Matchbox Monday takes us back to 1969

It’s that time of the week again, and as the year rolls on I am shortly to receive some more fresh models to showcase from Wheel Collectors, but I thought in the meantime why not go back to the oldest models in my collection. I am a huge fan of the Matchbox brand, but I decided long ago, as I was born in 1972, I would only go back to the beginnings of the Superfast era and collect miniatures from that point forwards. The earlier Lesney regular wheel models were just not resonating with me. I had no attachment to them as a part of my youth, even though the odd one was in my toy box growing up. But growing up in the 1970s, Superfast did resonate with me. As we know, the Superfast era of Matchbox started in 1969. But it was quite late in 1969, they rushed through the first models after seeing sales slump when Mattel launched their own range to compete in the marketplace. It was so quick that it surprised Jack Odell, who hated the idea of it, tried to stop them, failed and quit the company (setting up Lledo, his name backwards, to create his more old-school models). Many know that there were 5 brand new castings launched late in 1969 using Superfast wheels.

But in total, there were 10 models released before the end of 1969, as the first 5 regular wheel models were converted to Superfast wheels that year too. For those who collect boxes, these 10 models are known as the “red script” boxes, as the word “Superfast” was written on them in red. In 1970 the script was changed to black printing as more models were converted or swapped out.

Such was the rush to get them out, Lesney had already created the 1969 catalogue showcasing all their products for the year, and had to rush through a second edition later on.

It did not have too much in the way of differences, but did have a page showing off the new Superfast products. But notice the pictures? Lotus Europa, BMC Pininfarina, Lamborghini Marzal. They were the only 3 that featured in the catalogue.

Showing the page for the Lotus Europa, which in the earlier catalogue was showing a London Bus. It was noted as being available late 1969.

But what about the other 2 new castings? There was a Merryweather Fire Engine and a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Coupe that came out too. the Rolls Royce took over the number 69 slot from the Hatra Tractor Shovel, but both early and late 1969 catalogues still showed the Hatra. But you might notice the little marker by the VW 1600TL which was in the 67 slot. It was being converted in 1969 and already was showing the little wheel logo that the Lotus Europa was using denoting it as a Superfast. Something the early 1969 catalogue didn’t. And I know it is strange, I don’t collect regular wheels, but I had an early 1969 catalogue anyway.

So using that logic, these 3 models therefore are the oldest 3 Superfast….

With these two being numbers 4 and 5. All 1969, but we can split between first and second batch. Yeah I point out the silliest things don’t I. So as I have them, let’s do a little rundown of the models shall we?

First up, we have a brand new casting. The MB5 Lotus Europa debuted immediately as a Superfast, and ran in blue through what was left of 1969 and 1970. Obviously with a year and a half (or so) of production, shades did vary between lighter and darker blues, and there is an extremely rare first run issue where the word “Superfast” was not written on the base. Not being a base collector I have not attempted to find one of those.

So if the Superfast wording was added to the base, I guess it was originally in their plans to release as a regular wheel casting. However, I have never seen a pre-production sample featuring regular wheels. Only early prototype Superfast wheels (which had a disk middle section). Again I don’t own one, as these are very expensive.

In 1970 they released a gift set. It was the G-3 Racing Specials, and consisted of 6 Superfast models pulled from the basic range, except each of them sported a few stickers on them. Included in the set was a sheet of labels with details of how to add more on to the models if you wanted. This particular blue example has the full label set included.

1971 and the model turned pink. Through the course of 1971 it appeared each production run was using a different mix of pink paints, and therefore there were quite a lot of shade variations to be had.

And obviously, with the G-3 set still running too, the model pulled from the basic range also turned pink. This particular one shows how the model would appear in the set before you wanted to attach more labels.

