Since the beginning, Hot Wheels have always had different wheel sizes. Some cars, like the 1968 Ford J-Car had the medium sized (3/8″) wheels all around, while the 1969 Classic ’57 T-Bird had small (5/16″) wheels up front and medium wheels in the back to help give it the characteristic rake. The 1970 Heavy Chevy utilized medium wheels in the front with large (7/16″) wheels in the back.
The 1978 Baja Breaker was the first model to use large wheels all the way around. Four large (9/16″) blackwalls turned this 3rd generation Ford Econoline van into a rugged 4×4. (This was two years before the debut of Hot Wheels construction tires, which would eventually take the off-road look to the next level.)
The Baja Breaker’s black plastic hood can open. But I’ve learned that sometimes, once opened, it refuses to close again. So I’ve decided not to mess with it on this one. Other Baja Breakers in my collection include the 1979 Scene Machines release, the 1980 green model, a 1983 metallic orange well-loved toy and the 1984 black A-Team version.
Hot Wheels | Hot Wheels | 1978 Speedway Specials | 2022 | Baja Breaker | gray with yellow, red & blue trim | HK | bs
This is the first casting of the Hot Wheels Lickety Six which came out in 1978. There are only three other variations:
- 1983, similar paint and tampo, black interior and engine, made in France
- 1983, gray-blue, similar tampo, chrome interior and engine, made in Mexico
- 1986, white with red and blue tampo, chrome interior and engine, made in Mexico (4-pack only)
This well-played with model came from the Collection of Big A.
The Hot Wheels Lickety Six was designed by Larry Wood and Bob Rosas, no doubt inspired by the six-wheeled Tyrell P34, which first raced Formula One in 1976. Unlike the real P34, the Wood/Rosas creation has its wing mounted off the cockpit, in front of the rear wheels. But keeping true to its inspiration, the Hot Wheels model has four small wheels in the front and larger rear wheels in the back.
Hot Wheels | 1978 | 2017 | Lickety Six | dark blue with red and white trim | HK | bs
This eBay find is the 1980 first casting of the Hot Wheels 3-Window ’34, which was part of the Hi-Rakers series. Continuing up to 1985, there are about 8 variations of the Hi-Rakers 3-Window ’34, including four different versions with Real Riders.
The Hot Wheels Hi-Rakers series have a rear axle that can be raised and lowered to adjust the rake of the car. Other Hi-Rakers in my collection include the 1980 ‘Vette Van and the 1981 Iron Man, a fairly rough example of the 1980 Turbo Wedge, and the 1998 30th Anniversary reproduction of the 1980 ’40s Woodie, which includes the awesome reproduction blister card.
Hot Wheels | 1980 | 1132 | 3-Window ’34 (Hi-Rakers) | red with brown fenders, yellow trim | HK | bs
In 1987, the 3-Window was retooled with a standard base, and the popular casting has been seen in about 60 more variations up until 2013. This clean silver variation with red and yellow flames – another eBay find – is from 1995.
This Hot Wheels casting is designed by Larry Wood and is based on the 1934 Ford Model 40B three-window coupe. Much as the real-life ’32-’34 Fords were popular with hot rodders, Larry Wood customized his version as well, with a chopped top and exposed engine.
Hot Wheels | 1995 | 1132 | 3-Window ’34 | metalflake silver with gray fenders, yellow, orange and red trim | MY | bs
Before I found this Hot Wheels Mercedes-Benz C-111 on eBay, I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with either the real car or the Hot Wheels version. I was mostly attracted to the bright-colored tampo. The Hot Wheels version, with opening gull-wing doors, first came out in a variety of Spectraflame colors in 1972, then reappeared in various enamel colors in 1973. It was given this red paint and white-blue-yellow tampo combination for the 1974 Flying Colors series, which was repeated in 1975 with the metal base changed to chrome plastic, and again for 1976 with a black plastic base. This final appearance from 1977 has the black plastic base and blackwalls.
The real-life Mercedes-Benz C-111 was actually a series of cars using the same platform as a testbed for experimenting with new engine technologies, such as Wankel, diesel and turbocharged engines. The first C-111 was completed in 1969 and featured a mid-mounted engine, fiberglass body with gull-wing doors, and independent multi-link rear suspension.
