I recently purchased a store display for Matchbox cars that was made around 1964 to 1966. It came full of Matchbox models but they were much earlier models than the display would have had originally. When looking at sales materials for the display in early dealer catalogs they do show many too early models on the display. I have been thinking about what year to put on the display and as of now I think 1964 is the best year. On the other hand I have a 1962 catalog and there are some real nice models in there that would look nice on the display.
I got out all the USA catalogs and created a spreadsheet with all the models listed by the years and indicating the catalog year that they changed. Also I have noted some of the colors shown in the catalogs that change from year to year.
After the year I have included the model changes plus the a-b-c-d-e versions that were made. The number following the letter is the number of variations as listed in the "Encyclopedia of Matchbox Toys" by Charlie Mack.
Matchbox are at the same time easy to collect and difficult to collect.
1. You can simply get the ones you like - perhaps 12-24-48 models
2. get all of a certain year - 75 models
3. multiple years, example start with 1964 for 75 models plus
1965 changes - 14 models
1966 changes - 16 models
1967 changes - 15 changes
1968 changes - 17 changes
1969 changes - 16 changes
for a total of 153 models
4. go for all of the models - 238 total
5. even all of the models variations - 786 models which include wheel and body color variations
(I'm not going to think about all the box variations and conditions)