In 1972 though, Lesney made quite a change to the models. If Jack Odell did not like Superfast, he would have hated these. The Lesney guys were realizing that the new tracks that they had created for the models were so fast that the models were unstable and kept falling off. It was noted that one of the biggest issues was the fact that the wheels being so narrow, there was not a lot of traction for the surfaces. By widening the wheels, it was giving them better traction and they were staying on much better. The problem was, it also meant the models also needed to have those wheels on the outer edges of the castings. Too far inside and they would become unstable again. So they had to chop the castings up to accommodate the newer wider wheels. Some models didn’t really need much doing, but in many cases, the realistic wheel arches had to be enlarged and cut out to allow for smooth rolling action down the track. You can notice it here with the 1971 issue Europa sitting on a 1972-73 issue. The earlier model had realistic arches. The later one huge ovals and wide wheels.

The G-3 giftset was still being made, so obviously this too saw the altered casting. Seen here are the 1971 basic labels and 1972 full labels versions to show the extra labels that could be applied.

The pink version was produced for 3 years in total, until it was replaced in 1975 by Seafire. With 3 years of production the inevitable shade variations were found again.

But there was another daft anomaly. For its final year in the basic range (1974) the tow slot at the front of the base was filled in. The model on the right here has the slot filled in. I did say I am not a base variation collector. This was just a happy coincidence of me finding another shade of pink and noticing it was a 1974 issue. As I said, Lesney would change paints on a regular basis and with models being produced for a number of years at a time, these regular paint changes gave us many shades.

But this was not the end for the Lotus. Oh no, we still have a way to go. In 1977 Japan was given some unique models for their range. The MB J-2 slot (as they were often referred to) was a black JPS Europa. It ran for 2 years as J-2, but in 1979 moved to J-18 for a final year before Japanese exclusives were dropped. During that time you could find it sporting either dot-dash or 5-spoke wheels.

You could even find some without any tampo printing on too. When the Japanese exclusives were dropped, there were still a number of Europas produced sitting in the warehouse. Some were used up in the TP-5 twin pack towing a Boat & Trailer in 1980, and the remainder were thrown in MP-1 gift packs and sold off in various stores, like Tesco in the UK. These were last seen in 1981.

But there is one more twist to this model. In 1983, after Universal had taken over the brand following Lesney’s bankruptcy, a deal was set up with a company in Bulgaria to produce some older Matchbox models for sale in the local market. At the time, there were many restrictions in place in the country over import and export of items. Universal set up an agreement to lease out some tooling on a 1 year basis. The Lotus Europa was one of the first 5 models sent over for the factory to make, and make them they did. The rules of the agreement was that the tooling had to be back with Universal in under a year. That includes shipping out, setting up and preparation, production, dismantling and shipping back. So the factory had a little over 11 months to produce; & they went nuts. Many different colours of bodies, interiors and windows exist. This is because they used whatever was in the paint pots each day on all 5 models. There is supposedly a small shade to the bases too between a lighter and darker silver, but the wheels were the only things that stayed the same during production. They just wanted to get as much made as they could in the 11 and a bit months they had.

After a brand new casting, we see the first of the transitionals. The MB14 Iso Grifo was quite an unusual choice for a vehicle. I remember as a child in the 1970s going to a library to find out more information about the real vehicle (oh the days before Google). I had never heard of it. Iso was a small Italian manufacturer who actually created the Isetta bubble car in the 1950s (before selling it off to many companies to build). In 1964 they created the Grifo, but the name was not liked by Giotto Bizzarrini who had been working with Iso on the conception of the vehicle, and Renzo Rivolta, the owner of the company. This resulted in Giotto walking out and never working with them again. The Grifo was made in real life until the company went bankrupt in 1974. Matchbox created a model and released it in 1968. It transitioned into a Superfast in late 1969 in the same dark blue with light blue interior. It ran like that until 1970 and as such the shade of blue did change. The shade of interior did too, becoming a darker blue during 1970.

These darker blue interiors were the last of the 1970s before the model turned into….

Blue! Yep. In 1971 the model turned from a very dark blue into a much lighter blue where it would stay until 1974. Now there is a rare crossover. the final dark blues were fitted with the white interior of the light blue. They rarely come up for sale, and when they do they command a heavy premium. One day I will get one.

