Model: Matchbox MB037 Matra Rancho
Release: 1982 MB37 ROW exclusive
eBay link: Matchbox Matra Rancho
Why it’s in the collection: Reminds me of my mother
It was the beginning of January 1983. I would have been 10 years old at the time. It was the end of the school holidays as they were due to open back up that week. I had been through the 1982 catalogue and all the new castings for the year had been picked up for me by parents, family, friends etc. I mean, I was 10, I wasn’t exactly buying them myself. Except 1. It was actually one of the models I was looking forward to the most. The Matra Rancho. But I had not seen it anywhere. My mother took my and my sister to Birmingham in the UK, where we went to the Bullring Shopping Centre, along with my mother’s friend and her 2 daughters.
As we were going around the shops, obviously with 4 kids in tow between the 2 of them, we were veering towards toys a lot. At least we tried to. Our mothers were trying to have different ideas. But there it was. One of the shops had the Matra Rancho for sale. I pleaded with my mother and she bought it for me. My collection of new models was complete. But it was a few days into 1983. Still I did not mind. I hadn’t even seen any 1983 stuff yet, and being a kid I had no knowledge that Lesney Matchbox itself had gone bust and Universal were busy taking it over, changing certain aspects of it. All I knew was, I finally had this little French car, which even had a French numberplate on the front and rear.
Talking of the rear, it had this little opening tailgate. I thought it was so cute. I treasured that model, or should I say this model. This is that exact model, bought by my mother for me in the first week of January 1983. It doesn’t look too bad for a childhood toy 37 years old.
Sure, there were some chips on it, particularly on corners, and if you look at the base, you will discover a little loss of paint on the exhaust that was hanging low. The wheels are showing a little wear from being outside rolling on the path in the street. But overall, this is still in pretty good condition.
As a collector I have added tailgate variations.
And base variations (the one at the back has a black base), but that first one still has a big place in my collection. And my heart. It was my mother who got it for me. But that is not all.
My mother actually discovered just how cool the Matra Rancho was in real life. A friend of hers had one, and she wanted one. I pointed out the model which made her laugh but she wanted a real one.
Sadly though, my dad had a book about towing capabilities. We were a caravan family. We needed a car that would tow our caravan. Unfortunately, the Matra Rancho’s towing capability wasn’t all that great. Which made me laugh because as you can see, the model has a tow hook. But in reality, it would not have been able to tow our caravan. It was either downgrade to a smaller caravan or get a more powerful car. The caravan wasn’t going. So we never owned a real life Matra Rancho. Which is a shame. Current records state that there are 2 Matra Ranchos registered in the UK. It may not have been most popular vehicle, but it was a head turner. Even now, the model has a rather unique look to it.
So there you go. A model that does nothing but remind me of my mum. But I hope she doesn’t kill me for this next bit. I wanted to post this specifically today to thank my mother for all she has done. You see, it is her birthday today. And it’s a biggie. She turns 75. That’s a milestone birthday, but with the current situation, she is currently in lockdown in her house in the UK so I can’t go and properly wish her happy birthday or anything. A card on the doorstep and a wave through the window is as much as I can do at the moment.
So thanks mum. Happy birthday. Just to know I am thinking of you today.