Our ongoing series showcasing the best of Matchbox from 2005 to 2011 will usually focus on castings that made their debut during that era. But not always.
There was a lot of magic happening at the time, and with lines like Superfast, some existing models took on new lives. There is no better example than the Nissan Xterra.
The Xterra was big deal when it debuted in 2000. The SUV craze was in full swing, but the vehicles lumbering down the road were less about “sport utility” and more about status, ride height, and comfort. The Xterra was the opposite, more about the “sport” and “utility”, with its emphasis on function, and its look as unique as any in the SUV world. I remember the Xterra – especially in its signature yellow – being the first SUV that I always noticed on the road.
And Matchbox jumped on the Xterra bandwagon quickly. It was a no-brainer candidate, and debuted within the same year as the real Xterra. The only problem was Matchbox, at the time, was producing great castings, but giving them terrible decos. Those early 2000’s were marked by Matchbox’s hatred of subtlety. There seemed to to be a fear that no one will know the Xterra is an off-road vehicle if there wasn’t an attention-grabbing graphic on the side to tell them. Hence:
To me, whenever I think of the Xterra, I picture it in yellow, so the ROW version is the one to have. Unfortunately, the ROW models are the harder to find, especially for collectors in the US. Matchbox stayed true to the lines, making the US line ONLY available in the US, and the ROW lines ONLY available outside of the US. That meant collectors in both markets needed to make friends with collectors in the opposite market to get the models they wanted. Packages were flying all over the place from Australia, Europe, South America, and Canada at the time. It also means tracking down the yellow Xterra now is very difficult to do, especially for the Nissan loving collectors here in the US.
But the green is no slouch, and the red that followed in 2006 as part of the 5-model Off-Road Superfast set was fantastic as well. Three models, all in realistic colors (and I don’t even mind the blingy Superfast wheels, especially in graphite gray on the 2005 models) and full tampo treatments. Even the roof rack was painted.
We haven’t seen the Xterra much since the Superfast models, and seeing it now would be impossible unless Matchbox modifies the casting. Their “4-part” rule means the opening hatch would have to go, and we do wonder if the way metal is being cost-limited with Matchbox models, the roof rack would be converted to plastic as well.
But whether we see it down the line or not, we will always have these three. I don’t have any other Xterras, because I am more than satisfied to have these three beauties in the collection. Three highlights of the Matchbox Golden Age…
(These do pop up on eBay occasionally, and there are a couple of red and green right now if you want them.)
Matchbox Nissan Xterra (2005/2005 Superfast):