Lamley Daily: Matchbox ’57 Chevy debut

Model: Matchbox MB004 (or MB04-D) ’57 Chevy

Release: 1980 (& 1981) basic range

eBay link: Matchbox ‘57 Chevy

Why is it in the collection: Childhood memories

I was born in the UK in 1972. Growing up I was addicted to toy cars, as I just loved the real things. I still remember in 1980 when I was handed this one. I had no idea what it was. My knowledge of classic US vehicles as a 7/8 year old was not the greatest. I just knew it was an old Chevy. The base literally just said ’57 Chevy. That was all I knew about it. It wasn’t until a long time later that I found out it was a modified 2nd generation Chevy Bel Air.

I still remember as a kid the issues I used to have rolling it along, particularly if I was outside. The slightest bump in the surface and that huge license plate hanging down off the front would get caught and…

The front end would tip over. As a kid I tried to snap off the license plate, which only succeeded in pulling off the entire front grille section. I could actually balance it back on, but the slightest movement and it would come back off again. It was the one thing that aggravated me about the model. But I also have a lovely memory which overpowers that one.

I still remember shortly after getting the model, I was having fun with it at a place we used to visit weekly as a family. I used to play outside with it while the parents were inside. However, it was getting dark and so us kids were called in (there were a number of families there). I wandered in, and we continued playing inside. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to leave that I realized I had left the ’57 Chevy outside. In the car park somewhere. My dad went out and scoured the car park looking forward to it. I thought for sure a car would have run over it and smashed it. I was visibly upset, but my dad came back a while later. He had found it. He was out in the pitch dark and was determined to find the model for me. I never forget the little things like that. They are the most precious memories.

Now obviously this one isn’t that one. As I said, I later pulled off the grille trying to snap off the license plate (I was a destructive kid) and eventually the whole front end came off too. Without the grille in place to hold it, that tilting hood section struggles to stay in place. As an adult collector I did upgrade it to a mintier looking model.

Plus I now have 2 different shades of the lavender. The original I had is closest to the paler of the 2 shown here, which is why I chose that for the main photos here. Daft fact, when I did go to upgrade it, I got the darker lavender first, and kept the original “parts” until I found a closer match. But seeing either of these, and to be honest any 1980/81 MB4 ’57 Chevy in lavender, I still get the memories of my dad out in the dark hunting down my one as a kid.

David Tilley

6 thoughts on “Lamley Daily: Matchbox ’57 Chevy debut

  1. Great write up. I never saw that version as a kid. I had had the black version with the flames. The bonnet came off with hardcore outside play!. My Nan got me the “smart old bluey took the Milky Way!’ Version. Still kept from childhood.

  2. Thanks for sharing the story of your dad finding your lost one in the car park! I love little anecdotes like that. It’s what makes playworn models so fascinating. Each one of them must have a little tale like that–a precious memory–embedded in its missing flakes of paint.

  3. It took me a month, but I just dug out my oldest car cases. I remembered that I had two of this model, but I never knew that it had two tones of the lavender color. I was very surprised to discover that I actually have both versions. The difference is noticeable if you stare at it under good lighting. Thanks for your story!

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