Who would have thought that someday a retro toy car would be a better investment than a real car? The reality is that some of the most valuable Matchbox cars can cost you a small fortune.
For car enthusiasts collecting isn’t only about joy or nostalgia it is a very lucrative business. Only a few collectible toy brands have such excellent reputations and value as Matchbox or Hot Wheels.
Owning some of their signature models is a true delicacy for collectors, and something they take pride in. Therefore, why don’t we take a quick trip back in the days when Matchbox cars were in their prime time and see why are they so special?
Here is a list of the top 10 unique and most valuable Matchbox cars you can find on the market nowadays.
A Brief History Of The Matchbox Brand
Before we dive deeper into the list, here comes a quick retrospective of this brand for those unfamiliar with the topic. Matchbox Toys started as Lesney Products, an industrial die-casting company founded in 1947 by two childhood friends.
In the early 50s, they received an order to manufacture parts for toy guns. In the following years, they mainly produced larger die-cast toy cars. Their first model was a red road roller, but the school only allowed kids to bring cars that are small as matchboxes. This is why they scaled down the size and a new business idea was born.
In the following years, Matchbox Toys produced so many different types of cars and vehicles, to be more precise, 75 different models.
By the 1960s they become the global leader and the largest brand that manufactures die-cast cars, producing around 1 million cars per week! The main key to their success was affordability, the price ranged from 40 to 50 cents per piece. They are still very popular, so their price range upscaled significantly.
Over the years a lot of people take interest in collecting these tiny cars and nowadays, a lot of collectors are trying to find rare Matchbox cars for sale to complete their collections. The time has come to find out which models are the most valuable Matchbox cars.
Top 10 Most Valuable Matchbox Cars Ranked By Price
Most people make a big mistake in thinking that only early models or those manufactured in smaller series are valuable and marked as collectibles. Keep in mind that no matter how many of these toy cars were manufactured during the production period they are only worth it if they are in great condition.
Even though we all know how antique market pricing works, I still need to mention that the prices stated in this article are achieved at auctions. This means that the real value of these cars can be lower or even higher than what you can see in this article.
The price is affected by the current demand, so maybe your car wasn’t so popular yesterday, but in two months it will be number one on all auction lists. That is why I recommend you to track online auctions on websites such as eBay or Liveauctioneers, which are the most relevant sources for this kind of item.
Take a look at the list below and see if you possess any of the Matchbox models named below that you can sell for a lot of money at auctions or in private collector sales.
- Year: 1955
- Price: $15,000
If you are crazy over heels about collecting cars and toys, you are up for a treat. This is the rarest Matchbox toy and car. The idea was to include this model in Matchbox’s Major Scale set however they changed their mind.
Only six pieces of this model were made and they were never released on the market. We know only that in 2010. A Japanese collector sold this collectible for $15,000 making this model the most expensive Matchbox car ever.
2. Magirus-Deutz Crane
- Year: 1961
- Price: $13,000
This model is a particular case. It is widely manufactured during the 60s, and most pieces have a silver body with an orange crane. However, there is one variant that is very rare and valuable. The pre-production model.
There are only a few of these available as we know, and the thing that makes them more valuable is the color. A pre-production Magirus Deutz Cranes was painted in light brown or tan color, with red or orange crane arm.
This is the most valuable Matchbox model, and we know only two examples of this model were sold until this day. One was sold for $10,000 and the other for $13,000. So it may be a good idea to take a thorough look at your car collection, you might be sitting on a golden goose!
3. Opel Diplomat in Seafoam Green
- Year: 1966
- Price: $9,000
The Matchbox Opel Diplomat was in production from 1966 until 1970. In that period the most common colors used for painting this model were yellow and metallic gold with a black plastic baseplate engine. In 1967 small series of Opel Diplomat was crafted in seafoam green with a grey engine baseplate. This special edition series was initially sold in the earliest G2d transporter set.
If you are a collector, the bad news is that finding the Opel Diplomat in seafoam green color is almost a mission impossible. Even though this color isn’t so appealing, still the last known piece was sold for an astonishing $9,000!
