Category Archives: nostalgia

Two of my Favourites

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Iso Grifo and Ford GT Racer

These two Matchbox cars come from around 1968, shortly before Matchbox transitioned to Superfast Wheels. The Ford GT had been successful at Le Mans (the film Ford v Ferrari is well worth watching), the Iso Grifo is modelled on an Italian exotic car with a powerful American engine.  I have never seen an Iso in real life just in pictures and in these diecast models. For me the lines of the Iso Grifo make it one of the most beautiful cars in the world (other contenders for me would be the Maserati Ghibli, Ferrari 250 Lusso and Jaguar E Type). Holding one of these in my hand transports me back to my childhood, I have written a few times about  That Nostalgia Buzz which fuels my interest in the hobby of collecting diecast model cars.

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That Nostalgia Buzz

I have written before about the nostalgia buzz on this blog. It is one of the drivers for my collecting. Reflections on Why I collect diecast cars?

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1969 second edition catalogue, showing new Superfast models

Some models come with a strong “nostalgia buzz“. I was 5 years old when Matchbox switched from regular wheels to Superfast, the models of that time evoke in me strong feelings of nostalgia. Particularly the Sports Cars like the Iso Grifo and Lamborghini Miura, these were my dream cars at the time. I pulled out a selection of cars from my collection that have the strongest nostalgia buzz for me…

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These Matchbox cars evoke strong nostalgia in me

Nostalgia relates to our sense of identity, it kindles fondly remembered aspects of our past and helps to cool the anxieties of our present. Music and smells can also evoke the past, a tune or a smell like TCP (the antiseptic frequently applied to my childhood cuts) , will transport me in my mind back to my childhood.

Matchbox diecast catalogues 1969
1969 Catalogue

I don’t have any of the models I had as a child, but I have bought similar ones. I favour models of the late sixties and early seventies cars, and the Matchbox brand, largely because that is what I played with most as a child.

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Lamborghini Marzal

The Lamborghini Marzal was one of the very first Superfast cars, there is no regular wheels version. The dark red model was first and this has a more powerful nostalgia buzz for me than the pinker model that appeared a couple of years later.

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The first new cars with Superfast wheels: Lamborghini Marzal, BMC 1800 Pininfarina and Lotus Europa

Not all models of that era have the same buzz for me. The models below: the Porsche 910, Ford Group 6 , GMC Refrigerated truck and Dodge Tipper are from the same time but their buzz is weaker maybe because I desired them less at the time (1969, 1970). The older models in front: the Austin Cambridge and Ford Fairlaine Fire Chief Car also have a weaker buzz as they came from a time before I was conscious of Matchbox cars.

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These models from the same era and a couple of older models have a weaker buzz for me

Matchbox Cars from the period 1968 to 1972,  resonate most strongly with me in a nostalgic sense. I was born in 1964, so these years were the peak of my toy car playing years. I probably stopped buying toy cars when I was around 12, and started buying music with my pocket money instead.

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Matchbox cars with a strong nostalgia buzz

The Citroen SM and Mazda RX500 are slightly newer than the other models, having been introduced in 1972. To my mind they are still new models even though looking back from 2019, there is little difference between a model 50 years old and one 47 years old.

The recoloured models have a more dilute buzz. In the seventies, unlike today, cars had the same colour for longer. I am still looking for the first colour of the BMC Pininfarina, which was a gold colour before it was changed to a milky orange.

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on the left the darker colours were first, the lighter colours were the recolours, I don’t have the first colour of the BMC

Aside from Matchbox the other British brands: Corgi and Dinky have some models with a nostalgia buzz, but fewer as they were more expensive and so I had fewer of them as a child. Also there are a few Majorette models that remind me of my first trip to Paris in 1974 (Chrysler 180, BMW 3.0CSL and Mercedes 350SL). I found 3 Majorette Cars at Dry Bridge Market today. Other brands Hot Wheels, Siku, Tomica etc… do not have this buzz for me as they were not part of my childhood.

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Some Corgis with a nostalgia buzz

Nostalgia comes from two Greek words, nostos meaning homecoming and algos meaning longing or pain. My collecting of model cars really took off, when I moved to Tbilisi, Georgia (2009). Maybe I am trying to make a connection to home (England) or my past. The French writer Proust, describes how tasting a Madeleine cake, which he hadn’t tasted since childhood, triggered a cascade of warm and powerful sensory associations. Nostalgia can boost psychological well being.

Iso Grifo
Iso Grifo

I have one particularly vivid memory from childhood, in the classroom, when I was just seven, my friend Carl showed me his model of the Matchbox Mercury Cougar “Rat Rod Dragster”, this was like no model car I’d seen before. The car was bright lime green with an exposed engine. I was familiar with the earlier Mercury Cougar, which had opening doors and came in a metallic light green, but this was something new. Hot Wheels hadn’t made a direct impact on my childhood at that time (1971) in England the pocket money rivals of Matchbox were the Corgi Juniors and Corgi Rockets. Finding a model of the Rat Rod at a Boot Sale in 2012, transported me back forty years.

