3-Dollar Box

On a warm September day, I was cruising the neighborhood on my bike when I came across a garage sale. I started looking through a box of cars and right away found some interesting items. Rather than stand in the hot sun and pick through them all, I asked how much for the whole box. $3 was a good price, so I took them home and sorted them out in the comfort of my cool house. (My son was quick to point out that the cars were in a diaper box – something I had neglected to notice in the excitement of the moment.)

I picked out a few keepers and donated the rest to the neighborhood kindergarten for the Teacher’s Treasures box. Word is that the kids went a little crazy over all of the cars. Here are my keepers:

Hot Wheels

The Hot Wheels army half-track first appeared as Gun Bucket in the 1976 Flying Colors series. This black blackwall version is from the 1985 Action Command release as Tank Gunner. The guns are stressed but still intact, and the model is in otherwise good shape.

1985 | 9347 | Action Command | Tank Gunner | olive with brown, green and tan camouflage | MY | black BW | $8

The Hot Wheels Crack-Ups, which debuted in 1985, were a series that had moving parts which, on impact, would change from clean to damaged. Bangster is from 1986 and shows the heavy playwear typical of cars from this series.

1986 | 7582 | Crack-Ups | Bangster | lime green with orange, red and yellow graphics | MY | BW

The success of the Crack-Ups inspired Flip Outs in 1986. These cars were fitted with a mechanism on the base that would cause the car to flip over on impact. Some had a side-hit flipper and others, like this Nissan 2000SX called Flippin’ Frenzy, had a rear-hit flipper, pictured below.

1986 | Flip Outs | Flippin’ Frenzy | yellow with purple, red and white graphics | HK | BW

The Hot Wheels ’65 Mustang Convertible with an opening hood first appeared in 1984. This flourescent-colored variation from 1990 – missing the windshield – has been shipped to my friend, Hannah, who collects the Ford ponies.

1990 | 4980 | Freeway Frenzy Set | ’65 Mustang Convertible | fluorescent orange with blue and white wave graphics, pink interior | MY | blue hub TW | $10

The Hot Wheels Split Window ’63 Corvette was a Hi-Rakers model from its first release in 1980 until 1984. It was retooled in 1987 to give it a standard base, and again in 1995. There are almost as many name changes as there are paint/wheel variations. This black, purple and yellow version is a 1991 McDonald’s promo with a plastic base.

1991 | McDonald’s promo | Split Window ’63 | black with purple and yellow graphics, gray plastic base | MY | bw | $4

The Hot Wheels ’82 Supra first came out in 1983 and has only five variations. This dark red model with blackwalls from 1993 is from a Sto ‘n Go playset.

1996 | 3925 | Sto ‘n Go set | ’82 Supra | dark red | China | bw | $5

I’m stretching my “vintage” collection well into the 90’s with variations of blackwall-era cars already in my collection. The Hot Wheels Bronco 4-Wheeler is a classic originally released in 1981. This red version with striking black and white graphics is from 1998.

1998 | Bronco 4-Wheeler | red with black and white Alaska Trek graphics, white plastic shell, black plastic motorcycle | Thailand | ctd | $2

Aeroflash goes all the way back to 1975, when it was released as Large Charge. It also appeared in 1985 as Silver Bullet, which is the name cast into the metal base of this green, black and red version from 1998.

1998 | 1781 | Aeroflash | green with black and red 3 graphics | MY | 3sp


This well-loved, metallic red sedan is the first release of the Matchbox Jaguar XJ-6 which appeared from 1987 through 1989. It’s a fairly heavy car with nice opening doors.

1987 | #41 | Jaguar XJ6 | metallic red, opening doors | 8-dot rims | made in Macau | $1

The Matchbox Ford Escort Cabriolet is a fun model that first came along in 1985. This particular version is from the Laser Wheels series of the late 80s.

1989 | Ford Escort Cabriolet | metallic blue with white stripes and red 3 | laser wheels | made in Macau | $4

There are over 150 variations of the Matchbox 1921 Ford Model T Van. Unfortunately, this spooky model from the 2005 Haunted Castle 5-pack is missing a front wheel.

2005 | Haunted Castle 5-pack | 1921 Ford Model T Van | dark blue with black roof, WOOA vampire graphics | black wood 12-spoke | made in China



This 1:43 scale Yatming Chevrolet Pick-up features a pull-back motor and opening doors. I shipped this one off to my friend Brad, who collects Jeeps, pick-ups and off-road vehicles.

