Matchbox turns 65, celebrates its Sapphire Anniversary with 46 new car and truck tools for 2018

Matchbox turns 65, celebrates its Sapphire Anniversary with 46 new car and truck tools for 2018

Photos courtesy of theLamleyGroup.

To celebrate Matchbox’s 65th Anniversary in 2018, no fewer than 46 new castings are coming across the basic range and in a couple of new premium lines that will recall the brand’s ’60s heyday. The announcement, made at Albuquerque’s annual Matchbox Gathering event last month, reverses what seemed like a systematic starvation of funds at Brand Orange; suddenly faucets of cash are being splashed upon the three-inch diecast line. Forty-six new castings don’t come cheap.

The basic $1 range, available at your local big-box store (or websites like 1stopdiecast.com that will sell you a subscription for full cases of anything that Matchbox sells stateside) will contain a variety of new and new-ish cars, trucks, and SUVs, including: the latest Honda Civic Hatchback; 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe; the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the second-generation of the world’s best-selling electric car and that has not yet been shown publicly; BMW i8; the 2016 Chevy Colorado Extreme concept truck; Skyjacker Ford F350 Super Duty; the latest Cadillac Escalade; and the current Mazda CX-5.

A passel of classics will also join the basic-car roster: 1933 Plymouth sedan (possibly as a police car); 1948 Diamond T pickup; a ’54 Jaguar XK140 roadster, possibly based on the coupe done in the last decade or so and previously done (when it was contemporary!) by Matchbox; the GMC Scenicruiser bus, another vehicle famously done by Matchbox in the ’60s; ’64 Ford Fairlane wagon; MGB GT; and a Jeep Wagoneer of yet-to-be-determined vintage, though we’re hoping for one from the round-headlight era.

There will also be four new basic-range models sneaking into a variety of other series. The ’33 Ford Coupe, a Tyco-era favorite, will return; a four-door Jeep Rubicon will be part of the plastic-bodied Color Changers line; a ’47 Chevy pickup will be part of a Wal-Mart-exclusive GM 100th Anniversary of Trucks six-car set; a late-model Mercedes-Benz G550 G-Wagon will be part of the Wal-Mart-exclusive Mercedes six-vehicle set.

More commercial and non-traditional (though still licensed) castings include: Man TGS Dump Truck; Modec Delivery Truck; the NASA Space Chariot; the Yamaha Bolt Scrambler ATV; and a pair of fire trucks–a Volvo and a Scania. Oh, and there will be a couple of “designer original” castings, none of which hold a candle to the list of vehicles above.

That’s just the basic line! There will also be a “basics plus” series, which will feature opening appendages and good old-fashioned play value, just like Matchboxes of old. They’ll cost more than a standard $1 Matchbox, but not as much as some of the competition. Some of these models have been done before, some decades ago, but will return with all-new tooling: the Mercedes-Benz 220SE (the first Matchbox car to have opening doors), a ’64 Pontiac Grand Prix, VW Type 3 fastback, VW 23-window bus, Nissan XTerra, the ’80s-era Nissan 300ZX, and a Ford Crown Vic that can be decorated in police or taxi liveries. Some are classic vehicles not done before by Matchbox: a Willys Jeep station wagon, a ’63 Chevy camper, a Chevy gasser, a ’71 Ford Torino funny car, and an “’80s Buick convertible” (no details given, but a photo of an ’84 Riviera ragtop was shown on screen to depict the model). Newer models in the upcoming Basics Plus lineup include a 2016 Camaro hardtop (recall a basic-line convertible is still due later this year), Tesla Model X SUV, BMW i8, the latest GMC Sierra pickup, and the Renault Trezer concept.

On top of that, there’s also a Premium Plus line, details of which are still sketchy, but if we were the guessing sort we’d say they would be all-diecast with opening features. Announced models include the latest Range Rover, the Corvette Stingray, a Honda S2000, and a Dodge Charger funny car (the photo they showed suggested a ’66-67 fastback, but as always this is subject to change).

Our big question is this: Why so much new product? We would guess two things: first, that with the dissolution of larger plastic Matchbox toys on store shelves (we’re looking at you, Stinky the Garbage Truck), that some budget money has been freed up for the traditional 3-inch diecast line. Second, it feels as if Matchbox wants to position itself as a premium brand, a step above Hot Wheels in price point–and the Basic Plus, Premium and Premium Plus models are a testbed to make that happen. In the void between $1 Hot Wheels and $6 Johnny Lightning/M2/Auto World, there’s a gap filled almost entirely by premium-line Hot Wheels models. Will Matchbox fill that niche with realistic-looking product that drives collectors to the shelves?

