With their completely unique designs, flash colors, flames, variety and maneuverability, Mattel put out a product that can suit any taste. While we may be graced with a wide array of customized cars, trucks, and military vehicles, it wasn’t always like that. When Hot Wheels had just come out in 1968, they only had a select few cars on their roster and they were almost all designed by one man – Harry Bradley.
Bradley was recruited by Mattel because of his experience in the automotive world and creative vision. Besides, it was a nice way to step away from his normal life and step into the realm that had no limits for a change. As he and his team came up with designs, which then turned into concepts, prototypes, and eventually the final product, chances are they never thought that it would eventually become such a worldwide phenomena. Nowadays, it’s hard to step into any toy store without coming across at least one Hot Wheels product and we have Mattel to thank for that. So, now that we’re done with the brief history lesson, are you ready to read 15 interesting facts about Hot Wheels?
15. The Darth Car Can Reach Cruising Speeds of 80 MPH & 150 MPH Velocities
While it may be pretty self-explanatory as to who served as its inspiration to begin with, something that isn’t as evident is how it’s actually a full functioning car. Bryan Benedict, the car’s designer, based its body off of a C5 Chevrolet Corvette and it looks absolutely stunning because of it. If the Darth Vader-esque styling weren’t enough to tickle your fancy then maybe you should just scroll on down to the next entry because, let’s face it, it’s very cool. After heavily modifying the Corvette, they are confident to say that the car can cruise at a calm, cool, and collected 80mph and speculate that it may even be able to reach 150mph due to its GM LS3 V-8 engine. After the team at Mattel worked on it for a mere two months, they were able to unveil it at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con and, needless to say, it blew the minds of Star Wars fans everywhere. However, the car wasn’t on display for very long and quickly had to learn to call celebrity car collector Jay Leno‘s garage home. Thankfully, he does take it out for a spin every once in awhile, meaning that the 526 horses under the hood can stretch their legs.
14. Making Sure Each Car Can Run Smoothly On Every Track
In order to compete with companies like Matchbox, Mattel knew that they had to not only make their cars look good, but improve their movement. So, they hired Howard Newman and the result was absolutely incredible. Unlike the other toy cars on the market, Newman found a way to incorporate an independent suspension system and rimmed wheels. He did this so they wouldn’t get damaged if stepped on or crushed in any way and to avoid any unnecessary friction. When you pair that with Hot Wheel’s lower center of gravity and lightweight design, these are probably some of the best toy cars on the market. But, Mattel didn’t stop there. The team that was working on the project also wanted the cars to be able to race so they began working on all sorts of tracks which would then improve upon the gaming experience. With ramps, jumps and loops in tow, these inter-connectable tracks can be paired with absolutely any Hot Wheels car to date so that you can have the ultimate racing experience in the comfort of your own home.
13. Their 40 Billionth Car Was Worth More than $140,000
All in all, Mattel’s Hot Wheels 40th anniversary car is one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, toy car that was ever made. Valued at over $140,000, this customized car designed by celebrity jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills has more diamonds on it than most people will ever own in one lifetime, and just goes to show how far the car community has come. Then again, this isn’t your typical toy car by any stretch of the imagination, either. Considering that its body was mounted on an 18K gold, that alone must be worth at least a couple thousand dollars and then when you take into account all of the gems that it’s encrusted with it’s hard to believe that it didn’t cost more. Especially considering that they all of the diamonds and rubies that were tediously placed into the microscopic holes that were drilled into the body the price seems to start making more and more sense. Because the car is embedded with 1,388 blue diamonds, 988 black diamonds, 319 white diamonds, and 8 rubies, you could probably blind yourself if you were to shine a flashlight onto this beauty. And then there’s the custom-made display case…
12. There Are Some Collections That Are Valued Over $1 Million
We all know that there are some Hot Wheels collections are absolutely massive but, have you ever thought about the value of it all? Well, when you consider that it’s not uncommon to see a vintage Hot Wheels go for a couple thousand on eBay, all depending on its rarity, color, condition and the like of course, the numbers start to add up very quickly and suddenly they’re in the millions of dollars range. Sure, this doesn’t mean that every single collection out there will be worth that much, but there are more than just a few in the world that will definitely fall under that very category. The best example of this would definitely be the one that Michael Zarnock has, especially because it’s the largest collection that the world currently knows of. It’s made up of over 20,000 Hot Wheels products total and he’s even written several books about Hot Wheels such as collector’s guides, so it’s safe to say that he knows what he’s doing and loves every minute of it.