With 4 years of production in light blue you could find small differences in wheels (5-spokes coming in either squared or rectangular style).

And just like the Lotus, the model was altered in 1972 to accommodate the wider wheels. However wheel arches were pretty large on this anyway so didn’t need anything much doing to it.

But of course, 4 years, plenty of shades. I do have about 10 of them, and if I was to line them up in picture they would just blur into each other. So I just took a lighter and darker shade for comparison here.

But just like the Lotus, this casting was retired from the basic range after 1974, only to resurface in a unique colour in Japan in 1977. This time it was blue! Yeah seriously. Dark blue turned to light blue, now turned to powder blue for the Japanese issue.

J-3 (later J-14 in 1979) was usually found with 5-spoke wheels, but late in 1979 they started using dot-dash. As the Japanese exclusive range stopped shortly after, many dot-dash ones were thrown in the MP-1 multipack and disposed of through other stockists.

Which bring us to the next number and next transitional. MB15 was the VW 1500 Saloon. A model most people nowadays refer to as the Beetle. Now this model had not long debuted in the basic range, as the first ones appeared in early 1969, but it was swiftly swapped to Superfast wheels later that year. The early issues were off white, although some coming out in quite a creamy shade, but it was not around for too long like that.

In 1970 it would turn red where it would run until 1972. So not a very long shelf life for this model. Now late reds from 1972 did actually see a change to the body but I am still looking for the late red run. But, as with the others so far, this model too turned to Japan for future releases.

Sold as J-6 in 1977/78, it then moved to J-30 for 1979, I can show on these 2 pictures just how the casting was altered, as in this case the model reverted back to its 1969 creamy white look (although again a different shade). The Rallye Monte Carlo label had been removed in 1972 and the display for it altered to a triple cheese wedge design instead of the smooth surface the label was sitting on. Just to give it a bit of character.

The rear was also altered to break up the rear bumper to allow for easier manufacturing as the tow hook was getting caught trying to slot in all the time. After 1979 the casting was retired for good, although again some leftovers were found in the MP-1 multipack in 1980 and 1981.

Something that had not really happened until 1969. A concept vehicle. The MB20 Lamborghini Marzal was one of 2 concepts that arrived in 1969 as a Superfast model. First shown off at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show, the Bertone designed model did influence the design of the Espada later on. It was a full working vehicle, and Prince Rainier III of Monaco drove it on the parade lap of the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix. It still exists. Funnily enough the real vehicle has a chrome interior. But it was a time before Matchbox would really do chrome interiors, so this did not get one.

Debuting in 1969, the metallic dark red ran through 1970 as well. The Marzal was one of the 6 models added to the G-3 gift set too, so also saw models sporting stickers and a sheet for additional stickers. Obviously the G-3 set ran through the rest of the Marzal line-up too, which I skipped this time.

1971 and a change to a non-metallic salmon. Or pink. Or whatever paint they happened to have at the time. It ran through quite a wide range that year.

But as with the other vehicles this model was going to be altered in 1972. the thing is, that rear wheel arch was specifically designed as per the real one to partially cover the rear wheel.

Not any more! One of the most drastic transformations done to a Matchbox model, this casting’s rear wheel arch was opened up significantly to allow wide wheels to be used. This new look to the model was in use from 1972 until 1974. the model was replaced by the Police Patrol in 1975.

But again, with 3 years of production, shades of salmon were bound to happen. The pink was definitely a 1971 issue, as wide wheel models never appear in shades of pink. But the salmons varied from a pinkier shade through to quite an orangey shade.

Just as an example, this is the darkest looking salmon I have in the later wide wheel variant, compared to a 1971 pink. Quite a big change.

But this model had one more little trick up its sleeve. In 1972, Matchbox released a small set called the A-3 Brroomstick. By the way, that is the correct spelling, it has 2 r’s in the name. It was also known as Zingomatic in some markets. These small sets were simply a model with a plastic accessory that you hold in your hand. A piece of string comes off and sticks to the front of the model. With this, you could walk along and steer the model around. The models sometimes used those pulled from the basic range, but there were 2 exclusive designs included. One was a Porsche 910 in white, and the other was this Marzal in yellow. But as with most things, if you look hard enough you will find a variation or 2.