4. ERF Dropside Lorry
- Year: 1958
- Price: $9,000 – $9,500
The ERF Dropside Lorry was one of the Matchboxes’ first models since its production started in 1958. Most vehicles from this line were painted maroon red or blue. These can be found on the market even today for about $25 and up, depending on their condition.
But why did this model take a high fourth place on our list? Well, for a shoer time the ERF Dropside Lorry was produced in rare mint color. It is unknown how many of these specimens are available today, but we do know they are very pricey!
Some sources claim that this model was purchased in a recent auction for between $9,000 and $9,500. For a toy that was bought for almost 50 cents six decades ago, this is a great success!
5. BP Dodge Wreck Truck
- Year: 1965
- Price: $8,500
What made this model very attractive and valuable is a factory error. This particular model was completely “redesigned” by the error. One series from 1966 was made with reversed colors, so the green parts were painted yellow, and the yellow parts were painted green. Also, the error version had a silver-sprayed grill and headlights.
Also, there is one more significant detail that will help you make a difference between the real and the fake “error version” of the BP Dodge Wreck Truck. At that time Matchbox only used decals for logos, while later versions were produced with paper stickers. So in case you come across this rare model, make sure you check the BP logo for authenticity.
6. Mercedes Benz 230SL in Apple Green
- Year: 1967
- Price: $6,765
Mercedes Benz 230SL was manufactured from 1966 until 1972. In this period it was crafted in three different versions – white with red interior, white Superfast edition, and yellow Superfast edition with black interior.
Only one series was released in bright apple green color with a red interior. There is not much information on how many pieces of this particular version are available, but the one that was sold for $6,765 was from 1967. In today’s money, you can expect to earn around $11,000 in case you are in possession of this ultra-rare version of the Mercedes Benz 230SL.
What intrigues the collectors the most is that there is no official confirmation from the company about this model.
7. Mercury Cougar in Cream
- Year: 1968 -1970
- Price: $6,555
As you can see, if you want to own this particular car model, you’ll need to break the bank. Mercury Cougar was produced for two straight years.
The standard for this model was metallic light green color with a red interior. There were small modifications in the wheel’s design, but they weren’t so significant. Honestly, only a true car enthusiast could notice the difference.
However, this was not the original design for this model. A pre-production version was made with cream colored body and white interior. Only one small batch was made in cream color before they stopped production and switched to a metallic light green design.
Since we don’t know how many of these are still available, make sure you carefully look around since you might find a real gem! The current price of the Cream Mercury Cougar is around $6,500.
8. Green Ford Kennel Truck
- Year: 1969 – 1972
- Price: $4,100
The Ford Kennel Truck is a model from the Matchbox Superfast series and it was in production from 1969 until 1972. This model was mostly painted in lime green and metallic green and paired with a black and metal plastic base.
All vehicles had detachable transparent plastic toppers with four white dogs inside. Between 1969 and 1972, a series of mint green trucks with completely black wheels were released on the market. We don’t know how many pieces they crafted, but we do know that they are very valuable.
The only auction information that we can find was that this green Ford Kennel Truck was sold on auction for about $4,100.
9. Mercury Station Wagon
- Years: 1969 – 1973
- Price: $3,800
The Mercury Station Wagon was a very popular car model at that time. The Matchbox company mainly produced this model in metallic light green body and cream interior with two dogs in the back seat that look outside the window.
Also, you could find a special edition of the red Mercury Station Wagon with the bull’s head sticker. This particular variant was released in stores in 1972 and it is more valuable than a regular one.
But, the most valuable version, which was sold for approximately $3,800 was yellow-colored and produced in 1968, which tells us it was a prototype. There is no valid information on how many yellow Mercury Station Wagons are in circulation nowadays.
10. Ford Mustang
- Year: 1966
- Price: $3,000
Ford Mustang is still a dream car to many car admirers. This model still costs a lot of money, whether we are talking about the real deal or the Matchbox 1966 Ford Mustang toy.
