When Matchbox announced they were partnering with Mercedes Benz to make a replica of her legendary Mercedes 220 SE, I was immediately excited, and not just for the diecast. I couldn’t locate one in store but recently my good friend JJ was kind enough to send me a knockout birthday package with this included. I was made up. This is a story that needs to be told, and Ewy Rosqvist is a name that more people need to know.
Born into a farming family in Ystad, Sweden in 1929, Rosqvist learned to drive at an early age. A job as a vetinary assistant meant she would drive long hours on the challenging roads of Southern Sweden. She later recalled her experiences in her book “Fahrt durch die Hölle” (Driving Through Hell):
“The driving which I had to carry out each day amounted to between 150 and 200 kilometres, almost all on unpaved roads, gravel paths and farm roads.”
These testing Scandinavian conditions have helped hone the skills of some of the world’s greatest drivers, and Rosqvist was no exception.
She quickly developed a love for rallying through taking part in events with her father and partner who were both keen drivers, and quickly began competing herself. Trophies followed in due course: in 1959 she won the European Rally Championship Women’s Cup, and also took the 1960 and 1961 win.
Her exploits caught the attention of Mercedes-Benz who were putting together a team to take on the 1962 Touring Car Grand Prix of Argentina, a gruelling 4624km rally across the country. Rosqvist was paired with co-driver Ursula Wirth, forming the only all female line up on the rally.
The conditions were punishing: of 258 cars that started, only 43 made it to the finish, and the race sadly claimed the life of fellow Mercedes driver Hermann Kühne.
Initially the media ridiculed the idea of a female crew merely competing in the event, let alone winning. But Rosqvist and Wirth did just that. Infact they didn’t win, they dominated. They won all 6 stages of the rally, finishing over 3 hours ahead of their nearest competitors and setting a new average speed record in the process. Rosqvist recalled later:
“They said I couldn’t finish. So I finished first.”
A more fitting subject for a diecast it is hard to think of. And when Matchbox bought it to the 1/64 scale world, they decided to work with Mercedes to launch the car in a brilliant way.
This is such a cool campaign with such a powerful message. And the diecast itself… well, it’s brilliant. But it’s here because of what it represents and all of the history that goes with it. And that makes it worth having in your collection.