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The Mark Mattei collection


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#1 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 11:59 AM

Having heard for years that Chicago's Mark Mattei (pronounced "mah-tay") had a killer slot car collection, I was very pleased to receive an invitation from Mark to visit his stash while I was in Chicago for Sano 9. It was a little tough finding a time during the event when I could make the 40-min. jaunt from the raceway over to Mark's place, but by sacrificing the Italian beef post-race party at Jackie and Mike Swiss's home after Can-Am on Sunday (thanks for letting me hit up the leftovers later, Jackie!), I was able to make the trip, accompanied by Larry Kelley (who is old enough to be a collectible himself!).
 
Mark's place is not huge, being a multi-story home in one of the older parts of Chicago, but it is crammed to the rafters with slot cars, static models of every ilk, an incredible amount of original box art, trains, vintage bicycles and motorcycles, etc. Mark's interests are eclectic to say the least, but his "collector's eye" is extremely discerning. Much of the material he has collected is unique and very historical; for example, he has most of the Jo-Han engineering drawings for the models that company produced. He's clearly a historian of the first rank. I jokingly called him a "the finest kind of hoarder" and hope that didn't offend. 
 
I took about two dozen pics of Mark's collection and barely touched the surface of the vast amount of material Mark has accumulated over the years. Read on...
 
(Be sure to enlarge the smaller pics by clicking on them.)
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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap





#2 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 12:02 PM

As soon as we walked into the collection area, here's what greeted me:
 
coxkits.jpg
 
russkit.jpg
 
Around the corner, there were several display cases full of cars:
 
case1.jpg
 
case2.jpg
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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#3 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 12:10 PM

Mark has a lot of advertising pieces, counter cards, parts racks, and the like. Here's a few examples.

 

revelldisplay.jpg

 

Note that this Revell counter merchandiser is basically full. Many of Mark's similar displays were acquired new in the box, with all the items for every hook.

 

riggentirecard.jpg

 

I've never seen this counter display before.

 

monoctrcard.jpg

 

This Monogram counter card is unused, as evidenced by the cardboard stand on the backside still being flat aginst the card, never having been folded out.

 

kbgears.jpg

 

cheetahcard.jpg

 

Avid slot car eBayers know what these Cheetaracha body cards bring there, but note that this NOS card still has the plastic bags of chrome and glass detail parts under every body, which is rarely the case.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#4 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 12:17 PM

Mark is big-time into original slot and model car and plane box art. In fact, he has so much of it that he has a lot of illustrations pinned to the ceiling because he has run out of wall space!
 
boxart5.jpg
 
The original illustrations paired with the model boxes themselves.
 
boxart4.jpg
 
boxart3.jpg
 
More illustrations paired with the boxes that resulted.
 
boxart2.jpg
 
boxart1.jpg
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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#5 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 04:03 PM

Lots of signage and clocks, too.

I really like the AMCRC sign, which I've never seen before.
 
signs.jpg
 
Saw one of these clocks at Bob Rule's house. I want one...
 
champclock.jpg
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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#6 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 04:12 PM

Here's a historical curiosity. This was clearly meant to be box art for a Revell kit, but no kit was ever issued that included both Rat Fink in the Lotus and Mr. Gasser in the BRM, assuming that's why both are shown in the illustration.

 

rfart.jpg


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#7 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 04:14 PM

Before computers and CAD/CAM came to the world of model mold-making, it was common to create large wooden models as the start of the process. These were later pantographed down to the scale of the model kit. Mark has a number of these rare and unique pieces.

 

banditpattern.jpg

 

woodpatterns.jpg


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#8 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 04:25 PM

One of the most stunning parts of Mark's collection is a substantial amount of material related to that famous and highly-desired failure, the Adams & Sons Quad RTR slot car chassis. Mark was able to purchase from one of the sons seemingly all of the leftover material related to these chassis.
 
This pic shows four or five new Quads in their boxes sitting atop a bunch of other plastic boxes. Wonder what's in the boxes below?
 
adams1.jpg
 
The answer is: all of the remaining stock of small parts used to produce these complicated chassis! Blue boxes in tub at bottom are new motors for these cars.
 
adams3.jpg
 
This container houses the bits and pieces of the hand-machined prototype Adams & Sons chassis.
 
adams2.jpg
 
Adams & Sons chassis were not marketed through the usual slot car distributors, but were sold direct. This book contains an entry for every original sale of an Adams & Sons Quad chassis! Wish I had had the time to flip through to see if there was anyone I knew listed...
 
adams4.jpg
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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#9 Cheater

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 04:35 PM

These pics only show a tiny percentage of Mark's enormous collection. I'd bet he has at least a hundred times more unbuilt kits than you see in the pics here.

 

Fortunately, Mark foolishly says he'll let me come back the next time I am in the Windy City and I plan to take advanatge of that invitation!

 

As an aside, Mark is a huge bicycle collector and has operated the well-regarded Cycle Smithy bike shop in Chicago since 1973. He also has a large collection of antique and vintage bicycles, with some kept at home and some housed at Cycle Smithy. It is well worth your time to peruse the Museum tab at the company's WEBSITE, as there is some terrific material posted there.

 

When I said Mark was an eclectic collector, I wasn't kidding. Didn't take any pics, but his small two-car garage contains, besides dozens of bicycles and a few rare motorcycles, such oddities as a Scootacar, a Ner-A-Car, and a one-of-a-kind Ford/Ghia concept mini-car.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#10 Cheater

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:56 AM

I've moved this new thread from the hidden forum in which I composed it yesterday. Also wanted to let Mark preview the text for accuracy before bringing it over to the open blog.

