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Model car

  • Place of origin:

    Homerton (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1965 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lesney Products & Co Ltd (manufacturer)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Raymond Harris

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Matchbox cars were developed by Lesney products in the early 1950s. The brand name came from the boxes that the die-cast cars were sold in, which resembled matchboxes in size and shape. The idea came from Lesney co-owner Jack Odell, whose daughter was only allowed to bring toys to school that could fit into a matchbox, so he crafted a scaled-down version of an exisiting Lesney car. This gave Matchbox toys a niche market, which grew exponentially during the golden age of British die-cast toys, in the 1960s, where Dinky, Matchbox and Corgi sold in millions around the world.
By the 1970s Mattel's Hot Wheels had taken the market in America and began to encroach on sales in England due to aggressive marketing campaigns. Although Matchbox remained in competition with Hot Wheels, difficult economic conditions in England led to Lesney's collapse, soon after Meccano's Dinky and just before Mettoy's Corgi brand in the early 1980s. Matchbox toys are still produced, under Mattel's ownership, but they are marketed more as a nostalgia brand. The lines from the 1950s and 60s are highly sought after and with original packaging are very collectible.

Place of Origin

Homerton (manufactured)


1965 (manufactured)


Lesney Products & Co Ltd (manufacturer)

Descriptive line

Matchbox car, 54 S & S Cadillac Ambulance, Lesney, England, 1965

Subjects depicted

Vehicles; Matchboxes; Toys


Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys; Transport

Production Type

Mass produced


Museum of Childhood

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