This 1978 Tomica Cadillac Ambulance is the second of the two models I found at Wichita Vintage. It’s fairly play-worn, but I always pick up Tomicas the rare times I find them, as I have a nice bunch from my childhood, including another Cadilac. You can see the Cadillac Ambulance, along with all of the other Tomica offerings from that year, on the 1978 page of the Tomica History website.
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.
The photo below shows the unique, steerable suspension. This technology was done away with once Matchbox made the switch to Superfast wheels.
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.
A few weeks ago, I came across several diecast collectibles at a garage sale in the neighborhood. Most were larger scale delivery van type vehicles, but I found two of a smaller scale that I liked. The elderly man at the pay table told me he had “more smaller scale models around somewhere” and, while his daughter tried to tell him that he had gotten rid of them already, he wandered off to the garage to look for them. A few minutes later, he came back empty handed. I left my phone number in case he came across them later, but unfortunately, I never heard from him.
However, the two models I landed are pretty nice (I’ll show the other one in a separate post). This 1984 Lledo Model T Ford Delivery with Wonder Bread promotional graphics is one of over 170 variations of this casting – advertising everything from Ovaltine to the Royal Air Force – cranked out by Lledo during its less than 20 year lifespan. Click here to see my Lledo City of Toronto Double-Decker Bus and to read more about the Lledo company.
Lledo | 1984 Days Gone 06B-WON | Model T Ford Van | white body, light blue roof, blue chassis, gold grille and windshield, with Wonder Bread trim | DG6-DG8 base, door lines | gold 12-spoke wheels with black tires | Made in England
I recently added two more models to my collection of Hot Wheels 30th Anniversary reproductions from 1998. This cool series replicates one casting and the original packaging from each of the first 30 years of Hot Wheels. With these two, I now have 11 of the 30 different castings.
This 1971 Mutt Mobile came to me from my friend, Chris, who moved to St. Louis awhile back and keeps an eye out for fun finds for me. As you can see from the photos, in 1998 they had some trouble trying to replicate Spectraflame paint, as many of these models have some serious paint flecking even while they’re still in the package.
Mutt Mobile was originally designed by Larry Wood and the 1971 first release has an opening rear door with two plastic dogs inside. In 1973, the casting was re-released as Odd Job in enamel and flourescent colors (minus the dogs). Mutt Mobile was retooled in 1994 for the Vintage II Series, was gold-plated for FAO Schwartz in 1995, and appeared in the Target Retro Wheels set in 1996. It made its most recent appearance in 2002 in the HWC.com Series 1.
I found this 1972 Side Kick at the Flying Moose. Side Kick is another Larry Wood design, this one featuring a right-side driver’s door that slides out when the rear exhaust pipes are pulled out. The original Side Kick was produced in Spectaflame aqua and light green, and wasn’t seen again until this 30th anniversary issue. Since then, it has seen about 8 variations up until 2011.
For some reason, the metallic purple paint on this one is holding up pretty well, though the unpainted metal base and engine are a little oxidized.
I’ve enjoyed seeing all of the different Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary series in the stores this year. But after finding the ’66 Nova from the Stars & Stripes series, I’m having mixed feelings about it. I’m trying to be selective about what I add to my collection these days, so I chose to only buy the Nova, rather than buy and display the entire series so that I could spell out “HOT WHEELS”. As much as I like the weathered Americana packaging, I’m not sure how I feel about having a car with a giant “T” on the package, which looks pretty random when you see it on its own. Still the car itself is a beautiful metalflake blue with a flashy stars and stripes motif, and it will be a nice addition to my collection of many ’66 Novas.
It’s interesting that the base of this model is mistakenly stamped “’68 Nova”, just like the multipack exclusive I picked up earlier this year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.