Big things with little cars
Big things with little cars
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LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar

Wildcard day, the end of Engine Week. My entries started with Lesney Matchbox, and just like the prior Car Week, ends the same way. Today we examine Lesney Matchbox 66b, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and sidecar. This casting entered the range in 1962, and is a prime example of the excellence attained by Lesney products:

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Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar

This one counts as a wildcard, given some prior entries (not just the Tomahawk). It has a famous two-cylinder engine, the V-Twin - in later years, noise for the sake of noise. In many markets, especially as economies were developing, a motorcycle with a sidecar could take the place of a small car, so I am going to count this. The casting is definitely worth it. This is another one crossing the line from toy to scale model, and is really an example of Lesney showing off its modeling prowess. From the finely cast wire wheels to the delicate handlebars to the abundance of fine line casting detail, it is sometimes hard to believe this is a small scale pocket money casting from over half a century ago. Scale is hard to estimate - it lives in the same box as ~1:64 cars, but it smaller than a car, so it might be closer to 1:50. Call it what you want. I suspect this is a late 50s bike by the shape of the tank emblem, and is maybe a Duo Glide or something a model up from a Sportster. The bullet style long tail sidecar adds interest, being a seldom-seen style. From all angles, this casting matches its golden bronze hue:

Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar
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Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar
Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar
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Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar

The front and rear feature similar fine detail, this model just comes to life:

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Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar

The base is basic, as was the style of the time, and contains identifying data - but as it is a bike, technical details are always just around the corner:

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This example is lucky enough to live in its nice original “new model”type D box, dating it to 1962. This casting remained in the range until 1966, - not a short run, but was maybe not popular, as it is uncommon today, the delicate nature of the casting likely being a factor in its relative rarity:

Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar
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Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar

I couldn’t be more pleased to have this model in my collection. This is an amazingly detailed casting, and is loaded with period charm. For vintage bike models, it is hard to top this:

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And now on to the engine. As one can see, the engine is accurately detailed and features amazingly fine casting detail:

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Zooming in really shows it, this is small scale from generations ago, amazing:

Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar
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And some 1:1s from motorcycle4sale.com, pinterest and blogspot.com. I couldn’t find a pic of a H-D with an identical sidecar, but the engine is easy to see:

Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar
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Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar
Illustration for article titled LaLD Engine Week: Lesney Matchbox Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Sidecar

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