This brings us to another transitional. The MB33 Lamborghini Miura. Created behind Ferruccio Lamborghini’s back in 1965, when presented to him he was not convinced at first. Being a tractor man, he had a falling out with Enzo Ferrari over a Ferrari that he owned, and decided to create a grand touring car to beat Enzo’s. This was the 350GT. While designing the 400GT, 3 of his designers thought it would be great to come up with a different type of car, one that could win on track as well as on the road. They showed him their concept and eventually he thought it could be a bit of a marketing exercise if nothing else. They finished the prototype 3 days before the 1966 Geneva Motor Show’s big unveiling and did not even know if the engine would fit properly. So they sealed the bonnet down and refused to let the press see under it. However, it turned into one of the highlights of the show, and thus the P400 (codename) was called Miura. Named after the Spanish Toro de Lidia lineage of fighting bulls, with their look becoming the Lamborghini badge we all know. So quite a significant model.

Sales began in 1967, and Matchbox created a model of the vehicle releasing it in 1969. The early regular wheel models were yellow, and when it changed to Superfast wheels, they still had a few yellow bodies left to use, so put them on the first Superfast issues. These are pretty tough to find nowadays.

Although me being me, I did manage to find a silver pre-production sample of it many years ago too.

The plan was to change it to dark gold when it changed to Superfast. This was still 1969, and this was Lesney. The first ones came out very dark. It is what we as collectors call the bronze one.

Comparing it to the standard dark gold you can see just how much darker it is. If you ask some people, this first run “bronze” is even harder to find than yellow Superfast. By the end of 1969 the model was gold.

During 1970 it was decided that the red interior was not the best, and so they changed it to ivory.

Shades of gold can be found as the model ran until 1972.

Although yet again, 1972 was a pivotal year, with the wheels being widened to allow for more stability on tracks. It did mean widening wheel arches again (I didn’t show that).

Of course 1972 was also the year that they started painting the base too. Red, or pink or something similar (whatever they didn’t want to use for bodies) was used as they weren’t going to waste the paint.

After 1972 the model was retired from the basic range, but again was brought back for Japan in 1977. Running as J-1 in 1977/78, it moved to J-38 in 1979 but these were just more of the same golds. the only small difference was with the 5-spoke wheels. Usually quite a rectangular hole in the chrome, the Japanese ones were often found with an almost squareness to the holes. Mind you I am still hunting down the one that appeared right at the end. A final run was made with dot-dash wheels and a black base. Although most of those appeared in the MP-1 multipacks as noted, because they were produced right at the end just as hey were about to abruptly stop their exclusive Japanese deal.

But there was one more sad tale to tell. Considering the model was yellow or gold (or bronze) throughout its life, when Universal took over they set up their deal with Bulgaria in 1983. The castings were sent out, they ran them, a year later in 1984 they were back at the factory. All went well. So they struck a second deal. Another set of 7 castings this time, that were sent out in early 1985. Among them was the Lamborghini Miura. Production began, but sadly a few months later the casting broke. It still got a number of variations out, as they were just pumping them out as much as they could. But these Bulgarian made Miuras are the toughest ones to find out of all Bulgarian castings, due to their shorter run.

I still only own the one. Not perfect condition, and one day I hope to add more to it too. But it was a sad way to finish off this casting. I wonder why their next deal in Bulgaria only had 2 models in it? I can imagine the conversation.

“You broke one of our models”.

“It was an accident, can we have some more?”

“Hmm, don’t know. Maybe just a couple”.

Yeah I am in my only little fantasy world here. But how close to reality was that?

