Lamley Daily: A gold wheel Matchbox BMW 323i

Model: Matchbox MB151 BMW 323i Cabriolet

Release: 1986 MB39

Why it is in the collection: my first gold wheeled model.

This is an old childhood toy of mine. Many old Matchbox models from my childhood have become a little playworn over time, and in a lot of cases I have upgraded them to mintier versions as an adult collector. But this one is still pretty much as minty fresh as the day I got it. Way back in 1986!

I was, at this time, around 13-14 years old. As such, I had pretty much stopped playing with toy cars as much I used to. But I still had fun with them occasionally. Especially as in the street I grew up in, we had a bunch of kids of various ages, and we would all play together in the street or around each other’s houses. I was one of the older ones. So some were still a good few years younger. I was still getting new models as and when they came out. I just couldn’t stop. Each Christmas and birthday, I was asked what I wanted. The answer: Matchbox! The BMW 323i Cabriolet was one of the Universal castings of the mid 1980s that really kept my interest in the brand going. I absolutely loved it, and still remember initially thinking that 1984 would be my last year, then seeing a blue 323i for 1985 and desperately wanting it. But that was not the major point with this casting.

Being recoloured in red for 1986, I knew I wanted to have that too. Red is my favourite colour, and it was the only way they were going to top the debut blue issue. I was still too young to be buying a lot of my own models, so this was bought for me. But there was something I had not seen before. Gold wheels. It was the first model I owned that had them, and that made this model extra special. I still remember playing toy cars with friends in the street. But, this was an indoor model only.

You can tell as the wheels are still smooth. Most models I would play indoors or outdoors in the street, and on a rough pavement the wheels would see scratch and wear marks all over them. But these wheels weren’t touching hard surfaces. Most models I tended to pick up by the wheels too, and as such the hot foil would start rubbing off too. But not this one. Careful handling at all times.

Which does mean that here we are, 37 years later, and the model pretty much still looks like it does the day I got it. I loved it. I played with it a lot at the time. But those gold wheels made this particular model all the more special. They got preserved. This was a top piece in the collection at the time, and still is now.

I have picked up a lot of Matchbox models from the Universal era now as an adult collector. I got into wheel variations in the mid to late ’00s, and since then have obtained many more gold wheel variants of models. But, when I do, I just think to myself “wheel variation”. But this one, no! This is an extra special model that still gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling when I pull it (ever so carefully) out of the carry case. Luckily, it has the open-top. A little finger hooking in behind the middle bar, and carefully lift. Yes, I must take extra care with this one. Don’t touch the wheels!

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