1960’s

1966

ELLIOT HANDLER CHALLENGED CONVENTION TO CREATE AN AMERICAN ICON

In 1968, an innovator, a rocket scientist, and a car engineer revolutionized the toy car industry. Elliot Handler, Jack Ryan, and Harry Bradley shared a belief in the power of design, innovation and play. This belief, and their relentless pursuit to break category conventions, led them to create a way for boys to experience the thrill of the Southern California custom hot rod culture and vehicle play in an unprecedented way.

1969

THE MOST VALUABLE HOT WHEELS CAR: THE VOLKSWAGEN BEACH BOMB PROTOTYPE

Surfs up! The Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototype features surfboards hanging out of the rear window. Due to its narrow body and top-heavy frame, this initial prototype didn’t perform up the HW standards, and was therefore never put into production. The original prototype resides with famed Hot Wheels collector, Bruce Pascal, and is worth an epic $150,000!

1968

THE “ORIGINAL SWEET 16” HITS SHELVES

Touted as the 16 most influential cars of their time, the “Original Sweet 16” were the first cars in the Red Line Series and pushed the limits of performance and design. The Custom Camaro was the first available in May 1968 and 15 icons quickly followed. These customized cars set the bar and remain among the most valuable and collectible toy vehicles ever made.

1970’s

1970

HOT WHEELS BRINGS DRAG RACING INTO POP CULTURE WITH SNAKE & MONGOOSE

Mattel tapped into the fierce rivalry between race drivers Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen. The detailed re-creations of their pop-top funny car dragsters and track sets encouraged kids to act out their own side-by-side racing battles.

1975

RAMBLIN’ WRECKER: GET A TOW FROM LARRY WOOD!

As one of Larry Wood’s early designs, the Ramblin’ Wrecker prototype featured his home phone number, but was never meant to arrive in stores that way. After hundreds of kids and fans called the number, it was removed from later versions. Wanna give Larry a call now?

1979

PEEK INSIDE THE WORLD OF HOT WHEELS WITH SCENE MACHINES

Hot Wheels maximizes its Marvel partnership by delivering a completely new way to play with die-cast cars. Dubbed “Scene Machines,” these vehicles use a tiny magnifying glass portal built into the back of the body, so kids can peek inside and view their favorite comic book and other characters in action.

1974

GAME CHANGER: “TAMPO” PRINTING INNOVATION

Elliot Handler and his team pushed the limits of design by reinventing the pad printing process, termed “tampo,” which revolutionized the Hot Wheels line with more detailed graphics and brighter colors. The “Flying Colors” collection was the first to market, with competitive toy brands quickly copying Mattel’s innovation.

1979

HOT WHEELS JOINS FORCES WITH THE HEROES OF MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT

Hot Wheels begins a licensed partnership with Marvel Entertainment to produce Super Hero car designs and track sets featuring Captain America, Spider-man and many others. Kids and brand fans everywhere discover the exhilaration of playing with Hot Wheels through their favorite superheroes for decades to come.

1980’s

1981

HOT WHEELS GETS BACK IN THE RACE WITH “THE HOT ONES”

Mattel used many cost-cutting measures in the ‘70s to keep from going bankrupt, which included a thick straight axle design that caused the cars to be much slower. To get back their competitive edge, they developed “The Hot Ones” with a thinner wheel and axle design that allowed the cars to go faster to reclaim the title “fastest non-powered metal cars.”

1988

THE MAGIC OF COLOR RACERS

It must be magic! For the first time, kids could change the colors, stripes, numbers and deco of their cars instantly by changing the temperature of the water. It was the first time kids could customize their cars, challenging their creativity again and again.

1990’s

1990

“MR. HOT WHEELS” PUSHES DESIGN WITH THE PURPLE PASSION

If you ask Larry Wood, he’ll tell you the Purple Passion was the first car he was able to elevate Hot Wheels design to a new level. Modelled after a ’49 Merc, it raced onto the collector’s scene and quickly become a fan favorite.

1995

LET THE HUNT BEGIN, INTRODUCING TREASURE HUNTS

A limited production of select vehicles with real rubber tires, spectra-flame paint jobs and exclusive decos, were randomly packed into cases with a green bar on the blister pack marked “Treasure Hunt” or “T-Hunt.” Being extremely popular with collectors, the 1996 set was increased to 25,000 of each vehicle. Hard core collectors are known to befriend store stock associates to grab them before they ever hit store shelves…Happy Hunting!

