Hey LaLD! It’s been a while since I’ve showed up because Uni and the holidays have kept me busy and entertained thusfar—although I have been excitedly awaiting any opportunity for me to come back to one of the best diecast communities on the internet! Luckily I have a bit of breathing space this week and so, armed with a DSLR and a lightbox, I have taken to 1:64 photography once again!
This lovely Thursday on the Thames we see three Matchbox Rolls-Royces lined up in front of a British Tudor-style house, the aforementioned of which are recent Christmas acquisitions 😊
When coming up with my Christmas list this year based on John Nijhuis’s excellent online shop at matchbox.box.nl, I made sure to include all three of Matchbox’s Macau-era four-door Rolls-Royces in order to complete an interesting collection of British motoring heritage!
The earliest car today is the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, seen here in a brilliant ivory off-white. The last body-on-frame Rolls Royce sedan, the Silver Cloud, while not necessarily outdated, certainly used tried-and-true technology, thus cementing its reputation as a vehicle of the established elite and old money. Throughout its production run, the Cloud would make the change from a smooth and silky I6 to a somewhat more controversial V8 as the latter engine fed the notion that V8’s are inherently less balanced and refined than I6’s. Regardless, this Rolls represented the end of an era in terms of car manufacturing, design, and image.
The Cloud’s replacement, the Silver Shadow, managed to leapfrog the Cloud in every way when it first stormed onto the market. Arguably the most advanced Rolls-Royce to date, the new car had an update of the previously criticized V8 as well as unibody construction, a Citroen-based hydropneumatic system, and a modernized appearance. However, these features were appealing to much more than the established elite and old money, and the Shadow saw buyers from both the nouveau riche as well as some margin of fleet sales (!), something unthinkable to many in a Rolls-Royce. Thus, the Shadow was tarnished by its own excellence, becoming almost commonplace in some locales and certainly seeming less regal than its stodgy predecessors.
Next up was the Spirit. Whereas the Shadow may have modernized Rolls-Royce’s design style, the Spirit homogenized it. Gone were the elaborate fins of the previous generation and in its place came a silhouette easily mistook for anything from a Benz to a Volvo. While this was excellent for the elite to be whisked around in relative covertness and anonymity, those who had flocked to Rolls-Royce in the showy Silver Shadow days were less enticed, and thus the Spirit sold almost half of what the Shadow did. Still, the long saloon still evoked (evoqued, perhaps?) a sense of elegance and authority by virtue of its sheer size and stature. Nowadays these limos are few and far between, relegated to being no more than a historical footnote as it lacks the flashiness of the newer BMW-Rolls’ and the extravagance of the previous Crewe-built machines.
Since the Spirit, Rolls-Royce has been absorbed into BMW’s burgeoning empire and with it, Matchbox’s relationship with the elite British brand has ceased—likely because someone at BMW decided that $1 toys were not conducive to the brand’s status as catering to the 1%. A shame, really, as there is little quite as charming as a cheap little model of one of the most expensive machines on the road.
Thanks for looking, I’ll see you all around LaLD!