1965 Matchbox Land Rover Safari

The Matchbox Land Rover Safari first appeared in 1965. The regular wheel versions can be found in green with brown luggage, blue with tan luggage, gold with tan luggage, and blue with brown luggage like this nice model I nabbed on eBay. In 1970 it was given the Superfast treatment and has been seen in metallic gold and the considerably more valuable bright blue.

The real life Land Rover was born out of conditions in England following the second World War. Rover had been manufacturing luxury cars since 1901, but their factory in Coventry had been destroyed by enemy bombing. In 1947, now in a former aircraft engine factory near Birmingham, the company needed to create cash flow so the company could re-start its car production. Inspired in part by the Willys Jeep commonly seen in England during the war, Rover came up with a plan to temporarily produce a light agricultural and utility vehicle. The flat, easy to produce body panels were made of aluminum because steel was still being rationed. Early colors were dictated by an abundant supply of surplus military cockpit green paint. The sturdy “box-section ladder chassis” required a simpler welding process. When car production started up again, the Land Rover proved to be a better-selling product and eventually became the landmark brand that continues today. This Matchbox model represents a Series IIA 4-door model with the signature Safari roof – actually a second skin fitted on top which kept the spartan interior cool in warm weather and reduced condensation when it was cold.

Matchbox | 1965 | 12 | Land Rover Safari | blue with brown plastic luggage | black plastic wheels | England

 

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ToyResto.com

If you have old Matchbox models with missing parts, you might check out ToyResto.com. They offer a pretty large selection of reproduction parts for Matchbox, Corgi, Husky and others. This includes all of the usual parts that go missing, such as tires, canopies, windshields and accessories. They even have a selection of decals. If you’re wanting to do a complete restoration, this is probably the place to start. In my case, I had recently acquired a couple of models with missing parts and I wanted to spruce them up a little, just for display purposes.

My Matchbox King Size Mercury Commuter Police Station Wagon was missing a couple of tires. It bothers me when a car of mine can’t stand up straight, so I bought a couple of their 14.5mm OD x 8mm ID hollow rubber tires and popped them right on. Now it looks great standing proudly next to my other King Size models.

Another recent find, the Matchbox Ford Kennel Truck, was looking pretty rough. ToyResto.com sells a replacement canopy as well as the dogs to put in the back. I had to spend a little time carefully trimming the tabs on the canopy, but I got it fitting nicely. The dogs had a lot of flash that needed to be cleaned off, but now they look pretty happy in their tight quarters. Too bad ToyResto doesn’t make a replacement grille.

The parts are inexpensive, shipping is affordable and my order was delivered to my house within a few days. Unfortunately, many of the parts listed on ToyResto.com are out of stock. For example, I would love to get a replacement canopy for my Matchbox Mercedes-Benz Lorry, but they are sold out. The homepage proclaims “More Inventory Arriving Soon!” and encourages you to contact the company with a list of parts needed. I did just that, but have yet to receive a reply.

1969 Matchbox Kingsize Mercury Commuter Police Station Wagon

Sometimes it’s good to get off the beaten path. Or, at least, the path you’re used to following. A couple of weekends ago, inspired by a 50%-off sale that was advertised in the newspaper, we visited an Ace Hardware in a different neighborhood than our own. We filled a bag with lots of bargains, and, feeling good about that, we decided to visit the Super Del Centro for the first time, where my wife found a great deal on cilantro. Across the street from the grocery store, I noticed a place called Wichita Vintage which I had never seen before. Wandering in, we were greeted by the friendly owner, and we found a neat store filled mostly with beautiful antique furniture. I spotted this Matchbox Kingsize in a display case and asked the owner for a closer look. When I told him I would take it, he found another smaller model for me in a different case which I probably would have missed. Then he told me to send him a Facebook message and he would let me know if he comes across any other diecast cars in the future.

