50 years of Matchbox Superfast


Never lost for things to talk about, Rick Wilson delves into his model stash to share his favourites.

At just approaching five years old, in early 1969, I came across a display in my parents’ friends’ newsagents in Blendon, near Welling, Kent. I was transfixed – Matchbox had released its Superfast range to compete with Hot Wheels, and it really grabbed my imagination.

Matchbox would gradually modify most of its range at the time and fit them with its new Superfast wheels where possible, but the first three releases were all brand new for 1969 and each one was an eye-catching car, which made sense as they were going to have to really stand out in an increasingly competitive market.

Sold in a slightly modified box, as photographed here, all three were very accurate replications of real cars making the news at the time: No 5 Lotus Europa, No 20 Lamborghini Marzal and No 56 BMC Pininfarina. Thankfully my pocket money stretched to buying all three over consecutive weeks. First into Wilson's World was the Marzal, followed by the BMC Pininfarina and then the amazing Europa. I cherished the latter so much that I actually got upset thinking that I would never be able to own a real one as Lotus wouldn’t still be making them when I was old enough to drive! I had no concept of the secondhand car market at that age, even though we had one on our drive – a Vauxhall Viva HB. In the image to the right, I’m seen posing in front of it in 1970 and you can just make out that my latest Superfast acquisition was No 23 VW Camper as I clearly wouldn’t put it down for the photo! I’d literally just bought it.

My Superfast habit would come back and grab me big time during the early 2000s and the three you see here were among the very first that found their way back into my life, along with the fabulous  VW Camper of course!

The modern collection of my old Superfast favourites is still growing and I will be putting it to good effect for your enjoyment throughout the year as I celebrate five decades of these marketing marvels from Matchbox.