Hot Wheels celebrates half a century of tiny cars!

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

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The world’s biggest small car manufacturer turns fifty

The year was 1968: Americans could buy a first generation Camaro at their dealership down the road, Planet of the Apes released in theatres; and toymaker Mattel launched a line of 16 toy cars and a modular orange plastic track that would go on to spawn one of the most ubiquitous toys in history – along with generations of life long car fanatics.

50 years later, this humble little line of toys is still going, having produced over 6 billion tiny cars, and currently producing 519 million toys per year. The same simple formula applies: that of a metal body, atop a flat frame, with plastic wheels on axles.

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VW Kombi "Beach Bomb" prototype, valued at USD$150,000

Legend has it that when a Hot Wheels prototype was rolled across the desk of Mattel co-founder Elliot Handler in 1968, his response was an exclamation. "Those are some hot wheels!" he said.

The line of cars was created in response to British company Matchbox, who had their own line of miniature cars. Hot Wheels’ point of difference was they embraced aftermarket and custom culture, with many of their cars made to look more aggressive and ‘high-performance’ than Matchbox’s humdrum pedestrian replicas.

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To mark their 50 year anniversary, they are re-releasing a number of the "original 16" cars, many of which were ‘custom’ or ‘hot-rod’ versions of real cars of the time.

Hot Wheels played an important role in many of our lives, fostering a love and admiration of cars across generations. For those fearful that younger generations won’t possess the same level of passion for cars, Hot Wheels will continue to be there, nurturing dreams and stoking imagination.

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