My collection isn’t just about exotic cars like Lamborghiniand Porsche. I also like everyday cars in miniature.
French cars have a certain Gallic charm. In real life I had two French Cars (a Citroen ZX and a Peugeot 306). I never had a Renault, although I did consider a 19once.
I have always liked the Renault 17, it might have only had 4 cylinders but the style was from my favourite era: the early seventies. As a kid in the early seventies, I was car crazy and seeing a Renault 17 on the road was a treat. I have two in miniature the Matchbox model above and a Solido 1:43 model in blue.
The Corgi16TS is probably my favourite Renaultmodel. I found it here in Tbilisi at the Dry Bridge Market. It cost just 20 lari ($7.78). The model was made in Great Britain at the Mettoy factory in Swansea in the late sixties. The actual car was quite revolutionary, being both a hatchback and having front wheel drive, nowadays this is common but at the time this was ground breaking. The model has two cogs accessible on the base, which when turned tip the seats inside, an interesting Corgi feature.
The MatchboxRenault 5TL was produced from 1979 to 1986 and has an opening rear hatch. The Renault 5was one of the first superminis in the 3 door hatchback style, which became very popular in Europe. The term supermini developed in the UK in the 1970s, as car manufacturers sought a new design to surpass the influential Mini, launched in 1959. Other superminis at the time were the Ford Fiesta, Fiat 127, VW Polo, Vauxhall Chevette and Mini Metro. From the first year (1972), the Renault 5 won over 5% of the French automotive market, then positioned itself 3 years later as European market leader. For more than 10 years it remained at the head of sales of small cars in France. In the end, more than 5,325,000 units were sold worldwide.
Alpine is the sporting offshoot of Renault.
The models are usually blue, the French racing colour, but it is the red 310 Alpine model which is actually made in France, the other models are made in Portugal, Italy and China. I have five, made by Solido, Bburago and Deagostini.The Bburago model of the Berlinetta is 1:24 scale, the Bburago model of the Alpine 110-50 is 1:64 the others are 1:43.
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.
I even ventured outside Tbilisi to the ski resort of Bakuriani, to capture the BMC 1800 Pininfarina in the snow.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
They are all Superfast except for the Ferrari Berlinetta, which has regular wheels.
There is a strong frisson of nostalgia with all the models, particularly the three above. I have the Marzalin 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.
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.
A few of the models came from after the transitional phase but are still from the early to mid-seventies.
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.