Keep in mind … most of these items are due in stores and distributors’ hands by the spring of 2018, half a year from now, and lots can happen between now and then. Next year is an anniversary year for Matchbox, but it’s also an anniversary year for Hot Wheels … and half a century of Mattel’s own home-grown brand, handily outselling Matchbox for decades now, will surely demand its own celebration. We wouldn’t be surprised if Matchbox production quantities were managed in order to highlight Brand Blue’s half-century of existence.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Monterey Car Week in pictures

Monterey Car Week in pictures

Nothing says “Monterey Car Week” quite like encountering a Packard dual-cowl Phaeton at Pebble Beach. Images by the author.

Monterey Car Week is a multi-day celebration of the automobile held each year on the Monterey Peninsula in Central California. The two best-known events are the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (the “Monterey Historics”) and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but there are also numerous other events to enjoy, including Legends of the Autobahn, featuring German automobiles, and Concorso Italiano, a show for vehicles with Italian roots, and The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, with cars from across the spectrum. The following is just a taste of each event. Be sure to check out further coverage of both the events and auctions of Monterey Car Week in future Hemmings publications.

The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering

Legends of the Autobahn

Concorso Italiano

Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1973 Plymouth Gold Duster

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1973 Plymouth Gold Duster

1973 Plymouth Gold Duster

From the seller’s description:

1973 plymouth gold duster,original 32,000 mile car,near mint interior, super nice body paint.like new bright work,318v8,,ps,,pb,,air,,this car is rare in the fact it has never been played with…runs and drives like new..new tires,new exhust..you will look hard and long to find one like this.

1973 Plymouth Gold Duster 1973 Plymouth Gold Duster 1973 Plymouth Gold Duster 1973 Plymouth Gold Duster

Pricetag

Price
$16,500

Location Marker

Location
cheshire, Connecticut

Magnifying Glass

Availability
Available

Find more Plymouths for sale on Hemmings.com.


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Grant gives go-ahead to study imperiled Route 66 bridges, rank them for preservation

Grant gives go-ahead to study imperiled Route 66 bridges, rank them for preservation

Route 66 bridge in Winona, Arizona. Photo by Randy Heinitz.

Earlier this summer the town of Galena, Kansas, celebrated the restoration of the Front Street Bridge, a span that once carried Route 66 over the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad and into town. Yet just over the state line in Oklahoma, seven Route 66 bridges have been shortlisted for closing or demolishing. To get a handle on exactly how many Route 66 bridges are in similar danger and how many aren’t, the National Park Service last week issued a grant to a study designed to rank which Route 66 bridges need preservation.

“On Route 66, historic preservation of structures often takes a backseat to traditional preservation, rehabilitation and replacement options because it is more expensive and more challenging from the engineering viewpoint,” wrote Jeff Weidner, assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso. “The purpose of this project is to put both the engineering and historic preservation perspectives on a level playing field, and explore the challenges of maintaining the structural integrity and historic value of the bridges along Route 66.”

While the $32,334 in total grant money won’t go directly to preserving or restoring any particular bridge, the money will go toward prioritizing which bridges would most benefit from limited preservation funds as well as providing readily accessible information that local and state communities can use to get funding for bridge preservation.

Of the hundreds of bridges that Route 66 crossed between Chicago and Santa Monica (BridgeHunter.com lists 233, including some that crossed over the Mother Road), many were built to serve the patchwork of roads that became Route 66 and thus date to the Teens or Twenties, if not earlier. Various reconfigurations of Route 66 – not to mention interstate highway bypasses – left some bridges abandoned, forgotten, or underused, and in the 30-plus years since the decomissioning of Route 66 several significant Route 66 bridges have been closed, restricted to pedestrian access only, or demolished altogether. For that reason, original Route 66 bridges – some of which now have been added to the National Register of Historic Places – have become scarce, according to the Save Our Route 66 Bridges page on Facebook.

Restoration of the Galena bridge cost nearly $400,000, according to the Joplin Globe. However, as noted on Route 66 News, the most recent restoration project did not include repairs to the bridge’s support structure, which were completed in 2010.

