It was 1968 when Mattel first introduced the Hot Wheels™ line of miniature toy cars. It was a late, though characteristically American, response to England’s Matchbox™ cars, introduced 15 years prior, with designs that were much more souped-up and customized than the rather ho-hum, pedestrian vehicles of the Matchbox line.
Hot Wheels, which debuted 16 designs and an iconic, configurable orange plastic track in its first year on the market, was an instant hit, and its parent company would go on to purchase Tyco Toys – then the owner of the Matchbox™ brand – in 1997. Some 50 years later (65 years for Matchbox), they’re still going strong, occupying shelf space in the toy section of nearly every supermarket in America, and providing children the world over with endless hours of entertainment collecting, building, racing, and crashing.
Of note to Ford fans, one of Hot Wheels’ 16 first-year designs was the Ford J-car – the experimental prototype racer that would go on to spawn the Ford GT40 Mk IV. Also included was a model called the “Hot Heap,” which was based on a rather well-known 1913 Model T hot rod built by Don Tognotti and Gene Winfield that won a number of awards in the mid-60s.
We can’t wait to see what the next 50 years will bring for the Hot Wheels brand.
(Source: Car and Driver)