Rat Rod and Wild Cat
“Rat Rod” Mercury Cougar and “Wild Cat” Ford Mustang

 

 

Nostalgia

This is not the first time, I’ve written about nostalgia in relation to collecting model cars.  I bought a Kinsmart 1967 VW Classic Beetle, a model made in China, my purchase was influenced by its dark blue colour, which reminded me of the Dinky model from the early seventies.

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Dinky Catalogue (1974) and Kinsmart Beetle

Nostalgia relates to our sense of identity, it kindles fondly remembered aspects of our past and helps to cool the anxieties of our present. Music and smells can also evoke the past, a tune or a smell like TCP (the antiseptic frequently applied to my childhood cuts) , will transport me in my mind back to my childhood.

I have the Kinsmart Beetle in yellow, too. But the yellow model doesn’t give me the same nostalgic buzz.

I don’t have any of the models I had as a child, but I have bought similar ones and others like the Kinsmart Beetle that recall those models. I favour models of sixties and seventies cars, and the Matchbox brand, largely because that is what I played with most as a child.

The catalogues also kindle the nostalgia, like this 1970 Matchbox Catalogue (the year Matchbox went Superfast). Matchbox Superfast – 50 years

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Matchbox Superfast Catalogue and early Superfast models

Matchbox Cars from the period 1968 to 1972,  resonate most strongly with me in a nostalgic sense. I was born in 1964, so these years were the peak of my toy car playing years. I probably stopped buying toy cars when I was around 12, and started buying music with my pocket money instead. Corgi and Dinky, the other major UK diecast manufacturers, resonate less, because they were more expensive. As a child it was only around Christmas or when Dad’s friend Norman came for his annual visit, that there was a chance for a Corgi or Dinky car.

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Corgi Marcos Mantis, this evokes playground memories.

Nostalgia comes from two Greek words, nostos meaning homecoming and algos meaning longing or pain. My collecting of model cars really took off, when I moved to Tbilisi, Georgia. Maybe I am trying to make a connection to home (England) or my past. The French writer Proust, describes how tasting a Madeleine cake, which he hadn’t tasted since childhood, triggered a cascade of warm and powerful sensory associations. Nostalgia can boost psychological well being.

Sometimes it is not the models themselves that trigger nostalgia but their associations. I loved watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons as a kid, so models like the FlintstonesFlintmobile and Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine also stoke the nostalgic fires within. I wish Hot Wheels would put out a model of Dick Dastardly’s Mean Machine from Wacky Races.

Scooby Doo models
Scooby Doo Merchandise

 

My Dad’s Cars

I bought a Hot Wheels three pack today for just one car, a Ford Escort. My dad had a Mark 1 Ford Escort back in the late sixties/ early seventies. SMO390G was the reg.

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Hot Wheels Three Pack with a Ford Escort

Before I came into the world my dad had a couple of Ford Anglias. When I was born my dad had a Ford Anglia Estate, this was replaced by the Ford Escort, it wasn’t an RS1600 Mexico like the Hot Wheels model but a base 1100 model, but the shape gives me that frisson of nostalgia.

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Ford Anglia 105E (Hot Wheels)

After the Escort there was a Moskvitch 427, briefly. Moskvitch was imported into the UK for a short time in the 1970s, before being withdrawn amidst safety concerns. We had our own safety concerns, whilst driving along as a family, my sister almost fell out of the rear door that had come open for no good reason, luckily she had a strong clamp like grip on the front seat, so didn’t fall out into the road. Now living in the former Soviet Union, I still occasionally see Moskvitches on the road and find Soviet made models of Moskvitches at Dry Bridge market in Tbilisi.

 

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Moskvitch 427 (Made in USSR)

After the Moskvitch, there was a Ford Zephyr, which we kids liked because it was big and comfortable, but was difficult to fit into the garage and probably thirsty, too.

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Ford Zodiac Mk IV (Matchbox), similarly shaped to the Zephyr

Then there was another Ford Escort but this time an estate. There followed an Opel Kadett estate (my first car incidentally was an Opel). My brother got a job selling Peugeots, so my father duly went through a succession of Peugeots, first a 305, then a 309 and finally a 306.

 

Peugeot 309
Peugeot 309 (Vanguards)

His final car was a surprise; a Mitsubishi Lancer Estate, his first and only Japanese car. I don’t have pictures of the actual cars, just the memories and the strongest are with the Ford Escort. I will usually get a Ford Escort if I see it, particularly the Mark 1s. Matchbox didn’t make a Mark 1, but Dinky and Corgi Juniors did at the time and recently Hot Wheels have put out a Mark 1 RS1600 Mexico, after it featured in Fast And Furious.

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Fast and Furious 6, Ford Escort Mexico RS1600

My dad died in 2011, I miss him. My diecast car collecting increased dramatically from 2011, it may be related and I reflect on my psychology in another post (Reflections on Why I collect diecast cars?)

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Mum and Dad in 2008

The Cararama model of the Escort Mark 1 is closest to my memories, although my dad’s car wasn’t silver, more a duck egg blue.