The Matchbox Kingsize Mercury Commuter Police Station Wagon came out in 1969 and was part of the short-lived Auto-Steer series, which included a Lamborghini Miura, a Ford Mustang Fastback and a Volkswagen 1500 Saloon, among others. The cars had a unique front suspension that caused the cars to steer to the left or right by pressing on that side of the car. The mechanism on this well-loved car seems to have a bit of a permanent right turn. The modal also has worn paint and stickers and is missing the two left-side tires, but is a fun find nonetheless.

Matchbox | 1969 Auto-Steer | Kingsize K-23 | Mercury Commuter Police Station Wagon | white with (two missing) black plastic tires

The photo below shows the unique, steerable suspension. This technology was done away with once Matchbox made the switch to Superfast wheels.

Click on these links to see some of my other Matchbox Kingsize models, including the Bertone Runabout, Javelin AMX, Range Rover and Ambulance.

1975 Matchbox Blaze Buster Fire Engine

This Matchbox Blaze Buster is the second of two models I found this summer at a neighborhood garage sale. First released in 1975, this fire truck with a raisable plastic ladder came out in about 5 variations, with differences in base, ladder, interior and window colors. This version with a yellow ladder and white interior was produced from 1978-81. It’s a little playworn and parts of the stickers are missing, but it makes a nice companion to the Matchbox Superfast Stretcha Fetcha Ambulance from my childhood.

Matchbox | 1975 | 22 | Blaze Buster Fire Engine | red with yellow ladder, white interior, charcoal base | Superfast wheels

Flying Moose Matchbox Finds

My $5 bag of Matchbox cars from the Flying Moose was full of keepers. (Even better that it was 20% off, making it $4.) This Ford Kennel Truck would be really sweet if it still had all of its parts. First made in 1969 in metallic green with black plastic wheels, the Kennel Truck came with four plastic dogs and a tinted canopy over the bed. This apple green model with Superfast wheels is from a year or two later and would have had a clear canopy and a chrome grille.

Matchbox | 1970 | 50 | Ford Kennel Truck | apple green, missing chrome grill, missing dogs and canopy | Superfast wheels

This Vauxhall Guildsman is my favorite of the bunch. It’s pretty clean with the exception of the scuffed windshield, and the flame sticker on the hood is in pretty good shape. The casting first appeared in 1971 in pink with Superfast wheels and there are about 8 variations of paint, decoration and window tint color.

There is a great story behind the Matchbox Vauxhall Guildsman: The model was designed by Phil Gannon in 1968 and submitted that year to the annual Vauxhall Craftsman’s Guild design competition sponsored by General Motors. Gannon’s design took third place that year and was eventually picked up by Lesney – the only design to have been turned into a Matchbox toy among thousands submitted to the competition during the five year period that it ran.

Matchbox | 1971 | 40 | Vauxhall Guildsman | red, flames label, green windshield, unpainted base | England | Superfast wheels

The Matchbox Porsche 911 Turbo with opening doors came out in 1978 and has proven to be a very popular casting with over 50 different variations made. Mine is pretty weathered and is a curious metallic brown color.

Matchbox | 1978 | 3 | Porsche 911 Turbo | metallic brown with ivory interior, black base | England

There are about 18 variations of the Matchbox Alfa Carabo, which first came out in 1971. Similar in design to the Vauxhall Guildsman above, the Alfa Romeo Carabo was a concept car first shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1968. Though it was never a production car, It’s wedge design and scissor doors were highly influential in many car designs that followed, including the Lamborghini Countach.

Matchbox | 1985 | #75 | Alfa Carabo | light purple with yellow base | England | Superfast wheels

The Ford Escort XR3i Cabriolet first came out in 1985 and has been produced in about 10 variations. This Ocean Explorer is from the 1999 Beach Fun 5-pack. I also have a version with unique laser wheels from the late 1980s.

Matchbox | 1999 Beach Fun 5-Pack | Ford Escort XR3i Cabriolet | white with black trim, red interior, Ocean Explorer graphics | 8-dot wheels | made in China

1979 Hot Wheels S.W.A.T. Van and other Estate Sale Finds

I’m a big fan of the Hot Wheels Scene Machines, so when I found this S.W.A.T. Van at an estate sale recently, I took it home with me even though I already have one. And since it was half-price day, I took home a few other interesting models as well. The 1979 S.W.A.T. Van is based on the Letter Getter from 1977, but like all Scene Machines, it has a lens embedded in the back so you can peer inside to see what’s happening in the interior.

