Time for another installment of Miniature Curbside Classic, a special division of CC recognizing some of the great scale cars of the distant and not so distant past. Today we’re going camping!
Well before Hot Wheels came on the scene in 1968, Lesney was the top brand for 1/64 scale toy cars. Sure, there were other brands, such as Lone Star and Husky, but Matchbox cornered the market. A British company, many of their models included Austins, Ford Zodiacs, and Vauxhall Crestas, models very foreign to American youngsters. More familiar brands were in the classic 1-75 line though, including a Rolls Royce, a ’58 Cadillac Sixty Special, a Squarebird and this very cool VW camper.
My biggest issue with modern diecast is how all the cool operating features have disappeared, unless you want to spend three to five dollars for ‘collectible’ diecasts built specifically for grown ups. This VW sports opening center doors, which reveal built-in cabinets on the doors and a dinette set, complete with table. It also has a skylight for an even better view of the detailed interior. My dad got this VW for me a while back, it even had its original box. I’ve collected vintage diecast for many years, but this was a new, and welcome, addition.
Our other featured model is an early Sixties Studebaker Champ camper. Unlike the vintage VW, this is a much more recent issue, made by Johnny Lightning in the late Nineties. Despite its newer manufacture, it has quite a bit of detail, including an opening hood. Still, the early Matchboxes have a special charm that new models just can’t match. And the boxes they came in were so neat!
Hmmm….looks like I’m going to have to get my collection out and start sharing it here too 🙂
That Bus is awesome! I remember getting a few Cortinas and a Mustang from that series from my Great Aunt when I was a kid. The Stang had opening doors and steerable wheels.
I had a bunch of the Funny Cars too at one point.
I have to admit, I got wrapped up in the whole “grown-up” collector scene for a while. I was pretty heavy into the American Muscle series from Ertl. It got tiring after some time because they’d come out with a new “1 of XXX” limited editions every 4 hours(it seemed that way at least).
After the “D” I felt like starting over, this time around I’m more than happy with finding 1/64 cars that have stock type paint jobs.
I had a few of the Maisto 1:24 diecast collectibles back before I “retired” in the dot-com bust. Gave them up, but I have a couple of the Ertl John Deere models. The local tractor dealer sells a set of tractors and implements from current production, as well as the classic 2 cylinder Johnny Poppers. One of these days, I’d like to get a 2 cylinder. Either Ertl or 1:1 scale, not sure…
I’m just starting to get back into Farm Implements.
I had a laugh at Paul’s expense with the last bio. His Dad gave him a watch from Fingerhut (freebies), I got Tractors and Mining equipment from Ertl (promo models) my Dad is pretty frugal too.
Dudes! I’m a collector of slush cast, land speed record cars, and 1/64 and 1/43 racing cars. I probably have about 1000 items in my collection. But is this the correct forum for sharing this info?
In a burg not far from me a guy has 8000 models on display no Hillman Minxes though which is what Im seaching for to go with the real one I have.
Here are the two Volkswagens from my collection, which I’ve had since I was a child. The van is somewhat different from the one above. It’s got a tinted glass roof panel instead of the raised section. I took the photo a few weeks ago for a VW-nut friend of mine.
I couldn’t wait to take my 55 cents down to the toy store to get the next one. I have about 60 of them, most with the boxes.
Although the van is not a camper, I thought you might want to see it.
I have a dinky toy Land rover trailer still in the box
Among all my Matchbox cars are one Dinky and two Corgis. I don’t like them nearly as much and don’t know how they got there. Maybe they were gifts.
OK, this is getting out of hand. I got the box of cars out again and I actually have (correction of the above) three Dinkys (’64 Lincoln Continental, ’65 Mustang fastback and a Saab 96). Only one Corgi (Porsche 911).
I have the same two VWs in my little collection. I had to buy them on eBay since my originals had disappeared with my childhood. I love the old Matchbox VWs!
You guys have the best toys!
Unless those pics are flipped aren’t the doors on the VW Van on the wrong side?
Being a English toy company, the doors are on the correct [right ;-)] side.
That’s the first thing my friend asked about the green van and that was also my answer. Sounds plausible.
I am loving this series on model cars. I still have a lot of mine from the ’60s as a kid from Corgi, Solido, Dinky and others. I have bought various little models over the years since as they strike my fancy, even Danbury Mint. Quite a few of those. Not cheap! Back in the 90’s I was digging up my back yard to plant sod when in my shovel I saw something white and metallic. turned out to be a decades buried Matchbox Squarebird in great condition. Dirt preservation!! Soaked it overnight in water, washed it off and still have it. I saw one in an “antique store” here in Ventura, Ca for $85.00!!! Mine is in better shape than that one was! I have a Dinky Toys Saab 96 that I ordered off the back of cereal box for $5.00 plus shipping. Choices were it and a Ford Cortina two door sedan (don’t think it was a GT). I went for the Saab, because I love ’em and we had a ’67 Cortina GT in our driveway. I saw an identical Dinky Saab in the same “antique store” going for something like $90.00! Sheesh! I have a model Heinkel Kabinenroller!!! Gotta dig these all out and look at ’em again. It’s been years. Cheers all!!
