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Monday, May 8, 2017

Volvo Mania: Matchbox Volvo V60 Wagon, 480 ES, 760 GLE, Majorette 245 DL, and Yatming 850 Wagon




Matchbox has recently released one of the best Volvo's to date, the V60 wagon, and when the car arrived to my collection there was a few more older Volvo castings that joined it, including two more wagon's.  Now I have already profiled the XC90 SUV's and a brief look at the C30.  Let's see how the new Matchbox wagon stacks up to the rest.







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Matchbox Volvo V60 Wagon

Arriving in stunning Polestar blue color this Volvo wagon is sporty and stylish at the same time (something that cannot be said of past Volvo wagon's).  The V60 is based on the S60 sedan and was introduced during the Swedish automaker's troubled finances during the Great Recession, not helped by partner Ford letting the brand (and others) go on their own.  They were later picked up by Geely of China to bring new life into the brand and with it the most stylish cars to date.  The V60 wagon, interestingly enough, was not sold in the U.S. until the mid-cycle refresh in 2015 and this is where the Matchbox casting begins.  The casting has some good weight to it indicating the heritage of sturdy and safe Volvo cars.  This model is the T5 edition so it does not get the trick twin super and turbocharged I-4 but instead the 2.5L DOHC turbocharged I-5 producing 245 hp. through a six speed automatic transmission.










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The front has detailed headlights that are now one piece compared to the separate LED running lights of the pre-facelift model.  A black grille has the Volvo badge while the lower black grille loops around the foglights on the sides.  The side wagon profile is typical wagon but with more curve and an almost rounded roofline to give the wagon a sporty profile and one that fits in with the Cadillac CTS Wagon and Audi RS6 Avant castings.  The rear has the signature pillar taillights that now arch outward at the bottom for the wider liftgate, which also has detailed Volvo badges and plate.  Setting off the mood of a Polestar model is the gray multi-spoke wheels.  On the base you can see an all-wheel drive system tied to the motor to give the V60 all-weather capability.  The handling on this car is very sporty while comfortable on the road at the same time.  It has strong power and great brakes.  None of this was the ideal Volvo wagon I thought of before the test but I was pleasantly surprised.  The interior has seating for five in a light gray interior that is nice and roomy.  The front seats offer plenty of support, while the rear cargo area uses a privacy cover to hide the rear rivet post.  Brilliant!  The dashboard is a nice clean one with 3-spoke steering wheel, digital gauges, central touch screen and HVAC controls.  The key pops into a slot between the screen and gauges, though it makes for an odd A/C vent location in the middle.  The console has the shifter and detailed armrest.  I was surprised Matchbox didn't plan on putting any ski's on the roof rack like the Fiat 500X, but that might be a good thing because that might result in the lack of an interior (see the 1959 Chevy Brookfield wagon).  Plus you get a nice sunroof at the front.  This is by far one of the best Matchbox castings of 2016 and one that will be enjoyed for many years to come.








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Matchbox Volvo 760 GLE and 480 ES

Now onto some other Volvo cars in the past by Matchbox.  One of the earliest (maybe?) is the 760 GLE sedan.  This was a car that started the familiar face of boxy and reliable Volvo cars.  At the time it was criticized for styling that was too typical and veered far from the uniqueness of the original, yet this styling was common on Volvo cars for the next two decades.  The rear-wheel drive 760 is powered by a 2.3L turbocharged I-4 that produced 190 horsepower through a 5-speed manual transmission, and testers found the car to be quicker than it is.  The boxy shape also was used on wagon's and continued well into the 1990's.  Now this Matchbox casting is one of the many castings that were made of the 760, but this one is much finer and has more details.  My tester was a bit rough with wheels that refused to roll smoothly.








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The casting was offered in solid colors with only headlight details, so I added more details to the lighting and badging to get the finished look.  The front has large flush headlights with side turn signal and corner lights, large silver grille with Volvo badge, and below the black bumper a chin spoiler with brake cooling ducts.  The side profile shows the boxy look with upright roof pillars, door trim, and 8-dot wheels that look great on this car.  The rear shows the best details with square packs of taillights, Volvo and 760 GLE badges, and a rear plate.  The rear bumper has more detailing of the energy-absorbing side ribs in the bumper than the front.  The doors open up to an interior with seating for five that is plentiful.  The dashboard is typical European car of the 1980's with radio and HVAC controls within easy reach of the driver, comprehensive gauges, 3-spoke steering wheel, and shifter on the floor.  It's not as completely detailed, but much better than the competition.  The base is metal and shows off the driveline details, and note the front chin spoiler is part of the body and interlocks with the metal base that wraps around the body with the front bumper.






