"MATCHBOX"

The first "Matchbox" model allowed here is in fact a Bentley 'Blower' as part of the 'Models of Yesteryear' range from 1956.

Then the first Rolls-Royce was launch-ed in 1958, based on a Silver Cloud I, 4 door saloon.

The next Rolls-Royce model is the 1907 Silver Ghost from 1960.

In 1962, the 'Blower' Bentley was replaced by a larger version with much more added detail.

In 1964, the Silver Cloud was directly replaced by a Phantom V touring saloon with body by James Young.

In 1967, a wonderful little Silver Shadow 4 door saloon was launched.

In 1968, a second Rolls-Royce was added to the 'Yesteryears' range, in the form of a 1912 Rolls-Royce Landaulette
but for some reason it was not called a Silver Ghost and the real car the model is based on, is not a Landaulette!

In 1969 it was the turn of the 1907 Silver Ghost to be replaced and they chose another Silver Ghost, but gave it a 1906 date. This stayed in production until 1984.

Also in 1969, a DHC version of the Silver Shadow 2 door was launched.

In 1977, the 1912 Landaulette gave it's baseplate over to create a 1920 'Fire
Engine' based Rolls-Royce

In 1979, a Silver Shadow II 4 door saloon was launched.

1985 saw the release of a Silver Cloud II based on a car to be seen in a James Bond film, "A View to a Kill". This model does not seem to have a seperate catalogue number until it is released as part of the general range of models.

Also in 1985, another 'Blower' Bentley was added to the 'Models of Yesteryear' range, this time it is very close to 1/43rd scale and a real good looking model.

In 1987, a Silver Spirit 4 door saloon is launched.

A year later, the Silver Spirit is made in a bigger 1/40ish scale.

In 1989, the previous Silver Cloud II, is marketed as part of the 'World Cars' range of models.

An unusual model was made in 1990, in the form of a 1920 Rolls-Royce Armoured Car and despite being marketed as a 'Limited Edition' model, there are plenty of them around.

In 1991, a new model Rolls-Royce is added to the 'Models of Yesteryear' range, a 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, Landaulette. This was based on a car once owned by Rudyard Kipling.

With the world wide interest in the TV series, 'Thunderbirds', "Matchbox" re-
leased their little version of "FAB I" in 1992.

Lesney were pretty good at making Bentley models by now, so in 1985, they introduced their best model so far, a superb representation of another 'Blower' Bentley, shown above, but this time they have made it in a scale very close to 1/43rd.


A design fault on this model is the way the bonnet straps have been represented, very poorly and of a plastic that does not adhere to the shape of the bonnet, so they always look as if they are trying to fall away from the model!


To help us collectors (probably not deliberatly!), it was given a new catalogue number of Y-2, phew, that was a relief!

MODEL No. Y-5 (A).
                          TWO EXAMPLES OF THE BENTLEY 'BLOWER' NUMBER Y-5.
Y-5 was the Fith model in the range as part of the 'Models of Yesteryear' range and the numbering system devised by Lesney for this range was fine until the decision was made to replace certain models with larger versions.
Lesney kept the same catalogue number for the new version, so, in your collection you will have two different models on the same number!
To differentiate between the two, the first model is known as Y-5a with the second model as Y-5b. In 1985 when Lesney made yet another 'Blower' Bentley, it was given a Y-2 catalogue number, phew!, that was a relief.

Y-5a is believed to be the worlds first commercially available metal miniature model of the 1930 Bentley 4.5 Ltr 'Supercharged' car. It clearly is Lesney's very first Bentley model and one of the few models in the range that was not subjected to casting changes or any noticable re-tooling.

Variations on this model are down to the actual colours used for the main body, seats and grille area.
The wheel rims can be quite brightly plated or left in a dull bare metal finish. On the very first issue, 
the rear folded part of the tonnau cover was hand painted in medium Grey.

Steering wheels will often have a light 'Copper' finish, mild Silver coloured plating or painted in the same Green colour as the main body.

The base plate will be in a satin Black or gloss Black.
                 AN EXAMPLE WITH A GREEN STEERING WHEEL, NOT SO COMMON.

The little Bentley stayed in production until it was directly replaced by a similar model in 1962. This replacement was a much larger version of essentially the same car, but with an incredible amount of detail. It was so good, it is still one of the most accurate models today for collectors of the Bentley marque.