Ford Escort Mark 1
Ford Escort Mk 1 (Cararama)

My dad dreamed of having a Jaguar Mark X, one Christmas, my mum bought him a model of one by Corgi, a story which became part of our family legend. I don’t know what happened to the model. He never realised this dream.

Jaguar Mk X Husky Outside
Jaguar Mk X (Husky)

 

 

 

A recent addition to my collection this battered Peugeot 305.

Peugeot 305 (Matchbox SuperKings

That Frisson of Nostalgia

I have mentioned in several posts, the frisson of nostalgia I feel for certain models. “Frisson” is a French term meaning “aesthetic chills,” the nostalgia connects us to something from our past. Frissons can come with music, with smells, with tastes and with images or objects. If I smell TCP, it reminds me of the school playground and the frequent applications of TCP on my various cuts and grazes from tumbling over.

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I feel a strong frisson with these models

With some models that frisson is stronger than with others. It is difficult to explain why. It is usually with the Matchbox and Corgi models from around 1968 to 1975. I don’t feel the same frisson with old Hot Wheels, they weren’t really a part of my childhood. Many are models I had as a child or desired as a child. It won’t be every model from say the Matchbox range of 1969; the Crane Truck exudes this frisson but the Refrigerator Truck does not.

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Matchbox Eight Wheeled Crane and Refrigerator Truck

Older models that weren’t part of my childhood memories don’t generate the same reaction. The Matchbox Austin Cambridge (in production 1961 to 1966) might be the oldest model in my collection, but I didn’t have it as a child and it doesn’t have the frisson of nostalgia for me that the later Iso Grifo has.

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Ghia L6.4 (Corgi) and Austin Cambridge (Matchbox) from the early sixties

The redline Hot Wheels models are great but don’t excite me like Matchbox models of the same era. However, there are more recent Hot Wheels models that have that frisson of nostalgia for different reasons. The entertainment vehicles like Scooby Doo‘s Mystery Machine and The Love Bug‘s Herbie, bring to mind the cartoon and the film I loved as a child. The Love Bug may have been the film that got me really car crazy, I would have been 5 or 6 when I first saw it.

frisson of nostalgia Herbie and Mystery Machine
Herbie” from the Love Bug and The Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo

Some toy cars link me with events of my childhood, I explored one such connection in a previous post about the Corgi Marcos Mantis: Therein lies a tale…

Looking at a picture of Dinky Toys from 1970, I see a few models that bring back distant childhood memories:

  • The Captain Scarlet Maximum Security Vehicle– all I remember of my first day of school was playing with this model, I don’t remember the lessons, the teacher or the other kids…
  • The Lotus Europa – this was the first thing I ever shoplifted (not something I’m proud of)-I still remember the fear
  • The Ford Capri – I remember in a fit of rage my brother throwing this at me, I ducked and it broke the window.
  • The Mercury Cougar – I bought in Hamley’s with all my Christmas money, I couldn’t quite afford the Cadillac Eldorado, now strangely I have the Cadillac but I’d prefer to have the Mercury.

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I particularly like the sports cars in the Matchbox range like the Iso Grifo, Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari Berlinetta.

 

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Matchbox Italian Sports cars

I love looking through old catalogues, I have a few and can see others online. I love the old Matchbox artwork.

Matchbox diecast catalogues 1969
Matchbox Catlalogue 1969

The frisson of nostalgia isn’t the only reason I collect. I have reflected about my reasons in a previous post: Reflections on Why I collect diecast cars?

I would be interested in the comments, if you have similar feelings with childhood toys.

Therein lies a tale…

I remember my 8 year old self in the school playground some 45 years ago. We would play a game of car “tag”, where we’d push our toy cars across the asphalt trying to tag (bump) our friends’ cars. I had a brand new Corgi Marcos Mantis, given to me by my Uncle Norman, a week earlier. Uncle Norman was Dad’s friend, who would visit once a year and bring a shiny new diecast for my brother and I. I remember pushing my car gently onto a drain cover, I thought it a sneaky move to win the game as the others wouldn’t dare chase me there.

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drain cover (not the actual one but of a similar design)

Then I gave another slight push and to my horror the car slid and fell into the drain, with a loud plop. I don’t remember crying but my heart dropped. It was not possible to lift the drain cover, my car was gone.

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Gocha’s Stall, Dry Bridge Market

45 years later, a visit to Dry Bridge Market in Tbilisi, and to my great surprise, I find a Corgi Marcos Mantis on Gocha’s stall. A few chips and a grubby interior but otherwise in good condition. The asking price a mere 20 lari ($8). I sincerely doubt it is the one I dropped in the drain but it serves as an adequate replacement. I, alas, am unable to console my eight-year-old self, he has long passed into the ether of time, but it does have that frisson of nostalgia, which fuels my collecting.

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Corgi Marcos Mantis

One thing is for sure, this one is not going anywhere near a drain cover! There are some other diecast memories from my childhood, but those tales should wait until I find the relevant models: a Dinky Ford Capri, a Dinky Lotus Europa, a Matchbox Pickford’s Removal Van….