Funding for the study came in part from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. That program, administered by the NPS since 2009, distributes about $100,000 per year to local or state projects with available matching funds. The pending sunset of the program in 2019 has prompted at least two bills in Congress aimed at continuing such funding in one form or another.

Other projects that received funding through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program this year include two aimed at restoring large neon signs, a documentary film focused on women on the Mother Road, an oral history project aimed at documenting the trucking industry along Route 66 in Missouri, and an online educational guide to the California stretch of the highway.

The Route 66 bridge study is set to begin this October and run through next September.

For more information about the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and this year’s grants, visit NCPTT.NPS.gov/Rt66.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Birth of a coachbuilder – first Frua to appear at Hampton Court Concours of Elegance

Birth of a coachbuilder – first Frua to appear at Hampton Court Concours of Elegance

1946 Fiat 1100 Frua Spider

1946 Fiat 1100 Frua Spider. Photo courtesy Hampton Court Concours of Elegance.

Pietro Frua was best known for his automotive design work, but the firm that carried his name also produced concepts and coachbuilt bodies for a variety of European automakers. The genesis of this, the ur-Frua, was a distinctive and sporty roadster based upon the conservative Fiat 1100. Restored in 2016, the Fiat 1100 Frua Spider will be making an appearance at this weekend’s Hampton Court Concours of Elegance, taking place from September 1-3 at Hampton Court Palace East in Molesey, Surrey, England.

1946 Fiat 1100 Frua Spider

Remaining images courtesy Matteo Giacon.

Born in Turin, Italy in 1913, Frua learned drafting and mechanical drawing at Scuola Allievi Fiat, Fiat’s school for apprentices. By the age of 17, Frua joined Stabilimenti Farina, where his talent quickly made him one of the firm’s top designers. The Second World War put his career on hold, and during this period Frua earned his living by running a body shop in Moncalieri, southeast of Turin, while penning designs for consumer goods instead of automobiles.

His ambitions were grander, and as the conflict in Europe came to a close, Frua purchased a derelict factory with the intention of launching his own design studio. By the end of 1945, Carrozzeria Frua had moved to larger quarters, and the firm’s first branded project was the barchetta-bodied Fiat seen here, delivered to Luigi Critterio on September 3, 1946.

1946 Fiat 1100 Frua Spider

Critterio didn’t keep the spider for long, selling it to Gino Bubbolini less than a month later. In 1947, the coachbuilt Fiat, which had been praised by publications Motor Italia and Auto Italiana, appeared at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, shown by Fiat dealer Alvise DePasquale, where it earned a Second Prize of Merit.

For the next three years, the roadster passed through a series of owners in the Turin area, but in 1950 sold to a Mr. Monti in Pavia, a town south of Milan. Frua’s design struck a nerve with Monti, who retained possession of the one-off sports car for the next 33 years.

The current owner acquired the Fiat, then painted red, in 2015, and subsequently entered the car into the 2016 Mille Miglia Storica. Following the race, the car was sent to Carrozzerie Gatti Luciano in Bergamo, Italy, for a comprehensive restoration and repaint in its original pewter color. The work was completed in time for the 2017 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where the Fiat appeared on the 70th anniversary of its first showing at the event.

1946 Fiat 1100 Frua Spider

Carrozzeria Frua and its namesake would go on to pen other memorable automotive designs, including coupes and spiders for the Maserati A6 chassis, coupes and cabriolets for German manufacturer Glas (later sold to BMW, which temporarily marketed the Glas 2600 as the BMW GT), and the Maserati Mistral, a design which later evolved into the AC 428 convertible and AC 428 coupe. Even Volvo’s stunning 1800  has a connection to Frua, as designer Pelle Petterson was an intern with the Italian firm when his sketch was penned.

For additional information on the 2017 Hampton Court Palace Concours of Elegance, visit ConcoursOfElegance.co.UK.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Rediscovering yesteryear’s gas station services and automotive products

Rediscovering yesteryear’s gas station services and automotive products

They still provide fuel for your car, but over the past several decades, the majority of gas stations have shifted from servicing cars to providing more services for the people who drive them. There are various reasons why, not the least of which is that cars today have fewer serviceable parts than they did in the 1960s and 1970s for instance, and the maintenance intervals are greater.

