Thirteen Awesome Hot Wheels Cars Based On Not-So-Great Real Cars

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

For almost half a century, Hot Wheels vehicles have fueled the imagination of kids with their cool, innovative, wild toy car designs. While many of them are pure fantasy creations, a lot are based on real cars. And in a few cases, they are based on regrettable, forgettable, even horrible cars. Here some examples of when the folks at Mattel turned head-scratching automotive duds into head-turning models.

Poison Pinto (Ford Pinto)

Hot Wheels Ford Pinto Poison

Unreliable at best, explosive at worst, the Pinto was a disaster waiting to happen, especially when tapped from behind. This miniature panel wagon hot rod at least looks like it could outrun anything trying to hit that rear bumper/trigger.

Open Fire, Greased Gremlin, Gremlin Grinder (AMC Gremlin)

Hot Wheels AMC Greased Gremlin Open Fire

In retrospect, the Gremlin wasn’t a really terrible car, it just wasn’t terribly reliable or sturdy. Heck, you could even get one with a Levi’s denim interior. Hot Wheels has tried to redeem this compact hatchback with several versions, including the six-wheeled Open Fire shown above.

Front Runnin’ Fairmont (Ford Fairmont)

Hot Wheels Ford Fairmont Stocker

Remember the Ford Fairmont? Of course not, because there was nothing noteworthy about the styling or performance. It was perfectly… adequate. They were used for stock car racing in the 1980s, so Hot Wheels created a version that could at least be painted in lots of cool liveries.

Custom V-8 Vega (Chevrolet Vega)

Hot Wheels Chevy Vega

The Vega redefined depreciation in the 1970s by rusting while still in the showroom. But hot rodders had all kinds of fun modifying them, and the small scale model represents one of those hopped-up, tricked out cars. Also, diecast metal doesn’t rust, so that’s an improvement.

80 El Camino (1980 Chevrolet El Camino)

Hot Wheels Chevy El Camino 80s

For a vehicle allegedly designed to haul things in style, the last generation El Camino was underpowered and not very exciting to look at. That didn’t stop the designers at Hot Wheels from lowering the suspension and raising the hood bulge to make it a little bit more desirable.

Amphicar (Amphicar 770)

Hot Wheels Amphicar

What’s not to like about a floating car with a built in propeller? In theory, it’s fantastic, but in reality, it was a poor boat and an even worse car. The Hot Wheels version has a much bigger motor in the back, so it should be able to pull some skiers at least.

Chevy Lumina Van (Chevrolet Lumina APV)

Hot Wheels Chevy Lumina APV Van

The APV van was an odd spaceship-looking contraption, and when you sat in the driver’s seat, the steering wheel was actually a couple inches off center. Yuck! Hot Wheels didn’t alter the basic design much, but at least they gave it some cool paint jobs.

MetroRail (Nash Metropolitan)

throwbackmetro

The Metropolitan is a delightful little car if you don’t mind driving something that looks like Donald Duck’s jalopy. But stretch that front end to dragster proportions, and you could really burn things up the race track.

Packin’ Pacer (AMC Pacer)

Hot Wheels AMC Packin Pacer

American Motor’s Pacer was an oddball… significantly wider than most cars, and very glassy, it resembled a fishbowl on wheels. All that interior space was the perfect place to stuff a monster engine, however, so Hot Wheels did just that.

Chevy Citation (Chevrolet Citation)

Hot Wheels Chevy Citation

Really, we’re not trying to pick on Chevy here, but the “First Chevy of the Eighties” was really the “Worst Chevy of …. Ever!” The miniature model doesn’t change the basic look much, but if you squint, it does sort of look like James Bond’s Lotus Esprit submarine car. Sort of.

Whatta Drag (BMW Isetta)

Hot Wheels BMW Isetta

Sure, everyone smiles when they see one of these bubble cars on the road… until you actually drive one. “Underpowered” is an understatement. Hot Wheels turned it into a stretched three-wheeled dragster so cool that someone actually built a running real sized version of it!

Got any nominees for other Hot Wheels vehicles based on lame real cars? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments (7 Comments)
Tom1

Awesome list

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The South Texas Diecast Hot Wheels Guide Has Moved to hobbyDB!

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We’ve teamed up with South Texas Diecast founder Rob Graves to create the world’s most comprehensive Hot Wheels database for fans everywhere to enjoy. Check out the transition in Rob’s own words on his blog.

Check out the new South Texas Diecast Now

hobbyDB provides collectors with the tools they’ve been waiting for by allowing members to research details on their items, manage their collection, and even do business with other collectors on the site. You can even open up your own store if you really want to clean out your collection!

