The first day of Engine Week coincides with my weekly review, and this week is Lesney Matchbox time. As luck would have it, I have a fantastic Matchbox model for 4 cylinder day. Today we examine Lesney Matchbox 25b, the Volkswagen Beetle. This casting entered the range in 1960, and is a lovely little model in many ways:

I can’t fully describe how nice this casting really is - the color is fantastic, and the model itself is wonderfully designed. The shape of the Beetle, and other rounded fastback cars, can be hard to proportion correctly, but Lesney nailed it nearly 60 years ago with this example. I would estimate scale to be around 1:64, and it was only offered in this pleasant shade of blue. The casting remained in the range until 1964, but another Beetle followed soon after. From all angles, it is a little beauty:

Advertisement

The front and rear have similar quality, with cast-in detailing and just a hint of mask sprayed silver on the bumpers:

Advertisement

The rear view hints at the key feature - the engine cover is hinged. This was high tech for 1960, and shows the content being added that year. Glazing and moving parts were both new innovations that year, and this model shows them off, as well as the prowess of Lesney in small scale high volume diecast production:

Advertisement

Advertisement

The base has identifying detail, as was the style of the time. A fun note, the first run had “Volkswagon” instead of “Volkswagen”, which was quickly corrected, and these misspelled cars are now a sought after variant:

This example is lucky enough to live in a nice type B box, which with grey plastic wheels, dates it to 1960:

Advertisement

I am definitely happy to have this casting in my collection. Due to VW fans, this is a popular and desirable model, and nice boxed examples are not cheap. One may notice a few small paint flakes on this example - the camera seems to exaggerate them, and I have seen other examples with this. I think a couple colors may have had minor paint adhesion issues, but it doesn’t really detract. This casting with silver wheels in a type D box is on my wish list, and a variant with black wheels is quite a rarity. Just a little gem of a model:

Advertisement

And now on to the fun part, the engine. This casting has a charming and accurate depiction of a period 36hp engine under the cover. Can’t really see much of it yet:

Use flash, and there it is. Amazing. This is a small scale model of a small car, and this engine detail is tiny - yet they included it, and the shapes are accurate, it obvious this is a late 50s style VW engine:

Advertisement

Zoom in (not easy for me with a small model, phone camera, and modest photo skills), and see more - nearly 1200cc of fury, the air cleaner, pulleys, and other parts are easily identifiable. Lesney was really showing off their skill here. I am amazed they included this:

As usual, some 1:1s, from oldbug.com, . The color of the model is quite similar to the real car color “Glacier Blue”:

Advertisement

Advertisement