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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

DFW Elite Toy Museum

DFW Elite Toy Museum

Ron Sturgeon's excellent gallery of fancy model cars and other vehicles. Nice high resolution shots with classy mus… [read review or visit site]

The Show Room

The Show Room

This gallery at Dave's Show Rod Rally features model show rods from 1960 to 2001. Favorites include the 1958 Thunde… [read review or visit site]

VW Toys and Models

VW Toys and Models

A comprehensive site completely dedicated to miniature Volkswagen vehicles. Browse hundreds of toys by country, man… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Hot Wheels Rlc Datsun Bluebird 510 BreOlds 442 Redline Redlines Hot Wheels Original Car 1969 Blue W/black SpoilerHot Wheels Redline Classic 36 Ford Coupe 1969 Htf Brown, Extremely NiceDte 1979 Pkg France Hot Wheels Bw No.7658 Red Vega Bomb NiopHot Wheels Redline Mattel Inter Factory Shipping Box 70 Cars Ultra Rare Amazing Hot Wheels Redline Yellow 1969 Olds 442 16-vintage Hot Wheels Redlines-lot-custom Camaro-mustang,firebird,boss HossHot Wheels Vintage "custom Corvette" Redline. Circa 1968. Still On Card.Huge Hot Wheels Redline Vintage Lot Of 29 Diecast,case, Track,parts,67-70 Nice!Hwc Special Edition 2014 Corvette Stingray Hot Wheels RlcHot Wheels Redline Noc Rare Rear Engine Snake Dragster With Holygrail Button U/p1973 Hot Wheels - Mongoose 6969 - Redline - Blue - RareHot Wheels 2009 Hwc/rlc Green '83 Chevy Silverado W/ Rr's #2184 Of 3000 1/64thVintage 1971 Hot Wheels Heavyweights Redline Racer Rig With Cab And Trailer, VgHot Wheels Redline Lot Of 24 Vintage 1:64 Diecast With Carrying Case No Reserve1967 Green Hot Wheels Redline Custom Plymouth Barracuda Estate Buy No ReserveLot Of 14 Hot Wheels Red Line 1968 Or Earlier 90% In Very Good ConditionHot Wheels-steering Rig Semi Tractor / Trailer Cab-peterbilt 1980 Great ConditioHot Wheels Bw And Redline Lot Of 24 Vintage 1:64 Diecast With Carrying Case- NrHwc Special Edition 2014 Corvette Stingray Hot Wheels RlcVintage Hot Wheels 1976 Z-whiz Redline Mattel Hong KongVintage Hot Wheels Redline Ford J-car New Old Stock On Damaged Card W' Button1968 Hot Wheels Redline Us Custom Mustang - Anti-freeze W/dark InteriorHot Wheels Redline Road King1968 - Hot Wheels Reline Custom Cougar Blue Original Blister Pack Bp RareJohn Morton Bre Datsun 510 Bluebird Hot Wheels Vintage Racing1969 Hot Wheels Redline Classic '36 Ford Coupe - Chocolate Brown W/tan Interior2013 Hot Wheels Rlc Red Line Club Gulf Volkswagen Vw Drag Bus 1 Of 4000 ReadHot Wheels Car: R2-kt Celebration Vii Anaheim Exclusive!Hotwheels Redline 12 Car Filler/restorer Lot W/12 Rally Case-cuda/tbird/vet!Hot Wheels 2007 Nissan Skyline Super Treasure Hunt With Real Riders #2/12 MocHot Wheels Red Line Rl, Us 1968 Antifreeze Custom Barracuda, White Int Near MintHwc Special Edition 2014 Corvette Stingray Hot Wheels RlcHot Wheels Redline Custom Mustang 1967 Usa (creamy Pink- Watermelon) 2007 Hot Wheels Super Treasure Hunt Enzo Ferrari No Reserve!!!!!!!!!!!Vintage Hot Wheels Zappit Pak Mighty Maverick Car Carded Redline 70's Blister 1968 Hot Wheels Redline Hk Custom Camaro - Green W/dark InteriorHot Wheels Redline Custom Barracuda 1967 Usa Hotwheel Redline- Mint!!! 1970 Classic Cord- Metallic Green- Mint Mint Mint!Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt 2007 Enzo Ferrari SuperLot Of 10 Vintage Redline Hot Wheels Cars 2007 Hot Wheels Super Treasure Hunt Nissan Skyline No Reserve!!!!!!!!!!!Hot Wheels Maroon Super Treasure Hunt Datsun 240z #12/15!Vintage 1973 Hot Wheels Redline Hiway Robber Orange Nm2015 Hot Wheels Super Treasure Hunt '65 Mustang 2+2 Fastback Lot Of 3Vintage Blue 1971 Hot Wheels Heavyweights Redline Racer Rig, Cab And Trailer, Vg Hot Wheels Redline Flying Colors Beetle With Stripes Orange 1990 Hot Wheels Big Rigger Mini Hauler Ferrari Kenworth Steering RigBig Foot Monster Truck Rig Trailor Hot Wheels Steering Rigs FordHot Wheels 1995 Treasure Hunt '57 T-birdDte 1979 Card Hot Wheels Bw No. 9649 Rare Orange/green '31 Doozie NiopVintage Hot Wheels Redline Lotus Turbine New Old Stock On Damaged Card W' Button1972 Hot Wheels Rrrumblers Devil's Deuce,vintage Old Toy Motorcycle ChopperRare - Mint - Hot Wheels Legends Don "the Snake" Prudhomme Barracuda Funny Car Hot Wheels Steering Rigs - Kenworth Color Racers Hauler -big RiggerDte 6 1980's Card Hot Wheels Bw Hot Bird, Baja Breaker, Race Bait, Science FrictHot Wheels '80' Corvette #30 (error) 1989 Hot Wheels Super Treasure Hunt Ferrari 599xx No Reserve!!!!!!!!!!!"mighty Maverick" Aqua Vintage Hot Wheels Redline Car 1970 Us Unique Icy Shine!Vintage Hot Wheels Redline Chaparral 2g New Old Stock On Damaged Card W' Button

