Tag Archives: BMC 1800 Pininfarina

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?

1969 superfast
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…

nostalgia buzz group
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.

nostalgia buzz Lamborghini Marzal
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.

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.

nostalgia buzz weaker
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.

nostalgia buzz group 2
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.

nostalgia buzz iso bmc marzal
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.

nostalgia buzz corgi 2
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



Matchbox Superfast – 50 years

The launch of Hot Wheels by Mattel in 1968 sent shockwaves through the diecast world. With their low friction wheels and track sets, they were faster than anything on the market. Lesney had been selling a lot of models in the States, but with the introduction of Hot Wheels, Lesney’s US Sales plummeted. In response the following year, 1969, saw Lesney introduce Superfast wheels to its Matchbox model line. Some models were adapted from regular wheels to Superfast, three brand new models were introduced for the Superfast wheels: #20 Lamborghini Marzal, #5 Lotus Europa and #56 BMC 1800 Pininfarina.

1969 superfast
Superfast models marked in 1969 catalogue (second edition)

The first Superfast wheels were very thin and buckled easily, later they were made thicker. Some bases had to be supplemented with a plastic insert to accommodate the thinner axles.

Bases with new Superfast wheels… note the plastic insert to accommodate thinner axles in the Grit Truck (right)

In the 1970 catalogue they suggested the fun you could have “matching a Lamborghini Miura against a bus, or a fire engine against a refuse truck. That’s racing with a difference – Superfast style.” In my opinion turning the cars Superfast was fine but making the trucks Superfast was a mistake. There were some new models but most were just regular wheeled castings with new Superfast Wheels. There were also new colours, the Ford Mustang went from white to an orangey red. Not all models went immediately Superfast, the Foden Concrete Truck and Horse Box were listed in the 1970 catalogue as “Non Superfast”, they would later become Superfast models. Some like the Case Bulldozer with its caterpillar tracks would never become Superfast.

1969 superfast track
Superfast models and track in the 1969 catalogue (2nd Edition)

I was 5 in 1969 but remember the thrill of seeing the first Superfast cars.


#20 Lamborghini Marzal, #56 BMC 1800 Pininfarina and #5 Lotus Europa

Hot Wheels also introduced hot rods and fantasy vehicles, Matchbox would soon follow suit but it was too late, the seventies saw a dramatic fall in sales of European diecast brands. The giants of British diecast floundered first Dinky went bankrupt in 1979, then Lesney in 1982 and finally Corgi went into liquidation in 1983. The brands continue today, Matchbox has been a brand of Mattel since 1997, so a stablemate of former rival Hot Wheels. In this the anniversary year Matchbox have brought out some premium models to commemorate the 50th Anniversary like a Mercedes 300SE, which harken back to their history.

mercedes 300se
Mercedes 300SE (from Lamley Group video)

I don’t expect I’ll find the new premium models here in Tbilisi, but I’ll continue to look out for the Superfast models from the transitional period when regular wheels became Superfast.


Some Matchbox cars from the early Superfast era and a more recent Matchbox Porsche Panamera with low friction wheels

Let it Snow

Here in Tbilisi, we don’t get a lot of snow, but venture a couple of hours from the capital and there is plenty of snow to provide a simple natural backdrop for our Matchbox cars. To meet the New Year we ventured to Tsagveri, a small village between the spa town of Borjomi and the ski resort of Bakuriani.

Cars in the snow snow groomer and vw 4 x 4 (2)
Snow Groomer and VW Beetle 4 x 4

There was plenty of snow to amuse us, I’d taken some Matchbox vehicles suitable for snowy conditions: the Highway Maintenance Truck, a VW Beetle 4 x 4 (with Dora the Explorer tampo), Wing Chiller and Snow Groomer. Here are some of the shots.



In early 2018, I had also taken Snow Groomer out with the BMC 1800 Pininfarina to Bakuriani for some shots.

BMC 1800 Pininfarina and Snow Groomer 7
Snow Groomer and BMC 1800 Pininfarina

Wishing all my readers a Happy New Year 2019… have fun with your collections!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Story

This week’s photo challenge is Story

Here is a “Toy Story” 😀

My wonderful Facebook friend “Dutch” sent me 12 old Matchbox models and asked for nothing in return except for some pictures taken of the models here in Georgia (the country not the state). I was happy to oblige…a story with a happy ending.

Most I took around Tbilisi, where I live.