So this brings us to the next model on the list. The only vehicle that is not a car. The MB35 Merryweather Fire Engine. I don’t own one personally, but I have seen a number of pre-production samples of this model sporting regular wheels. That was the plan at first, but things were switched up last minute and it debuted at the very end of the year with Superfast wheels. Now you would think that Merryweather was the company name. But it was not. The vehicle is an AEC. Merryweather & Sons have been around since the 19th century when Moses Merryweather and his son Richard were busy working with steam boilers and water systems that could be attached to horses. They created the world’s first steam powered fire engine in the late 19th century, but as the company continued through the 20th century, their products were actually additional items that would be fitted to various truck chassis. In this case, an AEC chassis.

The original dark metallic red ran through 1970 and in 1971 the model turned bright red. It continued on until 1974, but there was a number of changes going on under the model as the axles were constantly being altered to work better and various other tweaks to the base section (there are 13 known base variations). Obviously not being a base person I don’t have them.

The move in 1972 to wider wheels did not require any body changes. The wheel arches were sufficiently wide.

So you only really notice when you flip the model over.

The base itself would also form the front grille, shutters and reels on the sides, as well as the entire rear of the model. Therefore it was easy to see. Grey is the most common colour, but cream and black are known to exist. Cream shown here.

After being dropped from the basic range in 1974, it popped back up in 1978 for 2 years as part of the TP-2 twin pack. Again it was red, and sometimes the Lonodon Fire Service label was not added. The base section was quite often found in alternate colours at this point, and black was a little more common now. It was also during these 2 years that we saw other wheels too. 5-arch (shown on this black model) and dot-dash also exist beyond the usual 5-spokes, which happened to be the only style used during its time in the basic range. You may also note a change to the ladder on this model. Twin pack issues have this little “extension reel” section at the end. However, that did debut in the very late 1974 basics. So they can be found in singles too. There is a lot to get with this casting, and I admit (not being a fire engine fan) I am a little behind.

Mind you I am also a little behind with this one too. You will notice in a minute. The MB41 Ford GT40. Although if you are being Matchbox specific, Ford G.T. I think many people know the story behind the real one. Matchbox created a casting and released it in the 1965 basic range. The oldest of the castings to get an immediate change. Swapping over to Superfast wheels before 1969 was done, it continued with the same look it had sported since it started. Off white with a 6 label down the front.

It ran through 1970 like that.

It was nearing the end of it’s time in the basic range, but in 1971 for a final year it turned bronze. But, as well as being one of the first vehicles swapped to Superfast wheels, this model was also one of the first to swap to wide wheels. It happened before the end of 1971, as the majority were swapped in 1972.

The thing is though, I currently have 3 shade variations on the bronze, but all 3 have the wider wheels. I have yet to find a thin wheel version to add to the collection. I am looking. One day.

I should point out too that bases were all over the place. Again they were quite adept at using the various paints they were not too keen on for bodies as a base paint instead. A strange pastel yellow? A funny sea green? Why waste black on the base when we can use these instead?

Which leads us to…. an off white with 6 label. Wait what? Yes, you might have realized. Japan comes into play again. After being replaced by a Siva Spyder in 1972, the model popped back up in Japan in 1977 for another 3 year stint. J-5 (1977-78) moved to J-25 (1979) and was back to the original look.

Except now this was sporting the wide wheel arches to accommodate the wheels. As you can see, the front arches didn’t really need anything doing, but those rear ones. That was quite an alteration.

One thing though, they might have been using up paints they didn’t need during the original run, but for the Japanese run it always had a black base.

No, instead they started using up leftover labels that they didn’t want to throw out. A 6 label from a Renault 17TL? A spotted cat label from a Mod Rod? Hmm! Use them up. Don’t waste them. You may also notice the dot-dash wheels on the spotted cat model. They too were a Japanese exclusive. And again after the Japanese stuff finished, a final few were thrown in MP-1 gift sets and cleared out. There is a very rare yellow model. I have not obtained one. I have seen one for sale (way too high for my budget), and these were supposedly also made by accident at the end, thrown in some MP-1 packs, and most ended up in Italy.