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By the 1980's Volvo was looking into the future and finds that front-wheel drive is all the rage for compact packaging that still retains the roomy interior.  One of the first front-wheel drive Volvo's is the small 480ES hatchback.  Based on the Volvo 440 and 460 models this hatchback was previewed by the ESS concept car before entering production from 1986 and running almost for 10 years.  The powertrain is the 1.7L DOHC I-4 producing 108 horsepower through a 5-speed manual transaxle (turbocharged models were offered later), and all of this fits in a sloping nose with the only pop-up headlights of any Volvo vehicle.  This car was also intended for the U.S. market but was cancelled at the last minute so the 480ES was Euro-market only.  This Matchbox casting was also limited in release only in a few colors and my tester was the white one  with 480ES along the sides.  It is in rougher shape but still in great condition.  The front has that sloping hood with the concealed headlights, the Volvo grille oddly moved to below the bumper alongside the foglights.  The side profile has that typical hatchback look with those fantastic 8-dot wheels, while the rear has a large glass hatch reminiscient of the P1800 ES models with the taillights located along a bar on the bottom of the hatch and above the plate area that houses the rear base mount.






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The base shows off the front-wheel drive subframe and exhaust system and this car does have the working suspension like the 760, but again the wheels rub too much into the body limiting its function.  The interior is more radical with seating for four and plenty of (visible) cargo area.  The dashboard layout has a more driver oriented look with all controls housed in a rectangular pod.  The radio, HVAC controls, and gauges have the option of being all digital for a more futuristic look.  An airbag was added to the driver on later models.  Everything else from the shifter to the steering wheel were in the typical spots.  Compared to the P1800 and C30 this 480 ES was very odd looking, but typical of futuristic 1980's hatchbacks.







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Majorette Volvo 245 DL and Yatming 850 Wagon

The fame of Volvo really took off with their first line of wagons, the 245 DL, and like the 760 sedan it was very common in diecast manufacturers.  This Majorette version is the finest of them all especially in this nice light brown color.  This is one of the most famous and popular Volvo cars lasting two decades after its 1974 launch, longer than the 700 series, and was the pinnacle of safety for Volvo with better steering by a new rack and pinnion, bumpers, and crumple zones.  Over time the styling was adopted by the 700 series with vast improvements over the years.  The powertrain for this 245 DL is the 2.1L SOHC I-4 that produced an estimated 100 horsepower through a 4-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels.  With a working suspension and wide tires this 245 DL wagon handles great despite the added length of the wagon bodystyle.








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The front has a blacked-out grille with Volvo badge that also hides the round headlights that are part of the metal base.  Below that is a metal bumper and side marker lights to the sides of the grille.  On the sides the boxy shape is nicely done and has nifty details like the beltline trim, door handles, and badges on the front fenders.  Even these older-style Majorette wheels look better than the odd 3-spoke ones found on later versions.  As you past the side rear fender vents to the rear things get a bit sloppy with the rear gate though its what you get when you want an opening rear hatch.  The taillights line the outside of the gate while a trailer hitch is in the rear bumper ready to haul any Majorette trailers.  The rear cargo area is vast with only a rear axle hump impeding on space a bit.  The interior with cream seats for five and a black dashboad that has all of the gauges and controls angled toward the driver.  Notice how carefully Majorette made the 4-spoke steering wheel look like the actual one on the car.  Very nice, and this is one of Majorette's finest Volvo castings to date!




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Over at Yatming there's cheapness despite offering a nice array of models in the 1990's that not many diecast manufacturer's have made yet.   In the case of the 850 wagon there's better options, but not many at 1:64 scale.  The 850 line replaced the 200 as the new small Volvo model line that was smoother, offered front-wheel drive, optional all-wheel drive, and a unique delta rear axle.  The rear axle had a unique design with bushings that allowed a bit of rear steering to the car.  The 850 was also loaded with lots of new safety geat that ranged from ABS to Airbags for the driver and passenger with optional torso side bags.  Also the first Volvo performance models were offered with the R-baged with the insane V8 motor wedged into the engine bay.



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As you can see Yatming went from nice to cheap with plastic base, a few seats for an interior, and some sloppy casting details.  It was cheap at best.  This brown tester had a bit of a leaning problem, but unlike the Civic sedan you'd have no problem identifying this casting as a Volvo.  the front has a chrome grille with large flush headlights and a lower bumper that is part of the base.  The sides show a typical Volvo wagon roofline with upright pillars, while the rear has the pillar taillights and a rather bulky trailer hitch.  The interior consists of two seats and that's it, and with tinted windows helps hide some of the unfinished business.  I really hoped for a nicer 850 casting in the future, but for the time being this will do for now.


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Still with the plethora of Volvo models out there the new Matchbox V60 wagon will definitely stand out, and doing so in the sporty Polestar blue color is a great place to start.

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