When I saw this old toy car in a display case at a second-hand store, I knew I had to have it.
Back when I was a child, I had plenty of Matchbox cars, but I never had an English Mark II Zephyr. I guess that’s simply because this toy car was a bit before my time; I started collecting Matchbox cars in about 1966, and Ford built the last full-size Mark II in 1962. I imagine that Lesney discontinued production of the miniature version at around the same time.
The toy Zephyr reminded me very much of a car that I saw in an article here on Curbside Classic about a year ago; part of a series by David Saunders on cars found at a junkyard in Alberta:
It wasn’t easy getting the car home, but I’d wanted an old English Ford for a long time. I wasn’t going to let a little snow stop me. Fortunately, the tow truck turned out to be a big, burly Ford N-Series (CC here). Its Super Duty V8 and dual rear axles had the Zephyr out in a jif.
I’ll have to admit that I caused a bit of a traffic jam when I drove through town. I’m just happy that the snow had melted away by then; otherwise things would have been much worse. The buildings are old vacuum-tube radios, or “valve sets” if you reside in the Commonwealth. In keeping with our proud tradition of horrible automotive puns here at CC, the radios are a Delco (yes, Delco) a Philco, and a Packard-Bell.
Being the gentleman that I am, I pulled over to let the line of cars go by. If you look closely, you’ll see that this Mark II Zephyr is equipped with a trailer hitch. Once I get this old Zed Car running, I might shop around for a Matchbox caravan trailer. (Take that, Jeremy Clarkson, or the miniature equivalent of him.)
It was a pretty impressive group of cars, and I took a long look at them while they passed by. There was a very well-maintained AMC Gremlin, a Dodge Dart driven by drag racing legend Shirley Shahan and a red Chevy Volt driven by a guy named Todd.
Behind the Volt, there was a silver car that looked like an Aston-Martin DB-5. The guy behind the wheel of that DB-5 sure gave my Zephyr a dirty look. What a snob! It’s funny how such a brief encounter can affect you; I was really angry at the jerk in the Aston Martin. Traffic was slow enough that I could have walked up to the car and challenged him to a contest of fisticuffs, but I thought better of it. I guess you could say that I was shaken, but not stirred.
I left behind some pretty impressive cars in that junkyard, but hey! One project car at a time, right? Even so, it was a pretty tempting bunch. There’s a ’55 Nomad, a ’63 Thunderbird, a ’75 or so Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, and the most unusual one of all, a battered Dodge Deora. What was the last time you saw one of those? In this rear shot of the Zephyr, we again see the trailer hitch.
For those of you who were brave enough to make it to the end of this rather silly tale, I have a special holiday gift. If you click on the image above, a full-sized version of a build-it-yourself Gremlin will pop up. You can then save the image to your hard drive and print it out. Then, grab your scissors and your glue and get to work! This image is also available at the Arctic Boy Gremlin Grembin: http://arcticboy.com/Pages/arcticboysgremlin3.html You’ll find it at the bottom of the page.
I’m getting a bit off-topic here, since this is a story about a toy Ford, but if you’re into AMC cars at all, I really recommend that you check out Arctic Boy’s website:
This is how my attempt at building a Gremlin turned out. It was admittedly a bit of a rush job, and it makes me wonder how long I would have lasted working on the assembly line in Kenosha.
Here is the rear view of the Mike-assembled Gremlin. The fit and finish aren’t as good as they could be, but I guess that’s typical for a car that was put together on a Monday. Your results may vary, and make sure to read the fine print on the instructions.
Merry Christmas to one and all!