Matchbox Monday: How to Open the Rare Life EMS Ford E-350 Ambulance, by David Tilley…

It is Monday, so that means another Matchbox post, sponsored by our good friends at MVE Collectibles

Lamley’s resident DLMer is at it again, and this time his victim is bound to be mourned by Matchbox collectors across the world.

In case you are not familiar with the exploits of David Tilley (the “ley” in “Lamley”), he will open anything.  It does not matter how rare, how valuable, how sentimental the packaging or model might be.  Once it is in his possession, the model is liberated.  DT’s reputation as the master DLMer (Diecast Liberation Movement) is well-known among Matchbox collectors, but he is also known as one of the most knowledgable Matchbox collectors around.  He only collects Matchbox, and knows just about everything from the Superfast days to now.

Last year DT opened a one-of-kind Ford GT prepro that we profiled here on the blog, and now he is taking on one of the rarest and most sought-after models of the Mattel era, the Life EMS Ford E-350 Ambulance.  Read his article below to find out why it is so rare.

Enjoy the article, and if you are not an opener, hide your eyes…

(Thanks DT)

Welcome to the latest in my long line of rare openings.  Today I feature the Life EMS promotional Ford E-350 Ambulance.
The Ambulance was created for the Life EMS emergency services based out of Michigan, and first appeared in February 2011.  Life EMS was founded by Mark Meijer, a relative of the founders of the Meijer chain of stores in Michigan, USA.  Many thought that the model was going to be a Meijer store exclusive, but I think it was more likely created to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Life EMS service itself which officially occurred in December 2010.  Very little is known about the model itself, except that it is obviously a code 1 Matchbox model produced in the Thailand factory alongside the regular issues.  Production quantities and distribution details have never been released by Mattel, and the first that collectors new about its existence was in February 2011 when one turned up on eBay.  It later transpired that a tiny quantity were sent to the Mattel store and some lucky collector noticed them and snapped them up. 
Since then this model has rarely turned up for sale.  I have officially spent the last 2 years (February 2011 – February 2013) actively hunting one down.  I checked with other collectors, I checked eBay and other auction sites, but for 2 years my hunt was fruitless.  Until now.  My 2 year hunt is over.
Of course the model comes packaged up.  The front of the blistercard was rather a plain and standard looking 2010 style blister (with the lack of model number being the only obvious difference).
The rear does have unique information about the Life EMS service itself.  Further proof can be seen in the packaging that this was more than likely a 2010 promotional model due to the “collect all 100 vehicles for 2010” on the rear, and the front being a 2010 style blister.  It has always been classified as a 2011 promo only due to the fact that the first one was found in February 2011.  I am not going to attempt to change its designation, and will classify it in my personal records as a 2011 promo still.
But this is me we are talking about, so let’s get this thing open.
I start by ripping along the right hand side.  This thing is actually pretty easy to open.
It then just rips straight across, and out the Ambulance comes.
So after 2 years, I finally have my elusive Life EMS Ambulance.  I have to admit, this is the nicest livery that I have seen on this model.  Mind you it is a real livery.
That may play a part in that.  It is absolutely gorgeous though. 
The model itself received a complete set of tampo prints.  Well, actually, it is not tampo print, but ink jet printing.  This is a different process from Mattel where they print the model after it has finished assembly.  The advantage is that it will cover multiple surfaces in one go (tampos are applied to sections of a model before they are put together), but the finish is a little courser than tampos. 
It is also nice to see the roof getting some love, as well as the front of the rear section.
It was produced in the factory in the 38th week of 2010 (around late September time), so actually being given out at the 30th Anniversary celebrations in December 2010 does seem to fit.  Why it took so long for any to surface may have been down to the employees just loving them and not wanting to part with them.
But I have to admit to being really happy to finally get an example of it.  I wonder how many more will surface in the future?

15 Replies to “Matchbox Monday: How to Open the Rare Life EMS Ford E-350 Ambulance, by David Tilley…”

  1. Looks cool! BTW Dave, you're not the only one that opens your cars as soon as you get them. I do the same, I want a better view of them and I like to display them interacting with others. I do store them in cases made for Hot Wheels/Matchbox and the like, ie..jammers,etc..

  2. It's a beautiful model. The local squad by me has silver bodied ambulances with a smaller blue and white checkered side tape and a blue and white rear chevron with clear LED light bars. This model came out realistic and great.

  3. Didn't realize how rare they are. I received a couple of them during medic school. Life ems is an awesome company.

  4. Greetings all you serious collectors! I have a very rare Mattel Matchbox LIFE EMS ambulance in the package, currently listed on eBay for $279.99 plus shipping if anyone is interested. I need this to go to a good home, to some one who will appreciate it! Thank you for your time.

  5. These sell for way more in Germany & other European countries. $1200 & up. I sold one of ours for $679 so $279 is a steal if still in the pkg. & in Mint. These are extremely rare as most employees didn't know that & gave them to their children to play with.

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