But the GT40 lived on. I have mentioned Bulgaria a few times already. Well Hungary got wind of what Bulgaria were doing, so approached Universal for a deal too. In 1987 they were given a set of models under the same scenario as Bulgaria. Run them a year and return. Among the set they got was the Ford GT40. And they went nuts. However, their factory was a little different, and quite a few of the models they did they tried to create a similar look to what Matchbox had done. So the Ford GT40 was often given a tampo stripe down the front looking a lot like the label the original had sported.

But many colours of body, stripe, interior and base followed, so there is a lot to try and find.

But Hungary only did a single deal. Once the models were sent back they were happy. Bulgaria though, oh they were having loads of fun. In 1988 they set up their 4th arrangement for models. However, unlike the previous ones, they were not a 1 year deal. With Hungary not interested in doing more, Bulgaria were sent the castings permanently. Three models were sent in 1988 and they produced them for 3 years, but they were wearing out a little, so Matchbox sent another 13 in 1991. Followed up by another 7 in 1993. They now had 23 models in their inventory to work to death. the GT40 was a part of the 1991 influx. Early issues were often plain.

But as time went on, more and more tampoing was added to models. Various logos were added at times, and on occasion they would incorporate things too, like in 2004 when they produced a range celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Superfast series.

Some of the coolest ones were prepared in the later ’00s with stripes and a 7 roundel on them. They just liked popping the stuff out and making more variations of them. I am sure if somebody was to attempt Bulgarian issues alone they could be looking at a 4-figure amount of variations to obtain. No listing has ever been attempted to catalogue them all.

After that comes the other concept vehicle. The MB56 BMC 1800 Pininfarina. the real vehicle was designed by Pininfarina which used the chassis of the Austin 1800 (also known as a Morris 1800) to create this (at the time) futuristic design. This pre-dated the Citroen GS & CX and Rover SD1 which were all influenced by it. Unveiled at the 1967 Turin Motor Show under the name Pininfarina BMC 1800 Berlina Aerodinamica, they used BMC as it was the parent company of both Austin and Morris, but actually this was all Pininfarina. It was something they were doing, and BMC (soon to turn into British Leyland) never asked them to do it.

It debuted in 1969 in metallic gold where it ran for a year and a half. I have never found a shade to the gold, but the one I have is a little funny. The rear wheel on the driver’s side had the chrome hot foil really badly applied. Almost missed the wheel entirely. It makes mine a bit of an oddity. I love it!

Oh and guess what? This too was a model that was added to the G-3 gift set with loads of labels. I won’t show them for every version.

In 1971, this turned fun! As I said, gold was not good for shades, or for much really. But from this point forward, this model was amazing. It only ran until 1973, but boy did it have a lot of fun getting there. So 1971 was in this colour. I am not sure which was the official colour. It ran the gambit from a peach shade to quite a pastel salmon.

They all sported thin wheels and wheel arches that were partially covering the rear wheel.

In 1972 they sorted out the colour. It was orange. However, unlike the Ford GT40 which moved to wide wheels really fast, this was a late changer.

So much so that you could find quite a shade range on the 1972 thin wheel variant, from a lighter to darker shade of orange.

But late in 1972 it too made the change. Those rear arches were severely widened, and the front had to be enlarged too. You could see why this was a late changer. They kept shaving it back slightly, testing, nope! Wheel rub. Shave a bit more off, test, nope! Wheel rub.

But here’s the fun part. I think they surprised the factory with the final product as they were still putting thin wheels in it. There are quite a few thin wheel with wide wheel arch examples out there. It is not overly rare. Not common, but not impossible to find.

And of course, with production carrying on until the end of 1973, the wider wheel variant can also find some nice shade variations too. But this model, once it was done, it was done. No returning!

Which is the same as the rest now. Another transitional. The last of the 5 regular wheel models that saw the change to Superfast before 1969 ended. The MB67 VW 1600TL. The second oldest of the castings, this was originally a 1967 debut of the vehicle. For those who collect modern models, Matchbox recently created the MB1135 VW Fastback as a homage to this model, and it too debuted in red with opening doors. This model was changing from the regular wheels red to a metallic dark purple for Superfast, but this was Lesney. Some of the last reds saw Superfast wheels attached. I even managed to find a lighter and darker shade of red too. There is a dark purple with regular wheels variation too. This was all over the place.

