Lamley Daily: Lesney Matchbox Series Ford Thames estate car

Model: Lesney Ford Thames Estate Car

Line: Matchbox Series (1 – 75) No. 70a, 1960 – 1965

(Find the Lesney Thames Estate Car on Ebay)

As most of you will probably know by now, I’m a real fan of older diecasts. Some of my favourites are the old Lesney Matchbox series cars. Thankfully despite their age, survivors from this series are readily available in the UK via Ebay, antique shops and car boot sales. I’m constantly scouting for any that take my fancy, but like the Morris J2 I featured last year, this Ford was a very kindly donated gift. A relative of a close friend of mine passed away recently leaving behind a huge collection of diecast. In exchange for helping sort them, my friend allowed me to pick a couple out, and this was one that immediately caught my eye.

The Ford Thames 400E went into production in 1957. Engine choices were a 1.7 litre petrol lifted from the Ford Consul or a 1.6 Perkins diesel unit. Body styles were catered more toward commercial customers: panel van, pickup and chassis cab arrangements were available as well as an 8-seater Estate Car modelled here by Lesney. The Estate Car disappeared from the line up in 1958 (replaced by a 12 seater bus) but Lesney retained the name when their scale version arrived in 1960. Early versions like mine featured no window piece but later models had green or clear “glass” installed.

These Lesneys are some of my favourite diecasts of all time. They’re effectively 4 parts: body, chassis, axles and wheels. Yet they manage to capture the real vehicle so well. The Thames is no exception to that, and handling it I can picture the real thing bouncing over old cobbled roads or puttering it’s way around city streets.

Details are at the bare minimum but it all works so so well. I love the two tone yellow and blue paint, and even more when there’s a fair amount of playworn patina applied. And these things are diecast history. The Matchbox Series cars are the beginning of the line for the Matchbox cars we all love today.

I was gifted a few more Lesney Matchbox cars from my friend and I endeavour to get a few more of them on Lamley in due course so if you too are a fan of these rolling bits of history then stay tuned.

Instagram: @alex_the_hoarder


3 Replies to “Lamley Daily: Lesney Matchbox Series Ford Thames estate car”

  1. These are the cars that started my love of diecast. Some of my favorites are the Comer TV Service van, E-Type Jaguar, and Mustang Fastback. It’s always amazed me how well proportioned and detailed the Lesney vehicles were given the technology at the time all those years ago. But it seems like Mattel’s recent opening parts endeavor is like them trying to relearn a lost art. Now if your van could speak…

  2. Thanks again, Alex, for featuring these memories! This was the second Matchbox model I ever bought, back when I was a kid. I still have it…one small chip on the roof, otherwise mint. I was a careful kid. 😉

  3. There’s a lot to appreciate in these earli(er) castings; especially if you compare them with something like the new ’57 sweptback pickup which is a great subject, but disappointing looked at from the front, more of a caricature than a model! I started to collect MB because they were good models as well as toys; then later I noticed there’s a progression of distortion starting somewhere along the lines of a Galoob micro-machine, moving through bigger caricatures (the Sweptback), then on to well-proportioned models like the Divo. I know the safety regs have moved on since 1960 but the pre-superfast era MB were almost universally really close to being scale models, superbly executed. PS the paint masking on the sweptback sides varies from perfect to lousy. Just saying!

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