This is one o the first full-size 1970’s Ford wagon I’ve seen, and it is probably as close as I will come to seeing one of my childhood Matchbox toy cars come to life. Note the background of the photo, there is more to come.
This is the Matchbox car in question, a Mercury Villager. It seems to have the surrounds for the fake wood paneling, but obviously that is beyond the scope of a simple diecast toy. The ‘flexible’ scale of the Matchbox car does not give any impression of the actual size of the car, relative to others, because all of the cars have to fit in the same size packet. In the background is a cement mixer truck, which is actually shorter than this Mercury.
If you noticed in the opening shot, there was a Morris Mini hiding behind the Ford. The contrast is pretty striking, nearly twice the length, nearly four times the weight and eight times the engine capacity! Double the number of seats, at least.
It looks like this is a Californian car, which would be a good place to source one with a mild climate, no salt and plenty sold there originally. I suppose that this means it may not have the best engine option, as they often weren’t available in California. I also don’t know exactly what year this is; is there is much more than grille minutiae to distinguish them?
I do know that by this time Ford had stopped importing the full-size US cars. Because of the growth of the local Fairlane, the last one they brought in was the 1972 – I will do a feature on this car soon(-ish).
The baroque, broughamy details of the Country Squire don’t do anything for me, neither does the fake wood. Ford Australia tried this for a short period only in 1964-65, but only managed to sell 1,198 of the Falcon Squire wagon.
The closest local equivalent was the Fairmont station wagon, which was the highest trim level and came standard with the two-way tailgate that was otherwise optional. The wheelbase was 116″, a 5″ stretch over the standard sedan and shared with the more luxurious Fairlane. Family friends had one of these when I was growing up, to haul their four boys.
This show is one you never know what you are going to come across. It is an everyone-welcome affair that raises money for the Peter MacCallum cancer research and treatment hospital here in Melbourne, and it is always well-attended. I think I will have to do some more writing… what to do first, unusual ‘normal’ cars or the real head-turners?
Further Reading, a couple of other cars from this show: