Lesney Matchbox time is here again, and today is also Mother’s Day. As lucky would have it, the model lined up for today’s review is something mom might have driven back in the day. Today we examine Lesney Matchbox 31b, the American Ford Station Wagon. This casting entered the range in 1960, replacing the 31a American Ford Station Wagon based on an earlier car, and remained in the lineup until 1964. This model is a good example of the progress made by Lesney by this time:

One may recall some time ago I reviewed this casting:

Today’s example is a different variant. This casting was introduced right when Lesney started innovating their Matchbox line with features such as glazing, interiors, and moving parts - and this casting has glazing. After a short run of yellow cars (now quite sought after), all further variants of this casting were this metallic grey-green with a pale pink roof. I estimate scale to be in the 1:70-1:75 range - a little small, but this was made to fit in a box, and the real world car is anything but small. All variants feature the excellent proportion and remarkable fine line casting detail for a model of this size and price point - this is when the soft mellow charm of 50s models was being replaced by sharp accurate detail. Nothing opens, but nothing needs to - the glazing adds realism. From all angles, there’s no mistaking that this is a ‘59 Ford. Sharp eyes will see this particular example also has a quirk

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Front and rear have similar detail. The mask-sprayed grille and rear lights really set it off, the tow hook adds play value, and from the front one can see the quirk. This model features a broken windshield. As this casting has never been played with in my opinion, this is either a factory defect that somehow made it through QC, or a handling error. Either way, it is something not often seen on an otherwise virtually mint model:

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The base is basic, with complete identifying data. This car is from the golden age era, as I call it, spanning roughly 1958-63 or so. During this time, there were many rare paint and wheel variants, and baseplates became colorful for a few years, with shades of red and blue being seen on several models. This one shows off its crimson base, contrasting nicely with silver wheels:

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This casting is lucky enough to live in its crisp original Type D box with a wonderfully accurate illustration. With this box and the wheel variant, I estimate it was made in 1962-63:

I am very happy to have this in my collection. My dad was into old Fords, we had a ‘60 wagon in the family fleet when I was a teenager in the 90s, so I am pretty familiar with these cars. This casting, like all Matchbox versions of American cars, is also fairly popular, while not rare, it is not the cheapest. Even with the windshield quirk, it is one for the collection:

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From the prior review, some 1:1s, from from hobbydb.com, oldcars.site, along with a brochure illustration from classiccarcatalogue.com:

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