Scale automobiles mimic their full size counterparts in more ways than one. Some people spend thousands on racing RCs for example, tweaking their vehicles to go as fast possible. Others invest countless hours into scale model building, making sure they have every last detail down and building their own parts from scratch. Others are collectors, hoping to track down rare and expensive diecast models that they display in brilliant cases.
The great thing about automotive collectables is that much like real cars – it’s a hobby that can fit with nearly anyone’s budget. In fact, the total amount invested on everything you’ll see in this post is probably less than what you’d spend on a dinner for two at any decent restaurant these days.
As a boy, like many other Speedhunters readers I grew up playing with Hot Wheels, Matchboxes, and other diecast toy cars. Each time I’d go to the store with my parents I’d ask them if I could get one , and depending on my behavior I may have been lucky enough to bring one home. Much has changed since then, but even as an adult I never really stopped taking a quick browse through the toy section each time I go to the store.
Over the past year or two, I’ve actually gotten pretty big into collecting Hot Wheels. Of course my methods are probably a different than many of the Hot Wheels collectors out there. I don’t show up at the store as soon as it opens hoping to score some ultra rare release or trying collecting every last car in a certain series.
What I do is really pretty simple. I just look for the cars that I think are cool. Fortunately, or unfortunately if you’re coming from the perspective of my wife, Hot Wheels releases just seem to get cooler and cooler. After I buy them I don’t keep them in their original packages hoping they will go up in value someday, I open them up and park them in a wooden case or on the shelf above my desk. I may or may not push them around on the table making engine noises.
Just like my tastes in real cars, my small but growing collection of Hot Wheels is pretty diverse. Many of these cars I’d call “Speedhunters-worthy”, so I figured I’d share some of them here. If you’ve “grown out” of Hot Wheels, you may be surprised at some of the models that have been released over the last couple of years.
Thanks to the efforts of designers like Mr. Jun Imai, the Hot Wheels line has expanded to include some very cool scale replicas of what you might call “cult” cars. They might not catch the eye of little Johnny and his mom in toy aisle as much as other Hot Wheels offerings, but for us “grown ups” there’s nothing better.
Vintage Japanese cars in particular have gotten a lot of love thanks to Mr. Imai. There are now several different Japanese classics available in Hot Wheels form.
There are established Japanese classics like the Datsun 240Z (this one a special Christmas-colored release from last year)…
…as well as the Datsun 510 which is available in a variety of different paint schemes.
The love for these retro Japanese cars doesn’t stop with US market favorites though. Old school car fans freaked out last year when it was announced that the Hakosuka Skyline would be added to the Hot Wheels lineup – in full “works” style. You might even notice the Hakosuka wears the logo of the Japanese Nostalgic Car website on its side. Cool!
A short time later the Hakosuka was followed up by a beautiful recreation of a Kenmeri Skyline GT-R in street form. For an inexpensive diecast, they really nailed the details on this one – right down to the chin spoiler and over fenders.
With two vintage Skyline models added to the lineup, there was a lot to be excited about. But it gets even better…
The latest retro Japanese release from Hot Wheels is Mad Manga – a full on homage to the Kaido Racer.
External oil cooler, long nose, and tall takeyari pipes – it’s got it all. The only thing it’s missing is a button to make revving noises and a Godfather horn. As you can imagine, it’s pretty amazing to walk into your local mega store and see these icons of Japanese car culture sitting on the shelf.
Of course there’s much more than just Japanese cars to be excited about. Like BMWs? Here’s a trio of recent releases – a 2002, along with E92 M3 and Z4 M GT cars.
Recently Hot Wheels has also taken to recreating famous movie and television cars in scale form. Whether it’s K.I.T.T from Knight Rider…
…or the time traveling Delorean from Back to the Future. It must be from the first film as there’s no Mr. Fusion installed.
Not be left out is the Hot Wheels version of the A-Team van – and a pretty detailed one at that. Now all we need is a Hot Wheels General Lee to complete the set.
