1970s / 1980s / French / Majorette / Matchbox / Renault / Scaled down

Scaled down: Majorette & Matchbox Renault 5

majorette-matchbox-renault-5-3Rival die-cast manufacturers Majorette and Matchbox each built a replica of the Renault 5 over the course of the 1970s. While Matchbox only sold the three-door version of the 5, Majorette built both the three-door and the five-door and it even added the potent, mid-engined Turbo model to its catalog shortly after the real car landed in showrooms.

Although both the Majorette and the Matchbox 5s were produced in several colors, we chose to look at yellow examples in order to make the comparison as fair as possible. Both cars were designed as toys, not as collector pieces, but it’s interesting to spot the differences between two similarly-sized/-priced models built in roughly the same time period.

The first thing that stands out is that the Matchbox model is a little bigger than the Majorette. The Majorette is stamped 1/55-scale; the Matchbox’s exact scale is not given but it likely lies somewhere in the vicinity of 1/53 or 1/54 – not a big difference on paper, but it is certainly noticeable when the two cars are side by side.

The Matchbox model features an opening hatch crafted out of plastic, no side mirrors, Le Car stickers on both sides as well as a trailer hitch protruding from the rear bumper. The rear window is taller and skinnier than on the real car, a concession likely made in the name of facilitating the task of opening the hatch.

The Majorette model wears a decidedly simpler appearance but it more than makes up for it with realistic details inside and out as well as more accurate proportions. The headlights, the bumpers and even the two-spoke steering wheel are outlined and the air vent on the hood is made of plastic. The biggest issues with it are oversized door mirrors and a mysterious crease above both front wheels.

7 thoughts on “Scaled down: Majorette & Matchbox Renault 5

  1. The separate door mirror moulding on the Majorette was supposed to be some sort of “special feature”. Majorette used it on a couple of models (this one and the Alpine-Renault A310 IIRC). The mirror moulding on the Renault 5 also has a radio antenna which is missing on your example.

  2. i have a silver Matchbox LeCar, one of my most prized die-casts. It’s not in great shape, axles are straight, but the paint is very chipped. I acquired it in a trade at around the age of 10 with another friend. I think I traded an Oldsmobile Aerotech for it. Sucker.

  3. Can I buy a Renault 5 Event – Special Edition die cast model from anywhere? I owned a very faithful model in the early nineties that served me well, and I would dearly love to have a model of this car in my memorabilia cabinet.

  4. I’m lucky to still have both these & they’re both yellow. Tried swapping my LeCar for a gold Porsche 928 with a pal. He lasted about 30mins & then asked me to swap back. Admittedly I feel sad I never got to keep his Porsche, but never saw that Renault again.
    Same for the Majorette & thinking now, I’m glad I have them both to make a comparison.
    I like the Majorette better, as it’s lasted a lot longer than Majorettes usually did…

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