Miniature Curbside Classic: Volga Ambulance – Enter ‘In Soviet Russia…’ Joke Here

Time for another Miniature Curbside Classic. Today’s model is pretty unique, a Volga ambulance from the ’80s, complete with Cyrillic graphics and removable stretcher!

In the mid-Nineties, I subscribed to a very cool magazine, Collecting Toys. It included articles on all kinds of cool models, from Marx cowboys-and-indians sets, to tinplate P-51 Mustang and P-38 Corsair fighter aircraft, to original ‘Spectraflame’ Hot Wheels. In one of the issues, there was a brief article on very detailed Russian diecast cars made in the former USSR. They made Lada taxis, Volga sedans and wagons, and even Zil 115 and 117 limousines. They looked really cool, but I figured finding one would take some doing.

Thanks to ebay, I finally was able to acquire some of these models. They are very well made, and really heavy for their 1/43 size. The first ones I got were a mustard yellow Volga sedan and blue Volga station wagon, but it was not much longer before I found one of these cool ambulances.

They remind me a lot of the vintage Corgis of the ’60s, though available models were limited to Russian cars, so no Imperial convertible, Jaguar E-type 2+2 or Lotus Elan were in the lineup.

What I really like is the level of detail. The wheels have actual chromed hubcaps, and the engine block is a chrome-plated casting. The doors, tailgate and hood all open, and it has functional suspension too.

While the design of this type of Volga dates to the late ’60s, they were unchanged for years. My model has a handwritten ‘1984’ date on the inside of the box.

Even the rear attendant’s seat flips forward, just like the full-size version would. Since Russian vehicles are so unknown to us folks in the States, it’s neat to find a scale model of these. In addition to the standard wagon and ambulance, there was also an escort car version with “Aeroflot” graphics, for the Russian airline.

The baseplate was metal, like much of the rest of the model. In addition to the chrome engine block, a detailed driveshaft and leaf springs were molded in plastic. All in all, a very neat model. I’m glad I found one!