Week 3: '57 GMC Pickup


My kids buggered up my blog plan for this week.
The concept was to be a discussion on the tipping point in one's age when something moves from unexciting to cool. I planned on illustrating it with the Matchbox replica of what I now view as  an incredibly cool vehicle (and Matchbox), this week's entry, the 1957 GMC pickup.
No flames, skulls, or screaming-down-the-road racing looks, just an old-style pickup. The kids won't be impressed, I thought. As a child I wouldn't have been interested, and even though these trucks were still on the road when I was a kid, at least 13 years would span between when that vehicle rolled off the assembly line and me as a seven-yr-old Matchbox/Hot Wheels enthusiast -- it wouldn't even have a new factor to me.
So when I showed my soon-to-be-four-year-old car enthusiast Racer A the truck, I was caught off guard when he said, "That's pretty cool."
"What?" I asked, visibly disappointed.
"That truck is pretty awesome. Can I hold it?"
"No," I muttered, "What's awesome about it?"
I could salvage this yet. Maybe he was only saying it to get his hands on the hands-off vehicle.
"I like the way it looks," A said. "It's cool, Dad. Doesn't look too fast."
AHA, I thought. Now to just get him talking.
"No? You like fast cars, then?"
"Yeah," said A, but then finished the discussion. "It's okay if it isn't fast. I still think that truck is awesome. I like it a whole lot." And Racer A moved off to play.

Okay. So that didn't go as planned, but I would definitely get my point illustration with my fifth grader Z.

                                                                   ...the next day...

"That's a cool truck you bought for this week."
"What? Really?" I asked my ten-year-old son. I couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Yes. I like that it looks old-fashioned. I would enjoy having that truck in real life." (Racer Z tends to talk in complete sentences and use antiquated expressions like "not my cup of tea" so he sounds like he might actually be from the same era as my truck).
"Why do you like it?" I asked. I now just wanted to know.
"I like how it is designed. Also, I bet there are not [Racer Z seldom uses contractions] many of those trucks driving around, so I would look pretty good driving one."
"Huh," I said. "Good point."
"Plus, I like that color."
"You like aquamarine?"
"Yes. I like aquamarine. Good choice, Dad."
So, I didn't get my philosophical point on how an aquamarine '57 GMC pickup would be cool to me but not to my kids, but hey, what can I say? Cool is cool... AND my son likes aquamarine.
That's my boy.

 Above is a restored 1963 Ford pickup belonging to Racer Z's grandfather, who also understands the coolness of an old truck. Trust me, if I see a Matchbox of that, I'm snagging it.

Pictured aquamarine pickup number 38 of Matchbox's 2010 collection.
Photograph of Matchbox car courtesy of Andy Bindernagel. Photograph of 1963 Ford pickup courtesy of Grandpa Phil.

Matchbox and Hot Wheels are registered trademarks of Mattel, Inc.


Between post pictorial

I wanted to post these mashups created by Charles Audino (with the car photograph by Andy Bindernagel) for Week 2's entry.

I had told Charles I wanted to do something with the car picture of the Citroën DS that was French.

Below are his efforts that didn't make it into the official entry.


Week 2: '68 Citroën DS

The second addition to Daddy's Matchbox made me sweat. I allowed the selection of a .99 cent toy car to stress me out.

I went to the store alone to select the car, but without my son there to temper things, I slipped into real-world mode. Working second shift, I was able to stop at Toys R' Us before work, but my mindset was on practicality and responsibility and not on play.

Instead of being spontaneous like with the Chevelle, I began to over-analyze, asking questions like:
  • Should I search out a replica of a new model car that would actually be practical to drive?
  • Should I select another vintage muscle car, even if the color isn't quite right?
  • Should I be worried about the symbology of the car? Is a Bentley a symbol of excess?
  • What if I'm unhappy with my selection?
  • What about gas mileage?
That final question was what broke the adult spell I was under and helped to awaken the kid in me. I was worried about gas mileage?

I was picking out a toy car, but was using adult sensibilities and considerations to do it, removing the joy and making it a dangerous chore fraught with trouble if I chose wrong.

With the Chevelle, it was simple -- the Chevelle was a car I loved to look at, a direct, immediate pleasure like drinking a milkshake.

I stepped back, and examined the ridiculously long line of Matchbox and Hot Wheels packages I had methodically laid out before me. Here I was, a 47 year old man in a Toys R' Us at lunchtime buying a .99 cent car and worrying about gas mileage. I suspect other shoppers were intentionally avoiding my aisle.

Trust me, I take environmental issues seriously and abhor waste, but if there was one time I could, I should, let go of the weight of worry and just enjoy something for what it was, that time was now. I like old cars. Looking at them makes me happy.  It's not right, it's not wrong, it just is. I like looking at old cars.

