Highway 61 Collectibles was founded in 1996 by Fred Ertl III. Mr. Ertl is the son of Fred Ertl Jr., past president of The Ertl Company, Inc. and grandson of Fred Ertl Sr., legendary toymaker and founder of Ertl. Highway 61 Collectibles is located in Dubuque, Iowa.
For those of us dedicated collectors of model fire apparatus, we pay attention to detail. Highway 61 took great pains to guarantee both models would be authentic. In the making of these models, Highway 61 work with Larry Phillips of Toy Trucker Magazine and photographs of the real trucks to make sure they were authentic as they could be.... within the constraints of a 1:16 scale die-cast metal model. It's remarkable how far the quality in these products has advanced in recent years. This example is as close to real world perfection as we ever seen coming off a production line.
Highway 61’s “goal is to develop the highest quality product at the greatest value to the customer who demands exciting and high-detailed replicas.” In both of these models, they far exceeded their goal.
Highway 61 is producing two versions of their newest release: a 1975 Chevy C-pumper and a GMC 6500 Pumper of the same year. The Chevy is painted all red, and the GMC in lime green. Both units are the same, but minor differences. I would venture to guess there isn’t a volunteer firefighter from the Midwest, over the age of 50, that has not ridden in either a 1975 Chevy or GMC Fire Engine. Many are still in actively use today.
These 1:16 scale models are very large and heavy, measuring just under 19 inches in length. They are made from die cast and plastic parts, at first glance, takes your breath away. A very nicely done model. Package nicely, and 2 bags of parts to be added on after removal of the model, is a nice touch.
I'll start with the cab and work my way back. The hood and both doors open. Under the hood is a very well detailed engine.
The interior of the cab is also very well detailed, right down to the Cole-Hersey switch under the driver's side seat, and the siren peddle at the driver's floorboard. On the dash you'll find the fire radio with mike clipped on to the top of the dash. A nice touch. The classic fluorescent orange needles on the instrument cluster are even there. On the roof, in one of the parts bags, you get the antenna to place on the cab.
The Chevy has a rotator light. The detail is amazing. Even though you can not see this detail in the photo above, the lights themselves even have lines to simulate the real thing.
The GMC features a Federal Twin Sonic. The two rotators and the siren screen are nice, but they should have made the mirrors between the rotators and the center siren. A very small issue, but would have been nice.
Both models lights are outstanding. Every light has a plastic lens. Of particular note are the cab lights as pictured above. These are not painted, but clear orange plastic with simulated rubber seals.
The pump panel is a super detail job and well done. Not to busy and very basic. But, back in 1975, this is the cutting edge.
The two booster reels above the pump panel, have a John Beam look to them. One of the major differences between the two models are the hose reels. The Chevy has an open reel and the GMC 's reel is covered.
The way the compartments surround them. Both sides are double hinged, and the reels themselves are nicely done. Every compartment door opens to find a piece of equipment in them. They also provided a tool to open the compartments easier. With my fat fingers, this is a God send. I feel that there should have been a little more equipment shown here. Maybe some tarps, or an electric fan, and such.
The weathered hose load is also well done. The GMC comes with a hose cover, rolled up on the driver's side top to the hose bed. Leaves you with the option of covering the hose, or not.
The ladders are nicely done as well. The rope to extend the ladder and the working hooks on the roof ladder are nice to see. The only problem that I see is the ladders can be easily hit and fall off a lot. They also provide a really long pike pole to be placed on top of the ladder rack.
You've got to see one to believe it. These models can easily be used as movie props. I'm going to keep an eye on this scale, because the market is a lot more sophisticated than I thought it was and it's expanding. One final note, most of the parts will need to be glued with super glue.
WOW, another solid prospect for model of the year! Yeah, 1/18 scale is good, but 1/16 is TWICE as good! Our suggestion is to BUY THIS MODEL! I am looking forward to the release of Highway 61's 1946 Chevrolet Fire Engine in white or red which should be available soon!
On a scale of 1 - 5 both reviewers give this model a 4 1/2.
Covering this model
I used a ten gallon aquarium to cover this model. It sits on a walnut, precut, board I purchased from Lowes. The model itself is sitting on some plumbing supplies also purchased from Lowes. The had banger at the tip of the ladder was made of two power cord covers that cover the tip of a power cord that connect to a lamp cut in half, glued, and painted.