In product lines that have numbered units, like MoYY, new units are assigned new numbers in sequence with the old ones, so that it is easy to simply denote a specific item by its number. This is better for both the company making the product as well as anyone collecting it. However, Lesney decided to eschew this logic for a different scheme. Starting in 1961, Lesney adopted a policy of “retiring” certain models (likely the poorest sellers) and then filling the gap in the lineup with new models, but using the old number! This tradition continues all the way through until at least the 1980s, although it is not applied evenly or consistently. I can’t imagine why they did it this way, and I’m sure that there are collectors who daily curse the Lesney management for this decision.
Regardless, the new Bugatti Type 35 race car was issued the Y number of “Y6” upon its introduction in 1961. This particular vehicle replaced an 1916 AEC “Y”-type Lorry (i.e. truck to non-British speakers) that was in circulation since 1957. The Bugatti held this number until 1968, when it itself was replaced by a 1913 Cadillac. In collector speak, the Bugatti is referred to as “Y6-2”. The dashed numbers tell you which use of a Y number the casting is. There’s no way to tell colour variants apart using this system.
At first glance the Bugatti appears to be something of a retrograde step from the Y15 Silver Ghost. It is not as large or as complex a casting, although it is much more impressively sized that the Bullnose. However, saying that is not entirely fair to the toy. Upon closer inspection, the Bugatti is actually quite well detailed, and the multitude of vents that are a trademark of this automobile are reproduced as small lines all over the car. In addition, the tie down straps on the hood are nicely done, and even the buckles are reproduced!
There is a rudimentary dashboard in the car, and the red makes for a nice splash of colour. It is interesting to note that the “brass” coloured radiator is painted on, unlike the actual metal used on the Silver Ghost. It’s also interesting to note that it isn’t particularly accurately done, which is odd. This item is not a first issue, but likely one from the early 1960’s. At that time, the increased cost of the MoYY lineup was really becoming apparent; this one retailed for a whopping $0.79, which was quite a bit more than the Bullnose, but still less than the Silver Ghost (although that one is a later issue, and inflation will bite you every time).
This particular issue of Y6-2 is from a bit later than 1961. It is interesting to note the evolution of the MoYY packaging. From the Bullnose’s simple black and white line drawing (this Bugatti also had that treatment early on), the MoYY packages began to get more elaborate. This Bugatti has the second type of box; it retains the characteristic “Matchbox” colours of blue and yellow, but has full colour art in the drawing on the front. It is still simple art, though.
As with the earlier style of box, there is a full description and scale callout on the back. While not everyone will immediately be entranced by this model, I personally like it a lot, if for no other reason than it is in a standard aircraft scale of 1/48! Finding 1/48 cars is very nearly impossible, so for modellers in this scale, especially WWII modellers, having a Bugatti parked in front of a similarly thoroughbred early Spitfire would make for an interesting display!
For the first time, too, we see mention of “Matchbox” on the box. You can see that there is a note that “Matchbox” is a registered trade mark on the lower left of the box. This is a bit of foreshadowing; apparently Lesney didn’t want people to forget that MoYYs were Matchboxes after all! It seems that they were beginning to realize the power of brand loyalty, and wanted to quickly move to ensure that those who liked Matchboxes knew that MoYYs were something they should be collecting as well.