I laughed out loud at myself, and began hanging the packages back on their pegs. For a few minutes, it was time to forget practicality.

I selected the above Matchbox, a replica of a wonderfully sexy French car, the Citroën DS, a car that for me invokes old movies, style, trench coats and low-slung hats, and Audrey Hepburn. I'm not sure there was actually a Citroën in any Audrey Hepburn movie, but there might have been. It has the right feel. I have only seen an actual Citroën on the road at most three times in my life.

At the checkout, I laid out my single purchase, and the cashier, a young guy, said, "Going old school, huh?"

I laughed. "Yes. Yes I am."

I had been saved, if only temporarily, from the burden of seriousness.

The '68 Citroën DS is number 23 of Matchbox's 2010 collection, and is number 8 of 9 of the 2010 Heritage Collection.

Photo of my Matchbox  Citroën  DS by Andy Bindernagel; Eiffel Tower/Audrey Hepburn/Citroen collage by Charles Audino.

Matchbox is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc.


Week 1: '67 Chevelle SS 396

Welcome to Daddy's Matchbox, a weekly blog diary with toy cars and children.

The beginning ...

While organizing, I found an unused Toys R' Us giftcard belonging to my 10-year-old son, to be known only as Racer Z. Since it was September and the card was from the past holiday season, Racer Z and I went to the store to cash it in and to have a bit of father/son time.

My wife and I have three kids in the house, Racer Z, little Racer A (a few months short of 4 years old), and Bubba G, the highly mobile 17 month old of the family. A fourth son who is 21 and lives on his own may make guest appearances in this blog from time to time.

Z and I had fun at the store, a nice distraction from the car problems, plumbing issues, and financial worries with which I had been coping that week.

At the end, we stopped  in the Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars aisle (for simplicity, the blog is Daddy's Matchbox, although the pictured car is technically a Hot Wheels -- think of it like using "she" throughout the writing instead of the more clunky "he or she"). For fun and nostalgia, I flipped through the different cars...and then I saw it.

An aquamarine 1967 Chevelle SS. Beautiful.

At that moment, I realized I couldn't afford a real new car, I couldn't even afford to not pack a lunch for work, I couldn't afford virtually anything, but I could afford .99 cents ($1.07 with tax). This was a luxury I could justify.

I bought that car (aquamarine is my color), with my own money, thank you very much (and there is nothing wrong with paying with change), not with my son's giftcard. This was Daddy's car.

Funny thing about that...

Getting home, Z wanted to look at the Chevelle, and, as we entered the house, Racer A and Bubba G ran up to check things out. I explained this one car was Daddy's, and no, they couldn't hold it.

From that point on, the Chevelle (pictured at the top) became the Holy Grail of toy cars to my kids. It came up in conversation daily, and even Baby Bubba G seemed to plead to hold it, in a non-spoken word kind of way.

With kids, my experience has been no matter how careful I am, things, and I mean objects, get damaged in direct proportion to my wanting to keep them new. Whatever it is, it ends up with crayon on it. Children can not even be in a room and make crayon marks appear on things. I swear they don't even need crayons.

Same with food. Food flies from their mouthes with the precision of a blow dart to land on white shirts. Like culinary David Copperfields, kids get their hands and faces completely wiped down, yet impossibly, you look down, and there is a big patch of scrambled egg on your jacket as you head out to work, close up magic of the most amazing brand.

And while such events might make me sigh, they seldom make me angry -- the spontaneity, sincerity and "nowness" of kids is more than enough to balance it out. But sometimes, I just want a tiny, little something of my own.

I need to be absolutely clear -- my .99 cent Chevelle was not meant to torment my kids. They own tons and tons of cars, and can do without a single car.

Still, there was a deep, if not subversive, satisfaction of having that one car they couldn't touch.

And the idea was born.

One of about 832 piles of toy cars owned by my kids

Every week, I will add a new Mattel Matchbox or Hot Wheels car to my private collection, and I'll share my stories of it with you -- a weekly diary, and a thematic peg on which to hang the passage of time. I will be posting by Wednesday every week, although I may kick in some Matchbox-related events between official postings.

As for the aquamarine Chevelle, of all the things I have purchased in my life, that little toy is perhaps the most satisfying purchase I have ever made. Welcome to Daddy's Matchbox.

For the purists,the '67 Chevelle SS 396 is Hot Wheels number 44 of the 2010 New Models collection.

Hot Wheels Chevelle photo: Andy Bindernagel; photo editing: Thomas Kildren

Matchbox and Hot Wheels are registered trademarks of Mattel, Inc.