No. 8317 Chevrolet Pick-up | red with gold, white and black “Chevy Sports Off-Roader” graphics, opening doors, pull-back motor | 1:43 | Made in Thailand


Finally, I’ve always loved the WWII-era F4U Corsair, so I kept this 1:130 scale fighter, which was made by Zylmex and sold under the Runway24 brand.

Zylmex | Runway24 | RW150 USMC F4U Corsair USN | 1:130


1989-1991 Racing Champions NASCAR Models

The Case of the Sad Dad includes several Racing Champions NASCAR models from 1989-1991. I used Bill Kingsley’s impressive diecastcrazy.com survey of 1/64th NASCAR body styles to help identify each of these.

1989 | Ford Thunderbird | Bill Elliott/9/Melling | blue with red & white trim | made in China

1989 | Ford Thunderbird | Sterling Marlin/22/Maxwell House | blue with red & white trim | made in China

1989 | Ford Thunderbird | Morgan Shepherd/15/Motorcraft | red with black, blue & white trim | made in China

1990 | Pontiac Grand Prix | Cale Yarborough/66/Phillips 66 | red with white & black trim | made in China

1990 | Pontiac Grand Prix | Dave Marcis/71/Big Apple Market | lt blue with white & black trim | made in China

1990 | Pontiac Grand Prix | Derrike Cope/10/Purolator | orange with white & blue trim | made in China

1990 | Pontiac Grand Prix | Ken Schrader/25 | white with green & yellow trim | made in China

1991 | Ford Thunderbird | Dale Jarrett/21/Citgo | white with red & blue trim | made in China

Matchbox 1972 AMX Javelin and Other Garage Sale Finds

For many years, my older brother, Joe, had a yard full of project cars. Among the mostly Chevys, there were two 1968 AMX Javelins. The plan was take the motor from the wrecked one and put it in the other car, which had no engine but a straight body. I spent a summer doing some work for my brother, hoping to someday drive that Javelin. Unfortunately, the project car never came to fruition. I always preferred the first generation Javelins, like that ’68 in my brothers yard. In 1971, the Javelin was redesigned and the car took on bulging fenders which I thought made the car look kind of cartoony. But maybe that’s why the car works so well as a toy.

I found this Matchbox 1972 AMX Javelin at a garage sale where there was a bin full of cars in Ziploc bags, priced 5 for $2. As I started looking through them, a boy who was sitting nearby offered me the whole bin for $50. I had already decided there were many cars in the box that I didn’t want, so I asked him if there were any old ones in the lot. “There are some from the 60s,” he claimed, “but most are from the 80s.” Well, if there were any from the 60s, somebody got to them before me, but I did walk away with several bags of cars, most with only one car I really wanted. This Javelin from 1972 was the oldest car I could find.

img_1324img_13251972 | 9 | AMX Javelin | metallic light green with yellow interior, opening doors | Superfast wheels

The next most interesting car that I took home is this gold Hot Wheels Jaguar XJS from 1979. The XJS was first released the previous year, but this variation – part of the Golden Machines 6-pack – would be more valuable if it were in mint condition (which, obviously, this one is not).

img_1317 img_13181979 | 2012 | Jaguar XJS | gold chrome with yellow & black trim | HK | blackwalls

I’ve always loved the Hot Wheels ’31 Doozie, in fact I’ve had one since I was a kid. This maroon version from 1986 looks pretty sharp with the white wall tires. Too bad it’s missing the tan plastic top.

img_1313img_13141986 | 9649 | ’31 Doozie | maroon with maroon plastic fenders, missing tan top | MY | white walls

The Hot Wheels Upfront 924 was first released in 1979. I have that yellow first casting as well as another orange version that was made in Malaysia, so this Hong Kong-built model makes three for me so far.

img_1320 img_13211980 | 2500 | Upfront 924 | orange with red yellow & black trim | HK | blackwalls

I also added another casting to my collection of Hot Wheels Crack Ups from 1985. This metallic red Speed Crasher has been cracked up so many times that it no longer clicks back into like-new shape.

img_1315img_13161985 | 7824 | Speed Crasher (Crack Up) | metallic red with white, yellow and orange trim | HK |blackwalls

And finally, the garage sale box also yielded this Hot Wheels Porsche 930, a late-era blackwall from 1991. Wouldn’t you know, of the 4 different colors released for the first casting, this red variation is the least valuable.

img_1322img_13231991 | 7607 | Porsche 930 | red with yellow, black & white trim | MY | blackwalls

