Volume IX, Number 3

Matchbox and Mercedes-Benz - The Sedans
by Doug Breithaupt

Have you ever wondered if the toy car designers at Matchbox have conversations like this one?

"Well, what toy cars should we produce next year? Let's see, what models are traditionally done by Matchbox that have not been done in a long time? I know, since, number 53-B in 1963, we have had a Mercedes-Benz sedan in the line. Our last Mercedes-Benz sedan, the S500, was done in 1999. Perhaps it's time we did a new one. How about the new Mercedes-Benz CLS500 for 2006?"

Over the last 43 years, a Matchbox Mercedes-Benz sedan has been a staple of the 1-75 line. Eight different models have been produced during this period, that works out to a new Mercedes-Benz sedan every 5.4 years. Some might quibble that the first two models had two rather than four doors and might not be considered sedans. Since these cars still fall into the traditional sedan category, (front and rear seats, four side windows with a 'b' post), they are included.

Here is a nice summary of Mercedes-Benz sedan history as recorded by Matchbox. The years shown are for the year in which the casting was first produced and the country where it was produced is also noted. I have included both the regular-wheel and Superfast versions of the 300 SE as this marked a significant change for this casting. The 1968 version had opening doors and trunk while the Superfast version of 1970 lost the opening doors but kept the opening trunk. The 1970 version also lost the Mercedes-Benz 3-pointed star, standing on the radiator.

220 SE - 1963 - England

300 SE - 1968 - England

300 SE (Superfast) - 1970 - England

450 SEL - 1979 - England

300 E - 1986 - Macau

600 SEL - 1992 - China

E-Class - 1997 - China

S500 - 1999 - China

CLS500 - 2005 - Thailand

It is interesting to note that all the models up to the 600 SEL of 1992, had opening features. The changes in wheels are note-worthy as well in that they reflect the trends in the toy car industry. The quality of these models seems to have reached a low-point with the S500 of 1999. The paint is poor and and only the head and tail-lights are painted. Curiously, all but the oldest and newest models have metal or chromed grills. The first and last models shown have painted grills.