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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
DFW Elite Toy Museum
Race Car Toys And Automobilia
The Show Room
VW Toys and Models
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Hot Wheels
Source: Google News
Ford offers Hot Wheels toys for big boysThe Detroit News, December 11th
Designers from Ford, Hot Wheels and the Ice Nine Group turned a 2014 Transit Connect, right, into a comfortable and entertaining base camp and tow vehicle for a full-scale version of the Hot Wheels Rip Rod. (Photos by Larry Edsall / Special To The...Read more
3D Carpet Playmats Keep Hot Wheels Cars Safely On the RoadGizmodo, December 10th
Anyone who grew up with a tiny garage full of Hot Wheels cars must remember those plush playmats featuring roads, parking lots, and parks. You were free to cruise around anywhere you liked—but what kind of message does that send to future drivers?...Read more
The Collectors Show With Mike Zarnock's "World Famous" Hot Wheels CollectionPR Web (press release), December 10th
This week on The Collectors Show, the biggest and most famous Hot Wheels Collection in the world with the number one recognized authority on the subject, Michael Zarnock. To hear the complete interview, go to http://www.webtalkradio.net or to iTunes...Read more
Trek Hot Wheels CarsTrek Today, December 6th
Six different Trek cars will be offered, and will be part of Hot Wheels Pop Culture range of vehicles. The Hot Wheels Star Trek cars will be based on designs based on the Star Trek Gold Key Comics. The cars feature Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, and...Read more
Hot wheelsRochester City Newspaper, December 3rd
Many Rochesterians shy away from bicycling because of our harsh, fickle weather, or because our city, like so many others, has been developed around roadways. And though it's slowly improving, we don't yet have the best biking infrastructure...Read more
Hot Wheels, new video games top hot toys listStandard Speaker, November 24th
That's how Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz and Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm headquartered in New York, described the hot toys for Christmas 2013. "The Hot Wheels Terrain Twister is very hot," Davidowitz ...Read more
Hot Wheels collector shares toysJuneau Empire (subscription), November 18th
Despite the chance to cash in on the collectibles, the 46-year-old collector who is widely known in online Hot Wheels collectors circles as “Big Frosty” says he does it for fun, hoping to share what he loves with others. “It's one of those things that...Read more
Hot Wheels creates ultimate test track for dadsAutoblog (blog), November 15th
There have been some really crazy Hot Wheels tracks created over the years, from home-grown masterpieces like this to 'official' versions such as the "highest" wall track. But the folks at the diecast-car company have outdone themselves with this...Read more