Into the 1970s, Mercedes-Benz experimented with various engines and more aerodynamic bodywork, breaking many speed records along the way. In 1979, the fourth-generation C-111 with a twin-turbocharged V8 recorded an average lap speed of over 250 mph.
Hot Wheels | 1977 | 6978 | Mercedes-Benz C-111 | red with white, blue and yellow trim, black plastic base | HK | bs
I have a few cars in my collection that I haven’t yet photographed and posted, mostly because they are in pretty rough shape. But I’m not sure how this nice ’57 Chevy escaped being featured previously. It came from the Collection of Big A and is a little playworn, but it’s certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.
The Hot Wheels ’57 Chevy was first released in 1977, wearing either redlines or blackwalls and red paint, with a tampo very similar to this. This black version is from the following year and this paint/tampo was repeated again in 1982 but with gold Hot Ones. There are dozens more variations of this popular model going right up to the current year. And there are even more variations of the version with an exposed engine, of which I have a good example from its first year, 1984, and another from the 1992 Classic Collection 5-pack.
Hot Wheels | 1978 | 9638 | ‘57 Chevy | black with white & yellow trim | HK | bs
The Matchbox Land Rover Safari first appeared in 1965. The regular wheel versions can be found in green with brown luggage, blue with tan luggage, gold with tan luggage, and blue with brown luggage like this nice model I nabbed on eBay. In 1970 it was given the Superfast treatment and has been seen in metallic gold and the considerably more valuable bright blue.
The real life Land Rover was born out of conditions in England following the second World War. Rover had been manufacturing luxury cars since 1901, but their factory in Coventry had been destroyed by enemy bombing. In 1947, now in a former aircraft engine factory near Birmingham, the company needed to create cash flow so the company could re-start its car production. Inspired in part by the Willys Jeep commonly seen in England during the war, Rover came up with a plan to temporarily produce a light agricultural and utility vehicle. The flat, easy to produce body panels were made of aluminum because steel was still being rationed. Early colors were dictated by an abundant supply of surplus military cockpit green paint. The sturdy “box-section ladder chassis” required a simpler welding process. When car production started up again, the Land Rover proved to be a better-selling product and eventually became the landmark brand that continues today. This Matchbox model represents a Series IIA 4-door model with the signature Safari roof – actually a second skin fitted on top which kept the spartan interior cool in warm weather and reduced condensation when it was cold.
Matchbox | 1965 | 12 | Land Rover Safari | blue with brown plastic luggage | black plastic wheels | England
I found my first Hot Wheels Classic Cobra earlier this year. As it often happens, once I discover a new model, I start seeing them everywhere. Since that first Cobra, I’ve added three more to my collection. This clean 1993 Revealers Classic Cobra came from an eBay auction.
The Revealers series was rather unique. My copy of the Tomart’s Price Guide describes it this way:
Revealers, cars covered by dissolvable car covers, were numbered one through twelve, and each bag contained one of three color variations. There were 36 different cars in all. One in 72 packages contained a blue token which could be redeemed for a special set of ten cars. Approximately 1,000 contained a gold token good for a free Hot wheels bike and gold chrome Lamborghini Countach.
The individual Revealers included sporty castings like the Porsche 930, three different Ferraris (F40, 348 and Testarossa) and the Nissan Custom “Z”, among others, all decked out in Ultra Hot wheels. Among the 10 models in the Revealers blue token prize-pack were different models like the Purple Passion and the ’65 Mustang Convertible, both with whitewalls, and three cars – a bright orange Porsche 930, a bright blue GT Racer, and my white Classic Cobra – wearing blackwalls.
By the way, that grand prize gold chrome Lamborghini Countach – if you can find one of the less than 1,000 issued – might set you back a few hundred bucks.
Hot Wheels | 1993 Revealers 10-pack | 3923 | Classic Cobra | pearl white with blue, purple and orange snake, Revealers on windshield | MY | BW
My other Hot Wheels Classic Cobras include a red one from 1986 and a nice black variation from the 1989 Park ‘n Plates series.