1999

MONSTER JAM PARTNERSHIP BEGINS

What do you get when you combine Hot Wheels die-cast cars with two of boys’ favorite things - monster trucks and pro wrestling? You get one of Hot Wheels’ first licensed partnerships and over a billion dollars in retail sales. Fans and boys can recreate the action and excitement of the Monster Jam arena on their bedroom floor.

1991

WELCOME TO THE BILLION CARS CLUB!

Hot Wheels proudly produces its 1 billionth car! To commemorate this epic milestone, Hot Wheels produced the Billionth Car Collection with 4 different chrome-plated, die-cast gold Corvettes, complete with a removable trophy-style display. One toy even came with a coupon that could be redeemed for a real ‘Vette. Probably purchased by a collector protecting the product’s packaging, the winning Corvette coupon was never claimed.

1997

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES…WITH NASCAR

Hot Wheels brings Legends to Life by partnering with NASCAR drivers Kyle Petty and Jack Baldwin putting NASCAR-themed vehicles into kid’s hands for the first time. This was the start of many more sponsorships on the NASCAR track!

2000’s

2001

CALLING ALL COLLECTORS!

Hot Wheels created a special experience for collectors with the introduction of HotWheelsCollectors.com. While collector conventions had been extremely popular for many years, it was revolutionary for the Hot Wheels team to open such a direct line to its most passionate fans. In 2002, the site was expanded to include the Red Line Club, a members-only group with exclusive premium cars and content. The Red Line Club is still going strong today with annual memberships selling out each year.

2001

THE FIRST LIFE-SIZED HOT WHEELS CAR: THE TWIN MILL

For over 30 years, boys dreamed of driving a real Hot Wheels car. To bring that dream to life, the Hot Wheels team built and unveiled a full-scale replica of the iconic Twin Mill at the 2001 SEMA custom auto show. Since then, Hot Wheels has brought more than 20 cars to life as full-size driveable vehicles, including Bone Shaker, Deora II, the Darth Vader Character Car and X-wing Fighter Carship.

2010’s

2010

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND: HOT WHEELS TOY STORY CHARACTER CARS

Hot Wheels partners with Disney Pixar for Toy Story 3 for the first line of Hot Wheels Character Cars. Representing an instantly popular and collectible new form factor, each car was developed from scratch by to capture the essence of these iconic characters in automotive form. Character Cars would eventually grow into the foundation of Hot Wheels’ licensed entertainment segment through collaborations with Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and many other iconic brands.

2012

DOUBLE LOOP DARE SETS GUINNESS WORLD RECORD AT X GAMES

Can you imagine a giant 60-foot-tall double vertical loop in the middle of Downtown Los Angeles? Hot Wheels made this two-driver, first-of-its-kind challenge a reality at the X Games. Stuntman Greg Tracy and rally driver Tanner Foust complete the double loop in tandem, reaching 85km/h and 7Gs. Now, that’s double the thrills!

2015

THE GAS MONKEYS ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE

Resulting in the highest-rated episode on Discovery Channel’s Fast’n Loud TV show, Hot Wheels challenged the Gas Monkey Garage to build a life-size version of a Hot Wheels car with the possibility of being put into the toy line. Inspired by the iconic ’68 custom Corvette from the “Original Sweet 16,” they crushed it with the Midas Monkey. Never to back down from a good challenge, they did it again in 2016 by building a car worthy of the exclusive Red Line Club; the souped-up 1963 Ford Econoline, which will soon become Hot Wheels Hypo Hauler in Spring 2018.

2011

HOT WHEELS SMASHES WORLD RECORD AT INDY 500

What better place for Hot Wheels to break a world record than the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500? Dropping from the top of a 100-foot-tall door down a life-size version of the iconic orange track, Team Hot Wheels’ Tanner Foust lands a ramp-to-ramp distance jump of 332 feet, crushing the previous record by an impressive 31 feet!

2014

SPEEDOMETRY MAKES LEARNING EPIC

Hot Wheels combines fun, imagination and action with a science- and math-based curriculum called Speedometry, co-created with the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and The Mattel Foundation. Speedometry is currently in 40,000 schools all around the United States and in select international locations.