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Friday, August 21, 2015

Matchbox Mercedes-Benz Actros and DAF XF95

The new 2013 Ford Cargo is not the only cab-over tractor truck in the Matchbox line; in fact there's plenty that were made over the years, but recently the only COE's before the Cargo was the Mercedes-Benz Actros and DAF XF95.  It's clear the European truck driver's like these COE's for their small size and ease of manuverability in tight streets of ancient Euro cities with a trailer in tow; contrast that to American truck driver's who still prefer the long hood tractor cab's and COE's are now limited to box trucks and such.  Let's take a look into these Euro COE's that appeared in the Matchbox main singles line in the past ten years.

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The Mercedes Actros has been around for a while as part of Mercedes-Benz line of fleet trucks that also includes the Sprinter van and Unimog.  The Actros was introduced in 1995 and despite the commercial fare of rugged, durable trim this truck still has the Mercedes look from the large, wraparound grille to the three-pointed star.  Engine's were unique as Mercedes forgoes the typical diesel I-6 of tractor cabs for V6 or V8 turbodiesel motors that range from 310 to 416 hp.  Transmissions range from the typical 8-16 manual gearboxes or the new automatic "Telligent Gearbox" that does the shifting automatically.  Just like the cars the Actros has a smooth ride, comfortable interior with an armrest and shifter designed to allow proper arm comfort position for the driver, and the many electronic safety feature that includes an ABS system that prevents locking of the wheels, even on the trailer.

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The Actros has appeared in the Matchbox line at the start of the millennium, though it finally appeared in the U.S. 1-100 singles line in 2006 and 2007 in dark burgundy and green.  The dark burgundy one has dual stripes on the front of the cab and detailed front lights and plate, while the green one has only a side stripe with no detailing at all in the front.  The novelty feature is the chrome grille and it's wing tips that extend around the cab is part of the chrome interior piece.  Like the Unimog the headlights are positioned low in the cab near the bumper.  The side fuel tanks and storage areas are nicely concealed in trim covers for a clean look, while the rear has integrated mud flaps, barely-visible taillights, and a textured cab with the integrated air filter.  Like the Ford Cargo the trailer can hook up to the center hitch and does a good job of compact-size with a small gap between the cab and trailer and the roll of the casting is very smooth.  The cabin has the driver-oriented dashboard design with dual seats, wide walkway to the rear bunk beds, and familiar Mercedes-Benz controls.  Even stripped in bare paint without the graphics the Actros looks pretty good, especially that unique grille design.

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On the other hand is the DAF XF95 introduced as a new tool in 2007...well actually 2006 in the revived Super Kings series first before the mainline singles version.  DAF was introduced in the 1970's as a Danish manufacturer of the trucks and has that familiar square look with rectangular grille similar to the IVECO truck line (and quite ironically the first Ford Cargo as well).  The powertrain is the typical turbodiesel I-6 that produces 530 hp. through a range of 8 to 16 (est.) speed manual transmission.  The lower portion of the truck's front bumper has a different, almost car-like look with round headlights and a smaller rectangular grille that mates with the larger one just above which has the DAF and XF95 badges on the upper corners.  The XF95 has three windshield wipers, a more square domed roof, with external horns, and a slight upkick to not only allow more cabin space inside but also add as an air deflector over the trailer.  As in the Actros the side trim covers are there, but these are part of the plastic base and not metal like the Actros.  The back of the cab has a more prominent airbox snorkel than the Actros.  The graphics also look good with realistic decals all-around that include "watch your step", state license number, and some caution notes.

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Things go downhill from here with the Matchbox casting:  There is no interior, and combined that with the lack of metal at the rear the cab sounds tinny when moving.  Plus, the wheels tend to rub against the cab too much.  So, surprisingly for a casting made during the better times of Matchbox this DAF cab is letdown by no interior and cheap-out bits that deteriorate the otherwise nicely-done metal cab.  At this point the Actros or the 2013 Ford Cargo is the best bet here.

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