1979 Auburn 852

Another first casting from 1979, the Auburn 852 is a Larry Wood designed Hot Wheels that was subsequently released in a multitude of colors and decorations up until 2003. The trick with this car is finding one with an intact plastic windshield, like the red and brown blackwall model shown here that I picked up on eBay.

img_0315img_03161979 | 2505 | Auburn 852 | red with dark brown plastic fenders | Hong Kong | blackwalls

I have a few other variations – all missing their windshields – including this yellow and brown blackwall model from 1981 that I got from the Dealer.

img_0511img_05121981 | 2505 | Auburn 852 | yellow with brown plastic fenders | Hong Kong | blackwalls

I love the metalflake gold version with whitewalls from 1983 that I found on eBay.

img_8468img_84691983 | 2505 | Auburn 852 | metalflake gold with brown plastic fenders | Malaysia | white walls

And finally, another one from the Dealer, a red on red version with white walls from 1991.

img_0513 img_05141991 | 2527 | Auburn 852 | red with red plastic fenders | Malaysia | white walls

Bubble Gunner, Street Rodder and More

Last weekend I scored a nice bunch of Hot Wheels from a thrift store. My wife and son alerted me to a full 48-Car Carry Case (actually it was over-stuffed with more than 60 cars). I couldn’t talk the man into separately selling me the only two cars in the case that I really wanted, so I opted to invest in the whole lot.

The Larry Wood designed Bubble Gunner was released in 1979. Aside from the slightly dislocated chrome plastic engine and some play wear, this magenta version is in fairly decent shape.

IMG_8215 IMG_82161979 | 2511 | Bubble Gunner | magenta with yellow, orange, white stripes w/stars | HK | blackwalls

Though I already have one of these, the Street Rodder from 1977 is a classic casting which is worth owning in pairs.

IMG_8213 IMG_82141977 | 9242 | Street Rodder | black with red & yellow flames | HK | blackwalls

In addition to the large case of cars, I also picked up a 7-dollar bag of cars that held an assortment of blackwalls. Stagefright, from 1978 is a stagecoach-inspired hot rod that looks to me like it’s missing an engine. However, if you look closely, you can see a small 8-cylinder engine tucked inside the passenger compartment.

IMG_8221 IMG_82221978 | 2020 | Stagefright | brown | MY | blackwalls

Baja Breaker is a Ford 4×4 van that first appeared in 1978. This metallic orange version with the plastic opening hood (in this case, permanently opened) came out in 1983

IMG_8223IMG_82241983 | 4360 | Baja Breaker | metalflake orange w/blue, white tampo, plastic hood opens | MY | blackwalls

Based on the 1979-81 Toyota Truck series RN30 with a Chinook rear, the Minitrek from 1981 may be one of the ugliest Hot Wheels castings ever, reflecting the questionable automotive design trends of its time. (I’d love to hear comments on this topic!) Though you can’t tell anymore on this white version from 1983, the tampo on the sides reads “Good Time Camper”. This black-based version is worth considerably less than the rare brown-based variation.

IMG_8219 IMG_82201983 | 1697 | Minitrek | white w/blue, red Good Time Camper tampo, black base | MY | blackwalls

There is a famous story about the Ramblin’ Wrecker from 1975: Designer Larry Wood put his home phone number on the sides and as a result received phone calls from kids across the county after it was released. Though it’s difficult to tell because of the wear, this appears to be one of the later versions where the phone number was removed. This one is also missing its tow hook.

IMG_8217 IMG_82181976 | 7659 | Ramblin’ Wrecker | white, gray windows, no tel. number, missing tow bar | MY | blackwalls

In 1975, Larry Wood also designed the Large Charge, which was later released in 1985 as Silver Bullet, and then in the 90s as Aeroflash. The Silver Bullet here has the very 80s-looking Ultra Hot wheels and red, purple and yellow tampo.

IMG_8225 IMG_82261985 | 9535 | Silver Bullet | metallic silver with yellow, red, purple “Ultra Hots” trim | MY | Ultra Hot wheels

And finally from my 7-dollar bag (which also contained a number of Chinese cars and two diecast Thomas the Train engines) here are two castings originally from the late 80s, the Nissan Hardbody and the oddly-named (Suzuki) Street Roader.

IMG_8227IMG_82281991 | 4392 | Nissan Hardbody | black w/green, blue, pink “10”, black plastic base | MY | construction tires

IMG_8229 IMG_82301989 | 1470 | Street Roader | white w/black, blue, red “4×4” | MY | construction tires