Hot Wheels | 1979 | 2854 | S.W.A.T. Van (Scene Machines) | dark enamel blue with white & orange trim | HK | bs

This Scene Machine has a lot of dust inside, so the image isn’t particularly clear, but I’m including a photo here of the scene inside of my other S.W.A.T. Van.

Continuing my recent trend of finding open-wheel race cars, I nabbed this 1993 version of  Thunderstreak. It’s from the short-lived Hot Wheels Pro Circuit series, a collection of cars that came with special wheels and a collector card in an oversized blister pack. I might have to attempt some repairs to the bent front wing and axles, but the Al Unser Jr. Valvoline livery takes me back to my days of watching Indy car races at Phoenix International Raceway in the late 1980s.

Hot Wheels | 1993 | 2690 | Pro Circuit Series | Indy (Thunderstreak) | blue, white and red with Valvoline Al Unser Jr trim | China | PC6 chrome

This last Hot Wheels model is the second well-worn 1968 Custom Fleetside I’ve added to my collection. Both are missing the plastic bed cover, but this one is even more beat-up and is also missing a rear wheel. Still, who can resist one of the original 16 – especially the Fleetside, which was the first casting designed by Harry Bradley, who based the model on his own daily driver?

Hot Wheels | 1968 | 6213 | Custom Fleetside | Spectraflame purple, missing box cover, missing wheel | HK | rl

Yet another open-wheel racer, this one a Matchbox Formula 1 Racer. First released in 1984, this popular model has been issued in about 35 different variations

Matchbox | 1984 | #16 F1 Racer | dark blue with white and red Bosch STP 20, red driver, chrome lettering on wheels | Macau

The lady who was taking money at the sale must have been a Benz fan, as she had this Matchbox Mercedes Benz 300E on her table and told me it was the “best one” of the bunch. The casting debuted in 1987 and features opening front doors.

Matchbox | 1987 | #58 | Mercedes Benz 300E | metallic light blue, dark blue interior, opening doors | 8-dot rims | made in Macau

 

1984 Matchbox Models of Yesteryear Postes Canada Post Ford Model A Van

A few years back, my wife and son and I came across an estate sale in a home in Wichita’s Eastborough neighborhood. As I recall, several rooms of the house were filled with nice bookcases full of diecast collectibles. The models consisted of trucks, buses and delivery vans. It was an impressive collection and lots of fun to look through. My wife, who grew up in Ontario, pretends to hate estate sales and my car collecting habits in general. And yet, every time she came across a model with a livery that related to her home country, she would get excited and point it out to my son and I. So we took home with us a few nice Canadian-themed models from this collection.

The Matchbox Models of Yesteryear series, which started in 1956, was the brainchild of tooling engineer Jack Odell. Odell wanted to make models of antique trucks, buses and fire engines at a larger scale and more detailed than the 1-75 series.

The 1930 Ford Model A Van first appeared in the Models of Yesteryear series in 1982 and has seen at least 16 variations, decorated with everything from Coca Cola livery to the Washington Post branding. My 1:40 scale Postes Canada Post model has a 1984 copyright on the back of the box. I think it was in pristine shape when I first bought it, however, it ended up mixed in with some of my son’s toys for a few years and has lost some luster (though I was smart enough to save the original box.)

Matchbox | 1984 Models of Yesteryear | #38 Ford Model A Van | Postes Canada Post | red with black fenders, black roof | 1:40

I have read that in the UK and Australia, Models of Yesteryear are more seriously collected than the 1-75 series. However, due to lack of consistent distribution in the U.S., Models of Yesteryear are fairly unknown compared to the smaller scale Matchbox toys. In fact, I was not aware of the series until I came across this collector’s estate sale several years ago.

As I was photographing the box, I noticed a hand-written note inside the package flap.