This holy grail has a white body, a red interior, and a black engine base. Also, the tires are black with silver wheels. Only the white-painted Mustang is worth several hundred dollars if it is still in good condition.
This model was also available in the Superfast series in a few different variations. You can find an orange body with a red or white interior and a red color body with a white and red interior.
However, as already said only the white variety is rare and valuable. Many collectors predict that its price will go even higher since this is one of the company’s first models crafted in the early beginning.
What Makes Matchbox Cars Collectible?
Let’s be straightforward, all of the vintage Matchbox cars have a significant sentimental value, but only some of them have a considerable financial value too. Families have been collecting Matchbox cars for generations. So if you plan to continue or start this tradition, you need to make sure you know how to recognize a real deal from the fake one.
Here is the list of criteria you’ll want to check first before investing money in a rare vintage Matchbox car.
- The production year – Naturally, any toy or collectible that was produced in the first series is going to be worth more than any other following models. The only way to find out if your Matchbox car originated from the first production run is to check a guide with all of the Matchbox cars ever created.
- The paint job and factory errors – A lot of collectibles gained their value because of factory errors or because they were crafted in a specific color. This can be largely applied to all of the most valuable Matchbox cars. Most of them are considered rare because of their unique undercarriage colors, and factory mistakes such as inverted colors. If you think you might have one of the unique misprints make sure you consult with some expert on Matchbox cars. You can also look for the answer on the internet.
- Condition – As with all other collectibles, the main factor that will influence the value is the current condition of the product. Are they used for playing or they were collectibles from day one? Keep in mind that any signs of rust or deterioration in the paint will make the car less valuable no matter how rare the model is. Check if they lost a wheel or some other original piece, you’d want to invest in a car that was little or not used at all.
- Does it have original packaging – Original and intact packaging is something you should aim for since that means the toy wasn’t used for playing. However, a product that was used and comes with damaged original packaging is still worth more than one without any packaging.
Where You Can Find Valuable Matchbox Cars?
When it comes to collectibles, the best place where you can start your search is the Internet. Make sure you take a good glance at the following sources:
- Online auctions – provide a better idea of overall interest and demand so you’ll know exactly when is the best time to enlist your items.
- Groups on social media – groups will provide some valuable information such as where you can find a certain item, and give you a good look at the trends in pricing.
- Websites – thoroughly search pages such as Etsy, and eBay, you will be surprised how many rare collectibles are listed there.
You can also Google if there are any die-cast car collector’s events near you where you can buy and sell your items immediately.
Should I sell now or hold onto my Matchbox cars?
This mainly depends on if you plan to expand your collection further or if you are not so into it anymore. However, the best decision is to wait and observe the market, since the prices and values fluctuate a lot. The best time to list your items or collections for sale is before the holiday season when everyone is looking for original presents.
Does unboxing diminish the value and how much?
If you ask some hardcore collectors that the answer will be yes. But it is hard to tell how much unboxing can diminish the value. Some models can be found without the original packaging and are still in perfect condition. Also, a lot of people like to unbox the collectible item and place it in specially crafted boxes.
How much are Matchbox cars worth?
The worth of Matchbox cars in the past few years is in a range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. What will determine the exact value is the age of the car, its unique color, and its condition.
For instance one of the most valuable Matchbox cars is the light brown Magirus-Deutz Crane truck from 1961 which was sold for $13,000.
Collecting rare and vintage toys was always a big thrill and joy for kids and adults as well. If you have a thing for die-cast cars but Hot Wheels aren’t your cup of tea, you’ll be happy to know that Matchbox cars are making a big comeback!
Logically, the most valuable Matchbox cars are the ones that are produced in a limited color edition, such as the Magirus-Deutz Crane truck. This particular model was produced in abundance, but only a few pieces were painted in light brown which enhanced the value significantly!
What’s your favorite Matchbox car? Maybe you have more than one favorite? If so, please share it with us in the comments below. Happy hunting!