But after using those last few reds up the purples arrived. By late 1969 they were out. As with a lot of these models, the 1969 look carried over into 1970 before being changed in 1971. So with a year and a bit of production I am amazed at just how many different shades of purple exist.

It ran quite a variance from very dark to very light.

But in 1971, it turned pink. As you likely have guessed from previous entries, 1971 was run with thin wheels and narrow wheel arches. So you can tell which pinks are 1971 pinks.

Because, you know, you can find shade variations on them.

Having been around since 1967 the model was getting close to retirement, so when it made the change to huge wheel arches to accommodate the wider tyres, this arrangement only lasted one year too. the model was replaced in 1973.

It’s pretty easy to see the difference in wheel arches, but I did a base shot anyway.

And obviously that final year did not let up on shade variations. Because you just know they were using whatever pink paint they had at the time whenever they made them.

I do own a test run model of the 1972 wide wheel variant. As with a lot of prototypes and pre-production models, it appeared in a rather unusual shade of paint that was not going to be used for regular production. Get weird paint shades? Use them on bases. Practice them on prototypes. Don’t waste a thing! That was Lesney. After 1972 the casting was never seen again.

And now we come to the last model. As I noted, this was not shown in the 1969 (version 2) catalogue. But they managed to squeeze it in before the year ended. the MB69 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Coupe in metallic blue (something I was able to find shades on yet again). Technically, that name is right. But it’s a convertible?!?! Yes, but this is Rolls-Royce. The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was first introduced in 1965 as a saloon (or sedan depending on where you live). It had 4 doors. This was modeled by Lesney as MB24 from 1967 until 1972. In 1966 Rolls-Royce sent the vehicle to their in-house coachbuilder, Mulliner Park Ward, who created a 2-door variant. In 1967 they also added a convertible element as an option to the 2-door, but it wasn’t a convertible, or a cabriolet. Oh no, it was the Drophead Coupe. In 1971 they turned the 2-door variant that was being made by Mulliner Park Ward into its own distinct model, calling it the Corniche. But early models were officially known as the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Drophead Coupe.

I guess the name was a little long for the base, so they dropped the “Drophead”. get it? No? Oh why do I bother? But this model, as with others, lasted until the end of 1970 in blue, so you could find the aforementioned shades, as well as base colour variations. It was the perfect candidate for unwanted paint colours as you only see the base when turning it over.

Based on the earlier Silver shadow, this also featured the same opening rear that the Silver Shadow 4-door did.

In 1971 the model changed to gold. It ran until 1972 like that before being dropped from the range, but that tan tonneau cover kept popping up in gold models. It was the blue’s tonneau, but they obviously had quite a few left. It appeared through both years randomly.

But the standard tonneau for the gold model was a black one.

Later on the interior changed to ivory too so you do end up with quite a mix of model parts.

The model also changed to wider wheels for its final year too, but the arches were quite large anyway, and as such did not need much doing to widen them enough to accommodate the wider wheels. But as was the case through its entire run, the model saw a wide variety of base colours.

As well as a number of shades from dark gold to lime gold.

And that brings me to the end of another blog report. I hope that you liked this voyage through some “gold”en day history of Matchbox.

And not feeling too blue it is over.

But perhaps tickled pink by all the shades. Oh I get worse don’t I. I wonder what I will have in store for next week? Modern stuff or another blast from the past? I know what it is, but you will have to wait to find out. Until then, have a good week.

6 Replies to “Matchbox Monday takes us back to 1969”

  1. Thank you, David, for this excellent journey into the Matchbox models of yesteryear. When is your book coming out?

  2. I always wondered what prompted the colored windows on the Rolls. They seemed so out of place, especially when clear windows were common in the line.

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