Having added two Foden trucks to the TV Series, it was not surprising that Benbros chose No.22 Petrol Tanker as the next model but there must have been some confusion over it. On both the TV and Mighty Midget boxes, there was a picture of a Foden cab with the 'Shell' name on the side of the tank. Probably this was the model planned but for some reason it did not work out. Instead Benbros made an ERF eight-wheel petrol tanker which carried, eventually, an 'Esso' decal.
Unlike the Fodens, the ERF Petrol Tanker was a single casting with the tank being hollow. There was no base, the axles for the wheels being fitted directly onto the chassis. 'Benbros' and 'Made in England' were cast inside the tank but there was no 'Qualitoy' logo on the ERF.
The first run was painted orange with silver trim added to the grille, headlights and fuel tanks on each side. The wheels were unpainted metal on nail-head & crimped axles although mixed axles have been found with round-head & crimped ones on the front. It was packed in a TV Series box (TV3) which carried a good illustration of a Foden Shell tanker.
To start with there were no decals on the orange tanker for either Shell or Esso. Before long, however, Benbros must have come to an agreement with Esso to use their logo because decals began to be applied to the orange tankers before the TV boxes were discontinued. Just one decal was used and positioned on the left side of the tank.
At that time the real Esso road tankers were coloured red so when No.22 was transferred to the Mighty Midget range, it should have been red but in fact was metallic blue for a short time, again with the Esso decal on the left side of the tank.
Next, the colour was switched to red (shades varied from bright red to orange-red) with the Esso decal on the left side although versions with a right-side decal are known. Then, for a time, the decal was not applied so many red models were issued without them. Silver trim was added as before and also occaisionally on the tank-lids. The wheels remained unpainted metal.
The last two variations of the ERF Petrol Tanker were fitted with black plastic wheels. The red one was in a darker shade and had silver trim on grille, headlights, fuel tank and tank-lids, and an 'Esso' decal on the left side.
The other model with black plastic wheels was an orange colour with silver trim only on the grille and headlights and sometimes with but more often without the 'Esso' decal.
No.22 Petrol Tanker is quite hard to find in all versions and the TV Series box is very rare.
Benbros No.22 ERF Petrol Tanker
(1) ORANGE NO decal UMW TV3 box
(2) ORANGE 'Esso' decal UMW TV3 box
(3) METALLIC BLUE 'Esso' decal UMW MM box
(4) RED 'Esso' decal UMW MM box
(5) RED 'Esso' decal PMW MM box
(6) RED NO decal UMW MM box
(7) DARK-RED 'Esso' decal BPW MM box
(8) ORANGE 'Esso' decal BPW MM box
(9) ORANGE NO decal BPW MM box
Estimated Price Guide
(MINT models in MINT boxes)
(1) (2) : £70-90+
(3) (5) : £100+
(4) (6-9) : £50-70
Benbros TV Series & Mighty Midgets
No.22 Petrol Tanker
Variation 5 : red, 'Esso' decal, pmw
photo Robert Newson