Model: MB3-B Monteverdi Hai
Release: generally 1973-77 basic range, this specific one 1975
eBay link: Matchbox Monteverdi Hai
Why it is in the collection: Taking a chance on a single picture
This model was one of my favourites growing up in the 1970s. I had literally no idea what it was. It was way before we mere mortals had access to the internet, and it was quite a few car books later that I finally found out about it. The Monteverdi Hai 450SS debuted at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show. Plans were for them to make 49. They only made 2. Eventually, they dug through their spare parts bin in 1990 and managed to create 2 more out of spare parts, which now sit in the Monteverdi Museum in Switzerland.
But I think this Matchbox version from 1973 slightly surpasses it in sales.
It only ever came in orange during its original 5-year run, and usually sported a “3” label across the front. But one I was an adult and formally collecting them, I was definitely making a bee-line for this casting, because as I said it had been a favourite growing up. My original was batter beyond recognition (I believe it had no doors left) and had been replaced. I now have 12 different oranges in my collection, but the one that I remember the most was this one.
Lesney were well known for their incorrect sticker usage. During production if a sticker sheet runs out, you grab a new one. If they haven’t got them just grab one for something else. In this case, it was a sticker for a Renault 17TL. The correct “3” label is pretty much a full length label for the front. This one though, much shorter. I had been trying to find one for quite a while. I was doing one of my usual trips through eBay looking for stuff when I saw one for sale that had me curious. I still remember the heading. Matchbox car. That was it. They had a few for sale, and all had the same title. You click on the link and it had one picture.
The model was sitting on the box, but was basically this angle. The description was “first time out of box”. That was it. No other details, not other pictures or views. But the thing is, the auction was about to finish and there had been no bids. Well none of their items had. They were all a £4.99 starting bid and with the same single picture, same lack of details of anything. But they say a picture says a thousand words. I glared at the screen. I could just make out the edge of the label. I couldn’t see what was on it. But it wasn’t going up to the top of the front. It was coming up quite short. So I took a gamble. Well it was £5. Plus postage.
Boom! I got the box in the mail, and opened it and out rolled a Monteverdi with a “6” label. The seller was probably right. The label is still very good now, many years later. It probably had just been sitting in a box from new. I can’t say how good the box was when I got it. I didn’t register how it looked. But I always love a good bargain. Sometimes you have to take a gamble on something. One of my cheapest Monteverdai Hai purchases (in fact it may be my cheapest) but not one of the easiest.