Matchbox 1/32 Aston Martin Ulster
KIT #: PK-301
PRICE: $17.98 from the 'pricey second hand kits' section of the LHS
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Japanese or Chinese production


Aston Martin produced cars that were important in the history of auto racing, and were well accepted by the automotive enthusiast community. These drivers enjoyed driving the cars during the week and racing them on the weekend. During the mid-1930s, Aston Martin introduced their 1.5-liter Ulster cars, named after a victory by the Works team at Ulster. These were powered by overhead cam four cylinder engines that produced about 75-85 horsepower depending on how well they were tuned.

There were few differences between the road going cars and the racing cars. The Ulster racer and Mark II production car shared the same chassis and many of the same mechanical components. The Ulster was given a lightweight aluminum body with dimensions that conformed to racing regulations of the time. Other differences between the road and race cars were stiffer springs and larger drum brakes for optimal racing performance. The engine was modified with two large SU carburetors and higher compression resulting in 80 horsepower. The engine was linked to a four-speed manual gearbox and drove the rear wheels. Top speed was achieved at over 100 mph for the small, 940 kg machine.

Production of the Ulster lasted from 1934 through 1936 with a mere 21 examples being produced. All examples are believed to have survived to modern times and several are still actively raced in vintage events. These cars were true performance machines, suitable for the most discerning sports car drivers. The team cars had paved the way for the production based cars to be created.


The local hobby shop has several older kits that are offered at somewhat higher prices for those who don't mind paying a bit more for something that is not generally available. These are kits that the owner doesn't think will bring in bonanza prices on evil-bay. This particular kit has been sitting on his shelf for several years and with the advent of the MM Matchbox Group Build, I picked it up, considering its construction.

The first thing that surprised me is that this wasn't made in the UK. In fact, it looks as if it was probably made in China. There was a slip of paper inside with a 1995 date and the kit itself dates from 1986. Of course, the instructions are in Chinese, but since Matchbox has pictorial construction sequences, this is not a concern, except for deciphering colors.

The kit is molded in green, brown and chrome. To be honest, looking at photos of the real cars, much of what is provided as chrome is actually painted. This includes the grille, headlight covers, spoked wheels and a number of other large items. Only some very small bits are actually highly polished. Makes it a lot easier to deal with. The car is not a curbside as it has a somewhat complete, but basic engine. The tires are vinyl and since they have been in contact with the plastic bits in the box, it appears these are not the 'plastic eating' variety. A clear sprue provides headlight lenses and 'aero' windscreens. The kit has a removable hood and the trunk area is hinged to open and show the spare tire within. I would have to assume that most builders will just glue the trunk shut and not bother with the spare.

There is a small decal sheet that has the number 2 on white backgrounds, and license plates. While the box art shows this car in green, the color views on the back show it in blue. Browsing the web, I found examples in red and black as well, so it seems you can paint it pretty much whatever somewhat dark shade you wish. Apparently bright colors were rare in cars of this era so yellow, orange and light blue might not be appropriate.


An interesting kit of a car I don't think has been kitted by anyone else. Not sure why it is 1/32 scale as the completed car will be under 6 inches in length, but it is something of interest as one rarely finds non-US cars of this era.


Various web sites. There really isn't a ton of stuff out there on it.

November 2009

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