Tanzara Pickup

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This custom started because of a damaged Matchbox Tanzara sitting on my shelf and had little chance of getting hold of the engine cover and was in a sad way anyway, the wheels were worn and had a bent axle.

Years back I loved the idea of converting cars to pickups, and seen many unusual one’s including a London Taxi, an Austin Princess as well as VW Beetles, the Tanzara reminded me of the wedge shaped Austin Princess so was a good candidate for a pickup.

Firstly I needed a pickup bed and after searching through all my bits of broken diecast I came up with a Matchbox Unimog pickup bed.

The only downside is the pickup bed was longer than I would of liked but after removing the Unimog cab section I decided to lengthen the Tanzara body to suit and cut the body just behind the cab removing the rear section and old engine bay.

I refitted the body onto the baseplate to work out where best to cut and as this is a Superfast Matchbox it also has a plastic suspension strip riveted to the base plate, this I need to keep and remount at the rear.

After cutting through both the baseplate and suspension I cut and slid in a strip of aluminium drilled another hole in the base torivet the strip and suspension back to the baseplate, the front original rivet can remain.

The back part of the baseplate was drilled through the original rivet position and re-riveted through the base, suspension and the aluminium strip.

At each stage I checked for fouling on the seats with the new rivets making sure at this point everything still fitted, there is nothing worse than doing a conversion only to find the glass or seat snag the baseplate or body.

Once checked an aluminium plate is cut to fill the gap in the baseplate and glued into place with epoxy resin two pack adhesive.

Next my attention turns to the body, now the rear section does not sit flat so the body set back together requires jigging with spacers to get the lines correct as it was before it was cut, if I didn’t do the the tags I will be gluing in could end up facing upwards and snagging the glass or the window openings.

With this in mind the aluminium tags are glued to the rear section on the spacers and level.

Once I am happy with the fit I glue to the front part of the body and fit to the baseplate to make sure the alignment is correct at this stage make sure no glue seeps onto the baseplate otherwise it may get stuck as well.

Once dry the next stage was to plate the sides and strengthen the back with more aluminium plate once done a small amount of filler was used to level the bodywork.

Seen below next to a standard Tanzara you can see the added length to the model.

The easy way of fitting the pickup bed was to directly fix it but I decided the final car will be two colours, one for the body and one for the pickup bed so I need to make the body and pickup bed easy to fit after painting them.

I came up with a metal bracket that can be screwed through and into the pickup bed this makes it easy to install after painting.

With the body complete I fitted it all together to make sure I was happy with the fit.

The wheels were a bit rough so replaced them with later Matchbox wheels and axles, I did have to adjust the front wheel arches and baseplate with a file to stop them from snagging at the front and to get them to spin freely and then cleaned and primed the whole body and pickup parts.

The body received 6 coats of paint, both white and yellow are hard to get right so to get good cover sometimes more coats are needed.

With all the main parts painted it’s time to put it all together.

The back pickup bed was screwed on and a small touch of glue was added to the screw hole so it doesn’t come loose in the future.

The glass was lightly scratched so I polished that with an aero perspex polish that is used for aeroplane canopies, it now shines like new.

The base was painted black giving the appearance of a black front bumper.

So there you have it all done and proudly on display.


  1. Renegade says:

    This is the first time I comment on your site, but I’ve been reading it for about a few weeks. I admire the passion with which you tell your stories.

    • Chev says:

      I have one of those. I think my engine cover is missing, too.

      Mine may be yellow. I must have had it for forty years, at least.

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