Model: Matchbox MB504 Jeep Liberty
Release: 2001 North American International Auto Show
eBay link: Matchbox Jeep Liberty
Why is it in the collection: It was my first eBay win
It’s always great when a major vehicle manufacturer teams up with a toy company to produce models of their new vehicle right from the word go. And in this case, it really was. Jeep got in touch with Mattel and with the Matchbox brand who in secret created a model of the new Jeep Liberty in the launch show colour scheme for Jeep to give away at their launch event at NAIAS in Detroit in January 2001.
How secret was it? Let’s just say that the Chrysler Group unveiled the new Liberty on Sunday January 14th. The model was produced in the Matchbox factory on Tuesday January 9th. They were produced, box and shipped direct to Detroit in 5 days. During the pre-production stages, Matchbox only knew that it was a Jeep. They had no vehicle name. The base therefore only had Jeep written on it. Even the packaging made no mention of the Liberty name, simply stating it was a Jeep and a limited edition. Liberty does not even feature in the tampo printing anywhere because Matchbox did not know its name.
But I saw the first pictures after a while online of it and knew I had to have it. The worldwide web was still rather new to me at the time. I believe it was only 2000 when I first got online. I was still learning. I tried my best at being able to get one of these but it was proving too difficult.
I eventually saw one at this auction site called eBay. I didn’t know much about it, but by then it was August, and I had been spending months trying unsuccessfully to get it. So I signed up to this relatively unknown company. It was the very first thing I bid on. And I won. I then had to figure out how to pay for it. PayPal was still in its infancy, and did not become associated with eBay (after they bought it) for over another year. I was in the UK and the seller in USA. I set up a money transfer and got the funds shipped over. That involved going out to a post office. It wasn’t done online with a click of a few buttons. How times change.
Then in September, my model arrived. I still remembering opening it up and admiring it for the first time. It was beautiful. Well worth all the time and effort involved in getting it.
Nowadays I buy and win stuff on eBay fairly regularly. A few clicks of a button and everything is paid for. But whenever I pull this model out, I remember that even eBay was not as easy as it is now. In days gone by you still needed to go out and finish the order off. Those were the days. Coming up on 19 years now. It is still one of my favourites.