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Matchbox History

In 1953 Lesney Products company started producing a new toy line known as MATCHBOX Cars. This England based company was created by the co-founders LESlie Smith and RodNEY Smith.

Shortly after Lesney Products began producing toys, the co-owner of Lesney Products, Jack Odell designed a toy with his daughter in mind.

Mr. Odell's daughter attended a school that only allowed the children to bring in toys that could fit inside a matchbox. Mr. Odell took this as a challenge and created his daughter a scaled down version of one of the Lesney toy products, the green and red road roller.

This was just the start of what has become the famous matchbox cars. Keeping in mind that the toy must fit into a matchbox became to dertermining factor for the new model replica creations. Naming the toy series, "MATCHBOX" seemed only fitting.

The original Lesney MATCHBOX cars were packaged in bright yellow boxes that actually resemebled traditional matchboxes.


Lesney products continued to create and produce their signature MATCHBOX cars up in till the company went bankrupt in 1982. At this time the MATCHBOX name, tooling and molds were picked up by Universal Toys and Mr. David Yeh.

Authentic Vintage Lesney MATCHBOX cars will display the name "A Moko Lesney" the original marketing and distribution company for the MATCHBOX line of miniture toy cars.

Lesney products came up with a brilliant plan. The 1-75 plan. Only 75 different replica model MATCHBOX cars would be available at any time. Whenever a new MATCHBOX was created, a former would be retired. This is still in effect to this day by the current parent company, MATTEL
In 1989 Matchbox released a new series of models called the "World Class" cars, with fine detailing, exclusive colours and rubber tyres, and of course, higher prices. They were limited to 25,000 each. They ran until 1995, with variations.

Series 1                                                                                       
Porsche 9289. Rolls Royce Silver Cloud
Lamborghini Countach LP500S
 Mercedes 500SEC AMG
1987 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
Porsche 944 turbo
Ferrari Testarossa
Ferrari 308GTB
Porsche 959

Series 2
Ferrari F40
Ford Thunderbird SC
Cadillac Allante
Lincoln TownCar
Chevrolet Corvette Gran Sport

Series 3
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
1962 Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet Corvette Targa
Nissan 300ZX
Mercedes 500SL
Porsche 959
Lamborghini Countach LP500S
Ferrari Testarossa

No Series 4

Series 5
Jaguar XJ220
Lamborghini Diablo
Cadillac Allante
Jaguar XJ6
1987 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
BMW 850i

Series 6
Aston Martin DB7
Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray III
Dodge Viper RT/10
Mazda RX7
Ford Mustang MachIII

In 1996 the World Class cars were replaced by the "Premiere" series. There were three series to begin with in 1996, which were so popular that they were doubled to six series (the same three again, in different colours!) and expanded still further for the next couple of years.
You will probably note the change from grey plastic to chrome finish wheels as well.

Series 1
Mazda RX7, red
Dodge Viper RT/10, yellow
Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder, red
Toyota Supra, white
Audi Avus, chrome
Plymouth Prowler, purple

Series 2
Ford Thunderbird SC, gold
Lamborghini Diablo, fuschia
Mercedes 600SL, black
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, green
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray III, blue
Ford Mustang Cobra, red
Series 3
1957 Ford Thunderbird, black
1962 Chevrolet Corvette, burgundy
Chevrolet Corvette Gran Sport, aqua
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, grey
Pontiac GTO 'Judge', silver
Jaguar XK120, green

Series 4
Mazda RX7, yellow
Dodge Viper RT/10, red
Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder, green
Toyota Supra, grey
Audi Avus, white
Plymouth Prowler, silver

Series 5
Ford Thunderbird SC, green
Lamborghini Diablo, silver
Mercedes 600SL, blue
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, red
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray III, yellow
Ford Mustang Cobra, white

Series 6
1957 Ford Thunderbird, red
1962 Chevrolet Corvette, gold
Chevrolet Corvette Gran Sport, grey
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, black
Jaguar XK120, red
Pontiac GTO 'Judge', white
Then in 1997 more series were started in earnest, which kept going until around 2000.
Series 7
Fire Tender, Acorn Hill
Jeep Cherokee, Fire Chief
Fire Tender, Springfield
Fire Tender, Bay District
Airport Tender, Westford
Dennis Fire Engine, Richfield

Series 8
Ford LTD, State Police Virginia
Ford LTD, State Police Florida
Ford LTD, State Police New Jersey
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, State Police California
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, State Police New York
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, State Police Texas
Series 9
Ford Probe Hotrod, blue
Dodge Challenger Hotrod, purple
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Targa, maroon
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Hotrod, red and yellow (flames)
Pontiac Firebird, silver
1962 Chevrolet Corvette Hotrod, black

Series 10
Lamborghini Countach LP500S, purple
Ferrari F40, yellow
Mercedes 500SL, red
Ferrari Testarossa, black
Jaguar XJ220, burgundy
Aston Martin DB7, white

Series 11
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Hotrod, black and red (flames)
Chevrolet Corvette Gran Sport, white (scallops)
1957 Ford Thunderbird, blue (flames)
Dodge Challenger Hotrod, red (flames)
1962 Chevrolet Corvette Hotrod, purple (rips)
Pontiac GTO 'Judge', yellow (flames)

Series 12
BMW Z3, silver
Dodge Viper RT/10, green
Mercedes 500SL, black
Ford Mustang MachIII, blue
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray III, red
Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder, yellow

