After 60 years in business and too many models to count, Matchbox has produced plenty of die-cast miniatures now considered valuable by collectors. You probably have one or two memories of choosing and playing with them yourself as a child. We definitely have memories of weekly trips to the shop at the weekend to muse the entire selection and make the painful decision of which one to choose. Maybe if you’re lucky, you still possess one or two of them too.
Taken from the HistoricVehicle.org - a great little collectables site - here’s an interesting shortlist of the rarest (and most expensive) Matchbox vehicles.
From 1947 until 1953, Leslie and Rodney Smith were in business together producing large die-cast miniature toys to sell during the Christmas season in the shops of London. It all changed when they hired tool and die maker Jack O’Dell though. Their plan has been to create a school-permissible toy for his daughter capable of “fitting inside a matchbox,”
O’Dell had managed to scale down the company’s popular road roller so much that the rest is glorious history.
1953 Aveling Barford Road Roller - Released as part of a three-model set in 1953 (the other two miniatures were a dump truck and cement mixer), the Aveling Barford Road Roller is considered the first and unsurprisingly, one of the most collectable Matchbox vehicles ever.
1967 Mercedes Benz 230SL - Matchbox cars are usually around 1:64 of the vehicles being modelled. If $35,000 give or take a few, could possibly buy you a road-worthy version of this Mercedes classic, the $6,765 auction price paid in 1999 for a Matchbox 27D Mercedes-Benz 230SL in apple green made history as one of the most valuable Matchbox miniatures of all time.
1966 Opel Diplomat - In 1966, this “sea green” Matchbox Opel Diplomat cost just 48 cents but these days this super-rare collectable is regularly valued in the region of $9,000.
1961 Magirus Deutz Crane - When it comes to discovering Matchbox treasures, few stories top this one. In the early 1980’s, a collector named Charlie Mack stumbled upon a brown “No. 30” crane truck at his neighbour's garage sale. He apparently bought the toy for $10 and sold it three years later for a whopping $10,000. Another infamous Matchbox collector, Jim Gallegos, who at the last count owned over 150,000 die-cast miniatures collectively valued at over $1.4 million, reportedly purchased a brown No. 30 crane in 2004 for $13,000.
1965 BP Dodge Wrecker - There’s nothing else like a factory mistake to really get the blood pumping in a collector of rare Matchbox cars. On Ebay, a circa 1965 “reverse colour” Dodge wrecker - a die-cast truck described as the “Holy Grail” of Matchbox collectables - set off a frenzied round of bidding which ended with a sale price of $8,499.
So you can see there’s sometimes a material value to geekiness but even if it doesn’t attract a premium it’s good to know you’re in good company when others share the same passions. Now, where is the torch for the attic...
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