Maybe that’s where I got my Saab 96. I diid eat cereal as a boy.
I also have a few really old little sedans from Matchbox that look as though they had been played with in the dirt (filthy, chipped paint, etc.). Anglia, Morris Minor and the like. Since I never would have treated a model car that way, they must have been given to me by some kid who didn’t want them anymore.
This reminds me of how I was detailing my fancy Italian sports car just this morning (click photo for a larger view):
Hmmm. Was it buried in your backyard? 🙂
Lol, very good!
That ___ ___ gif hung my browser.
Is it me or are the proportions off a bit on the Stude? The greenhouse does not seem tall enough, and the wheels seem really big. But I love it anyhow.
I too had one of the VWs as a kid. Unfortunately, my matchbox cars occasionally wound up in a demo derby, so none of them is as nice as these.
The ones that I had (and still have somewhere) still in boxes are the yesteryear series. Most likely the least collectible of any of them now, but I thought they were cool then (and still do).
I also have seven of the Yesteryear models, (but only six boxes). They’re larger scale than the regular cars.
Hey, I still have the Lesney VW camper I got as a child.
Of course, because I was more of a rodder in those days I stripped out the interior, mounted Hot Wheels axles and filed out the wheel wells to suit. Then I painted it 5 times with brush model paint so it looks terrible now.
Nice to be reminded of what it once looked like!
I’m a sucker for Danbury cars. Thirty two so far.
If we were all 8 years old again, the next question would be: “Wanna come over to my house and play cars?”.
With apologies to the Christopher Guest for my paraphrase: “Thank God for the model cars, you know? If they didn’t have the model cars they wouldn’t have gotten the idea for the big cars”.
Thank God for the model cars indeed. There is something just magic about them. I too still have my Matchbox VW Camper. Its condition is nowhere near the very nice one pictured here, but it conjures up memories of my first trip to the US in 1970 (and I was 3, so these are by and large my first memories ever). I had that toy VW Camper with me. Plus, my US relatives were driving a green VW Beetle and a bright red 1965 Impala. And here I am 42 years later, reading Curbside Classic at my desk, for ever a sucker for old VWs and big old American barges that need two parking spaces and suck down gas like there is no tomorrow. Go figure.
I’ve got a model car or two around the place….
Hey I have that turquoise New Yorker! I also have the companion ’57 New Yorker coupe in coral and white. Those were the last ‘mint models’ I got.
I have one of those Bburago Gullwings too. The first one was maroon, and since I was a kid at the time, it was totally destroyed. I got a replacement silver one years later, when I knew better. That one is still in nice shape.
I really like where this is going. Keep em coming.
I have a red version of the Stude camper. It was something I picked up during a visit to the awesome Studebaker Museum in South Bend, IN. I also have the VW camper and its bro the high top VW camper.
Matchboxes cars are awesome! They were my primary toys as kids, and have quite a collection of them. Sad that they’ve all dissappeared. I think they were all gone by the time I’m in high school. I am amazed that some of you managed to hang on to them until adulthood! I guess that’s the benefit of a really stable households.
The Matchboxes and a Japanese brands (Tomiya?) is the only one sold in the local market back then. Hot wheels can only be found in fancy department stores, and costs a lot more. These are where a large portion of my lunch money went into!
I just noticed that the box doesn’t match the car. The box is a hightop VW camper and the pictured car is a flat top. I have both, without the original boxes though. Love Matchboxes.
Here’s my Corgi VW Kubelwagen with Afrikacorps insignia on the door.
I wonder if I could ever do a Miniature Curbside Classic on my Lego ’62 Volkswagen T1 camper (It has opening, folding, and pop-up everything!
I had many of the pre “superfast” Lesney models. They are all gone, every one of them. I played with them in the dirt, left them outside, “raced” them right off the porch steps, etc, etc. I remember vividly the excitement of getting each new one –the 1964 Studebaker Wagonaire, the Mercedes Unimog with rubber tires, the 1964 Chevy taxicab, the 1967 Mercury Park Lane Fire Chief.. and so many others. I never kept the boxes, and it never once occurred to me to “take it easy” with these little toys. Boys’ toys generally have a short and rough lifespan, and mine were no exception. It’s foolish to feel remorse over something so trivial, but every once in a while… *sob*.