The very first versions of the new larger model were painted in what has become known as 'Apple Green' a rich Metallic medium Green colour to seperate it from the older model, but when the model was brought to the attention of the Bentley Drivers Club in the UK, the secretary sent a letter to Lesney asking them to repaint the model in a more accurate dark Green. These 'Apple Green' models are now very sought-after and in really mint and boxed condition, can command a high price. One example is shown below.

                                   MODEL NO. Y-5 (B), The 'APPLE GREEN' Bentley.

The particular example shown above has lost it's headlamps, but that has helped the model look more like a racing Bentley and I think it looks pretty good like that, pity it is one of the rare 'Apple Green' versions!

                                            MODEL No. Y-5 (B), In Normal Green.

The model shown above is the re-coloured version in a normal Green, not as dark as British Racing Green, but normal enough for the Bentley Club!


Over the production period of this model, it would receive many casting modifications and shades of plastic for the seats component. The most obvious change to the plastic was the introduction of bright Red which of course would be available in a darker shade, just to add variety to your collection!


You will notice the race number decal is different between the two models. The 'Apple Green' model has it's correct style of decal, but the 'Normal Green' model has the older decal taken from the first Bentley, Y-5(A).

                                    MODEL No. Y-5 (B), In 'Chrome' Plate Effect Finish.
The 'Chrome' model was designed to be fitted onto certain 'Giftware' items like desk tidies and ashtrays etc, and the Bentley was included in the very first range of Six plated models for the 'Giftware' range in 1962. 

The particular example shown also has the older race number decal from Y-5 (A), and models with these early decals are often overlooked by collectors, not realising they exist and those that do, treat them as rather sought-after versions.

The reason for using the older decals is likely to be down to the fact that Lesney made so many models, it was often a case of running out of components or in this case, the correct decals for the model and it seems they still had some older ones in stock and used them.

                                 MODEL No. Y-5 (B), In Light 'Gold' Plate Effect Finish.

Very shortly after releasing the 'Chrome' finish models, Lesney developed a 'Gold' finish and naturally they plated virtually all the same models in the new finish, including the Bentley.


The 'Gold' finish is not as consistant as the 'Chrome' finish and examples of the Bentley can be found as Light 'Gold' (as shown above), or Dark 'Gold'.

                     The First Matchbox Rolls-Royce

Dinky Toys can claim to have made the very first commercially available Rolls-Royce model car in 1934, but it was not until the late 1950's that more accurate models came to market.


Lesney as we have just seen above had introduced their miniature Bentley model in 1956 and it was not long after this date, they would want to add a Rolls-Royce to their product line, but they were marketing two distinct ranges of models, the 'Models of Yesteryear' range and the '1-75 series' so which one would be blessed with a Rolls-Royce?


We found out during 1958 when a nice little Silver Cloud started to appear in the shops, huddled inside a Matchbox. So the new model was added to the '1-75 series' as model number 44.

                                 MODEL No. 44 (A), Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Saloon.

A lot of Silver Cloud models are difficult to identify, meaning there are no visible differences on models of this size to tell weather the model is a Silver Cloud I or II, fortunately we know when the Matchbox model was introduced, January 1958, making it a Silver Cloud I, because the real car was launched in 1955 and replaced in 1959 by a Silver Cloud II.

With popular models such as these, they tend to stay in production for many Years. The Silver Cloud is no exception and the next picture shows just what can be collected across all three wheel designs.

The first 6 models on the front row have the bare metal wheel design starting with 'Crimped' Axle-Ends. The 8 models in the middle row, have Grey plastic wheels, with the last 3 models on the back row having Silver-Grey wheels. The picture also shows the various colour shades available on this model. 

                 The Second Matchbox Rolls-Royce

While the Silver Cloud model above was still in production, a New model was added to the 'Models of Yesteryear' range in 1960. This model was based on the famous real car introduced by Rolls-Royce in 1907, and given the name "The Silver Ghost". The model was launched by Lesney, the manufacturer of the 'Yesteryear' models, to celebrate the company going 'Public' and they seemed to have taken the decision to make this their best model so far.

                                  The 'Models of Yesteryear' No.15, "The Silver Ghost".

This was and in many cases, still is, the best representation of this car, given it's original market target and the original price of around 3/-.


