red chassis and a yellow back-body. The stand-alone No.465 model can also have the red chassis/cab and yellow back body, or they can be the other way around, red over yellow. There is a small plastic bench in the back, usually missing from the pickups with the detachable rear body. Ramsay also mentions a green/grey version of this pickup, but colour does not seem to affect value. The 465 Commer Pickup was launched in 1963 and remained in the Corgi range until 1966
GS24 Constructor Set
This set stands alone. Which other toymaker thought of this? They all try and manage production costs by re-using bits and pieces of existing models here and there. This time round Corgi got the kids to do it themselves.....
This kit had two Commer 15cwt chassis; one red, one white. The red one has 'Trans o Lite' headlamps. There were four bodies; a red van, a yellow pick-up (with a bench seat), an ambulance back and a milk float with a load of crates. There was also a milkman figure. A twist lock on the chassis held the body and the base together.
The Ambulance was available as a stand alone item with a fixed minibus back body or in the Constructor Gift Set (GS24) where the white chassis/cab could have this ambulance back or be swapped for a milk-float. You have to admire those Corgi boys & girls. The true #463 Ambulance can be recognised from having no turnbuckle underneath to remove the back body. The Commer Ambulance was added to the range in February 1964 and remained in the range for two years. You will see the fixed body truck in white or off-white/cream and the version from the Constructor set, with its detachable back-body in white. No version seems to attract a premium, but all are fairly highly valued for a Corgi of this period, I've seen it with plain or tinted glass in the cab windows.
466 Milk Float
One of the many variations on the Commer FC 15cwt van Corgi was churning out in the mid 60s. Don't get me wrong, I really admire this well crafted little van and there are loads of them to admire. The Milk Float has three guises. There is the straightforward No.466, buy it in a box by itself version with a fixed rear body, then there is the one with the swappable back body from the Constructor Set and last of all, probably at the end of the production run, came a code 2 promotional model for the Co-op - who at the time had the biggest doorstep milk delivery fleet in the country. The Co-op milk float was I think only available by mail order and was part of a little range which also had a Commer van with filled-in sides and a Scammell articulated truck. All three in the same pale blue and white Co-op livery. The Co-op version generally has cast hubs, the others have spun hubs - but I don't know if this is a universal rule. These are not that scarce and values tend to be fairly modest, the Co-op van gets a nice premium over the others and if boxed will be in a plain mailing box. The 466 Milk Float was released in April 1964 and deleted in 1966
469 Military Ambulance
Good old Commer FC - Corgi picked on a few vehicles (59 Chevy Impala, Land Rover 109, Bedford TK & CA) and re-worked them into a really wide range of variants, here is the Commer yet again made into an army ambulance. No removable rear body this time, but a fine model none the less. The Military Ambulance was released in January 1965 as part of a nine-model range of military vehicles with a vaguely US Army flavour. They were all deleted the following year and sales were not fantastic so these days they are harder to find and will mostly get very good prices. The Commer is no exception as it is one of the more highly valued examples of this casting
355 Military Police
The Commer Military Police Truck is a version of the No.464 Police Van released in 1963, using the original casting without the cast lettering seen in the later release and retaining the bars on the windows. Like the Police Van the back body removes to insert a battery for the flashing light which is controlled by a cam fitted to the front axle. This Military version was part of a nine vehicle range of Army trucks released in January 1965, all of which were versions of existing models in the range painted drab green with military markings. Despite most of the vehicles being distinctly British Commers, Bedfords & Land Rovers the livery was US Army. Sales of the range were modest and it was withdrawn the following year. Of the non Corgi Majors in this small range of military vehicles sales of this van were lowest of all, possibly because it cost more than 50% more than the FC based Ambulance which was basically the same van without the electrics. As a result of the low sales they are now hard to find and prices are high. There are no listed variations.
479 Mobile Camera Van
It's the Commer van again but in the facelifted version these days and without the detachable back-body, the older look van was the FC, this is the PB. The key feature of this one is a movie film cameraman standing on a platform. The platform clips to the van to form a mobile camera unit - but the best trick is it clips onto the roof rack or the front bumper or the rear bumper - proper Corgi thinking that. Oh - and there is a jewel in the camera for a lens. There are a couple of variations during the life of the product, you will find it with spun or cast hubs, at the time of writing I have had 14 of this van through the business, only one had cast hubs, which suggests cast hubs are less common. The other variation is to the camera platform and its mount on the front and rear of the van. Early releases have a solid tongue on the platform fitting into a full width slot. At some stage in the production run a peg was placed in the middle of the slot, presumably to stop it being crushed and closed up. There is a corresponding slot in the tongue of the camera platform to accomodate the peg. This means that if you buy a replacement camera man you have to make sure it is the right one for your van. The van was produced from 1968 to 1971. It is always white over metallic blue.
508 Holiday Camp Bus
This is exactly the same casting as the Samuelson's camera van. It still has the places underneath the front and rear bumpers to attach the camera platform. The Samuelson's van is a superb model and so is this. There should be a roof rack full of luggage under a green tarpaulin. You could be forgiven for thinking that one decal is missing from the near side, but the big decal is only used on the off side, the near side never had one. There are Union Jacks on both cab doors. The van was added to the range in July 1968 and deleted the following year, sales were not high and they are not that easy to find.
Order of Release
|Corgi Toys 464; Commer 15cwt Police Van; Blue Metallic, ‘County Police’||Corgi Toys 465; Commer 15cwt Pick-up Truck; Red Chassis, Yellow Body||Corgi Toys 465; Commer 15cwt Pick-up Truck; Yellow Chassis, Red Body||Corgi Toys GS24; Commer Constructor Set; Van, Ambulance, MilkFloat & Pickup||Corgi Toys 463; Commer 15cwt Ambulance; White|
|Corgi Toys 466; Commer 15cwt Milk Float; Fixed Rear Body||Corgi Toys 466; Commer 15cwt Milk Float; Co-op||Corgi Toys 354; Commer 15cwt Military Ambulance||Corgi Toys 355; Commer 15cwt Military Police||Corgi Toys 464; Commer 15cwt Police Van; Dark Blue, Cast Police Signs|
|Corgi Toys 479; Commer Mobile Camera Van; Spun Hubs||Corgi Toys 479; Commer Mobile Camera Van; Cast Hubs||Corgi Toys 508; Commer Mini-Bus, Holiday Camp Special|