Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Look: Matchbox 1956 Buick Century Police...

Let the battle begin.

For the last few years, I have run the "Official Unofficial Matchbox New Model of the Year" vote over at MCCH.  It has always been fun to do, and you can imagine it creates a lot of good debate.  And the variety of winners over the last few years has been awesome.  Look at the list:

2008 - Pierce Dash Fire Engine
2009 - Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Wagon
2010 - Holden Ute SSV
2011 - Aston Martin DBS Volante

That is what you call variety.  Soon it will be time to run this vote again, and I will house it on MCCH, but also filter it through here as well.  I hope you take a moment and vote.

Why do I bring this up?  Because I finally have one of the obvious favorites to show off.  With no street cars on the First Edition list for 2012, it is a little different.  But that does not mean there was a shortage of great new castings.  Maybe not my cup of tea per se, but collector favorites nonetheless.  When the 2012 First Edition lineup was announced, the most excitement among collectors in general was garnered by the Seagrave Fire Engine and today's model, the Buick Century Police.  If you know Matchbox collectors like I do, these two are juggernauts.  Mix classic car with emergency vehicle, and you have PelĂ© at his peak - unstoppable.  There was one other model I thought might give them a run for their money, but that model, the 2012 Dodge Charger Police, was postponed until 2013.

So it will be fun to watch these two duke it out for New Model of the Year.

I wish I knew more about cars from this era, but if you have spent more than 30 seconds on this blog, you know the eras and types of cars that interest me.  But I should know more.  Before buying a Ford dealership in Utah in 1963, one of my grandfather's many businesses was a GMC/Buick dealership in Ely, Nevada.  And my father grew up working there.  My father and grandfather always had softspots for Buicks, and if either was around today I would be asking them for more details on this car.  Alas, they are both in the great Buick dealership in the sky.

One thing I would ask about is the fact that this police car has two doors, and what did three side portholes signify compared to the normal four?  This seemed to be a topic of discussion once the model was sneak peaked.  So I asked google.  And google provided some answers, although it took some work.  

Here is the best answer I can come up with.  This car is actually half Buick Century, and half Buick Special.  When the California Highway Patrol ordered a large number of the 2-door model, what was produced was a car not available to the public.  While it had the powertrain and trim of the Century, the body was actually that of the Special.  Hence, three portholes.

For comparison, the 1956 Century:

And a 1956 Special:

Put them together, and you have the 1956 Buick Century Police.  I know there are very knowledgeable people out there, and I hope they chime in.  I actually found myself enjoying this little bit of research.

In the meantime, nice job of doing your homework Mattel, and the result is one of those slightly off-kilter models that Matchbox does oh so well.  (See: 2013 VW Karmann Ghia Type 34 Cabriolet)

(Looking for this model?  Look no further than Wheel Collectors...)

Matchbox 1956 Buick Century Police (2012 New Model):


  1. In my opinion model of the year 2011 was Pontiac Firebird Formula. I love it and I have 4 models. Two of them I recolored - maybe I'll send some photos soon :) Buick is awesome but I think it could be even better if it had headlights. Maybe, if I would buy it, I will paint it myself.

  2. Not enough text on that chassis.

  3. Sorry, John. The CHP car was indeed a four hole, two door, but 1955. (Mating of two different chassis - body) Photo of Ed Sanow's Book detailing the car is shown on the MCCH. It also only had a Shield, with no "Highway Patrol".

    1. Mark I saw that photo after putting together this post. Just as I was all excited for my research. I would still like some clarification on why the decision to do a 56 and the reasoning. There is still a lot of room for discussion. I think. I hope.

  4. JUST found this one tonight, and I agree, probably a strong contender for model of the year. I really like this one, then again, it is right in my wheelhouse of favorite auto time periods....nice pics as always!


  5. I will buy some but to me the rear wheel looks too far forward.

  6. All four wheels (and tires) look too big for the car, which is a side effect of making the car TOO SMALL!!!

    (1/72? For a passenger car? REALLY MB?!?)

    Great choice of subject, great opportunity, squandered by poor choice of scale.

    "It's inconceivable!"


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  9. I have to agree with Chuck F...1:72 was not a good size choice for such a well done car...too bad for me as I will only be getting a few to strip the bumpers off for other customs