When it comes to Muscle Cars, Hot Wheels does not disappoint.
It’s not just vehicles from the “golden age” of Muscle Cars either. Here we have a couple of later model Camaros including an IROC-Z and a disco era Z/28 drag machine.
Each brand gets it’s due respect in the world of Hot Wheels. This is just a small slice of the selection of Mopar Muscle Cars available. I’m particularly fond of the ’71 Plymouth Road Runner.
What’s really cool is that they make many different model years of the same car. In this case we have a ’69 Pontiac GTO Judge on the left, and a ’70 GTO Judge on the right.
How about a Ford Maverick? Maybe not a Muscle Car in the traditional sense – but Hot Wheels makes it look great.
It’s also really cool to see the increase in the number of Australian models being produced. Whether it’s the classic ’73 Ford Falcon XB…
…or this modern Falcon that looks straight out of the V8 Supercars series.
This Volksrod is physically one of the smallest cars in my Hot Wheels in my collection, but also one of my favorites.
How’s this for a non-mainstream car? It’s a Volkswagen Brasilia!
This Triumph TR6 looks like its ready to go head to head with the aforementioned BMW 2002 and Datsun 510 in a little round of Hot Wheels vintage racing.
Speaking of vintage race cars, they even made the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34 Formula 1 car. I actually haven’t see many of these on shelves since I picked this one up back in 2010.
Rods and customs? Those are covered as well. The 8 Crate Ford Wagon is especially cool with its visible rear engine and Mooneyes paintjob.
This flamed ’53 Chevy lead sled is pretty impressive as well.
Lots of cool Hot Wheels pickup trucks as well, like this nice recreation of the 1978 Dodge Lil Red Express.
Or this NASCAR-ized version of a ’63 Studebaker pickup. Dig the side exit exhaust and rear spoiler.
Rally fans should be happy to see Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta as well as a rally-spec Citroën C4 in Hot Wheels form.
Another one of personal favorites is this ’66 GTO fire wagon.
Sure, Pontiac never made a GTO station wagon but in the world of Hot Wheels anything is possible. It even has a dog riding in the back…
Modern muscle in the form a Boss 302 Mustang and a Camaro ZL1.
With so much horsepower on hand, I couldn’t help stealing a couple of my wife’s cotton balls and starting an impromptu burnout session. The Boss 302 and ZL1 were good…
…but they just couldn’t match the smoke-producing capabilities of this Plum Crazy Charger R/T.
I felt like I was part of a Top Gear segment when I assembled this trio of modern supercars for a photo.
In fact, it was so exciting that my cat even jumped up on the table to see what all the ruckus was about.
Here’s one more newer release for the Japanese car fans – a first generation Mazda RX-7 in race form.
This one even wears the logo of JDM Legends, the Utah-based suppliers of fine Japanese classic automobiles.
Playing with Hot Wheels and other toys as kids is something that’s shaped nearly all of today’s car enthusiasts – and that’s certainly the case for me. Even today when so many youngsters would rather play with an iPad than with actual toys like we did, it’s nice to see Hot Wheels making automotive dreams better than ever.
If and when I have children of my own, I fully intend to surrender these cars over to them. They will be played with in the dirt, in the bathtub, and be raced across the living room floor – just as I did myself a couple decades ago, The little cars will surely lose any remaining value they may have had, and I don’t care because I know the memories made will be more than worth it.
nice... know any places where you people can race them.. been collecting for over 40 years and have some of the fastest cars.
ive just started to collect. all thats missing is the HAKO! I cant find it anywhere! dont think theyre on sale anymore.
I guess all car nuts that collect hot wheels buy the same models, and unwrap them as soon as they can! 350 and counting...
I have a collection of hot wheels too, loveeeeeeeeeed to collect a bunch, kinda screwed up with them too much when I was little. hahah
I have my collection of Nissans and Datsuns with me at work. Safe to say they get played with at least once or twice a week..
