All Coked Up

We’re all coked up about this new Matchbox Lesney 37A Karrier Coke truck that we acquired by accident a while back. We just figured out that this unassuming little fella is a rare version of the 37A, with grey plastic wheels. 99.9% of 37A’s were installed with metal wheels, with a few grey plastic wheels sneaking in at the end of the production run. Can’t tell you how close we were to just putting this rare item up for sale on Ebay for like 15$ without figuring that out. I can’t stress this enough: Our ignorance is your opportunity!

Proves this passage from the previous post:

Quite a haul. Nice stuff. A small bit of paint damage – most in what we call Excellent Condition (see the explanation of terms over on your right). No super rare ones as far as I know, but I don’t know that far. Experienced collectors could do themselves some favors by sorting through my inventory and checking for whatever jewels might be laying on the ground over there, ready to be plucked. No doubt I’ve sold some highly sought-after pieces for the proverbial penny, simply because I am a stupid, stupid man. My ignorance is your opportunity. Maybe we will paint that on the water tower.

The 37A is not to be confused with the 37B. The 37A does not have a base plate, which means that if you try to drive this thing around delivering tiny Cokes the cold wind will blow right up your knickers.

How much should we ask for something like this? We know it’s very rare (much more scarce than the famed “uneven load” version), we know it’s in very good-to-excellent condition and hauls a lot of tiny Coke very smoothly on its plastic wheels. And we know crazed Matchbox collectors are known to pay a lot for such things. Can’t help themselves. The grey plastic wheels add, oh, up to $100 to the normal value. With that in mind I think the price we have on it now is quite a bargain, and if it doesn’t sell, we’ll happily find a permanent place for it in the barn.

Looks just like a 37B ’til you flip it over

New Batch of Lesneys

Quite a haul. Nice stuff. A small bit of paint damage – most in what we call Excellent Condition (see the explanation of terms over on your right). No super rare ones as far as I know, but I don’t know that far. Experienced collectors could do themselves some favors by sorting through my inventory and checking for whatever jewels might be laying on the ground over there, ready to be plucked. No doubt I’ve sold some highly sought-after pieces for the proverbial penny, simply because I am a stupid, stupid man. My ignorance is your opportunity. Maybe we will paint that on the water tower.

No. 45 Vauxhall Victor, made in 1958

Ferrari Berlinetta

Ever since this very near mint Berlinetta came in last week, Mert has been standing out there staring at it. He is bedazzled. Can you blame him? Unfortunately work around the lot has been backing up.

I went out to have a talk with him about it. Before I could get halfway across the lot he turned around with his hands waving over his head like a football referee and yelled “Halt!”

“I’m going to have to ask you not to approach the Berlinetta, Bob,” he said, trying to calm down.

My Berlinetta?”

“Bob, this Berlinetta is in very near mint condition. Any disturbance could result in degradation of the vehicle. I simply cannot let that happen.”

“Mert we’ve got a whole fleet of Greyhound buses to wash, and that  Lotus needs a t—”

“BOB STEP AWAY FROM THE BERLINETTA”

I have to admit Mert was very good at guarding the Berlinetta. Luckily it sold almost immediately and Mert didn’t have to guard it any more.

The Berlinetta is another unlikely V-12 with obscene overkill power hidden under the bonnet. Lesney modeled a few of them. Six carburetors on this one.

In the “real world,” vintage Berlinettas in very nice condition go at auction for 3-4 million dollars. You read that right. See here. Roughly a half million per carburetor. Real world!

MATCHBOX/LESNEY No. 75 FERRARI BERLINETTA VERY NEAR MINT • $22  SOLD

Volkswagen 1600TL With Bizarre Factory Error

When I got this tiny vehicle it was part of a larger lot and I couldn’t really see what was going on with the wheel in the seller’s photos. I figured that some kind of playtime disaster had befallen the poor thing. When it arrived I could see that the car had never been played with, and that the wheel in question seems  to have been installed backward. But that’s just the beginning of this car’s weirdness.

The Matchbox 67b was produced with two different wheel types, according to the experts. In the early phase of production, from August ’67,  the car had black plastic wheels that were recessed on the front, and silver “hubcaps” were laid into the recessions. The backside of this old-style wheel was flat, as seen above. It’s hard to see in the photos, but if you could pick up this car and look at it closely, you’d see that shiny hubcap which is supposed to be on the outside of the car sitting pretty inside the wheel well. 

Now things really get weird. If you examine the other three wheels on this car, you’ll see they are an entirely different wheel type. By 1968 Matchbox outfitted the VW 1600TL with silver wheels fitted with black plastic tires.  In other words, the tire is an actual ring that you could theoretically take off the wheel. The old-school black plastic wheel/tire, on the other hand,  could not possibly be taken off due to its design.. Fundamentally different, but when on the car and installed correctly the two different wheel “systems” appear very much the same.

It’s not unheard of for two different types of wheels to be found on the same vintage Matchbox car, especially those created during a period of transition between the two types on the production line. But to have one very rare original wheel installed with three common wheels, and to have that rare old wheel installed backward? It’s a freakshow. It might even be one of a kind.

The backward wheel gives this car two factory errors in one; it also makes it a lot easier to notice and identify the fact that the car has two different types of wheels. How many 67b’s are out there with both types of wheel, but installed correctly and thus much harder for the layperson to notice or care about? I know of at least one other 67b that is outfitted with both types of wheels, thanks to the very experienced collectors at the British Vintage Diecast Forum, but nobody seems to know of another like this, with the backward old-style wheel.

How does something like this happen? There are many possible ways for the two types of wheels to get mixed into the same box. Then the person installing wheels on axles picked up one of the old wheels without realizing it and slapped it on the axle without thinking about which way it needed to be installed.  The newer wheel style could be installed in either direction and would look the same, so the error seems quite plausible. 

I considered the possibility that the backward wheel was added by some huckster, but the axle does not appear to have been altered, which it would have to have been to swap wheels post-production. Experts have reviewed detailed photos and see nothing nefarious.

It is clearly a rare “piece,” as they say. It’s rare to find a 67b with the old-style wheels, as they were only installed on the car for a few months at most in late ’67. 67b’s with the old wheels have fetched well over $100, without the box, simply because the old wheels are so hard to find on this model. You could search through hundreds of 67b’s on the internet and not find a single one with those old wheels. Much rarer still to find one with both types of wheel on the same car, although apparently one or two others are known to exist. And, finally, still more rare to find one with both types of wheels, and the old-style wheel installed backward. As far as I know this car is one of a kind. [UPDATE: It seems this car could be the only known example of a Matchbox car with this kind of double wheel error.] 

MATCHBOX LESNEY No. 67b VOLKSWAGEN 1600TL NEAR MINT WITH MYSTERIOUS FACTORY ANOMALIES • Not for sale at this time