Differences Among NASCAR Thunderbird Models

Through White Rose, which handled design, licensing and distribution of its NASCAR models, Matchbox released 4 versions of the Ford Thunderbird stock car, but used only 3 MAN#'s.

The easiest way to distinguish them is by the casting of the nose and grill. All four have a deep crease (referred to as the 'mail slot') between the hood and bumper.

The first was MAN# 212 (UMID SF0368), released in 1992 and the only one used in a regular Matchbox series. Differentiating features are:

  1. 3 cast grill panels, two rounded above and either side of a rectangle
  2. Thunderbird is cast into the lower bumper
  3. A 'flat face' profile- the headlight wells are not recessed
  4. There is a small notch cut into the top middle of the rear bumper. It doesn't extend all the way to the edge of the bumper though.

NOTE: You may come across a version that has the grill and bumper casting of SF0368, but has chromed windows, and an unpainted metal base. This was a model Matchbox started to make in anticipation of a NASCAR set. They were unable to get the licensing though and never released the models. Somehow, many copies of the #28 Havoline and #3 Goodwrench versions they had produced made their way to the public in one of the factory moves. Be aware of these (photo of #28 below), but they are not listed as production models.

The second release was MAN# 268. There were two toolings for this model- one in 1994 and one in 1995. There is a casting differences on the nose but I've left them together in UMID SF0397 (and noted in version attachments which have the cast grill and which don't).

UMID SF0397 1994:

  1. The nose has only one cast grill panel- a rectangle in the center
  2. No Thunderbird cast on the front bumper, thoguh it may be painted there
  3. Still has a 'flat face' profile, no recessed light wells, but does have a groove cut across the nose at the level of the grill panel
  4. Rear bumper is smooth- no notch

UMID SF0397 1995:

  1. The nose has no cast grill panel- it is completely smooth below the /'mail slot/'. Note that there may be grill panels painted onto the surface
  2. No Thunderbird cast on the front bumpoer, thoguh it may be painted there
  3. Still has a /'flat face/' profile, no recessed light wells
  4. Rear bumper is smooth- no notch

The third Matchbox model was WRP02, released for the 1996-1998 NASCAR lines, under UMID SF0470:

  1. The nose of the car has a clear indent of the light wells- it's no longer a flat face.
  2. There is no cast grill. Grill openings may be painted on the nose, typically with two bullet shapes above rectangles
  3. Again, no Thunderbird cast on the front bumper, though it may be painted there
  4. The rear bumper has a distinct notch cut in the middle. Unlike 212 (SF0368), the notch covers the entire depth of the bumper