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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Quick Look: 4 Matchbox/Hot Wheels used cars



Going to a flea market/jockey lot can bring surprises; unlike a typical trip to the retail store where you'd expect to find a certain item and may or may not find it, at the flea market that can be a mystery as you go there to find something, not knowing what you may find, and you either could come home empty handed or filled with lots of stuff.  My latest trip to the largest one in my area applauded finds, and has been that way for each trip there except last year when I went on a bitterly cold day (not a good idea) and didn't find much because everyone was packing to get to their warm home.  I went home with seven vehicles: the Dream Van XGW and Rover Sterling the highlights, while I got an extra Matchbox Isuzu Amigo to use as a parts donor (mainly the spare tire for another Amigo that broke off for the second time.)  Now here's a brief look at the other four.




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Hot Wheels Dodge Ram 1500

I was a big fan of the new Ram look when it appeared in 1995, so I was surprised not only when Hot Wheels released their version of the Ram but how they done it: they added a camper shell that was removable on a body that was clean of any graphics.  The Ram has been in hiding since the 2007 quad cab arrived, and the camper shell hiding even longer.  The last release was in 2008 as the 1995 favorite for the Since 68 40 car set that celebrates the best of each year.  I completely forgot about this truck, it was one of my favorites in the set, and when I found one I knew it look familiar only to find out the connection when I got home.  Just like the 1995 version it is clean with black paint, chrome front and rear bumpers that are attached to the chrome lower bed and interior piece with bench seat and detailed dashboard.  The first is a chrome base that adds more style to the truck; the base has excellent drivetrain and frame details, yet the engine is shifted too far forward.  The only logo on the Ram is the Dodge logo on the rear fenders.



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The rear-end is the downside as its a bit blocky with taillights that could use some more contour.  The topper comes off to reveal a long bed that can take lots of cargo; it also has a NASCAR bed cover as well that can fit here, and since the 1997 Ford F-150 shares the same dimensions both can share the same toppers and NASCAR bed covers.  While it may be getting long in the tooth, the Ram 1500's best qualities is the topper, which is getting to be harder to come by with today's cost-cutting at Mattel.




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Matchbox 2000 Chevy Suburban

The Suburban arrived in the Matchbox 2000 line in one of two flavors: the premium Motor Trend series in a Fire/Police truck complete with opening doors, rubber tires, and detailed accessories in the cargo area, or this standard version with a trailer hitch and no opening doors.  This was the first three-row SUV in the Matchbox lineup, and quite controversely small as it has a very narrow body for such a big SUV.  The SUV has been a so-so in the lineup just doing the family vacation thing of hauling people, gear, and camping trailers over the years, with the occasional fire/rescue deco.  This version in metallic red came in a 2008 camping 5-pack as I vaguely remembered the truck mostly for its abundance of rear bumper stickers: Las Vegas, New York, Hawaii (?).  This SUV has been all over the place.




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The rest of the truck looks good in the clean state, though the tester here was founded in rough shape mostly in the fading chrome department.  I revived the chrome on the (oversized) 6-spoke wheels, and a bit on the base and front-end, but most of it was far beyond touchable.  The front has the split-bar grille with bowtie logo and detailed headlights, a domed hood, exterior mirrors, door handles, and running boards along the sides, while at the rear sits detailed taillights and rear hatch handle among the bumper stickers.  The base shows off the typical drivetrain components, and a working suspension, but the lack of proper ground clearance means that this 4WD truck is very limited on where it can go.  The interior features seating for seven with a detailed dashboard with 4-spoke steering wheel, large bucket seats up front with a large center console, and a rear bench with headrests.  The rear bench is a bit plain, but can still fit adults back there while accepting a reasonable amount of cargo just behind, all powered by a smooth 5.3L V8 and 4-speed automatic.  Yup, a perfect family vacation wagon!





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Matchbox Volvo C30

Later this year you'll see Matchbox released a long-overdue Volvo S40 wagon that will increase passenger and cargo capacity that this small C30 lacked, but hey at least the C30 had a style of its own.  The small hatchback was a design exercise show car based on the S40 platform to hark back to the classic liftgate glass hatchback coupes of the 1960's, including the P1800ES and the 480ES in the 1980's, the latter done by Matchbox.  The car went into production as a booster to younger buyers to enter the Volvo brand, but the lack of practicality meant that this car lived a short life, and that's the same for this Matchbox version.  I remembered only seeing a few recolors in the regular line before the car disappeared from the line, but what I do not remember (or forgot) was the other recolors found in 5-packs and multipacks; this dark blue version appeared in a 2008 10-pack.





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Aside from the scratches on the windshield the C30 looks good with the front-end taking Volvo shape with rounded headlights, square grille with Volvo badge, and a lower bumper that has lower black trim to add sportiness to the front.  That same lower trim connects to the rest of the lower trim and wheelwells around the vehicle while sporting 6-spoke wheels and a compact length.  At the rear is where things get interesting with C-pillar taillights that drop down and sag around the rear fenders and along the large glass hatch with integrated wiper.  The lower bumper also has dual exhausts.  The base shows off some suspension and exhaust details leading from the 2.0L DOHC Turbo I-4 that produces 145 hp and 185 Ib-ft of torque through a 5-speed manual transmission.  Sounds sporty, but despite the smaller size it's still has that softness that it inherits from the Volvo DNA of other models.  The interior has a similar Volvo dashboard with 3-spoke wheel, gauges, central radio and HVAC controls that have storage behind, and seats designed for safety.  The rear seat is a bit tight and cargo space is minimal and hard to conceal with the large glass hatch in the rear (which also limits the opening of the cargo area as well).  The S40 wagon will definitely be a major advancement, but the C30 is still one unique Volvo gem.





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Matchbox 1995 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra Convertible


Last, but not least is a car that I profiled a few years ago, and here I go again with another amazing variant.  Once again, this one was not in the mainline but in a 1998 Beach 5-pack that was likely the best car of the bunch (and also saw the last use of the 1980's Escort cabrio casting).  Just when I thought the clean blue was nice, then this bombshell arrived with a bright red color and equally impressive tan/black interior.  WOW! and why couldn't Matchbox do this back in 1995 when the casting was first released instead of the car draped in Cobra graphics?  Oh, that's right it was owned by Tyco then and in 1998 it was now owned by Mattel, so the change of hands created masterpieces.





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The red is gorgeous and aside from a few paint chips in great condition.  Even though it doesn't have any lighting or badging details, it doesn't need it because the body does the talking:  The front has the detailed headlights, small grille, and lower bumper with foglights.  The hood has a slight domed look to it, while the cobra logo's adorn the front fenders.  The 5-spoke wheels look good here and exterior mirrors and side scoops, while the rear has detailed taillights, Ford logo's, and dual exhausts.  The interior is one of the best where the black upper dashboard joins the tonneau cover and rollbar to add two-tone flavor to the rest of the interior in tan.  The twin-pod dash houses the 4-spoke steering wheel, detailed air vents, shifter just below and attached to the center console, and the seating for four.  The base shows off the detailed drivetrain and exhaust system, though why on earth is the base bulging out when there is no suspension and what was Tyco thinking when they inserted holes over the axles on the 1995-only sports car castings (the Toyota Supra and Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder have the same thing)?  Oh well, anyways this casting just keeps on getting better and clean-cut versions like this red and blue ones makes me appreciate the Mustang Cobra more.  Now if I can just find the clean-cut recolors of the 1993 Dodge Viper RT/10 that I've missed...




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