The Definitive Guide to Matchbox Toys 1-75 Series 1953 - 1969 (expanded)

Number 52a Maserati 4CLT

 

This, in my opinion was a curious choice for Matchbox to introduce into their line up. Considering the toy didn't appear until 1958, by then the real car was well and truly out of racing contention. However, the toy is a lovely example of the pre war racing car. Just for interest, here is some history about the actual racing cars.

In 1947, the Maserati 4CLT/48 predecessor, the 4CL, dominated the season. Maserati drivers won 10 individual race victories that year.

1948 saw the introduction of the 4CLT a modified version of the 4CL with a tubular chassis, hence the T for tubular chassis. The engine was improved with increased torque and power resulting from fitting twin Rootes superchargers to the inline-4 cylinder engine of 1491cc. Power was increased from 200bhp to 260 bhp (194kw) giving it a maximum top speed of 168mph (270kph)!

Alberto Ascari drove his 4CLT to victory in its first race appearance at the 1948 Sanremo Grand Prix. Luigi Villoresi and Reg Parnell won a further five of the 1948 season's races with their 4CLTs.

In 1949 the trio of Ascari, Villoresi and Parnell were joined by Juan Manuel Fangio and Toulo de Graffenried and won nine of the first fifteen races of the season. However, in the second half of the 1949 season only three races were won due to increasing competition from Ferrari and Talbot .

1950 saw the introduction of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The season's only F1 wins for the 4CLT was in non-Championship events. Fangio won at the Pau Grand Prix on the same day as Parnell took the Richmond Trophy at Goodwood . Fangio also won the Formula 2 Ramparts Grand Prix at Angoulême.

De Graffenried won the Richmond Trophy, and Giuseppe Farina the Paris Grand Prix in 1951, but from 1952 onwards, the 4CLT chassis was considered overweight and the engine underpowered in comparison to their newer rivals.

The last 4CLT/48 to compete in the World Championship was a modified version by the Arzani-Volpini team, that failed to even qualify for the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.

Today, many 4CL's and 4CLT's are raced in historic motor sport events, as well as being on display in museums.

On to details about the Matchbox Toy and it's variations. Interestingly, this was one of the first models to be introduced with plastic wheels. The model was made from 1958 until August 1965. Later in it's life, it was fitted with cast wire wheels.

 
Bonnet Stud

This is one of 2 casting variations. On later yellow painted models they had a raised "stud' between the louvers in the centre of the bonnet.

   

Driver

 

The other casting variation concerns the drivers arm. Again, on later versions a raised ring is present on the drivers left arm. This is caused by wear in the die, leaving an embossed ejector ring impression.

 

 

Models  

The first version with large black plastic wheels, cream driver and no decals.

   

Second version with the decal on both sides in front of the driver. I read somewhere that decals were applied to the rear of the body behind the driver but I have never seen one like this.

   

Around late 1961 the model became available with die cast wire wheels and black tyres.

 

In 1962 the colour was changed to yellow.

 

 

A yellow version with Number 5 decal applied. This decal was used from the Model of Yesteryear Bentley 3 litre. Presumably they ran out of number 52 decals and grabbed these so production could continue.

 

Again another decal number on a yellow version. This version was produced very late in its life possibly around mid 1965. The decal was the same one used on number 19d Lotus Racing Car.

 

 

This is part of a set Matchbox produced in 1994 called "Matchbox Originals". They were authentic reproductions of many of the early models.
   

Here's something completely different. It was made by Carlton Cards as a Christmas Decoration in 2001. It's made of plastic and is mounted on the "Matchbox", with a loop so it can be attached to your Christmas Tree. This was one of 3 models made under license to Matchbox.
 
Boxes
B type - 1958 - drawing without driver. End flap has "52" in black. Box is 57mm long. Models that came in this box have black plastic wheels, crimped axles and no decal.
B type - 1959- drawing without driver but with a blue frame. End flap has a white circle with "52". Box is 67mm long. Models that came in this box have black plastic wheels, crimped axles and number "52" decals on each side.
B type - 1959 - drawing with driver and no blue frame. End flap has a white circle with "52" and a white panel with "Maserati 4 CLT/1948". Box is 67mm long. Models that came in this box have black plastic wheels, domed and rivet axles and number "52" decals on each side.
B type - 1960 - drawing with driver in car. End flap has a white circle with "52" and "Maserati 4 CLT/1948 in white lettering. Box is 67mm long. Models that came in this box have black plastic wheels, domed and rivet axles and number "52" decals on each side.
C type 1960/61 - drawing with driver in car. End flap has a white circle with "52" and "Maserati 4 CLT/1948 in white lettering. Box is 67mm long. Models that came in this box have black plastic wheels, domed and rivet axles and number "52" decals on each side.
C type 1961 - drawing without driver in car. End flap has a white circle with "52" and "Maserati 4 CLT/1948 in white lettering. Box is 67mm long. Models that came in this box have black plastic wheels, domed and rivet axles and number "52" decals on each side or red body with wire wheels.
C type 1961 - drawing without driver. End flap has a white circle with "52" and "Maserati 4 CLT/1948 in white lettering. Box is 67mm long. Models that came in this box have black plastic wheels, domed and rivet axles and number "52" decals on each side or red body with wire wheels.
D type 1962 - shows a picture of the red model with wire wheels. Number "52" on face is printed in a plain font. End flap has "52 Maserati 4CLT/1948 in white. Box is 67mm long. Models that came in this box were yellow with wire wheels.
D type 1964 - shows a picture of the red model with wire wheels. Number "52" on face is printed in a serif type font. End flap has "52 Maserati 4CLT/1948 in white closer to the number and condensed. Box is 67mm long. Models that came in this box were yellow with wire wheels.
   
Wheels
There are 2 different wheel variations, as shown.
 
Axles
Over the models life there were 2 different axle variation. These were domed and crimped and domed and riveted.
 
Silver Trim
The first models released had silver trim applied by hand to the radiator grille, the exhaust on the left side of the body and the petrol filler cap behind the driver. Later models had mask sprayed trim of the radiator grille only. I believe models exist without trim, but I have never seen any.
   
Base Plate
The base plate was originally painted a matt black later becoming gloss black.
   
Values

In my opinion, the hardest version to find is red with wire wheels followed by the yellow versions with number 3 and 5 on the sides. These 3 models do command a premium price over the other versions.

 
Further Reference Material
I have a total of 15 different variations for number 52a Maserati 4CLT/1948 listed in my guide. For further reference on these variations including wheel, casting and axle combinations, refer to "The Definitive Guide to Matchbox Toys 1-75 Series 1953-1969"
 
 
     

© 2008 Moko Lesney Matchbox