My first model?

My Ferrari 166MM #22. I bought it on March 4th, 2017, at a hobby store downtown. Though now in a different address, that store has been around since the early 80s. When I was a kid, they sold a great assortment of plastic model kits and supplies. I didn’t have the money (and much less the skill) for plastic kits, though they did carry some 1:64 Matchbox cars. Once in a while, after saving up my allowance, I bought one. That was the time when Matchbox was the good stuff and Hot Wheels were the lesser models. Yet I digress, back to adult life. Around 2001 I began collecting 1:18 cars, and that store carried 1:18 models. I collected until 2009 or 2010, when I quit because of space. Still, I occasionally passed by that hobby store, now in a mall, just to check out the new 1:18 models.

Mebetoys made the model under license from Mattel, in Italy.

So, in 2017, when I saw the 166MM, a car that I had in 1:18 (a custom job, since the #22 was not available at the time), I thought why not? A Le Mans winner and gorgeous! I was certain a 1:43 would look nice on display at my office desk… Long story short, 5 years later and I’m close to almost 500 models 🙄. Even so, that’s not how I think the story really begins. My love with model cars and also Le Mans began in 1978. Back then I lived in the US, and an uncle of mine, while vacationing in Italy, brought me a 1:43 Porsche 917 model from Mattel as a present.

Being a toy, the model had a lot of features, even a spare tire that could come out.
Michael Delaney, in his wrecked 917.

Just a few months before his visit I saw for the first time Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans”. To this day my biggest memory of that film is Michael Delaney running from the wreck of his car, with the camera alternating periods of slow motion. So when my uncle, out of the blue, gave me that model, imagine a happy kid. I mean, REALLY happy. Oh yes, with a shit-eater’s grin from ear to ear. I swear, that night I slept with the model on my nightstand, on its plinth. Over the years I played a LOT with it, yet always trying my best to not damage it (NEVER crashed it!). For the rest of my childhood it was the jewel of my car collection, among dozens of Hot Wheels and Matchbox 1:64. My serious car.

My model is almost in the same shape as Michael Delaney’s car after the crash 😂.

As you can see, it’s not in a great shape. However, I would say it’s pretty good, considering I got it 44 years ago, and I still have it! After I started collecting diecasts around 2000, I had the mind of having it restored (maybe even professionally). However, I thought better of it and decided to keep it as is. The sticker on the door, for instance. My dad made it when the original sticker fell off years later. So all those marks and chips are history that a restoration would erase. I’m sure it could look brand new, however it would loose all it’s history.

The ride height and metalized engine compartment are a bit off in terms of realism.

So I’m keeping it this way, chips, scratches and all. That way, every time I look at it, I’m reminded of the joy I felt when I got it all those decades ago. After all, as I’m never tired of saying, a model is only as good as the history behind it. Or something close to that… 😁

Even if my Matchbox was in a brand-new condition, the comparison would not be fair with a current Spark.

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