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.

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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.

Matchbox 1973 Speed Kings Ambulance

After my recent success at the Paramount Antique Mall on West Kellogg, I decided to check out the Paramount Marketplace. The Marketplace is the newest location in the enterprise, and it features a healthy dose of craft-related and new items mixed in with the antiques. The first time I visited, shortly after they opened, they had not yet filled up the interior of the former grocery store they occupy. Well, after a little over a year of being open, the 22,000 square feet is pretty full – having taken on some of the vendors who were previously in the now-closed Village Flea Market.

I found a display case in a back room that was mostly full of redline Hot Wheels. The redlines were not in pristine condition, but were still fairly expensive. I enjoyed looking at them, but wasn’t planning to buy anything. Then, in the same case, I spotted this Matchbox Speed Kings Ambulance, priced at $7. I found someone with a key to the case, looked it over, and took it home with me.

The first Matchbox King Size ambulance was the K-6 Mercedes Benz “Binz” Ambulance which first appeared in 1967. Though in later years the Binz did trade its black plastic wheels for something quicker, my K-49 Ambulance is clearly a product of the Superfast years, coming on the scene with it’s clean, modern lines in 1973. It features colorful graphics and an opening rear door.

Matchbox | 1973 | Speed Kings K-49 | Ambulance | white with red roof and red interior

My other Matchbox Speed Kings are the Fire Control Range Rover, the Javelin AMX and the Bertone Runabout.

Matchbox 1976 Site Dumper

I found this Matchbox Site Dumper in the same case at Paramount where I found the Peterbilt Tanker, and also paid $2.50 for it. It has a few paint chips, but makes a really nice companion to the Tractor Shovel and Sambron Jacklift that I found awhile back at the Village Flea Market. This all yellow with black interior Site Dumper was the first release of this model in 1976. It subsequently appeared in about 6 different color variations, the most valuable of which is an orange-red version.

Matchbox | 1976 | 26 | Site Dumper | yellow with yellow dumper, black interior | Superfast wheels