Lamley Daily: Supermarket snake – Matchbox’s 428 Mustang Cobra Jet

Model: Matchbox MB298 1968 Mustang Cobra Jet

Release: Safeway Highway Cruisers / Toys R US 50th Anniversary Set

Ebay link: Matchbox Mustang 428

Why I am featuring it: A couple of years ago I was chasing a promotional Matchbox Convoy release that was available in Safeway stores back in 1998. When a Mustang-loving friend offered to sell me his, he explained that he’d bought it for the car that came with the Mack CH600, rather than the hauler itself. When I got it home and opened it up, I realized why.

2020-04-14 17.15.48I’d first found Matchbox’s MB298 1968 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet as a US regular range release in 1998 but the casting dates back to ’96, the last full year of Tyco ownership. In the case of the Cobra Jet, as with some of the other models created at that time (see also my recent DTM race-car article), a gaudy deco hid an attractive casting underneath.

The Matchbox version of Ford’s drag car for the street, whose 428ci motor was very conservatively rated at 335HP, is a substantial model. Later versions – it became a staple of premium releases such as Superfast for a decade – showcased its great stance and nice details to the full.

2020-04-14 17.17.21The maroon car shown here is one of the best. Somewhat oversized Goodyear rubber tires, chrome grille and nicely picked-out taillights are all there, along with a cheeky C-Jet license plate. My example came with the Safeway truck, but the source of this deco was as part of a Toys R Us 50th anniversary set in 1998. Many different vehicles were packaged with the supermarket Convoys (Jewel, Kroger, Lucky, Safeway, Vons); presumably they had some TRU Mustangs left over and threw them in.

This particular Mustang is relatively hard to find but it’s simple enough to track down another of the many fine versions for very little money. Premium Matchbox releases from the late-90s and 2000s are still undervalued, in my opinion. Failing that, pay a couple of bucks for a basic version and use that beautiful casting to customize your own. Happy 428 day!

2020-04-14 17.15.18

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Graham Heeps

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