Series 13
 (these were the exception - detailed Superfast hot-rods with their original paintschemes and wheels)
Dodge Dragster, pink
Dragon Wheels, green
Chevrolet DayVan, orange
Tanzara, white
Big Banger, red
Pi-Eyed Piper, blue

Series 14
Pontiac Firebird Ram-Air, silver
Dodge Viper GTS, red
Dodge Viper RT/10, blue
Plymouth Prowler, purple
Ford Mustang Cobra, gold
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, orange

Series 15
1987 Chevrolet Corvette, blue
Nissan 300ZX, yellow
BMW 850i, red
Ferrari 456GT, black
Mercedes C-Klasse GTC, silver and orange (DTM)

Series 16
Plymouth Prowler, orange
Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder, white
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray III, burgundy
BMW Z3, red
Mercedes 500SL, navy
Ford Mustang Cobra, aqua

Series 17
Dodge Challenger, orange
1957 Ford Thunderbird, yellow
Pontiac GTO 'Judge', black
Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, white
1956 Ford Pickup, red
1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS396, green

Series 18
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, State Police Kansas
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, State Police Nevada
Chevrolet Camaro Z28, State Police Utah
Ford Crown Victoria, State Police South Dakota
Ford Crown Victoria, State Police Montana
Ford Crown Victoria, State Police Minnesota

Series 19
Lamborghini Diablo, gold
Porsche 944 Turbo, white
BMW 5 series, black
Jaguar XJ220, green
Ferrari Testarossa, red
Ferrari F40, silver

Series 20
1956 Ford Pickup, Turquoise
1957 Ford Thunderbird, silver
Chevrolet Corvette Gran Sport, yellow
Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, red
Chevrolet Camaro SS396, orange
Pontiac GTO 'Judge', navy

Series 21
Dennis Fire Engine, Seaside
Fire Tender, Laurel Springs
Fire Tender, Park Ridge
Fire Tender, Eagle Point

There were special series that were done specially for CostCo and Walmart etc.
Also, there are many Toy Fair and special occasion cars produced which are very similar to these World Class and Premiere models.


Corvette Series 1
1987 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, black
1962 Chevrolet Corvette, blue
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Targa, yellow
Chevrolet Corvette Gran Sport, black
1997 Chevrolet Corvette, red
1997 Chevrolet Corvette, white

Corvette Series 2
1987 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, yellow
1962 Chevrolet Corvette, silver
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Targa, red
Chevrolet Corvette Gran Sport, blue


Hot Wheels are die-cast model vehicles manufactured by Mattel and were introduced on September 7, 1968. Originally the cars and trucks were manufactured to approximately 1:64 scale and designed to be used on associated Hot Wheels track sets. By 1970, however, a series of 1:43 scale "Gran Toros" made by Mebetoys in Milan, Italy, were introduced. More recently, a range of highly detailed adult collector vehicles, including replicas of NASCAR and Formula One cars, have found success. Despite the forays into larger scales, the brand remains most famous for the small scale free-rolling models of custom hot rods and muscle cars it has produced since the range first appeared. Roughly 10,000 different models of Hot Wheel Cars have been produced over the years.


Hot Wheel Vehicles are authorized by the car makers General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler Motors. Other car makers like Ferrari, Mazda, and Toyota have licensed Hot Wheels to make a scale model of their cars.

To make a Hot Wheel version of a current-model car, Mattel looks at design blueprints of the full-sized car. An example of this is the Chrysler 300 Hot Wheel car. First, the Hot Wheel Team and Mattel went to Chrysler to look at the design of the 300 and an actual car. Chrysler licensed the blueprints to Mattel and the Hot Wheel Team for the purpose of producing the model car. Chrysler then required Mattel to return the blueprints after the Hot Wheel team was finished studying them.

At Mattel's Hot Wheel design center, the blueprint's design measurements and dimensions were scaled down to conform to a model car that is 1/64 the size of a real car. Then a mock-up of the car was produced in plastic and evaluated. After this process, the mock-up became a die cast metal mock up, which was evaluated again. After these processes were complete, the final version of the car was then manufactured.

For older scale models, the 1968 Chevy Nova for example, the model maker uses blueprints from General Motors and also studies car brochures of that model year.

Larry Wood, the head of the Hot Wheels division(now retired), has been with the Mattel/Hot Wheels team since 1967. He originally worked for General Motors as a designer.

The Hot Wheels product line has also included various tracks, accessories, and other kinds of vehicles such as "Sizzlers" rechargeable electric cars, "Hot Line" trains, "R-R-Rumblers" motorcycles, "Hot Birds" airplanes and the comical half-human/half-machine "Farbs".

Before Hot Wheels, the huge market for small car models was dominated at that time by the British company Lesney with their Matchbox cars. Elliot Handler, co-founder of Mattel, decided to produce a line of die-cast toy cars for boys. Although his executives thought it was a bad idea, he was able to capture much of this market by introducing a number of revolutionary features, including low-friction wheels suitable for racing on a track, and styling in tune with the times of customized, racing and show cars coming out of places like California.

There were sixteen castings released in 1968, eleven of them designed by Harry Bentley Bradley, with the first one produced being a dark blue Custom Camaro. Although Bradley was from the car industry, he had not designed the full-functioning versions of the real cars, except the Dodge Deora concept car, which had been built by Mike and Larry Alexander. Another of his notable designs was the Custom Fleetside, which was based on his own heavily-customized '64 El Camino.