mystery matchbox holden ute

Mmmm? My Minneapolis Matchbox Mystery

Ron Ruelle model car hall of fame
by Ron Ruelle

I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, recently on a business trip of sorts, and figured while in the land of Target, I should stop at one and go peg hunting. I guess I was expecting some sort of spectacular, enormous, futuristic store, but it was kind of just a really nice Target.

I did find something interesting there, though. A mystery Matchbox car. Or was it a truck? It was a Holden VE Ute SSV, which is a car/truck combination not unlike a Chevy El Camino. But the truck/car question isn’t the mystery here. No, it’s the packaging. It was much more basic than the usual modern designs. 

mystery matchbox holden ute x2
The Mystery Ute (left) compared to the more common packaging.

It was the only one I could find in the whole rack. 

My first guess was some Canadian model leaked down past the border. I was pretty close to Canada whilst shopping there, after all. But there was no French on the label for those Quebeckies (I think that’s what they call themselves).  Then, since it was a Holden model, I thought maybe it was Australian. But it wasn’t upside down, so probably not. I think that’s how it works. Let me know in the comments if I am mistaken.

Turns out this was in fact a subtlely branded Target-exclusive variant, an extension of their 6-vehicle set from their Matchbox 70th Anniversary celebration. There isn’t even a Target logo on the front of the card! It was strange to see this as the only one from that series amongst all the more common cards.

mystery matchbox holden ute

By the way, this isn’t the first Holden Ute offered by Matchbox. They made one in the 1970s, complete with a pair of motorcycles in the bed. Back then, a lot of Holden cars were GM models adapted for Australia. In recent years. the Australian models have been adapted for the US market. Sadly, we never got the Commodore-based ute here as the new El Camino. This Matchbox car is as close as we ever got. Or is it a truck? That’s a mystery for another day!

matchbox-holden-ute-pickup 2


Ron Ruelle is a cartoonist, writer, and illustrator who also writes about model cars. You can see his work at www.ronruelle.com

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