Lesney Matchbox time again - it’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed an old American car, and this is even labeled as such. Today we examine Lesney Matchbox 31b, the American (must make the distinction) Ford Station Wagon. This casting entered the range in 1959, and remained until 1964. It is an excellent example of the evolution of Matchbox vehicles of the time:

This casting replaced 31a, which was modeled after a 1955-56 American Ford wagon. 31b represents a 1959 Ford wagon, either a Ranch Wagon or a Country Sedan. I enjoy these old wagons - back in the 90s, my dad had a 60 Ford Country Sedan, a now-very rare car, I did some of my early driver training/learning in it. Scale on this is fairly small - the casting itself is not too large, and the real car isn’t exactly a subcompact. I estimate scale to be in the 1:75-1:80 range, just over HO, but not by much. This casting in general is not rare - the size fit well on small scale railroad layouts, so many were sold. But as it is a period American car, there is demand, so it is not the cheapest. They can be found with silver, grey, or black wheels, and the very first examples produced were yellow, and are quite rare. This model is an excellent representative of how Lesney Matchbox models were acquiring more details and features as time progressed. This is one of the earlier models to have glazing, two-toning was a new trend at the time, and the fine casting line detail is a step above earlier models. Detail is apparent from all angles:

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Front and rear have similarly good detail - I find the front view to be especially nicely done, the mask painted silver detail adds a lot:

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Base is typical of the era - finer casting lines than earlier models, a basic design that would remain on most models through the end of the Regular Wheels era:

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This one lives in a nice D box. I would call this model near mint - it has a few small chips, was either gently played with or stored without enough care. The lighter colored roof area on this and the 27c Cadillac were especially prone to small chips. The missing tow hook is probably the biggest issue - I suspect this is from the prior owner, not a manufacturing issue. This was a cheap estate sale find, and after some work and patience, I found a correct box for not too insane money. I usually don’t do this for an imperfect model, but this one looks good, and was worth it. This model with black wheels is from the very end of production, and is somewhat of a rarity, as rare as the yellow models from the beginning of the run. This casting was almost definitely made in 1963 or 1964. It’s not often seen, and was worth the effort:

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Definitely one I am happy to have in my collection. I usually don’t obsess over rare varieties, but when I can find one for a few dollars (I paid $4 for the model), I will snap them up:

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1:1 examples of a Ranch Wagon and Country Sedan, from hobbydb.com and oldcars.site, and a brochure page from classiccarcatalogue.com :

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