One of the things I enjoy about collecting blackwall-era Hot Wheels, is that – compared to redline-era cars – it is much easier to find mint or near-mint versions at a reasonable price. For example, when I went to eBay to find the 1979 Greased Gremlin, the car I scored was in such great shape that it looked like it was fresh out of the blister. The problem was, it was only after I had it in my hands that I was able to inspect it closer and discover that it was not actually the 1979 first-casting, but the Hong Kong variation from three years later. You can see that car here.
From the same eBay seller, I scored two more Hot Wheels first-castings from 1979.
Drag racing legends Don “Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen took their rivalry to the orange track starting in 1970, when Hot Wheels released the first cars with their names on them. In 1971, the two got rail dragsters. In 1972, they were given rear engine wedge dragsters. By 1973, both were driving the Barracuda dragster casting for Hot Wheels. In 1978, the Hot Wheels Army Funny Car was modeled after Snake’s Plymouth Arrow dragster, and in 1979 Vetty Funny was the orange track version of Mongoose’s Corvette funny car.
Vetty Funny has seen a few other paint and tampo variations and was produced up until 1995. My grey English Leather version wears the common red-yellow-black tampo from 1979, however the white-yellow-black variation from the same year will fetch the big bucks.
Collecting variations of the Hot Wheels Bywayman could keep you busy for awhile. Based on a 1973 Chevy Silverado C/K 20 pickup, the Bywayman has seen at least 3 dozen variations and looks good in everything from construction tires to saw blades. The trick for me was finding a first-casting with its plastic running lights still intact.
The Datsun 200SX is the U.S. production model of the sport coupe based on the Nissan S platform. They were produced from 1975 through 1988 and the Hot Wheels casting represents the second-generation model from 1982. In addition to this white version from its debut year, the Hot Wheels 200SX was also released in yellow, metallic gold (1983), maroon (1984), and a fairly valuable plum variation that was made in Mexico in 1985. All of these wear gold Hot Ones wheels and feature an opening hood. I found this one on eBay and was initially pretty happy with how clean the paint and tampo were. However, the seller’s photos didn’t show the fact that the car had apparently been stepped on, resulting in a slightly caved-in roofline.
It’s been awhile since I found anything off the pegs, so I was happy to break the dry spell with one of my favorite castings. The HW Workshop ’64 Nova Station Wagon looks pretty fine all flamed-out, although I still prefer the metallic aqua variation from last year’s debut. Also, I noticed that there is a Mainline Limited Edition version of this latest that has Real Rider Steelies. I’m not sure how impossible it will be to find, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for that one.
Here are a couple for you open-wheel racing fans. I picked up both of these from the same seller on eBay. The Hot Wheels Formula 5000 was released in 1976 wearing red-line tires but otherwise looking much the same as this blackwall version from a year later.
The Hot Wheels Turbo streak was first released in 1983. There are other variations from that year without the words “elf” and “Michelin” on the orange, red and black tampo, as well as two others from 1983 with either gray or white real riders. This popular Indy Car has seen quite a few other variations up until 1998.