Lamborghini Marzal outside 3
თბილისი “Tbilisi” wrought in iron

Renault 17TL Outside
Renault 17TL

I even ventured outside Tbilisi to the ski resort of Bakuriani, to capture the BMC 1800 Pininfarina in the snow.

BMC 1800 Pininfarina and Snow Groomer 7

The cars have for me this tremendous frisson of nostalgia as they were like the models I had as a child and lost over the years.

DeTomaso Pantera, Kashveti Church

The psychology of why I,  an adult, still collect Matchbox cars is another story … Reflections on Why I collect diecast cars?

Old Matchbox Cars in Tbilisi and Bakuriani

In a previous blogpost, I wrote about my Package from the Netherlands. My great Facebook friend “Dutch” sent me 12 old Matchbox models and asked for nothing in return except for some pictures taken of the models here in Georgia (the country not the state).

12 Matchbox Cars

The cars:

1. Citroen SM  2.DeTomaso Pantera 3.BMC 1800 Pininfarina  4. Mercedes 230SL        5. Iso Grifo  6. Ferrari Berlinetta  7. Ford Zodiac MkIV  8. Mercedes 300SE 9. Renault 17TL 10. Lamborghini Miura 11. Mazda RX500 12. Lamborghini Marzal

It was such a generous gift and throughout February, I’ve been taking each model out and taking photographs, so now I have a photo of each with diverse Georgian backgrounds. Let’s have a look…

I didn’t take the cars out in any particular order, the first out was the Mercedes 230SL.

Mercedes 230sl outside 3
Mercedes 230SL at Freedom Square in Tbilisi

Then we had the DeTomaso Pantera outside Kashveti Church.

DeTomaso Pantera

The BMC 1800 Pininfarina was the only model taken out of Tbilisi, I had some fun taking photographs of the BMC with Snow Groomer at the ski resort of Bakuriani.

BMC 1800 Pininfarina and Snow Groomer 9
Snow Groomer and BMC 1800 Pininfarina

The Citroen SM was pictured outside the terminus of the funicular railway.

Citroen SM Outside 3
Citroen SM

The Mazda RX500 is pictured on Rustaveli Avenue outside the Marriott Hotel.

Mazda RX 500 outside
Mazda RX500

The Lamborghini Marzal, I placed on a bench on which is written “Tbilisi” in Georgian characters “თბილისი”.

Lamborghini Marzal outside 3
Lamborghini Marzal

My favourite casting the Iso Grifo like the Mazda RX500 was captured in Rustaveli Avenue, the Tbilisi Champs d’Elysees.


Iso Grifo MBX Outside
Iso Grifo

The Mercedes 300SE and Renault 17TL were shot with a background overlooking the northern part of Tbilisi.


It was back to Rustaveli Avenue to capture the Ford Zodiac MkIV, the tall rather ugly building in the background is the Biltmore Hotel.

Ford Zodiac Outside 7
Ford Zodiac MkIV

For the Lamborghini Miura, I chose to take some shots in Jikia Cemetery on the outskirts of the city.

Lamborghini Miura Outside
Lamborghini Miura

The final car is the Ferrari Berlinetta, which I took to Didi Dighomi yesterday,  for this shot…

Ferrari Berlinetta Outside
Ferrari Berlinetta

It has been a fun project, I hope you like the pictures.

დიდი მადლობა, Dutch.

Dank je, Dutch.


Snow Fun

I visited the ski resort of Bakuriani in Georgia and took along a couple of Matchbox models for some photos.

BMC 1800 Pininfarina and Snow Groomer 3
Snow Groomer and BMC 1800 Pininfarina

The two I chose were the Snow Groomer and BMC 1800 Pininfarina. The Snow Groomer was an obvious choice because it is a snow plough (or plow for American readers).

Snow Groomer
Snow Groomer

The BMC 1800 Pininfarina was part of the Package from the Netherlands like the DeTomaso Pantera in my last post (sightseeing).

BMC 1800 Pininfarina in Bakuriani.JPG
BMC 1800 Pininfarina

Snow makes a great backdrop for minimal effort.

BMC 1800 Pininfarina and Snow Groomer 9

Package from the Netherlands

The postal service here in Georgia (the country not the US State) is rather basic, expensive and unpredictable. Sending stuff is a risk. A Facebook friend Bert  or “Dutch” told me he’d like to send me some Matchbox models:

Hello Jim, give me a list of 12 classic superfast lesney models you really would like to have. Going from 1 ,i want one very bad , to 12 ,well i had to name 12.

