1955 saw the Lesney model of the Dennis fire escape join the Matchbox 1-75 series at the number 9 spot,
The Dennis was quite an old pre WW2 design and it should have probably been scaled up for the Models of Yesteryear range because it would not have been familiar vehicle to the Children which were buying the 1-75 range models.
However it was a super piece of diecasting as it was cast in one piece with the exception of the road wheels and escape wheels and even after 50 years playworn models are usually found complete.
The Dennis was normally painted a dull red but one issue was released in a much brighter red, It had no front bumper or grille detail and the inscription on the bottom read "Lesney England".
It was enhanced with gold trim applied to the drivers helmet, the radiator grille, the hose reel, the windscreen frame and to the top edges of the ladder but the amount of trim can vary from model to model, quite often the trim was missing from the windscreen frame and / or the ladder.
There is only one known casting variation to the body, this was to the gap between the drivers arms, legs and the steering wheel, on early issues the gap was open but later issues had the gap closed due to a damaged die.
There were four different escape wheels used, the first had 16 spokes and is quite rare, I don't have the actual dimensions of this type of wheel but it was smaller than the usual 12 spoke 13mm wheels,
the first of the 12 spoke 13mm wheels had a 2.75 wide hub with squared wheel edges, this was followed by a 3.5mm wide hub with rounded wheel edges and a 4mm wide hub with squared wheel edges, the 3.5mm and 4mm wide hubs were carried over to the later 9b Dennis fire engine which replaced the 9a in 1958.
It was packaged in 'B' type boxes and there are no rare variations although the one with 16 spoke escape wheels is quite hard to find.