As you may know, South Texas Diecast has long been the go-to source for all Hot Wheels knowledge. STDC has worked tirelessly for the last 4 months with hobbyDB to make sure that we know exactly what Hot Wheels fans are looking for in an archive. The partnership is excited to reveal many new features that South Texas Diecast did not have time or the resources to offer. And most importantly, we commit that the data that you’ve always relied on will remain free, forever.

As you also know there are a lot of Hot Wheels we had to archive, and although both parties (and several other Hot Wheels influencers) put in a LOT of effort – you may stumble across an item with information that we missed or a mistake that a collector has made on a catalog entry. The best part about hobbyDB is that the Hot Wheels archive is truly a community project.

We’re asking Hot Wheels collectors of all kinds to pitch in and contribute to the integrity of the archive. Chip in what you know and curate your favorite series or casting of Hot Wheels and ensure that everyone visiting your page receives best information available. To find out more about becoming a Curator, visit http://info.hobbydb.com/curators/.

We have worked hard on putting together this information and features for all collectors. If you see something that needs improvement or tweaking, please feel free to email Rob directly at rob@hobbydb.com or the rest of the hobbyDB team at contact@hobbyDB.com with your suggestions and comments. We can’t wait to hear what you think!

Check out the new South Texas Diecast Now

Comments (2 Comments)
Peter Klobucar

Hi! I have scads of unique stuff I brought home from South Korea 10 years ago, plus many others! Thanks!

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hobbyDB Partners with Kidrobot to Launch Kidrobot Archive

hobbyDB partners with Kidrobot

We are super excited to announce our new partnership with Kidrobot! Read on for more details about the launch, straight from the Kidrobot team –

You have been asking for it, and we have been listening!

Kidrobot is proud to announce that we have partnered with hobbyDB as an archival source for all Kidrobot releases.

Now at hobbyDB you can dive into the deep history of Kidrobot releases from Visionaires and De La Soul to the recent The 13 Dunny series!

Search the Kidrobot Archive on hobbyDB Now

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Powered by collectors, hobbyDB is building a giant database of every collectible ever made. Go ahead and jump in because you never know what you might discover. There could be a holy grail waiting!

Start Searching Now.

With such an extensive catalog, the community is still adding and tweaking the database to make it perfect. Many have already joined us in our quest to document every single Kidrobot detail over the past 13 years of releases, but we need more help. Show off your expertise and get involved now.

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Holy Batmobile! George Barris, Iconic Car Customizer, Passes Away at 89

George Barris customizer

George Barris, one of the best-known custom car designer/builders, died on November 5, 2015. Riding the same wave as over-the-top  customizers such as Dean Jeffries, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Tom Daniel, Barris’ most famous creations were huge hits on television.

He created two cars for “The Munsters,” the Koach, and the Drag-U-La, which were turned in various diecast models and kits. He also modified a 1966 Chyrsler Imperal in the weaponized Black Beauty for “The Green Hornet.

But his most lasting contribution to automotive and pop culture had to be the Batmobile he created for the 1966 “Batman” TV series. He started with the fabulous but outdated Lincoln Futura concept and completely reskinned it to become the Caped Crusader’s defining ride. And he did this in just three weeks, finishing just in time for shooting. The very first version of this car recently sold for over $4 million at auction.

1966 TV Batmobile

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more of his cars such as John Wayne’s Texas Bulls#!t Scraper, live on in museums or as scale models. Hop on over to his bio page on our site to see several others. And if you have some of his more obscure models, add them to our catalog!

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Diecast Drift Track Lets You Play With Cars at Work

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One of the best things about working at hobbyDB? You can play with toys at work and nobody gets mad. And if someone does call you out, you can claim you were studying it for cataloging purposes.

Well, let’s get ready to rip open some Hot Wheels blister packs! This diecast drift track set from Tyotoys allows you make your favorite 1:64 scale vehicles “drift” around the corners in a just barely controlled set of slides. They come in a few different sizes, but the small set, at 18 x 9.5 inches, should fit on your desktop for plenty of worktime “research” into friction, speed, aerodynamics, and any other scientific principle you can think of that justfies playing with cars on the job. It even has screws to adjust the banking.

Here’s a short video showing the track in action. Some skill and practice and the right vehicle set up are actually called for, so it never gets boring. And for you fans of Kidrobot vinyl art toys… you will be pleased when you hit the 1:00 minute mark. Trust us!

Tracks are for sale on Tyotoys’ website.

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