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The Design and Construction of Matchbox Model Cars


After noting the reader interest in a recent post about Spindizzies and Tether Cars, and a photo of an operating model airplane, for today’s feature we turn to miniature car models and a pair of 1960s videos.

Many of us when we were younger collected and played with the distinctive and well-made Matchbox Models made in the United Kingdom. Today we present you two films produced in 1962, and 1965 showing the very interesting story of how the toy cars and trucks where produced at the time. The coverage in both videos contains the design process, construction of prototypes and tooling, followed by the manufacturing operations of the tiny vehicles. Both of the videos are courtesy of British Pathe.

12 responses to “The Design and Construction of Matchbox Model Cars

  1. I must’ve had 300 of these! I was lucky to have found about 50 of my original collection, and held onto them. I recall one night in the dark, my mom stepped on one on the kitchen floor I didn’t pick up. I heard about that for over a month, until her back healed!

  2. David, thanks for posting these great videos. I began collecting Matchbox toys as a child in the late 1950s. I still have all of them on shelves behind glass. I also have my Matchbox Collectors Club newsletters from the 1960s, and the letter I received from the factory after sending them my request to add a 1929 Ruxton phaeton to their Models of Yesteryear line. The letter said my proposal had made it to the Monday morning board room meeting. Apparently it didn’t progress, since the Ruxton was never cataloged. However, as time progressed I was more successful in 1997 partnering with Ertl (United States) to develop several American Bantam pickups and panel trucks for their 1:24 scale line, and most recently collaborating with a firm in Scotland on developing a line of die-cast American Austin and Bantam coupes, roadsters, station wagons, panel trucks, and Boulevard Delivery trucks in 1:43 scale, which you can see by Googling Inver Models.

  3. I still have quite a few of mine after 50 years. I have the ’65 Ford Fire Chief car that was going down the belt in the second video. Among them I also have a Studebaker Wagonaire, Dodge dump truck, GMC cab-over truck, a Leyland lorry (it had plastic pipes but are now missng), a Honda motorcycle with trailer, a horse trailer, two Greyhound buses, a double decker bus, a Superfast VW Beetle rally car, and a Superfast Mercury wagon with two dogs sticking their heads out the back window. Superfast was Matchbox’s answer to Hot Wheels, except that the tires were skinny. Today Matchbox is owned by Mattel, maker of Hot Wheels.

  4. I was a Dinky Toy fan, especially the military models. Well done castings and a wide selection of models. Boy down the street introduced them to me and interestingly, his mother worked for Revell! Tried to get her to urge them to produce a model of the USS California, BB-44, because it looked so sleek for its time. Never happened.

  5. I collected & played with Matchbox cars as a kid. I had a couple of dozen. They’re still in the toy box at my parent’s basement for the kids, grandkids, & greatgrandkids to play with.

  6. Never will forget the fascination I had with those small multi colored boxes and the display rack that they were displayed in at the drug store ! And at about the right height to catch an 8 year olds eye. I wanted them all ! I’m sure today collectors prize vintage boxes as well as the vehicle’s they contained.

  7. My mother used to buy them for me when I was 2 or 3 years old to keep me quiet when she took me on shopping trips !
    Does anyone else remember the cement mixer of the horse-drawn milk wagon of the mid-1950s ?

  8. Matchbox,the greatest!
    But who was the company that made James Bonds’s Aston martin and the Batmobile back in the 1960s.

    • Corgi, I believe, was the company’s name. They made an incredible mid-sixties Lincoln Peterson-Lehman limousine, with a battery-powered lit TV! Amazing quality. My mother ordered the limo for me from the toy store. It took weeks to get it, but it was my prized toy. I left my limo on the package shelf of our ‘66 Pontiac Catalina sedan while at Cedar Point; all day in the heat melted the tires, as well as the model’s plastic elements. I was traumatized!

  9. Thanks for the great post! I still have several Matchbox cars and trucks. It is interesting on how the toys were painted. I saw one Lincoln fall off it’s perch while being sprayed. Again, thanks for the great post.

  10. Old matchbox and other toy cars can still be found but usually missing all the paint. Check you tube for painting tips. A new coat of paint and it could complement a train or slot car layout. Also, thank you Old Car Motor for the spindizzy article. Took awhile but I’ve found the clubs, info, and kits to build them. Thanks guys!

  11. When I was a lad, I took my weekly allowance of 50 cents and went down to the pharmacy and bought a Matchbox car for 49 cents per week. Then the total price went up to 52 cents when sales tax was initiated. Don’t remember how I dealt with that ‘crisis’.

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