11. Tanner Foust Set A World Record Driving A Real-Life Hot Wheels Car
Tanner Foust has been a huge Hot Wheels fan every since he was a kid, so he couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to experience what his playtime must have felt like for someone who was in the car while going down the track. In order to celebrate the upcoming Indy 500 back in 2011, a track was built based on those of the popular children’s toy and all of the other arrangements were finally made. In front of a crowd of over 30,000 people, Tanner Foust stepped into the car and completed a task that would go down in record books for a long time to come. As he went down the iconic orange ramp that measured 90m, or 10 stories, and into the V-curve that is so often connected to an extended jump, he lived out every child’s dream. Soaring 101m, or 332 feet, into the air he broke the previous world and celebrated as any person would after safely landing and stopping the vehicle.
10. A Hot Pink “Beatnik Bandit” Can Go for Over $15,000
There are some cars out there that never leave its packaging. Those that have been destroyed or even thrown out for whatever reason, but it’s not every day that you hear of one that can make you a small fortune. However, if you happen to still be in possession of a hot pink 1968 Beatnik Bandit from Hot Wheels, today may just be your lucky day. Originally designed by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in 1963 and then re-imagined for Hot Wheels in 1968 by Harry Bradley, this car that was from the “Sweet 16” collection was truly one of a kind. So much so that in 2004 someone was able to sell one that was out of its packaging and used for $7,070. Knowing this, you can only imagine just how much it would go for just about a decade later. On top of that, someone then placed one that was not only in mint condition, but still in its packaging and that went for a whopping $15,250! It just goes to show you, sometimes it’s better to keep things around because you never know what they can be worth later on.
9. Mattel Accidentally Packaged & Sold A Hot Wheels Prototype via: collectorsweekly.com
Everyone makes mistakes but the one that Mattel’s manufacturing division made was a pretty big one. All of Mattel’s prototypes were painted either white or black so that the designers could then check for imperfections and everything was fine and dandy— until it wasn’t. Some of their white 1968 Chevrolet Camaros were mistakenly packaged and then sent out for all of the general public to see. Thankfully, not too many succumbed to that error but it was still enough to make them be more careful next time. Needless to say, these were then purchased by consumers and if you can find one you should jump on it, even if it’s not in the best of shape. Even one that is out of its packaging and kind of beat up may go for over $2,500 and who knows how much one that’s still in the blister pack could possibly go for. If you do happen to have one then insure it.
8. Hot Wheels Have Always Had A Suggested Retail Price of $1
As if their awesome handling, durability and speed weren’t enough of a selling point already, here’s another: they’re affordable, too. Since Hot Wheels started being sold in stores, Mattel’s suggested retail price has been only $1, thus making it easily accessible for kids from all sorts of backgrounds to obtain. No one should ever be denied a toy because of its price, all within reason of course, and now it’s possible for them to have one. Given, what they are actually sold for will all depend on the store, taxes, and other factors that the manufacturing company has no control over but they do their best to keep the prices down low and have been doing a fantastic job since 1968. Sure, their tracks may be a different story altogether but that’s what hands and a little imagination is for. So, who says that Hot Wheels are a “boys toy” that everyone can’t enjoy because, in reality, they’re anything but.
7. Mattel Has Sold Over 4 Billion Hot Wheels Cars In the Last 48 Years
The scale of popularity that Hot Wheels has on the international level is absolutely undeniable. But, what’s even more impressive is the sheer quantity of cars that Mattel has to produce on an annual scale. With the fact that the brand has been around for 48 years and they put so much hard work and effort into making each one of their tiny vehicles in mind, their yearly production numbers are almost inconceivable. When you take into account that this one company provides cars that are distributed to any number of retailers around the world every year, the numbers work out to them producing one car every minute of the day for over 178 years (which is pretty crazy, especially when that figure equates to over 4 billion). Sure, they have machines that do a lot of the work for them and a massive production team as is, but it’s still so hard to believe, especially after you’ve done the math. If anything, with the growing population which then increases the demand for these cars, you can barely fathom what the future holds for the Hot Wheels franchise as a whole.