Back then, along with promoting their specific mix of gasoline, which they claimed to be better for your car and were bestowed with catchy names, like Texaco’s Sky Chief, Sunoco 260, Phillips 66 Flite-Fuel, Super Shell, Esso Extra, Sinclair Dino Supreme, or 4 Power Gulf No-nox, oil companies also promoted their own car services. Most included a free multipoint examination under the hood and a cursory inspection of the tires to go along with that free windshield wash. Some offered specific services to prepare your car for winter and summer. Many local service stations could provide tune-ups, new batteries, tires, belts and hoses, oil changes, radiator flushes, lube jobs, and more using company branded replacement parts. Others even had the staff to handle major repairs.

My recollection is that in the 1980s many stations began closing up the service bays and remodeling the space to provide weary travelers with a wider variety of snacks, drinks, and coffee than were previously available from the vending machines that many had before.

In the years that followed, the number of services for vehicles diminished and the size of the convenience stores grew. Today, some gas stations have developed into meal destinations instead of simply providing a roadside stop while on the way to somewhere else for fuel, a restroom and possibly oil or windshield washer fluid. Whereas the gas station used to be a hangout for gearheads, modern refueling establishments in towns and on the highways are providing the amenities to position them as local haunts for everyone.

Even though going to the gas station nowadays requires that you pump your own gas in most states, plenty of people don’t mind, especially once they head inside for food, soft drinks, and/or coffee. Certain new and remodeled fuel dispensaries offer an ambiance of a modern fast food chain, or even a mall food court, blended with a coffee house. Their menus may be equal to them or more extensive. Others have simply partnered with name-brand fast food and gourmet coffee purveyors to provide “express” versions of their stores.

I certainly understand that made-to-order-burgers, hero sandwiches, chicken, about a hundred varieties of soft drinks, seemingly endless choices of lattes, ice cream, and other sundries are more enticing than an accessory belt, a battery, or a tire—unless, of course, your car needs an accessory belt, a battery, or a tire.

Whether or not it’s a good thing or a bad thing that gas stations have changed so much is a matter of opinion, but it appears to simply be a result of changing times. The companies that own the modern stations have reacted to what they believe their customers want, and to the technological advances of the newer cars, which has resulted in a diminishing need for the type and amount of service that was required in the past.

It’s possible however, that it’s been so long since gas stations fed cars more than people that the current generation of young drivers doesn’t even realize how different the services they used to offer were. Nevertheless, it gives those of us who remember the days of a friendly uniformed attendant cleaning the windshield and checking the oil an opportunity to get nostalgic, so here’s a sales film and a few ads from the 1960s that highlight some of the services and branded automotive products you would find at gas stations.

 

 

 

 

Notice how specific some of these services were. The sales film is different than the ads in that it appears to have been produced for internal use to entice Mobil station owners to buy Weather King outerwear with Mobil logos on them.

What do you remember about stopping at the gas station when you were young?


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1962 Pontiac Tempest Custom Safari station wagon

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1962 Pontiac Tempest Custom Safari station wagon

1962 Pontiac Tempest Custom Safari

1962 Pontiac Tempest Custom Safari station wagon for sale. From the seller’s description:

Very rare wagon with PHS documentation built in Southgate California. Sold new in Seattle Washington. I purchased it from the 2nd owner 7 years ago and restored it to how you see it today. Custom Safari trim package with all transistor radio, heater, two speed wipers, power tailgate window, deluxe interior, 166hp, 194.5-cu-in. (1/2 389) slant 4 cyl. with 4bbl. carburetor, and full wheel covers. Body stripped to bare metal and any rust repaired with metal patch panels. Driver quality repaint in original color black. Front and rear floor pan, and wagon well are new. Front seat cover, door panels, headliner, wind lace, carpet, wagon vinyl flooring are new. Seat cover, door panels, and wagon floor materials sourced from SMS fabrics in Oregon. NOS sill moldings. Dynamat installed under new carpet. Delco radio refurbished with FM conversion. Many mechanical items are new or NOS items to include: Transmission serviced and resealed. New kick-down cable, rebuilt carburetor, 4 new Coker WW radials, New alternator generator, radiator and hoses, electric fuel pump, Petronix electronic ignition, front wheel bearings and seals, shocks, wiper motor, tailgate power window motor, all new wiring including dash, fuse panel and under hood wiring. Heater motor refurbished. New tinted windshield, vent windows and rubber seals. Starts, runs and drives well. You will likely not see another one in better shape. The only intermittent item is the Fuel gage.

