During his later years, my friend Van was part of a camping club, a group of friends who would caravan around the country in motorhomes. Van was the fix-it guy in the club, always happy to help his camping club friends with mechanical or maintenance issues, or even cosmetic improvements to their motor homes. Even after they were too old to drive these cumbersome vehicles around the country, the camping club continued to meet once a month at a local restaurant for lunch. At some point, one of his beloved camping club friends gave Van this Hot Wheels Motor Home, hand-painted to match his own rig.
I have to admit, when Van first gave me his Hot Wheels Motor Home, I was a little disappointed that it had been painted over. But since Van has been gone a few years, I’m appreciating his customized version a lot more. Besides, based on the chrome plastic base, the blackwall tires, and the bits of original orange paint still peeking out under the wheel wells, I’m pretty sure Van’s Hot Wheels Motor Home was the same 1979 variation of which I also have a really nice example.
1979 | 9645 | GMC Motor Home | orange, chrome plastic base | Hong Kong | blackwalls
When I bought a few cases of Hot Wheels from The Dealer a few years back, this ’56 Hi-Tail Hauler was the car he pulled out to show me that some of the cars were “worth a lot of money!” I’m not sure how much he knew about the values of Hot Wheels, but he did have good taste. The sight of this near-mint blue and yellow Ford F-150 helped seal the deal.
As it turns out, this light blue variation from 1979 is one of the least valuable of the 10 or so versions that were made since the casting’s debut in 1977. But I’m not complaining. I also have the metalflake blue model from 1982.
1979 | 9647 | ‘56 Hi-Tail Hauler | blue with red & yellow flames, yellow plastic motorcycles | Hong Kong | blackwalls
The Hot Wheels Crack Ups made their debut in 1985. Each model has a spring-loaded panel that, when crashed, will flip around to show its damaged side. There are several different castings of these which are sometimes difficult to identify – mostly since each variation was often given a different name. For example, the Hot Wheels wiki shows 10 different color/tampo variations of this Nissan-like casting with 8 different model names. I was particularly attracted to the paint and tampo combination on this 1985 model called Smash Hit, which I found on eBay.
1985 | 7821 | Smash Hit (Crack Up) | green with pale green and yellow trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls
I also have a metallic red variation of this casting called Speed Crasher.
Another Crack Up casting is Sport Crasher, also from 1985. I got this one from the Dealer. As is often the case with Crack Ups, this one has been cracked up so many times that it no longer stays in its undamaged form – in fact it appears to be missing a piece.
1985 | 7070 | Sport Crasher (Crack Up) | black with orange and purple flames | Malaysia | blackwalls
Bang Up Job is another Crack Up casting from 1985. I also got this fairly clean model from the Dealer.
1985 | 7582 | Bang Up Job (Crack Up) | red with yellow, white and blue trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls
I also have a green variation of this casting called Bangster, which is from 1986.
And finally another 1986 Crack Up, Side Grinder, which came from the Dealer and no longer holds its undamaged form.
1986 | 2558 | Side Grinder (Crack Up) | black with orange, purple, red trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls
When it was originally released in 1978 in white with black and yellow tampos, this Larry Wood-designed casting was called Highway Patrol. In 1979, Fire Chaser was a variation of the same casting in red with yellow, black and white tampos. This one came from the Dealer.
1979 | 2639 | Fire Chaser | red with yellow & black trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls
This black version with white and yellow tampos is the Sheriff Patrol from 1982 and comes from the collection of Big A.
1982 | 2019 | Sheriff Patrol | black w/black, white & yellow trim | Malaysia | blackwalls
Another variation of the Sheriff Patrol from 1985 wears metallic blue paint. This one I picked up on eBay.
1985 | 9526 | Sheriff Patrol | metallic blue w/blk, wht, yellow trim, white rear doors, black interior | Malaysia | blackwalls
Yet another variation – also from the Dealer – is this tan color-changing model from 1988 that is both a police car and a taxi cab.
1988 | 7285 | Sheriff Patrol (Automagic) | light purple (light tan) with Police Taxi trim | Malaysia | blackwalls
Another first casting from 1979, the Auburn 852 is a Larry Wood designed Hot Wheels that was subsequently released in a multitude of colors and decorations up until 2003. The trick with this car is finding one with an intact plastic windshield, like the red and brown blackwall model shown here that I picked up on eBay.
1979 | 2505 | Auburn 852 | red with dark brown plastic fenders | Hong Kong | blackwalls
I have a few other variations – all missing their windshields – including this yellow and brown blackwall model from 1981 that I got from the Dealer.
1981 | 2505 | Auburn 852 | yellow with brown plastic fenders | Hong Kong | blackwalls
I love the metalflake gold version with whitewalls from 1983 that I found on eBay.
1983 | 2505 | Auburn 852 | metalflake gold with brown plastic fenders | Malaysia | white walls
And finally, another one from the Dealer, a red on red version with white walls from 1991.
1991 | 2527 | Auburn 852 | red with red plastic fenders | Malaysia | white walls
The search for cars has taken me to some interesting places. I’ve been to rural trailer parks and mansion-lined neighborhoods. I’ve met some interesting characters too.
A few summers ago, my wife noticed a listing for a garage sale that was advertising lots of toys for sale. It was in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood and they did have lots of toys – piles and piles of them. When I didn’t see any diecast cars, I asked the guy if he had any Hot Wheels. We exchanged phone numbers and when I met him back there a few hours later, he sold me several cases of diecast toys out of the trunk of his car. I’ll call this guy The Dealer because I had the impression that he could have gotten me anything I wanted for the right price.
My favorite car from the many that The Dealer sold me is this Hiway Hauler, the first casting from 1980 with North American Van Lines emblazoned on the side. Hiway Hauler would go on to become the tiny rolling billboard for many brands over the years, including Mountain Dew, Goodyear, WalMart and even NASA.
1980 | 5144 | Hiway Hauler | white with “North American Van Lines” graphics | Hong Kong | blackwalls