Lamley Daily: Matchbox Vectra/Cavalier

Model: Matchbox MB201 Vectra/Cavalier GSi 2000

Release: 1990 basic range MB22 (US) or MB41 (ROW)

eBay link: Matchbox Vectra

Why is it in the range: Reminds me of my Dad

Today is Father’s Day in the UK and in various other countries around the world so I thought it would be a nice to time to talk about this model. When I was a kid, I used to pick up models (well my parents or family and friends would, my pocket money wouldn’t stretch that far) and often thought how cool would it be if Matchbox made a model of the one my dad drove. They never did. It wasn’t until I was about to turn 18, become an adult and was still collecting for fun that they finally released one. Now admittedly my dad drove a Mini in his youth (Matchbox made one, although while I was a kid, it was a racing one), and when I was a baby the family car was a Morris Traveller, which was based on the Morris Minor, again which Matchbox had made. But that was one was before my time so I never saw it anyway. But this was the first time that Matchbox released a model of a vehicle that my dad was actually driving.

He was a bit of a Vauxhall fanatic. Growing up I remember we used to have a Vauxhall Chevette. Lovely car. Until dad decided to trade it in for something new. The back window fell out. The exhaust fell off. It’s as if it was trying to say it will not survive without us. Bless it! But his older brother had a Vauxhall Cavalier and said how brilliant it was. We were getting into caravanning. The Cavalier was well known for its really good towing capabilities. So he got one. Then traded in for another and another, into the name change of Vauxhall Vectra.

Now the thing is, this isn’t quite his vehicle. He always had the hatchback variant. This is a saloon (or if you reading in USA, a sedan). But it is as close as we got. It’s good enough for me. The name was there. He even owned one in a similar colour to this one.

Talking of the name, it was pretty clever the way Matchbox got around this. You see GM owns a variety of manufacturers (or did at the time) around the world (as Vauxhall and Opel are now owned by PSA), and in the 1970s they started merging designs of vehicles. The 2nd generation Opel Ascona became the 1st generation Vauxhall Cavalier. The design was the same, it was just the front grille area that was different. As new generations appeared, the Opel version was renamed Vectra, but Vauxhall wanted to keep the Cavalier name going so did. However, they did relent on the generation following this and changed theirs to Vectra too. This was the last Cavalier. This generation was sold in Australasia too, and was known as a Holden Vectra there. Latin America also saw it where it was sold as a Chevrolet Vectra. So we had 4 different grille designs for the 4 different manufacturers making it. So they just made the grille generic. No badge of any type. And the base. As said it was only Vauxhall that was digging their heels in with the whole Cavalier thing. Whether Holden, Chevy or Opel, it was the Vectra. So on the base they just kept it simple. Vectra/Cavalier. It was also the top of the range version at the time of its debut, the GSi 2000. Later on larger engined models appeared.

The GSi was the sporty version and as such had a tiny lip on the rear. Regular versions didn’t.

The one I have been showing was my original. In 1990 when it debuted it was made in Macau. That is when I got mine. In 1991 production moved to China, and in my collecting years I have found both a lighter and darker shade of Chinese made Cavaliers (I am a UK person, it’s a Cavalier). I didn’t get them when they were new. But the Macau one is the one that is more significant to me, as that is the one that gave me the great memories when I got it. Yay! Dad’s car!

I still feel a little sad that 1990 and 1991 were the only 2 years for production. It was dropped after that and apart from a rare green issue from the German World Rallye set for Christmas 1991 (and 1992) the casting was never used again. But this was the one time that Matchbox released a model of the vehicle my dad was driving. So for Father’s Day, I thought I would remember that feeling from 30 years ago again. Yay! Dad’s car!

David Tilley

3 thoughts on “Lamley Daily: Matchbox Vectra/Cavalier

  1. That’s strange. I’m still driving a 20 year old Vauxhall Astra mk4. I’ve had it 15 years. My oldest teenage daughter says it’s about time I get another. …i just smile…. Its done and doing everything I wanted it to do and more. No frills and a reliable Hopper. I think its the case where her friends parents all drive big oversize names . … As for the mbx Vauxhall I had that as a kid and still have it. Normal road scene vehicles in the early 90s. The Vauxhall chevette my Nan had. It was an old police car. Over the roof was welded plate were the blue light used to be. I loved that as a kid. Thanks and nice write up. Have a good day all.

  2. I always liked this model. From the US I thought it was much bigger than it really was. I assumed it was a full size sedan. I think it still looks good and would look at it if is was on a lot today. I know they used it as a prepro for a NJ State Police model that ended up being the LTD.

  3. Loved that model, one of my favorite Matchbox cars at the time. The Vectra Turbo 4×4 was even used as a safety car in F1…

Leave a Reply