Mike, you're a man after my own heart. I began the little cars collection as a kid, too - at the time, Matchbox was the only game in town - made by Lesney in England. I still have a few of those that I didn't play to death. I kinda dropped out of collecting by the time Hot Wheels hit the market, but then got back into it about 15 years ago when I spotted a red '66 AC Cobra 427 & thought, "I'll never have a full-size one; I gotta have this!" And so it began anew. Now, at age 57, I have maybe 500 or so little die cast cars - all out of the packages. I'm still trying to figure out how to display them all at the same time - I have a couple of clear acrylic cases on the wall so I can rotate the contents, but like you, I buy only what I think is cool. I've even painted headlights & taillights where they needed further defining, & have built a few hotrods out of the 30's Ford examples - pull off the fenders, grind down the chassis, bingo! And yes, I still make a pass by the toy aisle whenever I'm at the store. My youngest son & oldest grandson have been infected as well, so I hope to see continuing generations enjoying this fun "addiction". Thanks for sharing your story.
Nice, I had a Hot Wheels collection Too, mixed with Majorette and some "old" Matchbox, but my collection it's focused in Modern Racing, or Racing capable; the oldes car was a 1991 Toyota Celica Rally car for a chinese manufacture, a Copule of early 90's DTM, and the same De Lorean, everithing else its' las 15 years was Rally (most of them, almost 36 rallycars); racing or exotic cars
and I thanksfully to good I really dislike Muscle cars, or I just be ran out money, here the 80% of the real cars hotwheels was all american muscle...........crappy
i have a few of them but i wish i had the skylines and my 510 coupe is painted in a gold colouron the other hand i have an R35 gtr an R32 gtr a porsche gt3 and a few muscle cars.love your collection!
really nice... inspiring... i'm also into it lately, though i collect tomicas and other japanese die-casts, i have a few hot wheels on my collection (BNR34 skyline)... oh, and i just wanted to say, that cat is cute...
theomar_1996 I've been wanting to take some Tomica cars apart, slam them and fit them with wheels from Hot Wheels cars.
well for The A-Team van.. its pretty expensive in Indonesia, it become a "rare" in here. same as Ken Block's Ford Fiesta and i just got that car last month, even the price so much higher than the regular Hot Wheels price. The Hakosuka i pressume will be the next rare item, so maybe i will hunt for that car.to be honest, when i read this blog i felt like that im not the only one who played HotWheels and yeaa... i even (sometimes) i play it at the table, push them around and making engine noises hehe
Man you're lucky... I rarely find JDMs... All I found are muscle cars so unintentionally my collection has lots of it.
How do you keep your open ones clean most of my collection is sealed but the few I have opened and are out on display get filthy. Do I just wash them in warm soapy water? I was worried about the stickers if I did this. Awesome collection you've got here.
ChrisLewis I don't wash them really. Some of them I keep in a wooden case on the wall and the ones from the shelf I just dust off every once in a while.
I was forced to give away all my Hot Wheel cars to my baby cousins a few years ago. I only have one left and it's a yellow C5 Corvette racecar for the ALMS series.
neurite Ha, I have a friend who bought a few hundred Hot Wheels cars "for his son" too (also in New Zealand).
Fantastic post!! I just love the little cars you can get from Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Shuco, Tomica and the rest. Excellent collection you've got there too. I love heading to the supermarket to see what new ones they have on the shelf. Its a little embarrassing when the checkout people give you that look though! Here's a link to some of my collection http://hak.gwc134.net/Cars/Models/modelcars3.htm I need to work out some way to get them all displayed at once though, they're just in boxes at the moment.
