1970 was a dramatic year for Lesney it is when the Matchbox range became Superfast. Mattel had introduced Hot Wheels in 1968, a range of three inch cars with track, that with their special patented mag wheels on piano wire, could go much faster than cars with the regular wheels like Matchbox had. Hot Wheels would have a profound effect on Matchbox and other diecast manufacturers. Lesney responded with Superfast wheels, in the catalogue they suggested the fun you could have “matching a Lamborghini Miura against a bus, or a fire engine against a refuse truck. That’s racing with a difference – Superfast style.”
Matchbox had far more trucks than Hot Wheels and most were made Superfast, a mistake in my opinion.
There were some new models but most were just regular wheeled castings with new Superfast Wheels. There were also new colours, the Ford Mustang went from white to an orangey red. Not all models went immediately Superfast, the Foden Concrete Truck and Horse Box were listed in the 1970 catalogue as “Non Superfast”, they would later become Superfast models. Some like the Case Bulldozer with its caterpillar tracks would never become Superfast. The axles of Superfast models were thinner than the regular wheel axles and castings had to be adapted with plastic inserts to accommodate the new axles.
I liked the Lamborghinis, the Miura #33 had been available with regular wheels, but the Marzal #20 was new, it was the car that came with the basic Superfast track set. I don’t now have a Matchbox Marzal, but I recently found a Zylmex Marzal which looks a copy of the Matchbox model and I also picked up a Bulgarian made Matchbox Miura (with black seats in place of the original white).
The AEC 8 Wheel Tipper Truck #51 is billed in the 1970 Catalogue as “Non Superfast” but shown in the graphic opposite with Superfast wheels….
Although nominally 1:64, scales varied considerably. The Greyhound Bus was the smallest scale at 159-1, whilst the Honda Motorcycle and Trailer was the largest scale at 43-1.
The first Superfast wheels were very thin, but these buckled too easily and were thicker on later models. The King Size models would get the Superfast treatment later with Matchbox Super Kings. Yesteryear models would be unaffected, thankfully.