6. Their First Manufactured Car Was A Dark Blue Camaro
Hot Wheels hasn’t always been as big as it is today and, when this particular Mattel division was just starting out on the market they had to make a huge impression with not only the industry, but the hearts of little boys everywhere. Toy cars were the “it” thing back in the day and they had to do a lot to make their brand known. What resulted went above and beyond everyone’s expectations. They had initially released 16 cars but their very first car off the line was a customized Chevrolet Camaro. Designed by Harry Bradley who had experience working on cars in the past, he made Hot Wheels what they are today. With its dark blue candy coat, flames, and ability to roll better than any other toy on the market, Hot Wheels became a huge success. Sure, there may be slight differences between those that were released in the United States as compared to those in Hong King, but the love of cars in all shapes and sizes is something that everyone can agree upon and Hot Wheels has this simple fact to thank for its undeniable success.
5. 1968-1977 Was Known As the Redline Era
All Hot Wheels may looks similar to the untrained eye, but there are significant differences if you know where to look and the simple and subtle red line on the outside of the tire is one of them. From 1968, when Hot Wheels were first being manufactured, to 1977, all of their cars had a visible red line on the outside of the wheel thus emulating the times. Some of the most popular cars that were released which bared this mark were the Camaro, Custom Barracuda and Corvette but many others were styled in the same fashion. However, what has since been called “The Redline Era” ended in 1977. This was a direct result of Mattel trying to cut costs and a way to signify the end of the glorification of muscle cars and Polyglas tires. This change was inevitable though because, as time moves on, things come in and out of fashion and Hot Wheels would have to keep up with it if they still wanted to be seen as the cool toy to have.
4. The Most Recent Concept Car That Hot Wheels Made Was A Ford Transit
As if making toy cars wasn’t enough for Hot Wheels, they decided to try their hand at making a modern concept car and, honestly, it looks pretty cool… especially for a van. While they may be best known for their hand in creating these awesome sports cars, killer tracks and even the odd vehicle connected to a movie franchise, they have proved to the world that vans can be eye-candy. In a partnership with Ford, they made a kit car out of the 2014 Ford Transit and it is loaded with all of the features that you could possibly want. From a 55-inch television screen to a Hot Wheels drag track that is build into the car, they really went above and beyond to prove a point. Then again, maybe the 2013 Specialty Equipment Market Association wasn’t the ideal place to unveil such a masterpiece because, well, you shouldn’t have to worry about scratching the paint.
3. A Hot Pink Concept of “The Beach Bomb” Sold for $125,000
While all of the Hot Wheels that were manufactured back in the 1960s and 1970s may be considered rare today, this particular one is truly one of a kind. Designed by Harry Bradley’s close, personal friend Ira Gilford who took over Bradley’s position after he left the company, the original prototype was too narrow for the tracks. While this may have meant that they would have to redesign the car in order to meet the standards that Hot Wheels had in place, a member of the team had the brilliant idea of capitalizing on the mishap and sold the car to a private collector. There are a few unique features as well. Some of the most prominent aspects that sets this car apart from the rest are its rear-loading abilities, the fact that the surfboards are located inside the van and the increased size of the tires. So, while “The Beach Bomb” concept may have gone off the tracks in a lot of regards, at least it was a worthwhile investment and a story to tell the grandkids.
2. The First Supernationals Race Was Financed by Mattel
In November 1970, there was a new sort of race coming to town, The Supernationals, and the Mattel Hot Wheels hobby division just couldn’t step away from the opportunity to be a part of something like that. While it may have been held in what would be the NHA national event venue for an entire decade, the Ontario Motor Speedway, they needed funds to get things going and that’s where Hot Wheels stepped in. This particular division ended up funding the NHA, or National Hot Rod Association, sanctioned event and in turn dished out a whopping $250,000! Because of this, it only made sense for Hot Wheels to be in the event’s title and so it went from Supernationals to Hot Wheels Supernationals and it served as a great means to get some publicity. As a result of everything, they even surpassed the amount of money that was ever awarded for a cash prize. Good job, Mattel!
1. The Only Fully Functioning Car From The Original 16 Was The Dodge Deora
While Harry Bradley may have designed most of Hot Wheel’s original lineup, there was only one that turned into a real concept car and that was the Dodge Deora. Commissioned in 1964 by Mike and Larry Alexander, the real life Hot Wheels car that was finally ready to show the general public in 1967 was an instant success with the fans and turned many heads along the way. Once it finally arrived at its new home, the Detroit Autorama, in 1974 it won nine awards including the prestigious Ridler Award for the best new custom car. Painted in a custom candy gold and appropriately named the Deora, everyone couldn’t help, but be awe-struck when they saw this front-loading automobile. The design may be based off of the front of a Dodge A100 and rear of a Ford station wagon but the final product was, and continues to be, a glimpse into the future.