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

Pontiac Grand Prix and Leyland Petrol Tanker: A Symbiotic Relationship

One thing you need in abundance if you have a Chinook-load of tiny vintage cars is gasoline. This is especially true if you have a near mint ’64 Pontiac Grand Prix Sports Coupe, which demands to be cruised and burns over 7 gallons per coffee table.

Unsure of how we would be able to maintain our rigorous Grand Prix cruising schedule amid dwindling fuel supplies, we made arrangements to purchase a tanker’s worth of gas for our private use. The vintage tiny tanker truck arrived right on schedule last week, rumbling like a jungle cat, but there was something very wrong… There was no gas in it. Apparently the BP-contracted driver had left the tank’s valve open while he drove and our precious cargo leaked out all over America, fouling rivers and farmland from coast to coast. When confronted about this issue, BP guy ran away, and hasn’t been seen since. Last we heard he was in Washington receiving either the Distinguished Helter Skelter Medal from the American Petroleum Institute or a Presidential appointment to head one or more federal agencies.

We didn’t get our gas, but we did get a nice Leyland tanker out of the deal. Near mint condition. We are going to fill it with Love and give it to You.



Tomica to the Rescue

Still have a few Tomicas left after the Piranha feeding frenzy. Check out all our latest inventory on ebay. CLICK HERE.

I have a big place in my heart for these Japanese gems, and I’ll tell you why.

When I was a young grommet, there was no daycare or fancy preschooling for me. My older brother was in school and my dad worked all day. I spent those awkward post-toddler, pre-Kindergarten days primarily with my mom, who seemed to drag me along on marathon outings to the fabric store at least four times per week. She must have spent six hundred thousand dollars at the fabric store. Or, I’m just now realizing, she may have actually worked there full time. Anyway, these grueling excursions laid the groundwork for my later interest in painful endurance sports.
Diamonds_&_Rust_(Joan_Baez_album_-_cover_art)During those rare moments when we weren’t at the fabric store, I was corralled in or around the house to keep me safe from the omnipresent molesters in vans and left to entertain myself while Mom did things like look into the distance wistfully over her macrame project, and Joan Baez records spun thirty three and a third times per minute on our dusty cinder block-and-board shelf wall. Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light… That’s how I remember it. Not sure how accurate that is. It was the 70s, and I was right in the thick of it.

Now the things that I remember seem so distant and so small
Though it hasn’t really been that long a time
What I was seeing wasn’t what was happening at all
Although for a while, our path did seem to climb
When you see through love’s illusions, there lies the danger
And your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool
So you go running off in search of a perfect stranger
While the loneliness seems to spring from your life
Like a fountain from a pool

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light…


My attention was often focused on the ground or floor in front of me, where some sort of minor make-believe drama was working itself out. Sirens! Action! A young lady named Lisa with a ponytail who is in need of rescue! I had a vivid imagination, to put it mildly. Fancied myself quite the little rescuer and watched plenty of bad 1970s rescue TV to stoke the fires: SWAT, Emergency!, Chopper One. Sirens all day long. Always with my modest collection of toy cars, which included a handful of Redline Hot Wheels and at least one Tomica.

Even then, five-year-old Bobby could easily see a big difference between the Hot Wheels and the Tomica, and there was no question which I liked better. The Hot Wheels were cool, but over-the-top flashy. With their fat wheels and engines popping out of hoods they didn’t look like real cars to me. The Tomica was much more realistic, which made my little rescue dramas work. I didn’t know what a “Cedric” was, or where Japan was, but I knew that I loved the real low-key look and feel of that Nissan Cedric Fire Wagon with its opening hatch. And the way it rolled, so smooth, and with suspension. Obviously better. I still remember loving it.

It sounds crazy, but that little red car gave me some kind of hope for a world that was often Fountain-of-Sorrow, Send-in-the-Clowns rust-colored bleak. What a great little machine! What a serious toy! They didn’t have to make it so great, but they did. Maybe the future would be kind of like this toy car? Thoughtfully engineered just to bring joy to children and the young at heart? Better than it has to be? It wasn’t just playing with the thing that made me happy — its existence made me happy.

Last year my mom brought me a box that held, among other forgotten treasures, my old Tomica Fire Wagon. How it survived all those decades without getting tossed is a miracle—or evidence of a mother’s love and understanding. When I opened the box and saw it, a rush of weird forgotten emotions flooded my systems. I almost fell over, for real.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

The car was almost totally bare of paint. Its lights, siren and hatch were missing, or rather, torn right off. I spent so much of my early childhood hunched over that thing. In my head, it was always bright red, shiny and new, just like the one in the photo above.