Like the miniatures ranges, the 'Yesteryear' models proved to be very popular and very successful, so most of the models, especially the cars, were kept in production for a very long time. This model, No.15, was not taken out of production until 1969, but before even this took place, Lesney in 1968, had introduced another Rolls-Royce into the range as model number Y-7. Then in 1969, Lesney introduced a larger sized version of the 1907 Silver Ghost as model number Y-10, so clearly Lesney had hit on a winning formula and the Rolls-Royce model car was a welcome addition to the range.

                              How Many Versions !!

Put a model in full-time production for Nine Years and you can expect something special to happen, sure enough it did. Countless variations can be found on the No.15, Silver Ghost, far too many to mention or show here, but I believe the more comprehensive collections can contain 40+ different versions of the Silver Ghost.


The example pictured above is a very early example fitted with Grey 'Knobbly' tyres, towards the end of 1961, these tyres were replaced by Black 'Knobbly' Tyres and then during 1962, they were replaced again, by Black 'Smooth' tyres and these stayed on the model until it's deletion in 1969.

                                                     A Black 'Knobbly' tyre version.

                 The 'Chrome' effect version from the 'Giftware' range, with Black 'Knobbly' tyres.

A keen Eye will be able to see the 'Chrome' model above is essentially just a Plated version of the normal Black tyre version and these particular examples are not too far apart from each other in the full production 'Time-Line'.

                                                     A Black 'Smooth' tyre version.

'Smooth' tyres simply mean the represented tyre tread is less pronounced than the tread on the 'Knobbly' tyres. The 'Smooth' tyre version stayed in production until 1969, when a larger version of the same car was introduced, but as can be expected, there would be casting changes to most of the components to create many versions and added to these normal production models are the 'Giftware' versions in a 'Chrome' or 'Gold' effect finish (shown earlier above) and mounted on Ashtrays and trinket boxes etc.


While the overall metallic Green colour on this model went through changes of shade, it was never really changed from a Green except for one particular version which has a distinct Bluish shade and collectors have never really thought much of this model, I can however assure collectors it is a genuine production model and not an example that has been subjected to exposure issues like UV or heavy Oxidization to change the paint's internal properties.


The example shown below is from my own collection, I have seen and handled other examples and have been able to note their specifications and in each case, they matched my example, this for me is enough evidence to support the claim I make of them being genuine production models. 

                         The rather odd late production version with the Blue tint body colour.

To see many more versions of the Y-15 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, click on the 'Show Me More Versions' picture below.

                    1968, a new Rolls-Royce model.

1968, Lesney added another Rolls-Royce model to the 'Yesteryear' range in the form of a 1912 Silver Ghost 'Landaulette'. It was given the Y-7 catalogue number and cost just Six Shillings and Sixpence (6/6, which was 32.5 new pence!). Like their earlier Y-15 Silver Ghost, this new model was also based on a real car, but for some reason the Lesney model makers decided on making the model an open Landaulette when in fact the real car was (and still is), a closed limousine.

                                             Y-7, The 1912 Rolls-Royce 'Landaulette'.

This model was not marketed as a Silver Ghost, it was just known as 1912 Rolls-Royce, not sure why this was the case, but maybe they thought having Two models in the range, both called Silver Ghost, may be confusing for some customers.


This model proved to be very popular as it was not deleted from the range until 1984, meaning there are many versions to collect in Three main body colour combinations.

The model shown above is a very hard to find version, because unseen in the picture, the roof securing braces are unique to this early issue.


The picture below should show the Two types of braces used. The first type I class as 'Narrow' and the Second type I class as 'Wide' (in reverse order in he picture).

The model on the left has the 'Wide' brace and the model on the right has the 'Narrow' type, narrow because the sides are evenly designed whereas the 'Wide' type have had extra metal added to the inside edge of the brace.


This was the first casting modification for this model.

                                                   Y-7 with the 'Smooth' Grey roof.

The first change of colour involved the roof, it was changed from a deep Red to a dark Grey very soon after the model's introduction and no logical reason can be found for this change. Models with the Red and Grey smooth roof are equally easy to find with 'Wide' roof securing braces, only the Red smooth roof model with 'Narrow' braces is hard to find.


Y-7 would become a significant model during 1976, when the baseplate and wings casting was used to develop another Rolls-Royce model for launching in Early 1977, as model number Y-6, a 1920 Rolls-Royce 'Fire Engine'.

                                            Y-6 Rolls-Royce 'Fire Engine' from 1977.