Monday, June 9, 2014

Matchbox Chevy K1500 Pickup and Ford F150 4x4

Finally, I'm glad to be back!  After months of intense studying for college, I was ready to start posting some new blogs until my laptop's hard drive crashed last month.  Luckily I saved all of my files so all I had to do was to send it into the warranty place to replace the hard drive with a new one and get things back up and running again, even though it added another delay to starting the new blogs, which I was anxious enough to get to since there's a lot to cover here in the next few weeks so stay tuned!

In the meantime let's start with something that a few questioned on the Matchbox Ambassador's report on the Lamley Blog:  As Nigel does a good job informing the history of certain models, a few questioned the identical Chevy and Ford 4x4 trucks of the 1990's.  Well I don't have the answer to the reason why Matchbox-owner Tyco at the time used the same platform, I brought out my collection for comparison, including the new 2014 version of the Chevy K-1500.

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Chevy vs. Ford

The Chevy and Ford battle for full-size truck sales have been going on for about four decades, both started with their early ancestors and still used the same concepts as the early 1900 predecessor's.  It was a close battle until the 1980's when Ford took the #1 spot from #2 Chevy in the top 10 best selling vehicles in America, and it still continues today!  This K-1500 was introduced in 1988 in a line of new smoother, aerodynamic Chevy Trucks that still look good today!  The chrome bar that splits the headlight assembly, first seen in the mid-cycle facelift of the previous generation, continues here.  The profile is smoother and eliminates the unnecessary bumps and nudges of the previous generation (for example, the front bumper is one-piece eliminating the exposed mounting bolts of the prior generation) and the taillights are now larger with 'CHEVROLET' across the tailgate on most models.  The interior still featured the driver-oriented dash with the radio and a/c controls to the right of the gauges; oddly the cassette player is in the middle of the dash!  The interior is now cleaner and more modern-looking with a 4-spoke steering wheel that looks sporty.  The power comes from the 5.7L small-block V8, now with port fuel injection, producing 190 hp. and 300 Ib-ft. of torque through a 4-speed automatic and through a 2-speed transfer case with floor shifter.  The C/K line (C is 2WD, K is 4WD) also added a 454SS in 1990, Heavy Duty line in 1991 along with the new Suburban and K-5 Blazer, and in 1995 the interior was redesigned with a now central-located radio and HVAC controls.  Also around that time the K-5 Blazer was renamed Tahoe and added two more doors, while the C/K got the first passenger-side third door that started a revolution to pickups with more doors.

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The Ford F-150, on the other hand, carries the same basic profile since 1980, with a more aerodynamic look appearing in 1987.  For 1992 the front got more aerodynamic with rounded corners and headlights and slightly larger grille.  The rest is still the same boxy look as before, even with the classic barn-like center two-tone look.  This generation benefitted from two gas tanks as well (note the two gas-cap doors); the rear tank is located above the spare tire underneath.  Inside the dash is more modern and smooth with a driver's airbag, centrally-located controls, and supportive seats.  Interesting to note that both trucks have speedometer's that only go up to 85 mph!  The engine is the original 5.0L Windsor V8 producing 205 hp and 257 Ib-ft torque through a 4-speed automatic and a 2-speed transfer case with either floor-shifter or new electronic push button on the dash.  In addition to the F-150 line included the Heavy Duty line (last generation before the separate Super Duty line), Bronco (last generation), and SVT Lightning to go against the 454SS even though both were a few years off (454SS production ended a few years before the SVT does).  This was also the last generation before the controversial 1997 F-150 with it's aerodynamic look made it's appearance.

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Separated at birth???

Talk about an odd pairing!!!  Both share the same length, base (minus the bumpers), roll bar, blacked-out rear window, and wheels, yet they have different bodies and front and rear bumpers; trying this again would be unrealistic in the new era of current full-size trucks!  The Ford was first with the classic red and white two-tone showing off the splendid looks of an original truck.  About somewhere around 1996 the blue and silver version made it's appearance (and you can see which truck got the most play-use of them all).  A 5-pack in 1996 (which both trucks appeared) has the Ford in purple with a yellow bubble treatment similar to an identical Hot Wheels Ford Aerostar and Baja Breaker van's!  The Chevy earns a cool neon orange with blue mountain range with a bowtie inside one of them.  This was after the Chevy's initial debut in 1996 in black with yellow two-tone split by a pink graphic that is very '80's!  In 1997 the colors were changed to yellow and red with white graphic.  In 1999 the Chevy got a special treat:  To be the very first 100th vehicle in the new 1-100 lineup, right alongside the hard-to-find Pluggs 1997 Chevy Tahoe (#99) in.

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Now I don't have all of the variations of both, but Matchbox made plenty of both, including the 2000 1-100 F-150 in lifeguard suit (i'm saving this one for another time), but the final version that I saw was in the 2001 Construction 5-pack in a nice black with rhino badge on doors.  Note the new 5-spoke wheels that most collectors hated!  During the dark days of Hero City the K-1500 reappeared, modified with the new wheels, base with round Matchbox logo, and the CHEVROLET letters on the tailgate are removed.  Colors were unappealing.  When Matchbox revived in the last part of the 2000's the K-1500 made a cool appearance in the Superfast line in dark gray with Z71 on the rear bed panels and a more macho-looking wheel set.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to find this one.  However in 2008 the same graphic appeared in the 1-100 version, adding white graphic, orange paint, and tan mud graphics.

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Now in the new decade the K-1500 still rolls on despite the age factor and the fact that at times the axles can't keep the truck straight.  I've seen lots of this in the 2012 version in green with a penguin on the sides (I don't know why!), yet the 2014 version takes the cake with a white paint with side graphics and BFGoodrich on the bed panels.  The wheels are a newer version that is blacked-out and looks killer on this model.  This has to be the best version of the K1500 since it's 1996 introduction and now has a WorkTruck trim level look to it.

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Maybe it was a cost-cutting move?  Maybe it was simplification?  Whatever the cause both trucks still look neat to this day and are still active (well, at least the Chevy is).  Hopefully both can reappear in more realistic promo's in the near future.

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Update 5/27/17: A one-off casting of the K-1500 pickup was made for Taco Bell in the late 1990's with no interior and a simple construction with fewer parts, meaning the rear rollbar was gone.  The look of the truck is still there with the dual headlights, bowtie bar, CHEVROLET on the tailgate, and base details.  The difference here is the lowered stance for a more normal ride height, yet it still has the K1500's 4x4 roots with plenty of ground clearance and using the blacked-out 8-slot wheels with ribbed tires for extra traction.

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Update 12/19/17: Here's the best-looking K-1500 version by Matchbox, the 2007 Superfast version.  Because the last few Superfast release that year were limited these vehicles are hard-to-find, and one of them was the K-1500 Pickup.  Very simple gray with blacked-out wheels and detailed lighting and side trim.  No graphics.  I like that!

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