Of course, it remains my all-time favorite toy, if not my favorite material object, and the most valuable diecast car that I own. I would carry it around all the time except then I would lose it, it would roll silently out of my pocket at the DMV, still so smooth on its suspended wheels, and I would no doubt experience such a disconcertingly high level of emotional devastation that it would make me question my whole deal. Keeping the thing tucked away for now.

Seeing my old beloved Cedric after 40-plus years started me on this admittedly strange if not outright worrisome vintage diecast jag. It gave me the sudden and very strong urge to accumulate massive piles of 1960s Matchbox and 1970s Tomicas—the more realistic toy cars—just so I could hold them and look at them up close. I don’t pretend to understand it. A simple urge to regress?

Of course you have to realize that the POTUS campaign was ongoing at the time, and things were going south in a big hurry. It’s natural to want to escape such a reality, at least for part of the time, and the more ridiculous the escape the better. You think you’re getting ridiculous, America? I’ll show you ridiculous. I’LL TEACH YOU!! Come to think of it, I might have been looking closely at tiny cars for that same sense of promise in the future that I felt when I was a little kid.

Long story short, I love Tomica mini cars and you will too. They remind me of good things about my childhood and about the world. And if I don’t sell all of those that I currently possess, it will be all right with me.

UPDATE: Sold every last one. But good news! We got a lot more of ’em and they’re for sale on our ebay page CLICK HERE.







Excitement on the Lot

We’ve been so busy over here with the tiny vehicles we haven’t been able to keep up with our highly informative postings. We’ve had several huge (to us) shipments come in and we’ve been shipping them out at a good pace. Mert has been working dawn til dusk with no breaks as stipulated in our verbal contract. We’re stocked with Matchbox regular wheels from the 60s as usual, but also Superfast from the 1970s. Currently having a huge super-sale on Matchbox Superfast on ebay.  GO THERE.

Here’s a small sampling of what we’ve been buying and selling over the past few weeks. Expert collectors will notice right away a few interesting items among those below:

We also made room on the lot for a bunch of high quality vintage Japanese mini-cars by Tomica. These date from the early 1970s to early 1980s and include almost all near mint or mint-condition stuff. Included are some with the highly sought after “early wheels” from the early 70s. The cars have names like Sunny Excellent 1400GX and Cherry F-II and almost all have opening doors. The market for these Tomica mini cars is different. Most of the energy is in Asia where millions of kids grew up with these. (Tomicas were marketed in the US as “Pocket Cars,” and they did fairly well but ultimately couldn’t hang with Hot Wheels and the rest, being more expensive and initially featuring many obscure Japan-only cars.) It’s also a more hoppin’ market than the vintage Matchbox market these days. It’s not hard to find reasons why when you hold TOMY Tomica mini-cars in your hand.

And that’s not all. We received a 60-pound box from Ed, a former hobby shop owner and diecast collector back east who has accumulated a large amount of Corgi Classics, Models of Yesteryear, big Solido models and the like over the decades. New Old Stock, as they say. I’m having a great time going through it, trying to learn as much as I can on the way as this has not been my forte, and we’ll put em up for sale as soon as we can. The market for these things is not exactly hot but we’ll see what we can do for him. No more room in Ed’s basement. EVERYTHING MUST GO.

Check out our current inventory on the bay.

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—”


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!


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.] 


’69 Lamborghini Miura

Eye candy. Or I candy. I for Italian.Mert and I would be driving this nearly near-mint 12-cylinder 1969 speedster right now but frankly we’re scared.

Twelve cylinders is ridiculous, isn’t it? You can see em all through the clear back window there. Putting all that weight toward the back of the car will have some interesting effects on the overall handling.


Greyhound Coaches x2

I was suddenly awakened from my afternoon nap by a roaring noise and the overwhelming smell of diesel smoke. There was a tiny massive silver 1960s vintage Greyhound bus gleaming in the sun outside the office.

I went out to tell the driver that this was not in fact the bus station, but the driver was Tiny Mert.

“How’d you get your hands on a Greyhound bus?” I asked.

“A super clean, like new tiny Greyhound bus you mean.”

Tiny Mert—right as usual. This bus didn’t have many signs of use. I couldn’t recall ever seeing one this clean. It was so nice I had to let out one of those long whistles. “This thing looks brand new! But you didn’t answer my question.”

“No I did not. Now if you’ll excuse me I gotta find a place to park these buses.”

“BusES?? Mert!”

This was all part of Mert’s plan to start a shuttle service for tiny gamblers. 

One of the buses has a little sticker anomaly on one side, that’s about it. Both of these have the later squared-off stickers; the earlier edition of the bus had an angled sticker.