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Friday, May 13, 2016

Matchbox 1984 Corvette targa coupe and 1988 Corvette convertible



Today both Mattel brands, Hot Wheels and Matchbox, have no problem introducing duplicates of the same casting, so if you see the same Mustang or Corvette, for example, look closely for differences.  That was a different story in the old days, especially for Matchbox.  Each model of Corvette replaced the previous version, so the old one never, or rarely, comes back.  This is the case for the C4 generation Corvette as the targa coupe only had a few appearances before the convertible version took over the job.





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The new 1984 Corvette was a revolutionary change for the Corvette.  No more was the Corvette an old-fashion American sports car: it was now capable of challenging the world's best exotic cars at the time.  True the platform would take years of adjustments and new engines to finally achieve that status, but out of the box the new Corvette was a big improvement.  The transverse leaf springs that connect each upper control arm replaces the upper/lower front and live axle rear setup of the 1982 model.  The styling was smooth and yet still very familiar Corvette.  The interior was not the best with flimsy plastic parts that would break after a while and poor ergonomic design with digital gauges not popular with many.  The engine was the 5.7L V8 that carried-over from 1982 with 205 hp, but then upgraded the next year with fuel injection for 230 hp. and 330 Ib-ft of torque.  Transmission included the 3+4 speed manual transmission that uses a 4-speed layout with three overdrive gears.  The reintroduction of the convertible in 1986 was the turning point after sending a decade without a convertible.  The new bodystyle uses a hard tonneau cover to conceal the convertible top behind the rear seats: the tradeoff is the lack of a trunk at the rear just like the second-generation.




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Both Matchbox cars have very familiar construction, but both have different setups.  The 1984 coupe was introduced with a two-tone red/gray color to illustrate the metal/metal construction, but underneath the slim strip in the middle is the plastic base secured with three rivets.  The exhaust system is outlined on the metal portion, with the drivetrain in the plastic portion.  Both cars have the same base setup and suspension as well.  Sandwiched between the two bases is the typical side trim normally seen on cars in the 1980's.  The front has large lower signal and foglights, with the hood having the concealed headlights, Corvette badge, and dual bulges in the hood.  The rear has the detailed Corvette flags on the gas cap cover, CORVETTE on the rear decklid above the rear plate, and quad taillights that are cut out and use the interior piece as the inner taillights.





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So far both cars have the similar setup, then things change just above:  The coupe has a fastback look with a glass rear cover that opens to a cargo area that also stores the targa tops.  Matchbox decided not to use the targa top in place and let the top open (foreshadowing the convertible).  The interior has the detailed bucket seats, console with shifter, and dashboard that does not have any details.  The convertible replaces the targa look with the flat decklid look, though as you can see you can still see some marks left where the retool took place.  The convertible that I have was a 1997 Matchbox Premier version done in the 1996 Grand Sport trim in dark blue with white center stripe, red left front fender marks, Grand Sport badges on the sides and rear plate in yellow, and detailed front and rear lighting, though i'm not sure why they used red for the front signal lights.  The interior is spruced up with red seats and silver on the shifter, while the wheels get blacked-out 5-spokes with chrome outer rim on Goodyear rubber tires.  The look is nice, but the bodystyle is still based on the pre-1991 design so it looks rather offset.




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While the newest Corvette, the C7 Stingray Police, might not immediately replace the 2009 ZR-1, at least it offers more room to offer future variations while at the same time preserving instead of destroying the previous tool.




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