Sunday, August 9, 2015

What happened to change the "classic" Ford GT casting?

It hasn't been noticed by very many collectors, but the Matchbox "Classic" Ford GT has been modified.  David Tilley breaks it down:

Well, I would imagine just about everyone has seen this model appear in the basic range from Matchbox this year (even if they haven’t actually found it yet).  A welcome return I am sure most say, as it is a lovely little model, and always a popular addition to the range.  But here’s a little thing you may not notice.  Matchbox did 2 different Ford GT castings.  This one is actually the classic Ford GT from the 1960s that was tooled up again by Matchbox in 2003 for use as a Collectible exclusive model in 2004 (which was subsequently canceled and turned into Superfast).  In 2004, Matchbox then tooled up the brand new Ford GT that Ford created as a modern day equivalent to the classic which was released in the basic range in 2005.  There were not a lot of differences between the two, although many will note the easiest way to spot a difference was to see if the wing mirrors were on it.  The classic (Manufacturing number MB634) from the 1960s had no mirrors, but the modern day equivalent from the 2000s (Manufacturing number MB671) did.  The modern Ford GT was used quite a lot, with almost a yearly run in the basic range from 2005 until 2012, as well as other multi-packs with its last use in 2013 in a 5-pack.  However, the classic Ford GT was rarely used.  It never appeared in the basic range.  It was never used in a multi-pack.  In fact, it had 3 outings in the Superfast range (2004-2006, as well as a Hershey dealer model in 2004), and then as a Stars of Cars model for Germany in 2007 and a Best of British in 2008.  That was it.  As it turned out, it was quite a fiddly little model to put together.  Although a very good rendering of the actual vehicle, the way the model was constructed in the factory caused hassles, and so the factory workers kept complaining about it.  So with another very similar model also in the database, this one tended to get overlooked for the one that was easy to put together.  
So,after a 7 year absence, we finally see another version.  But actually, we don’t.  For you see, this model has been tweaked around so as to make life easier for the factory workers to put it together.  So what did they do?

Let us compare this model to the last MB634 Ford GT that was released in 2008 and see just what was altered to make the new MB995 “classic” Ford GT.  

You will be pleased to know, this hasn’t been cost reduced to make a plastic body with metal base.  It is still a metal body and plastic base.  But you may just about make out the first change.  The window piece.

You see originally, the model would have a side window section that was attached to the roof part of the internal window section with the side pieces sticking out.  Then, you would force the section inside the body part, and the 2 side windows would pop out of the side to become flush with the body.  It was a rather unique way of doing things, as the usual scenario is that the windows just go inside the body.  But, as it was something the real vehicle had, Matchbox were trying to replicate it.  However, when constructing these little models, factory workers like to be able to simply drop all the pieces together quickly for mass production.  It wasn’t happening.

So they have changed the window to create a section that will just drop into the upturned body in the factory for fast and efficient mass production.  But they have been good to almost make it appear as though it was still flush.  So this means a different window piece.

The other major change they did was with the rear tailpipes.  Again, when construction was going on in the factory, it was quite difficult to slot in the tailpipe section into the rear of the model and then attach the rivet at the front.  So they have changed both the base and body section to do away with that.  Now the rear tailpipes have been moved into the body section meaning that....

The base section can be dropped directly onto the top of the upturned model during production and and riveted front and rear quickly.  No more fiddling about trying to slot it all together.

While they were at it, they rounded out the front too.  
It may not feel like much to us, but to those who are putting these models together this is a huge change.  This is the difference between having a model mass produced on a regular basis and using it once in a blue moon on a special series.  This should also mean we are not going to have to wait for 7 more years before we see another version.  
I know we have complained about cost reductions, as with many models it has involved adding more plastic.  But once in a while, the cost reductions are only for their benefit to make production cheaper and more efficient and still give us a great model.  I for one am really happy Mattel have taken some time to look at this model, see how they can improve it, and act upon it.  
Welcome back “classic" Ford GT.


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  2. Since the casting was tweaked I wish it would have went a little further and changed into a Mark II GT40. Interesting article. I don't think I would have noticed the changes