Recent News: Hot Wheels

Source: Google News

Find your old Hot Wheels: New 'turbo roundabout' coming to Edmonton
Edmonton Journal, April 25th

EDMONTON - Love them or hate them, more traffic circles are coming to city streets. Traffic planners have concept designs finalized for a “turbo roundabout,” a new design first used in The Netherlands that forces drivers in the outside lane to exit at...Read more

Utah boy with love for Hot Wheels to get own car design
KSL.com, April 24th

AMERICAN FORK — We first told you about Ethan Carnesecca when he was sick in the hospital. His mom says his love of Hot Wheels cars helped him pull through. Ethan is back home now in American Fork with a basement full of donated Hot Wheels...Read more

Ford sets world record for biggest Hot Wheels track loop
Autoblog (blog), April 24th

Take Your Child to Work Day looks like a pretty amazing experience for a child if their parent works at Ford. For the recent event, workers at the Blue Oval set up the world's largest Hot Wheels track loop in the atrium of the company's Research and...Read more

AutoMatters+: Hot Wheels Car Design at Star Wars Celebration
Del Mar Times, April 22nd

Matt Brutocao (Hot Wheels marketing) introduced this panel by telling us some amazing statistics: “Hot Wheels is actually the No. 1 toy in the world based on units sold. The average boy in the U.S. owns 50 Hot Wheels cars. Globally, about 10 Hot Wheels...Read more

Mattel needs to reinvent Barbie and Hot Wheels: Can you help?
Christian Science Monitor, April 18th

The company said they will focus on re-imagining its Barbie, Fisher-Price, and Hot Wheels brands in time for this year's holiday season. Individuals whose ideas are selected will also participate in the product-development process. Other companies have ...Read more

Hospitalized Boy Receives Dozens of Hot Wheels Cars from Around the World
People Magazine, April 17th

John Lambert, a friend of the Carnesecca family, is a fellow Hot Wheels fanatic and creator of the diecast car enthusiast blog Lamley Group. When Lambert heard about his little buddy's health problems, he wrote a post about Ethan and his love for Hot...Read more

Sick Utah Toddler Receives Hot Wheels Cars From Strangers Worldwide
ABC News, April 15th

Three-year-old Ethan Carnesecca has been battling pneumonia for almost a month now. Besides hospital visits from mom, dad and his four older siblings, there's something else that puts a smile on Ethan's face: Hot Wheels cars. "He's been in a lot of...Read more

'Pawn Stars:' See a Hot Wheels car worth more than a Porsche - AOL.com
AOL News, April 3rd

In the Hot Wheels market, there's nothing close to this. I mean, this is the holy grail of Hot Wheels. This is what everybody goes after. This is the rarest, and this is in the best condition. And that's why it goes for $100,000," said toy expert...Read more