Loved this post! I too collect Hot Wheels and just buy what i think is cool. I have a 2 year old son that i potty trained using Hot Wheels. For everyday he had no accidents he found a surprise under his pillow at night. He was potty trained in less than two weeks. I have so much fun buying them and watching his excitement when he gets a new one that as long as he's been a good boy all day he still gets his surprise under the pillow. I bought him the rolling carrying case that holds a hundred cars and he will not leave home without it! I love it! Btw, i have virtually every car in your post in my personal collection...uh hum plus a whole lot more.
Thanks for all the comments everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I'll try to do another update as I gather more!
Mike Garrett This was an amazing post thanks for sharing some of your memories with us, this goes to show you also that you can own any car you like, albeit kinda hard to get into ^_^b
I have the Hakosuka and the tr6 models above my desk. nice article, now we know what you do with all your hard earned speedhunters money.
This is so awesome to see, I've been collecting HW since i was about 7 and now i'm 17 but only in the last 3-4 years or so I've been buying them for what they are not just an extra toy lying around. If only HW would bring out the R33 skyline then i would have every skyline produced such as the gt-x, gt-r, r22, r34 and r35. i have heaps of other JDM HW's cars and hundreds still in the box's. Awesome to see and hear other people do the same :) Love the post
Awesome post. I make a detour to the Hot Wheels section every time I go to the local department store, but have so far managed to resist buying all but a few cars. Love the Charger burnout photo!
Awesome to see someone with the same collecting ethos as myself! I've been collecting since I was a kid, but now it has become checking out the rack anywhere I stumble across a Hot Wheels spread. All of them are open box, and just line up wherever I have extra space. We even have a lot of the same cars in our collection! Great piece, thanks.
Im so happy to know theres people that collect the same shit as me makes me feel less weird i got a lot of the same cars as u
You forgot the best one hanging on the pegs right now ----------> http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Hot-Wheels-Cars-of-the-Decades-AE86-Toyota-Corolla-01.jpg
Nicholas Rodriguez I've been trying to find this one in the store for a while! No luck as of yet though. Somehow I feel going on to Ebay and buying in one is "cheating" haha.
Mike Garrett i did once see a white one with red japanese symbols on the side in a 5 pack of hotwheels at the warehouse in newzealand about 3 years ago and ive been hating myself for not buying it ever since and i cant help but notice how many of these cars from your article i have too
@Mike Garrett That's strange, here in my area the pegs are loaded with them. I even have one that I gutted to make an AE86 jumpdrive out of.
man. I would just sit and line my 200 or so little cars (all of various brands) on my little plastic pieces of connectable tracks, or the crazy road/rug things. And my parents complain today about just sitting on the computer looking at cars, or out "breaking" my '97 taurus (ugliest car ever). My favorite little car was an old cop car, that wasn't quite a crown vic, but could be an earlier model of it. If you pushed down on the car, the lights would go off with the siren....man....to the attic i go
damn i too just started collecting last year haha, i guess it's becoming popular. but like you mike i also only collect "real life" cars and a few of the one-off ones hot wheels makes. it's a perfect hobby for guys like me who are obsessed wih cars but who can't afford to play with the real thing. i have every single car posted here along with about 500 others including STI's, Evo's, Chevy's, Ford's etc. etc. i also have them organized in 3 full size book shelves arranged in alphabetic order from Acura to Willys, i get made fun of by my girlfriend and my friends pretty often for collecting hot wheels especially that last part with the organizing but i don't care because it's such a great hobby i also enjoy talking about my collection with people most of my cars have stories behind them that i tell of how i got them and such, or i just tell people about the actual car itself like specs on the motor and basically stuff you'd see in a car feature on this website or in a magazine, not alot of people sit and actually listen to me but i still think its fun anyways. so, next time your in wal mart and you see a hot wheels version of your dream car, pick it up because it could be the start of a new hobby as it did for me.
I have a giant plastic tub filled with the Hot Wheels and Matchboxes Mike had as a kid. Hoping to someday pass those down to my grandkids. I never knew way back when that his fascination with cars would lead to his current job. Pretty amazing!!