1962 Pontiac Tempest Custom Safari 1962 Pontiac Tempest Custom Safari 1962 Pontiac Tempest Custom Safari 1962 Pontiac Tempest Custom Safari

Pricetag

Price
$13,500

Location Marker

Location
Cicero, Indiana

Magnifying Glass

Availability
Available

Find more Pontiacs for sale on Hemmings.com.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Land-speed racers begin negotiations to return salt to the Bonneville Salt Flats

Land-speed racers begin negotiations to return salt to the Bonneville Salt Flats

Photo by Rijel.

Despite a warning from a leading Bonneville scientist that it might not work, the land-speed racers behind Save the Salt have opened talks with a local mining company to return as much as 12 million tons of salt to the Bonneville Salt Flats over the next decade.

“This conversation has never happened before,” said Louise Ann Noeth, a spokeswoman for the Save the Salt Alliance, one of the groups involved in the discussions. “Everybody for years has blamed the miners for the problems with the salt flats — there’s no question they’re taking the salt, but they’ve done so legally through the Bureau of Land Management — but we figured why not try to develop an atmosphere of trust between the two biggest users of the salt flats: the racers and the mining community.”

Similar to a salt brine pumping program that ran from 1997 to 2002, and that returned on average 1.2-million tons of salt to the salt flats per year, the initiative at the heart of the current discussions would redistribute at least that amount per year over the next 10 years.

“The program should help better understand Bonneville’s complex geology while simultaneously improving the racing surface,” Noeth wrote in a press release announcing the talks, which began earlier this year. “The focus will be on sustaining that volume over a longer timeframe and carefully measuring the results.”

The salt would come from the piles of residual salt from Intrepid Potash’s mining operations on the south side of Interstate 80, opposite the location of the Bonneville Speedway. The mining operation, which has lasted for decades on the federally owned land with Bureau of Land Management permission, extracts potash for use as fertilizer and leaves behind mounds of nearly pure salt miles long.

A widely cited 1988 U.S. Geological Survey study of the salt flats found that “brine withdrawal is a major cause of salt loss from the crust” and resulted in a loss of 975,000 tons of salt per year and 55-million tons total from 1960 to 1988.

“No one in the racing community is puzzled about where the salt went,” Noeth said. “We don’t need any studies to tell us that.”

An ongoing University of Utah study of the shrinking Bonneville Salt Flats — intended to take into account multiple variables that might affect salt levels from weather patterns to microbes — also points to human activity as a possible culprit, though one of many. Climate change, natural geologic processes, and even the impact of racers on the salt flats may also play a part, according to University of Utah geologist Brenda Bowen, who is leading the study.

“To think that one part of the land use isn’t having an impact is overlooking the complexity of the system,” Bowen told the Salt Lake Tribune. “(The landscape is) absolutely always changing, and many of these changes are linked to human activities, including racing.”

In addition, Bowen noted that there’s no evidence that pumping brine from the Intrepid Potash piles is an effective way to reverse the shrinking salt flats.

While Noeth said no formal study reviewed the earlier salt replenishment program’s effects on the thickness and extent of the salt crust, she can point to faster speeds during that period — but not afterward — as a positive result.

“In 2001, nobody thought we had to study it because we had a solid and safe long course,” she said. “If the crust is thicker and the area to run is longer, what data do you need if you’re not breaking through the crust, if you’re not spinning out, and if you’re getting faster speeds?”

While the five-year salt replenishment program was conducted as an experiment in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management, Intrepid Potash voluntarily continued the program to a lesser extent from 2005 to 2012 (returning about 380,000 tons of salt per year) and then under BLM order since 2012 as a condition of the company’s lease. According to Noeth, less than 600,000 tons of salt per year currently make their way back to the salt flats via the same pump and drainage ditch system that channels raw brine from the salt flats to the mining operation.

The Save the Salt Coalition and the Utah Alliance recently announced another sort of salt replenishment program, “One Wheel at a Time,” aimed at reducing the incidental loss of salt accumulated on racers’ and spectators’ shoes and tires.

To fund the 10-year program, the racers and Intrepid Potash will turn to Congressional representatives to draft appropriations legislation once the groups tally up estimated costs for the program.

A known issue for decades, the shrinking salt flats came to international attention after poor salt conditions caused the cancellation of Bonneville Speedweek two years in a row. A growing chorus — including the FIA and the state of Utah — has since called on the BLM to restore the salt flats. Speedweek racers have reported less than ideal conditions both last year and this year.

The University of Utah study of the Bonneville Salt Flats is due in 2018.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog