SEMA and Hot Wheels
There wasn’t a kid under 50 at SEMA, and even some older, that couldn’t say their reason for being there wasn’t in some way influenced by the presence of Hot Wheels during their younger years. Originally inspired by ‘60s muscle cars with their introduction in 1968, the metallic “Spectraflame” paint, redlined wheels and hulking engines made these cars the envy of the toy box. Employing a new design for the “axles” made these cars not only the ones to catch off the toy store shelves, but also down that iconic orange track. During their 40th anniversary, that heritage continues today.
by Vernon Heywood
Photo Credit: Oliver Bentley
For the first time ever, Mattel asked outside designers to contribute designs for its Hot Wheels line of cars in the form of The Hot Wheels Designer’s Challenge. Enlisting the help of several automakers, each participating company held an in house contest to come up with a design that captured the spirit of that company’s heritage, could be molded and packaged into a 1/64th scale die-cast design and most importantly had an approach and departure angle that would allow it to navigate one of Hot Wheels most time enduring icons: a loop.
Gangster Grin – By Ford
Inspired by classic lead sleds of the ‘50s, the Gangster Grin combines the looks of an old chopped top early ‘40s Merc and a ’49 Ford. Steve was an intern in Mattel’s Hot Wheel division and made the jump from 1/64th scale to life size. It’s ironic that he was asked to design Hot Wheels again. Steve says being able to work with the toymaker once again was fun as it allowed more freedom to create a car without worrying about structural integrity or whether a person would actually fit inside the car.
Dodge XP-07 – By Dodge
The Dodge entry was supplied by designer Mark Reisen, another Hot Wheels intern, who helped bring the Chrysler Town & Country Black Jack to SEMA this year. Incorporating the classic crosshair grille quickly identifies the concept as a member of the Dodge stable. When asked what his inspiration was for the XP-07, Mark responded enthusiastically, “Star Wars Pod Racers.” Working from the layout of side by side turbines harnessed to a rear chariot, Mark began by enclosing the driver and then adding body panels that swept over the wheels, around the jet engines, and flowed to meet the passenger compartment.
Chevroletor – By General Motors
Even without seeing the name there is no mistaking the Chevroletor as anything other than a Chevy based design, It looks like a cross between a modern interpretation of a late ‘50s Corvette and a salt flats land speed racer. We like the way designer Amaury Diaz-Serrano also sat the body low enough for the tires to protrude above the fenders giving the Chevroletor an open wheel racer feel as well. It’s a shame Hot Wheels won’t be able to incorporate the wheel hub Chevy bowties that would remain upright while the vehicle is in motion.
Honda Racer – By Honda
What its name lacks in originality the honda Racer makes up for with typical Hot Wheels flair and in achieving the primary design goal: Create a Hot Wheel that conveys the company’s identity. Shaped like the Honda logo, there is no mistaking what automaker was responsible for this 1/64th scale racer. Taking styling cues from Honda’s 1960s vintage race heritage, the twin bodied concept gives a nod to the Formula I classic white with red stripe paint job and the custom over head exhaust stretching over the tail of the car.
Lotus Concept – By Lotus
The essence of Lotus is lightweight, high power to weight ratio and minimal body cladding. Lotus designer Russell Carr captured that spirit well with this open top ground flyer. Low slung with angular headlights and a rear spoiler, this Hot Wheel could pass for a true Lotus concept, not merely a toy for ages over 3.
Mitsubishi Double Shotz – By Mitsubishi
When Hot Wheel big wig and Mattel VP Geoff Walker introduced this mini ride, he said “Nothing says Hot Wheels like twin engines.” And looking at the Mitsubishi Double Shotz front and rear mounted EVO engines we’d have to agree. Accenting the windows with a red tint as well as red tires also help to make this set of wheels hot.
HW-40 – By Hot Wheels
The man with the inside scoop on how to design Hot Wheels was in house designer Jun Imai. Incorporating everything we have ever loved about the inhabitants of our childhood dream garages from Spectraflame paint to massive hood scoops to redline wheels, the HW-40 captured the essence of what Hot Wheels has been about for the last 40 years. It shows why Hot Wheels designers can go on to design life size vehicles, because the same design standards applied to our favorite rides, are also applied to our favorite toy.
And the Winner is:
All of the submitted designs not only capture the spirit of their marque, but will also capture the imagination and fancy of children and collectors everywhere. While everyone will have a favorite, and they are all great cars, it’s still easy to pick a winner from the Hot Wheels Designers Challenge: Hot Wheels enthusiasts when these hit the market next year. Hot Wheels has given collectors something special for every milestone anniversary, so what better way to kick off their 40th year? Happy birthday Hot Wheels, we can’t wait to see what you offer us in the next 40 years.