I have never quite been able to shake my love for toy cars, and every now and again I’ll splash out on something that tugs hard on those nostalgic heartstrings.
Check out the triple-horns on the roof, ready to blast other trucks out of the way en route to a circuit…
This excellent Racing Car Transporter is a case in point, my latest, needless impulse buy. It’s complete with a generic Formula 1 car whose slightly bent axles means it’s going to be trailing the pack when the flag drops.
It was made by Matchbox in its chunky Super Kings range from 1973 to 1981. The ladies manning the assembly lines at the Matchbox factory in Hackney, East London turned out hundreds of thousands of these during that time, so it’s not especially rare. But it is quite hard to find one without any damage and with all its pleasing features intact. By modern standards, it is amazingly heavy – it could give your brother a nasty gash if thrown in anger at him – because Matchbox didn’t stint on the diecast zinc in its robust construction.
Actually, if you want to be a complete complete-ist, and fill your mantelpiece to bursting, then there are variations, including different F1 cars, and several different original boxes carrying typically vivid Matchbox artwork. Expect to pay anything from a fiver for a sound ‘loose’ example to £100 for the scarce, late-issue, white-painted version in its original packaging. Mind you, the garish yellow suits its ‘70s styling better.
This is a mini masterpiece of model engineering, with its pull-out ramp to load up the car, twin gullwing doors opening on to a mid-vehicle workshop (in the imagination anyway), and a smoked plastic canopy at the back that displays its precious cargo marvellously. And check out those triple- horns on the roof, ready to blast other trucks out of the way en route to a circuit.
Of course, it’s not very realistic. There never was a full-size version of this six-wheeled wonder-wagon. All of it, from the pillarless, wraparound windscreen to the Team Matchbox livery, is from the high-octane imagination of a Matchbox designer, toiling away on long afternoons. That, to me, is the appeal – the exaggerated reality was just enough to make any primary school petrolhead (er, me) resolve to spend his life in and among fast cars…