So I did…

The first was easy… Iso Grifo…my favourite Matchbox casting…I have never seen the real car, but it looks beautiful in pictures. I already have one Matchbox model with regular wheels…

Iso Grifo
Iso Grifo (Matchbox)

The first eight were easy to name: 1. Iso Grifo 2. Lamborghini Miura 3. Lamborghini Marzal 4. Ferrari Berlinetta 5. Ford Zodiac 6. Mercedes 300SE 7. Mazda RX500 8. Citroen SM

a brief pause for thought and then… another four… 9. Mercedes 230SL 10. DeTomaso Pantera 11. Jaguar F Type 12. Renault 17

The Jaguar F Type is a recent casting and not a classic Superfast… it was replaced by the BMC Pininfarina (an aerodynamic “Land-Crab”).

A packet was duly dispatched from the Netherlands on 29 December. Mail doesn’t usually get delivered in Georgia, a Georgian Post rider should leave a sticker on the door of the block, when a resident has a package to collect.

dutch post
an example of a Georgian Post sticker on the door of our block

We live in a newly built block, which doesn’t as yet even have an official address. So after a week, I trekked a kilometre to the local Post Office to see if it had arrived. I had to wait a long time, but they could find no packet. They asked if I had a tracking number, I didn’t. I went back again a week later, thankfully at a less busy time, they asked if I had a tracking number, I told them I didn’t, they looked again asked if I had a tracking number, I told them again that I didn’t. During the night of the 28-29 December, I dreamt about Matchbox cars, not about the packet, but I thought it might be a sign, so again I went to the Post Office. They asked predictably if I had a tracking number, I said I didn’t, there was no tracking number on the item. She asked me about the size, I showed her the photo on my messenger feed, she went in the backroom and finally emerged with the packet.

dutch packet
my packet

My telephone number was on the packet, but no one had called or texted me, there had been no  Georgian Post sticker on the door of my block. I was also told they had been about to return the packet to Netherlands, as was their policy for packets which haven’t been collected within a month.

But I had it…phew! I couldn’t wait to get home.

The packet contained all 12 cars I had requested, a big dank je “Dutch” and what delights they are.

Dutch 12 (2)
12 Matchbox cars

They are all Superfast except for the Ferrari Berlinetta, which has regular wheels.

Lamborghini Marzal, Ferrari Berlinetta and Ford Zodiac Mk IV

There is a strong frisson of nostalgia with all the models, particularly the three above. I have the Marzal in pink, but I much prefer the original dark red. I also love the metallic green of the Zodiac. I had a couple of Ferrari Berlinettas before I left England, but I sold them at a Car Boot Sale and regretted it (I arrived in Georgia, with just two suitcases). These models were manufactured around the transitional time (1969-1970), the time when Matchbox went over to Superfast models with faster wheels in an attempt to compete with Hot Wheels across the Pond. My favourite era, I was 6 in 1970.

track stars: BMC Pininfarina, Iso Grifo and Lamborghini Marzal

With the Superfast wheels came track sets on the box art for the Superfast sets were the Lamborghini Marzal, the Iso Grifo and the BMC Pininfarina.

Matchbox Catalogue 1970 track
Matchbox Superfast Track in 1970 Catalogue

A few of the models came from after the transitional phase but are still from the early to mid-seventies.

Citroen SM, Mazda RX500, Renault 17TL and DeTomaso Pantera

The cars aren’t all in perfect condition, there were a few chips, and the Lamborghini Miura’s doors fail to close properly, but I still love them. As a child I went through a phase of collecting Mercedes models, I don’t have any from my childhood, so it was great to have a 230SL and 300SE again.

Mercedes 230Sl, Mercedes 300SE and Lamborghini Miura

I am really happy with the packet, “Dutch” asked for nothing in exchange apart form some photos of the cars in their new home. These photos can be seen here: Old Matchbox Cars in Tbilisi and Bakuriani

I have been able to cross off more cars from my Wants’ List in one go, than I had in all the time since I first published the post.

Dutch 12
Matchbox cars x 12

A wonderful present, thanks again, “Dutch”. There was the added bonus of the artwork from a Matchbox Carry Case showing later Matchbox models (circa 1977).

Matchbox Carry Case artwork

Several months later I sent a packet back with five cars, three Matchbox and 2 DAFs.

Packet to NL
return packet