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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The other Caddy's: Matchbox VW Caddy and Saviero Cross



The moat talked-about Hot Wheels casting for 2015 is the VW Caddy, the first-generation Rabbit-based pickup that was also known simply as VW Pickup in the US.  Truth is, after the first-generation, the Caddy was a Euro-only model that has transformed into a high-top panel van, with various parts from VW’s other than the Rabbit/Golf.  Matchbox has two different examples of this, including one that carries on the pickup legacy under a different name.



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After the VW Caddy’s first-generation, second generation looked more like a pickup with a tall, boxy cap over the bed, similar to the Ford Escobar(sic).  By the third-generation in 2002, the Caddy has morphed toward a proper mini panel van, with new competition again from Ford as the Transit Connect.  The styling matched in-line with the VW cars, as well as the suspension and interior parts.  Today, the VW Caddy still solders on, with styling more in line with the current VW family trend.



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Introduced in 2008, the VW Caddy was the first compact modern mini panel van in the lineup, and despite the variations over the years that include the 2008 10-pack VW Parts delivery van, 5-pack DHL van, and a 2009 network repair van, the first version was simply plain blue with only front and rear light details and VW logo’s.  The front has a gray bumper and grille with headlights similar to a Polo or 2001 US Passat.  That angled hood flows with the windshield and to the roof with ribbed panels.  The rear has 60/40 split panel doors (opened with the VW logo) and tall taillights.  Strangely, there is only a rear sliding door on the passenger side (possibly for structure integrity reasons), and the 6-spoke wheels are too large for this casting.




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The interior has a typical VW dashboard, but more underrated with cheap plastic trim, yet unlike other cargo vans this one feels more car-like, including the 5-speed manual shifter located on the console instead of the dash.  Just like the well-detailed front, the cargo area wasn’t left alone by Matchbox as you can see a glider resting on the floor.  The powertrain ranges from gas and diesel I-4’s, the most common a 1.6L gas I-4 that produces 101 hp and 109 Ib-ft. of torque through a 5-speed manual only.  The base features detailed front Strut and rear beam axle/leaf springs, exhaust, and fuel tank.



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Now while the Caddy is now a mini panel van, the pickup roots still carry on, now in the form of the Brazilian VW Saviero Cross.  Based on the VW Saviero (Gol) line, the Cross is a sporty all-wheel drive pickup (think Subaru Outback with a bed) specifically built for Brazil sales.  The Saviero Cross has been with the Gol line for three generations when this current model was introduced in 2009, and still continues today.



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Sadly, every Matchbox version since 2011 has been bombarded with side graphics, thick paint, and no front and rear lighting details.  The 2015 Power Grabs in blue is the best version yet, and joins the yellow 2011 and red 2013 models here.  The front has flow-back headlights with typical VW car grille, but the lower bumper is gray and features large foglights for a rugged look.  The rear has large taillights with one unusual feature: a large tailgate that drops closer to the ground.  The sides feature an extended cab that is more like a rommy standard cab, with supportive flying buttress behind the cab.


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Even with the detailed gear in the bed that includes a chain saw, backpack, and ropes, there is still enough room for cargo carrying.  The interior is typical VW Saviero, just like the Caddy, with the same cheap-looking plastic feel.  Again, layout is car-like with the shifter on the floor, but thanks to the extended cab the interior is roomy and has room to store additional gear behind the front seats.  As usual Matchbox excelled greatly at this casting despite being the last ‘real’ Matchbox era right before the 2012 downturn.  The engine is a 1.6L I-4 that produces 110 hp through a 5-speed manual and a part-time All-wheel drive system with strut front and rear multilink suspension. Surprisingly there is enough room for this truck to do light off-road duty, but not extreme low-range stuff.


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Now joining the Hot Wheels Caddy, this lineup of commercial VW trucks shows that even car-based models can do the same work of a sturdier truck!

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