For millions of kids, the first and most accessible entry into cars takes the shape of Hot Wheels. They are durable and wide and small enough to pocket; Basically, a perfect toy for anyone (of any age) with a love of four wheels. As a result, the company has sold more than eight billion cars since its inception in 1968—and while building a small die-cast car isn’t nearly as difficult as an actual car, the design and manufacturing processes that ended with a new Hot Wheels There are. Your sweaty fist is surprisingly complicated.
Think about it. Ornate and cartoonish fantasy designs aside, any “real car” Hot Wheels has a distinct look. They all feel well proportioned, accurately detailed, and styled with an idea that can only come with genuine respect for the subject matter—be it a 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS or a 1996 Chevy Lumina APV. Ho (yes, they actually made a Hot Wheels version of that). Achieving that kind of stability without a literal shrink beam can only be done if a company has its stash for the exact sciences, and a visit to Hot Wheels Design Studio in Southern California last month confirmed that.
More than fifty years of knowledge is also being applied to the Hot Wheels Legends Tour, now an annual competition where enthusiasts can enter their own project cars to be selected as the new Hot Wheels design , which is about as close as you can get. to attain immortality. The winning car is put into production the following year, so Mattel doesn’t have much time to turn out a model that faithfully recreates one’s singular vision while keeping all the necessary notes from more Hot Wheels canon. kills to keep in.
It just so happens that it recently pulled out 1:64-scale wraps from the 2020 winner—so what went into those nine months of work? Well, here’s how Hot Wheels was born.
But first: How did a toy become so iconic? How did something so small get the chance to shape the excitement of the future and be part of the car culture in itself?
Hot Wheels as a brand certainly holds a unique place in the car culture unlike any traditional OEM. When it originally began pumping out diecast toy cars in 1968, it began as a reflection of the custom rides seen on the streets around Mattel’s headquarters in El Segundo, California. Marketed as “California Customs,” the now-iconic 1:64 scale original 16 cars come in a range of reflective neon paints—called “Spectraflame” -and All are outfitted with blast pipes and opening hoods that reveal the modified V8 model engine. They were seated on chrome five-spoke mag wheels with redline tyres; They were designed to be a replica of the hottest cars that climb Crenshaw Boulevard every Sunday.
But in the years to come, since the founding of Hot Wheels, it has shifted from being the mirror image of car culture to shielding itself.
As a kid, long before I could even imagine earning my driver’s license or modifying my first car, I had an array of Hot Wheels on display, running around small town rugs, The carpet was paved along the roads, or breaking up the increasingly wide tracks that I had designed. Create as much shock and fear as you can. My favorite, in those early years, was a bright orange ’68 Mercury Cougar; Years later it’s still one of my favorite muscle cars.
And I know my relationship with cars isn’t unique: Hot Wheels is the first contact we have with car culture as a concept. We tested their performance, we modified them to be faster, we ran them through test courses of our own builds, and we traded them with friends. They were the blueprint for the future.