POWr Multi Slider

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Matchbox VW Transport Pickup and Hot Wheels VW Sunagon



Everyone knows the famed VW Microbus, a van based on the same platform as the Beetle and offers many cab configurations to haul anything from people to cargo.  Some might forget the last of the rear-engine boxer 4-cylinder vans in the VW T3 range.



Click Here for Photo Gallery


The T3 arrived at confusing times at Volkswagen: the Beetle was replaced by the popular Golf/Rabbit, the flat-4 was in limbo of being replaced by I-4's, and the economy at the time did not dictate a new platform from the ground up, so reusing the rear-engine Bus was the likely option.  The engine started with air-cooled flat-4 then moved to water-cooled Wasserboxer motors that made 80 hp through a 4-speed manual transmission, then at the last part of the model life an I-4 was finally adopted, but clearance under the rear cargo area was an issue and the reason why the I-4 was never offered in the T3 in the first place.  While access to the engine was with an upper panel, oil cap and dipstick was accessible by the rear plate cover.  The front now has a grille to vent the radiator and condenser for the A/C system, while the spare tire rests just below the radiator.  More features were offered including radio, A/C, power windows and locks, and a revised dashboard the reflected the look of the VW Golf at the time.  Eventually the confined space between engine and cargo and the cost of the platform meant the end of the line for the rear-engined Bus and was replaced with the front-engine Eurovan in 1993, though the T3 would be sold in other markets until 2002.






Click Here for Photo Gallery


Hot Wheels was first with the Sunagon van introduced in 1983.  This van has the nifty feature of a plastic top that raises up in camper mode (and can come off with a good pinch).  Also the Vanagon featured a rear dirt bike covering the rear plate and taillights, while the interior has seating for two up front and behind a camper setup with a sink, stove, two bench seats that can convert to a bed, a table with dining ware, a safe (?), and a ball and loose socks (don't ask).  For more cargo area there's a basket area just ahead of the raised roof.  The exterior still looks good after all these years even after a minor update for the 2011 Hot Ones release.  The front has detailed grille with VW logo and headlights that are part of the metal base.  The green color with graphics really bring the camper style to this Vanagon, as does the classy basic wheels.  The metal base shows off the spare tire, suspension, rear engine, and rivets along the rocker panels.







Click Here for Photo Gallery


Now it's Matchbox turn to make the T3, and this time they went for the Transporter pickup bodystyle.  The light blue is nice, though I did not expect the Bike Tours graphics nor the 6-spoke wheels to replace an expected clean look and disc wheels; the latter, ironically, can be found under the front of the Transporter.  The front-end with round headlights and grille area with VW logo is more clearly defined and part of the body, while the windshield has molded wiper blades.  The cab is a crew cab bodystyle with seating for six people, but the rear passengers can only get in by the right-side door and seems like a penalty box with barely any legroom and lack of ventilation from the front seats!  The front has a nicely-detailed dashboard with floor shifter and a steering wheel that, ironically, is not bus-like.  Out back the taillights are more visible and get better details and are joined by a trailer hitch for towing (it's been a while since a new Matchbox casting got a trailer hitch!).  The cargo area is limited by the height of the engine in the back, but the bed features three tailgates from the sides and rear that can completely fold down for a flatbed look.  Variation alert: while some, including my tester, has an empty bed, others have gear and a spare tire in the bed area.  The base shows a good bit of detail despite the massive copyright text in the middle and a front rivet that invades rear seat space.  Finally the truck handles pretty well and is versatile though the wheels tend to rub into the body.







Click Here for Photo Gallery


It may take some time but the new Matchbox VW Transporter will be a great fit for the adventureous brand, yet I still think the Hot Wheels Vanagon is the classic favorite here.





Click Here for Photo Gallery

The Tools in the Bed

If that's not all, Matchbox has also started to offer variations in their castings, and the VW Transporter was one of the first to do so.  At the moment the tools in the bed version is much harder to find than the one with tools in the bed (about a 3 to 1 ratio of no tools to tools in bed).  In the bed you'll find a duffel bag, a chain, and another spare tire to join the one under the front-end.  The cargo bed is still useable, and adding the details really adds more visual interest to the casting.




Click for Photo Gallery

Update 5/27/17:  For those who complained about the look of the 2016 version of the Matchbox VW Transporter pickup, 2017 is your chance with a very nice dark green paint supplemented by front and rear lighting detailing, a tan interior, and disc wheels that finally match the spare tires in the bed and under the front-end.  Both versions are offered and I must say I like this casting more in the stock green look than the blue bicycle repair shop version!









Click for Photo Gallery

No comments:

Post a Comment