When Mattel launched Hot Wheels in 1968, its biggest diecast-metal-car competitor was Matchbox, whose Models of Yesteryear line featured a 1911 Model T Ford and 1906 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. It was a bit quaint compared to the original 16 Hot Wheels cars, which focused on American muscle cars of the day (Camaros, Mustangs, T-Birds, etc.) as well as hot rods, the most famous of which was the Beatnik Bandit by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth.
In addition to being contemporary, Hot Wheels cars were also fast, thanks to their tiny torsion-bar suspensions and low-friction wheel bearings. Hot Wheels also had candy-colored Spectraflame paint jobs (colors ranged from Aqua to Purple to Hot Pink) and “redline” wheels, so named for the red stripe painted on the tires.
The first Hot Wheels car was a Chevy Camaro, which like the other 1968 Hot Wheels was manufactured in the United States. Other cars in the Sweet 16 included a Cougar, a VW Bug with an engine poking through the hood, and a surfboard-toting Dodge Deora concept pickup, which “Motor Trend” once described as “the world’s coolest skateboard.”
In 1969, Ira Gilford joined the Hot Wheels design team and designed two of the company's most famous original cars: the Twinmill, which featured an exposed engine behind each front wheel, and the Splittin’ Image, which resembled two single-passenger pods with an engine and exhaust pipes running between them.
Another collectible car from 1969 is the Beach Bomb, which was a VW Bus with exterior compartments on each side for carrying surfboards. Early prototypes of the beach bomb had surfboards loading in from the rear of the van—an example of this highly collectible vintage Hot Wheel, of which only 22 are known to exist, can be found in the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
The next two years saw almost 100 new cars released, including the Light My Firebird, whose name was a play on the popular Doors song from 1967. Mattel also added two important product lines, the Heavyweights and the Sizzlers. Heavyweights, as its name implied, featured cement mixers, fire trucks, and other large vehicles. The Sizzlers featured a custom-made General Electric Ni-Cad battery that could be charged in 90 seconds at a Juice Machine or Power Pit.
By 1972, all Hot Wheels vehicles were made in Hong Kong to keep prices low and meet the high demand. Snake and Mongoose rear-engine dragsters were issued in what was an otherwise...
The following year, production levels and model introductions were back up and Sizzlers tires were retooled as Fat Daddy racing slicks. Because new Sizzlers were not offered again until 1976, these Hot Wheels from 1973 are particularly collectible. Models and colors to look for include the green Fire Works and Hiway Hauler, as well as the yellow or red Ram Rocket.
One of the most sought-after vintage Hot Wheels spinoffs from 1973 was the Revvers line, which lasted for just one year. Designed for off-track use, the 10 Revvers models were powered by a rubber band. Among the most prized models and colors are the lemon yellow Burnin’ Box, any color of Jettin’ Vette (although dark blue is the Holy Grail), and the Revvers camper set, which included a station wagon and camper trailer.
The Flying Colors line dominated 1974 and 1975, and the Super Streets and Super Chromes were popular in 1975 and ’76. But Mattel dropped the trademark redline wheel from all Hot Wheels in 1977, bringing an end to the vintage era of this most popular of all toy cars.
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Recent News: Hot Wheels
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Hot wheels: North American Vintage Bentley organization rolls into BradfordBradford Era, May 22nd
Several antique automobiles were on display at the North American Vintage Bentley Meet on Thursday at the grounds of the Zippo/Case Museum in Bradford. This was the group's last stop on the tour this week. rehab today 300x250 Allegheny Underwater...Read more
Get set to scorch the trackThe Hindu, May 22nd
Get ready for some bumper-to-bumper action at the Hot Wheels National Track Championship on May 23 and May 24. The championship, which is open to children aged between three and 12, tests their skill and speed . In the knock-off round, children can ...Read more
HOT WHEELS—Simi Valley Acorn, May 21st
Above, Carvin Kupper, 9, of Simi Valley doesn’t hide his excitement Above, Carvin Kupper, 9, of Simi Valley doesn't hide his excitement when he comes accross a Dodge Viper Mopar at the Simi Valley High School & Pioneer PTSA's inaugural classic ...Read more
Tesla Model S Matchbox And Hot Wheels Toys Are Finally HereGas 2.0, May 21st
The Lamley Group, a diecast car enthusiast blog, revealed images of both the Matchbox and Hot Wheels versions of the Tesla Model S. I'm a bit of an enthusiast myself, and it doesn't surprise me that Matchbox kept their Tesla well-detailed but totally...Read more
Racing fan? Check out the Hot Wheels exhibit at Children's Museum of ...WTHITV.com, May 18th
Our friends at the museum let us know about a great exhibit they have this month called Hot Wheels: Race to Win. This new family exhibit will get you revved up with immersive activities for three generations of hot wheels fans. That's really key for...Read more
Utah Boy Receives 3000 Hot Wheels to Aid RecoveryPeople Magazine, May 4th
At home in American Fork, Utah, Ethan Carnesecca sits in a basement brimming with Hot Wheels cars – his family estimates they've received 3,000 in the past month. "You could say Ethan is in Hot Wheels heaven," his mother Michele told Utah's KSL-TV...Read more
Thousands of Hot Wheels pour in for Utah boy recovering from illnessFox News, May 1st
He wrote how Ethan loved his blue Hot Wheels Camaro, which rarely left his hand. He even posted a photo of Ethan sleeping, while holding his car. "You never could have predicted this would happen," Lambert said. "This is overwhelming just seeing it."...Read more
Ford employee and son break Hot Wheels recordDetroit Free Press, April 23rd
For 6-year-old Blade West, Take Your Child to Work Day had a loop and a twist: He helped his Ford employee dad break a world record for the largest Hot Wheels ramp. It was on the second try that a tiny Hot Wheels car successfully completed a loop with...Read more