Take a look, a careful look, and see if you can spot the difference between these three cars.
Can’t tell?…………………. I will give you the answer at the end of this post.
Everyone remembers the toy cars one played with as a child. There was always that special one that was your favorite, that brings up happy memories of building a tunnel for the cards to go through or a makeshift garage. My favorite was on old matchbox green Bentley. I loved the spoked wheels, the British racing green color; and I just loved making it zoom across the floor. Needless to say, it ended up banged up, chipped, tires falling off, well used and loved.
After a couple of zooms across the kitchen counter, ok a few more than a couple, it went back into its box.
As I researched the history of Matchbox cars, I came across a large set of avid collectors and a lot more than I expected.
The “Matchbox” brand started out as the Lesney company in the 1947s when, as the story goes, the daughter of own of the owners and chief engineer was struggling to fit one of the toy prototypes into a standard matchbox. The children were not allowed to bring any toys to school unless they fit in a matchbox, which was supposed to pretty much mean that no toys could be brought to school. He made a road roller and it was so popular at school that all the kids wanted one, and as the saying goes, the rest was history and in 1953 the ”Matchbox” brand was born.
These toys became, as it is known today, the 1-75 Regular Wheel series, which was immensely popular and are now highly collectible.
The I-75 Regular Wheels series was the series produced for the mass market. They were hugely successful, and every child wanted them. They were played and played with as I can testify to, so finding examples in mint condition is actually not easy, especially with the box. As with any old toy, the box is extremely important and in many cases, they are as valuable or even more valuable than the car. Some nice examples with the box are below, MB45b Ford Corsair with the boat on top which is often lost (as you can imagine) and the MB34b Volkswagen Camper or Caravanette, a much sort after car.
There are 238 different cars that were manufactured as part of this series. Most collectors collect the car and box together. As these cars were produced over many years, small differences occurred to the cars, colors, decals, windows and wheels. They also did some items that came with a trailer like the MB1c Mercedes Truck and MB2d Mercedes Trailer which I think are pretty cool.
Some cars can have up to 10 or 11 variations, but most have only 1 or 2. This can expand the horizon for collecting to an almost never ending search. A complete collection with all the boxes in mint condition went for over $100,000 at an auction.
There are several good references that can guide a newbie. I use “The Encyclopedia of Matchbox Toys by Charlie Mack” which covers all the regular wheel and superfast series. A good website to get started with is the Vintage British Die Cast site. As I mentioned, boxes are very important, and they changed over the years too, and the British Die Cast site has a great reference to help identify different box versions.
If you click on the button below, you will receive two checklists that list all of the models available. This is a must have for serious collectors to keep track of their collections.
Click Next for the Models of Yesteryear series.