By Mike Zarnock
Trying to name the best Hot Wheels cars is an almost impossible task. There are just so many great cars to choose from. In putting together this list, I looked at rarity, monetary value and demand.
Yes, there are cars that didn’t make the list that are reported to have more monetary value than some I have here, but as far as I’m concerned, these are the priceless pieces of Hot Wheels history.
All Hot Wheels images and art are owned by Mattel, Inc. © 2015 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
| 1. Pink Rear-Loading Volkswagen Beach Bomb (1969)My good friend Bruce Pascal owns this car. It is a pre-production piece built in 1969 as the Volkswagen Beach Bomb with surfboards loaded into the vehicle through the open rear window rather than the production version we know today where the boards slide into a side pod. This prototype car was too narrow to fit and function properly with the Hot Wheels Super Charger. Thus the narrow body style was never mass-produced. Those that were produced were given to Mattel employee’s children for “play testing” and that is where they have been found – in the collections of past employees.
For years it was believed that only one Pink Rear-Loading Beach Bomb existed and that it sold for $72,000. However, another version of the car has surfaced. While rare, it doesn’t have the same value as the first version.
|2. “Cheetah” Base Python (1968)The first release of the Python in 1968 had “Cheetah” for its name on its Hong Kong base. The problem is, the Cheetah name belonged to GM executive Bill Thomas and his Corvette-powered “Cobra Killer” race car. Once discovered, the name on the metal base was filled in and the car’s name was changed to Python. There are only six cars known to have the Cheetah name on the base, including one raw casting never assembled or painted. One is gold with a U.S. base; the others are red with a Hong Kong base. Some early release Hot Wheels packages have the Cheetah name listed on the back and are in great demand by collectors. Value: $10,000+ loose.|
|3. “Mad Maverick” base Mighty Maverick (1970)A late name change makes this car a rarity. The casting, designed by Howard Rees, was originally released as Mad Maverick. The Topper Co., which made Johnny Lightning cars, a major competitor of Hot Wheels cars, had come out with its own “Mad Maverick” car. So Mattel quickly changed the name to Mighty Maverick. Before the crossover was noticed, some early Mavericks already had “Mad Maverick” cast into the bare metal case. As for the car’s rarity, I only know of two blue, one purple and one unassembled, unpainted piece. Value: Immeasurable.|
|4. Red Baron with white interior (1970)The Red Baron, a hot rod T-bucket creation inspired by the World War I flying ace of the same name, was initially offered in 1970. In addition to the German helmet serving as the roof, the car was outfitted with twin machine guns mounted on the cowl of the design, which first appeared as a best-selling monogram plastic model kit. The Red Barron prototype – fewer than 10 are known to exist – has a white plastic interior, a blank metal base, no iron cross decal on the helmet and shorter rear fenders than the public-released car. Value: $3,000 loose.|
|5. Custom Volkswagen without sunroof (1968)The first Custom Volkswagen made in Hong Kong did not have a sunroof. These cars were only available in Europe, with most of them sold in Germany and the U.K. Besides coming without a sunroof, the cars did not feature plastic side windows and a different interior than those that followed. Most of these Volkswagens are blue with a few aqua, and really rare cars in orange, red, green, copper and green enamel. Value: $1,500+ loose.|
| 6. Ed Shaver Custom AMX (1970)The very rare Ed Shaver Custom AMX was a U.K. exclusive and has only been found in blue, the color of the real Ed Shaver AMX race car. It was packaged on the 1970 U.K. “Exclusive Racing Car Series” card. The series was just like the U.S. “Exclusive Grand Prix Series” style cards but with a different name. Included in the blisterpack was an Ed Shaver decal sheet – the only difference between the Ed Shaver car and the normal blue Custom AMX release. Ed Shaver was a U.S. serviceman based in the U.K. Mattel sponsored his Drag Racer AMX. This specially packaged AMX is probably the most sought after die-cast AMX replica ever produced.
These cars were given away at the racetracks where Ed raced the real car in the U.K. It was also available through a cereal mail-in and by sending in Proof-of-Purchase points from the backs of U.K. Hot Wheels cars. There are very few of these original cars around today. Value: $4,000+ loose.
|7. Blue Rodger Dodger (1974)In 1985, a young Bob Parker was trading his Matchbox cars for Mattel’s U.K. version Flying Colors cars with a collector in England. In one of the boxes of assorted Flying Colors cars from England, there were two blue Rodger Dodgers. Bob knew the color was different than anything he had ever seen before in the U.S. and told his English trading partner if he could get more. The next box to arrive had five more. Bob thought he would be able to get more and started to sell what he had through his mail-order business. There were only seven total, and all seven went to collectors around the country. He assumed he would get more and did not keep one for himself. He continued to trade and continued to get more Flying Colors cars but never any more blue Rodger Dodgers. Of the seven cars, only three were in complete packages and the other four were in perfectly cut half packs. The last full-card blue Rodger Dodger that I saw sell went for $6,000 in March 2012.|
|8. Purple Olds 442 (1971)The Hot Wheels Olds 442 was made only in the U.S. and only in 1971. The incomparable Larry Wood designed the car. Although a great looking car, there really isn’t anything to make it special other than the fact it came in purple, a very rare color for this car. A sticker sheet was also included with the car, but not every owner applied the stickers. An unused sticker sheet, if complete, is quite valuable on its own. The Purple Olds 442 is valued between $1,400 and $2,000.|
|9. Collector Number 271 Funny Car (1995)It’s reported that only 144 to 288 of these cars were packaged and released on the Blue Card with white Collector Number 271. It’s also been reported that about 80 of them were sent to the Hot Wheels Model Shop and taken apart and used for prototypes for the then-new “Pro Circuit” series. The remaining cars were sent to Kay-Bee Toys, The Mattel Toy Store and some ended up in the hands of employees and some were given out at Toy Fair and signed by designer Michael Collins. There have only been 20 or so of these Collector Number 271 Funny Cars found carded today. Please make note that it is the card and not the car that gives the value to this piece. The car itself is the same as the 1995 Race Team Funny Car that can be found in just about every Hot Wheels Collectors Collection. Value: $3,500 in blisterpack.|
|10. White Enamel Camaro (1968)This car is reported to be a test car for the new Spoilers Series car, the Heavy Chevy. The interior of a true White Enamel Camaro is missing the tabs on the rear underside of the interior that were in the rear wheel wells. This was to be able to fit the new larger sized rear wheels that were coming out on the Spoiler Series cars. These cars were pre-production/prototypes and were never released in a blisterpack. There are as many as 25 White Enamel Camaro cars. Value is difficult to determine.|