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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Matchbox 1975 Mack CF Pumper and Mack Auxiliary Light Truck

Matchbox has been on a roll with the Mack fire trucks: First it was last year's 1963 C-series Fire Pumper and now this year it's the 1975 Mack COE Fire Pumper.  But, these two were not the first Mack fire trucks, in fact the first one (at least from what I believe) is the Auxiliary Light truck introduced in 1989.  Let's check out the differences between these two Mack COE fire trucks.

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Cab-over fire engines were starting to gain popularity by the 1960's, so in the decades coming more and more medium-duty truck manufacturers have been outfitting fire engine bodies with COE bodystyles.  Mack was one if them with the CF-series, introduced in 1967,while the Auxiliary Light truck is called the MR-series that was introduced in 1978.  The CF was the cab-over adaptation of the F-series COE tractor rigs, with the CF specifically built for large auxiliary bodies, like a fire engine.  The MR was designed with the cab far forward from the front-axle than the CF and was offered with left and right-hand drive for other world markets.  The MR was also a taller cab stance than the MC versions.  Both trucks ended production of their fire apparatus in 1990, though the MR-series would continue for a few more years.

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The new CF fire pumper looks great, though does seem generic at times; you have to look closely to appreciate the fine details.  The front has round headlights inside rectangular housings that have signal lights below, the grille is larger and has the siren mounted on the upper portion of the grille.  Interestingly enough, most of these CF models do not have the MACK letters, but thankfully Matchbox put them on the grille to end the generic styling confusion that would result next to other fire engine's with this cab style.  Additional details at the front include the bolts on the front bumper, the rescue lights on the corners of the cab, and the vent doors just below the windshield.  The roof has the integrated clearance lights and the spray nozzle to control the flow of pressurized water.  The sides have the typical fire pumper in the center, ladder on the right, and pipe fittings on the left, grab handles on the cab, exterior mirrors, while the lower fender areas are plastic.  The wheels sit too close to the body and allow the tires to rub against the fenders.  The back area has the hoses that are part of the red plastic trim, taillights, and diamond plate step area.  The interior features a roomy cab with dashboard switchgear that looks like the cockpit of a large jet!  The rear seats face backwards, but how on earth do they get back there?  Do they jump over the panel next to the water pumper?

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The Auxiliary fire truck is less-refined, large, but has some cool touches.  The front has more squared-off look with the rectangular grille with the MACK letters and the headlights and signal lights in rectangular unit; the grille does not wrap-around like the CF-series.  The windshield is large, while ironically the side windows are rather small, and the roof rescue lights are part of the windows as well.  Unlike any other fire engine this one has no water pumper or accessories; rather it has lots of storage panels and a tall roof to allow inside access via dual rear panel doors, while the tall rear panels house the taillights and rotating rescue lights at the top.  There is no interior and earlier models have a working suspension, but that missing interior is traded for two spotlights, six bright lights similar to football or baseball outdoor stadium lights, to extend up and rotate to the desired direction.  Both trucks are powered by a turbodiesel I-6 and to the rear wheels by an eight-speed automatic.  The auxiliary truck has gotten lots of use over the years, yet has recently disappeared thanks to changes made to the assembly method at Mattel.

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The new Mack CF fire pumper is nice, though I still prefer the '63 C-series version last year for it's classy front-end with tall grille and bulging front fenders that look classy on this fire engine.  While the American LaFrance that Matchbox originally planned never happened, at least this CF fire pumper will continue to support the Matchbox brand of fire engine's, while the MR Auxiliary Fire truck makes its mark as the only fire truck with working features and no water pumping abilities.

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