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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There'll be more ways to play with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman at San Diego Comic-Con than just Lego Batmobiles, it turns out, as Mattel has announced a raft of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice toys that will make their debut at the annual ...Read more
Hot wheels under the hammer at GoodwoodPortsmouth News, June 26th
Hot wheels under the hammer at Goodwood. The 1935 Aston Martin Works Ulster. Auction of classic cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. An Aston Martin from the 1930s sells for £1.7m. Festival is taking place this weekend. 06:00 Saturday 27 June 2015...Read more
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So if fans of the Tesla Model S can't cough up the $105,000 retail price for the electric-powered sedan from Tesla Corporation, they can always settle for its miniature counterpart from Hot Wheels which is just 1/64th of the size of the real deal. The...Read more
Hot Wheels unveils Tesla Model S toyDetroit Free Press, June 23rd
Hot Wheels has added the Tesla Model S to its toy car line-up. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the small version of the small car -- this one 1/64 scale -- is $1.09. It's available at major retailers around the country now. The Hot Wheels...Read more
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Those who were enthralled by the idea of Tesla Motors electric vehicles (EVs) being made into toys — via the Hot Wheels and Matchbox platforms — will be happy to know that those collaborations have continued to move along. On that note… I direct...Read more
Custom model cars the ultimate hot wheels?Fox News, June 19th
Cars. A lot of people consider them to be works of art, especially the exotic and classic models. It's too bad you can't use them to decorate the office. Or can't you? ADVERTISEMENT. Amalgam Fine Model Cars makes near perfect 1:8-scale replicas of...Read more
There's finally a Tesla you can affordFortune, June 18th
The Hot Wheels version comes in silver and red and is based on high-end P85D all-wheel drive Model S. Tesla customers have broader choices—which comes with a heftier price tag—including deep blue metallic and obsidian black metallic...Read more
Utah Boy Who Received Thousands of Hot Wheels in Hospital Given His Own ...People Magazine, June 11th
During his stay at the hospital, word of Ethan's love for Hot Wheels spread through the staff and eventually reached a toy car blogger, John Lambert, who posted a call for cars to give to Ethan on his site. This message created an outpouring of...Read more