Suppose you had to transport a giraffe by rail, how would you do it?
So stated Tri-ang in their introduction to the Giraffe Car which first appeared in the 1963 catalogue.
Well, I have to say that not too many giraffes do get transported on the Lakeland Railway and, indeed, this is the first and, probably, the only time that such an animal will travel on the line - there being no zoos along our route.
This was definitely an original and amusing operating accessory although, I believe, it was actually based on an idea by Lionel Trains of America.
The car came in a variety of liveries, based on Canadian and Australian outline railways, since it was clearly designed for sale in these countries. It was predominantly sold as an individual item but it did also appear as part of the Pacific Steam Freight Set of 1967 for the Canadian market.
Below is a reproduction of an advertisement for the Giraffe Car that appeared in the model railway press during 1966. The words to the left of the advert read as follows:
"Exactly three things can be said for being a giraffe. 1. No school. 2. The best bits off treetops where other animals can't reach. 3: A view for miles. Giraffes, in fact, have it made. But life has trials, too. Like being eaten by lions. And travel. England built Africa's railways and they're fine for humans. Some are anyway. But giraffes? Nobody thought of them at the time. So, later, they had to cut holes in coach roofs. SUCCESS story, now they can nod to one another all down the train, needn't worry about "No Smoking" signs, can still see for miles. Though there are DANGERS. They still remember poor Fred. On the Up train from Nairobi. So bemused by scenery (he composed light verse) he forgot to duck at low bridge. No Fred. If only they had had this Tri-ang trackside tell-tale he would still be with us. Our giraffes get a gentle tap on the head whenever a low bridge or other obstruction is near. They then gracefully duck and NEVER come up again until the danger is past. Your giraffes would appreciate the simple fitting of this set to their layout!"
The only problem that I can see here is that if you had more than one low bridge or other obstruction you would need more than one tell-tale otherwise your giraffe might then suffer the same fate as poor Fred!
The Giraffe Car had a Catalogue Number of R.348 and a Running number of TR937 and was last produced in 1971.