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: Stolen NASCAR racer recoveredtheday.com, February 28th
Hot wheels: Stolen NASCAR racer recovered. Published March 01. 2015 4:00AM. By PAUL NEWBERRY AP Sports Writer. Publication: The Day. Hampton, Ga. - The No. 44 race car returned to its NASCAR shop in North Carolina on Saturday after it was ...Read more
Ben Bolt shows off hot wheelsAlice Echo-News Journal, February 27th
The Commissioner's Court stands in front of the new rescue truck they helped purchase for the Ben Bolt Volunteer Fire Department. Commissioner's Court gets recognition. Photo by Monica Lopez ...Read more
Hot Wheels now racing through Crazy Taxi City Rush!AndroidGuys, February 26th
bone_shaker Put the pedal to the metal! SEGA Networks and Mattel Inc. have teamed up to bring one of Hot Wheels' most popular hot rods to Crazy Taxi City Rush. The Bone Shaker™ will be available for players to race around Bay City with for a limited time...Read more
SEGA AND MATTEL BRING HOT WHEELS TO CRAZY TAXI CITY RUSHGamasutra, February 26th
The world-famous Bone Shaker is one of Hot Wheels' most sought after & iconic rides! . In this first-ever deal, the notorious hot rod gets a makeover in the form of a sleek open top. Players will be able to unlock the car through in-game activities, or...Read more
Now Anyone Can Drive Hot Wheels' Intimidating Darth Vader CarGizmodo Australia, February 17th
If you're still drooling over the C5 Corvette that Hot Wheels turned into the ultimate ride for Darth Vader, the company will finally let anyone take it for a spin. But not the original, that's probably driven around by Hot Wheels' CEO. The rest of us...Read more
Hot Wheels designer Bryan Benedict talks turning Darth Vader into a carToy News, February 12th
Billy Langsworthy talks to Hot Wheels designer Bryan Benedict about working with major licences, how he started out in the industry and of course, what car he drives. How far is your reach across the Hot Wheels brand? I'm a designer in the Hot Wheels ...Read more
Anki Overdrive is the Hot Wheels set for a new generationSan Jose Mercury News (blog), February 11th
With the toys-to-life genre, the model has usually been one way. If you look at Skylanders or Disney Infinity, players have figurines and they put them on a reader of some sort and that instantly transports a version of that character inside a video...Read more
This track piece lets you drift Hot Wheels like a bossSlashGear, February 6th
Hot Wheels cars: you have likely played with them at some point or another, maybe stepped on one and took an impromptu slide across the floor. Near endless track arrays are available for playing with the miniature cars, but at the end of the day it all...Read more