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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Hot wheels hit the auction blockKSN-TV, April 28th
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) – The U.S. Marshals are holding a live and Web simulcast vehicle auction in Kansas City, Missouri, on Thursday that will put dozens of high-end sports cars up for bids. The auction includes 25 vehicles worth more than $1.5 million...Read more
Hot wheels off the racetrackNorth Platte Telegraph, April 28th
Hot wheels off the racetrack. This stock car caught fire when owner Josh Johnston was getting ready to cut off the roll cage on Wednesday morning. When Johnston hit the oxygen button on the cutter, it ignited fuel lines and the car burst into flames...Read more
Finally, You Can (Sort Of) Get Behind the Wheel of a Hot Wheels CarPopular Mechanics, April 27th
All those hours as a kid spent driving Hot Wheels around, and only now, thanks to the power of GoPros, can we get a sense of what it would be like to be drive around in one the miniature cars. It's pretty awesome...Read more
What happens when you take Hot Wheels to beach - Need for speedIndia Today, April 27th
The team built a deadly Hot Wheels track in the sand and placed Hot Wheels cars to zoom on it. It goes up, slows down, then, like an amusement park ride gone bad, it takes the drop passing through a tunnel and it's a nostalgic rush of blood to the head...Read more
Enjoy some high-octane beach racing action, courtesy of Hot WheelsA.V. Club (blog), April 26th
For nearly half a century, Mattel's Hot Wheels toy cars have been allowing people to do what should never be done with full-sized automobiles, namely race them at ridiculous speeds down steep slopes and over ramps at the beach with absolutely no...Read more
Fast & Furious in Hot Wheels UniverseSputnik International, April 26th
A team of enthusiasts spent a day at the beach constructing an intricate track for toy cars. ... Reddit. Google+. Blogger. Pinterest. StumbleUpon. 21. Related: Stray Chihuahua Turns California Traffic Into GTA · Traffic Goes GTA As Stray Dog Pops Up on...Read more
Hot Wheels Pays Tribute to Japan's Dekotora Truck CultureThe Drive, April 26th
From the double-engined Twin Mill to Splitting Image, Hot Wheels has released more than a few wacky concepts in its time. The grownup in you probably skips right over them in the grocery aisle, opting instead for one of the more realistic castings of...Read more
Hot Wheels sell like hotcakesBend Bulletin, April 21st
DETROIT — Less than a year ago, Rogelio Mills was visiting his adult son, an avid Hot Wheels collector, when he realized the toy cars had taken over the apartment. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. So many, Mills said, he had no place to sit ...Read more