Diecast restoration – Should you do it?

Over a week ago I talked about replacement parts for that restoration project you plan to undertake, I thought that maybe I should at least discuss whether or not you should even restore an old toy car.  Restoration of older diecast vehicles or better phrased, should you or should you not do it? This is the million dollar question.  There is a wide variety of opinions on the topic, as matter of fact there probably are as many opinions as there are Matchbox cars.  The two main groups of views are those that believe a diecast vehicle should never be restored no matter what its condition and the other completely opposing view of those that believe it is fine to restore that old car.  Of course there are mountains of views in between both of these as well and both sides of the argument present very valid points that should be considered.

Diescast Restoration - Before and After

I think the easiest way of thinking about this topic is to consider examples from the world of real life or 1:1 scale cars.  If you were to think about an original, one-owner Phase 3 GTHO Falcon, then you could expect to pay over A$700,000 assuming that is if you could find one.  Now most people cannot afford that sort of money and even if they could they probably couldn’t find an example to purchase anyway.  So what do you do if you really want an example of this vehicle, well fortunately there are many replicas out there to choose from and there are a wide range of people with the knowledge and skill to be able to duplicate or restore a vehicle from an old wrecker and have it look like it was just driven off the Ford sales yard.  Now the question becomes is the restored model worth the same as the original? Well in a word, No.   At least in my opinion they can never be worth the same as each other, the restored model is not truly original and this theory I feel is exactly the same for any Matchbox, Hot Wheels or other diecast model that you may want to restore, but does the restored model hold any value? Yes I think it does, obviously not as much as the original but it still has value, after all we cant all afford or find a A$700,000 Ford Falcon and considering some of the older and rarer Matchbox models can be worth substantial amounts of money this principle holds true for diecast model cars as well.

Having said all that, should this principle be applied to all models? Definitely not.  There are some models that regardless of the condition they are found in should never be restored, in fact to do so would completely destroy any value the model has.  If you are fortunate enough to find or be able to purchase an old factory prototype or model mock up then these will certainly fall in to this category, to restore, touch up or change in anyway these models would destroy its value and more importantly would totally void its link to the past as well as any hope of truly tracing its history and providence.  Just as important is the fact that any change would destroy the historical link to the past and this can be very helpful to provide an insight into just what was happening at the time of manufacturer and this can be very important for collectors of diecast right around the globe particularly when that manufacturer no longer exists.  Imagine trying to find out what went on during production at Lesney Industries a company that morphed into Lesney Products before being sold to Universal Toys then to Tyco and finally on to Mattel, with so many owners, changes in location and production makes it very hard to piece together the manufacturing history of Matchbox model cars without the use of these preproduction models.  The other group of models that I think should never be restored are the promotional models or limited run models as well as the extremely rare variations, and just like the prototypes for all the same reasons.Diescast Restoration - Ready for Painting

The next thing we need to think about is the ethics and morals behind restoring an old car.  As we discussed in the earlier article on reproduction parts, there are a wide variety of producers of some really quality replacement parts and this makes it much easier to reproduce or restore those older more valuable vehicles.  Now by far the majority of people are honest, but sadly there are a tiny amount of dishonest people that are just out for a quick profit and are using these legitimate replacement parts companies to reproduce rare diecast models and the trade in fakes seems to me to be increasing.  So to avoid being unintentionally caught up in this trade, I recommend that if you are going to recreate a rare model like the Hot Wheels Beach Bomb or some of the rare Matchbox diecast models, then by all means go ahead and make your recreation, but mark the vehicle somewhere so that no one will be caught out in the future.  I think a small mark on the base of the vehicle is sufficient.  Now I understand that as a collector you are honest and will not be selling your restored model to deceive anyone, but I think we all need to think about the future, when you finally pass on your collection to someone else or sell it as you have decided no longer to collect diecast models, the person who then takes possession of your creation may believe it to be genuine and then attempt to sell it on as such and sadly some unsuspecting amateur collector will be fooled into paying a lot of money for what is a restored vehicle, not a genuine one.Diescast Restoration - Ready for Re-Assembly

What about making a model that was never originally produced by the manufacturer?  If you want it and have the skills to create it, then go ahead.  This is what a lot of restoration enthusiasts choose to do and some people make some absolutely fantastic creations.  You might like to take the Matchbox No.7 Ford Anglia, first released in 1961 and only ever officially released in a light blue colour and recreate it in another colour, perhaps the same colour as your first car.  I would suggest just to save future confusion that these models should also be marked in some way so as not to have them confused as a preproduction or prototype model in the future, and even though some of these cars have not been produced in over 50 years there are still new variants turning up all the time.

So what are your views on this?  Why not leave your comments below, our readers and myself always appreciate a different point of view.


Collector of Matchbox cars for many years

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