That's why the thread isn't sorting like a new thread that was just posted today.

Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#11 Pablo

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 01:31 PM

:swoon: :man_in_love:


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#12 don.siegel

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 01:51 PM

Stupendous!
 
If Mark has a little time, love to hear his reflections on his collection: favorites, finds, stories, etc.
 
Did he get any Quad stories from Adam's son? Looks like they sold more than I would have thought, judging by that list. Maybe not a million, but in the high hundreds...
 
I think that's also the first Russkit Super Spyder I've seen in a box.
 
Etc., etc.
 
Thanks for posting, Greg.
 
Don
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#13 Mattb

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 07:30 PM

Thanks for this posting, Greg.

Great to see some of Mark's stuff. When I started collecting older stuff back in the '80s, Mark was one of the guys already collecting and known for having rarities. The glory days for finding the vintage stuff was the '70s and '80s when all the places that sold slot car products really wanted to just throw them away and were happy to find anybody that wanted the stuff! The major cities had lots of stores with old stock in the back room.

Thanks to Mark for allowing these photos here.
Matt Bishop

Vintage Cox Slot Cars

#14 Cheater

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 07:41 PM

Matt,

I was honestly thrilled to get Mark's invitation, as I had heard so much about him and his collection. It was more impressive than I ever imagined.

IIRC Mark put an American red track in some spare space at his bike shop and ran it as a low-key raceway from 1978 until 1983. He found a local hobby distributor who still had all of their slot car inventory from the '60s and he was able to buy at wholesale prices cases of many of the kits that collectors now covet. I got idea that this is what kickstarted his incredible collection. He's been an active buyer at many of the midwest's slot car and model swap meets ever since.

I was most impressed with Mark's "non-production" items, like the Jo-Han engineering archives, the original box art, the wooden master models, etc. Those are unique items that resonate more with me than hard-to-find unbuilt kits, as it is actual history of the slot car hobby that can't be seen anywhere else.

Can't wait to make a return visit in the future!
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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#15 tonyp

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Posted 12 October 2015 - 06:46 AM

Very cool.

"And if my thought-dreams could be seen they'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only." - Dylan

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#16 Bill from NH

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Posted 12 October 2015 - 07:04 AM

I'd need another house if I had half that stuff. :)  I'd find looking at Mark's collection very interesting. Next time you're there, take more photos.


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#17 Samiam

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Posted 12 October 2015 - 07:06 AM

Thanks, Greg.
 
That is just amazing. The art work is... well, a work of art. I can see it now (dream sequence)... Philippe's third book, a coffee table book of slot car art.
Sam Levitch
 
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#18 Lone Wolf

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Posted 12 October 2015 - 03:44 PM

Just incredible. I really enjoy seeing the oddball stuff like the ITC, Multiple Toymaker kits, Boatarific, etc., etc.
 
Don't want to overstep anything here but if Mark is watching I need U-joints for my Adams car. Been looking for years. If any are available please advise. Thanks.

Joe Lupo


#19 Mark Mattei

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 09:45 AM

Hi Lone Wolf,

Don't mind swapping for something useful to me. Call (773) 608-9004 if interested.

Mark.

#20 Mark Mattei

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 10:02 AM

Hi Bill from NH and Samian,

Some pics of slot car commercial illustrations.

Mark.

mm1a.jpg

mm2a.jpg

mm3a.jpg

mm4a-1.jpg
mm4a-2.jpg
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#21 sidejobjon

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 11:10 AM

Mark,

Thanks for sharing. Amazing collection.

I saw the Tyco HO set. Any HO aftermarket or brass HO in that collection? Mura, Laganke, TCP, Riggen, Dyna-Brute, Cobra.

Thanks,

SJJ
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#22 Vay Jonynas

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 11:40 AM

Mark:

 

The words to describe your collection fail me. Awesome, beyond belief, drool-worthy, it's all that and more! Do you mind telling us how many years it took you to build up your present day assemblage?

 

In any event, it certainly puts my modest accumulation of slot car kits to shame:

 

Monogram2.jpg

 

Monogram.jpg

 

 


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#23 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 12:44 PM

I was in awe... with my hands in my pockets to see this historic collection... not only slot cars, but the hobbies from the 1950s on to the end of the 20th century. Electric outboard motors and plastic kits of every variety and brand. Store point of purchase and window displays or hobby show displays...
 
Adams & Sons... I think I saw the file drawings for the parts... any machine shop could make then to the original specs, if the spares in the bins have run out.
 
I wonder if the Hobby Manufacturers Association has any interest in a National Hobby Museum...? :good:


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#24 Cheater

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 02:04 PM

Agreed, Larry. So much of Mark's stuff is unique, which means even the LASCM can't have duplicates.

 

Thanks for the company on that jaunt BTW.


Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#25 MSwiss

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 03:30 PM

Do you mind telling us how many years it took you to build up your present day assemblage?

 

With the holiday season, Mark is probably too busy peddlin' bikes to spot this right away.

 

I think he's been collecting perpetually/late '70s.

 

I know I traded him a Lancer painted body display I got from the area ex-factory rep for Lancer in late '81, early '82, when I was getting back into slot racing.

 

Of minor note, the Friday night I bought it into his shop, to trade for a high buck Trinity cobalt set-up, he got paid a visit from Buzzy, who was in town for a pinball/video game convention.


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