Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals Event Cars
Ask those who attend a large-scale Hot Wheels event what their favorite thing about attending is and they’ll probably say it’s the exclusive cars that are produced just for that event. Ask collectors who can’t make it to the event what they regret most about not being able to attend and they’ll probably say missing out on the event cars! These event cars are produced in very small quantities, making them desired by collectors around the world. Production runs can range from 2,500 to 5,000 pieces, and they come with rubber “Real Rider” tires and premium paintwork.
The 18th Annual Collectors Nationals were held in Dallas, Texas, April 4–8, 2018. It was presented by Collectors Events Unlimited, which, with the help of Mattel, produced four exclusive Hot Wheels cars just for the event; attendees were allowed to purchase these cars with their paid event ticket. Ticket holders were allowed to purchase up to three of each car per ticket—at an average of $30 per car. Two cars were available upon registration, and the third car, the Finale Car, was only available to attendees of the finale event. The fourth car was the Dinner Car, which attendees received with their paid dinner ticket. The dinner is usually in honor of a Hot Wheels designer, past or present, and the car produced for the dinner could be one of the designer’s favorite designs or even a replica of the designer’s own full-size car. At the dinner, attendees also received a special custom car made by the event organizers, which was limited to the number of attendees at the dinner.
The gasser-style Drag Car has been a popular casting for the past few years, and it continues to be a strong runner for this year’s collectors. The first of three event cars is the Larry Wood–designed ’66 Super
Nova “Copperhead.” The car is painted in Spectraflame copper with a snakeskin etched on the roof. Everyone, especially the
Hot Wheels designers, was excited about this new process— it looks amazing! The Nova looks race-ready, with its big chrome Supercharger sticking up out of the finely detailed engine compartment. The grille and headlights are also detailed with the traditional gasser fuel tank bolted to the top of the bumper. The front and rear bumpers are part of the highly polished chassis, making them look chrome. The rear is finely detailed as well, right down to its little black parachute. The sparse 1-seat black race interior looks right at home in this Nova gasser, and it includes a gray full roll cage (well, for half of them anyway.). It seems that half of the Novas were produced with a roll cage, and the other half didn’t get them. Every now and then, variations occur even in these short-run cars, and the Super Nova had one, making it an even shorter production. Five thousand of these Gasser Nova castings were produced for this event, and each is numbered on the back of the card within a hologram sticker. It looks that the first 2,500 or so were assembled without the roll cage, and the cars numbered after 2,500 have the roll cage—which actually makes these cars effectively two smaller production runs of 2,500 for each variation! It didn’t take long for collectors to notice the variation. Within minutes, it was the talk of the Nationals, and within an hour of the first ones going on sale, they were selling on the secondary market as a pair for a good sum of money.
The second event car is a beautiful lowered ’83 Chevy Silverado, also with a production of 5,000 pieces. Done in traditional two-tone paintwork, the Square Body pickup is done in bright red enamel with a tan beltline inlay. The rear bed is cut open to see the notched frame and air tank for the suspension, which rides on wide chrome Rocket Racing wheels and Real Rider tires. The attention to detail is spot-on, from the black pinstriping on the hood and the “Silverado” emblem on the front fender to the Texas license plate and event details on the tailgate,
which make this truck wanted by collectors everywhere.
The third event car, the Finale Car, is always a surprise casting. Attendees are not told what casting will be used until it’s presented at the Finale event. As noted earlier, the gasser theme has been a big hit with collectors, so why not bring out the Brendon Vetuskey–designed ’55 Chevy Gasser to go with the ’66 Nova? Anytime that Chevy is released, it’s a huge success and highly desirable, especially when the production is limited to
2,500 pieces. The paintwork for the ’55 Chevy is done in Spectraflame pearl gold with a black roof. The engine compartment is also painted black, with much attention to detail even on the brake master cylinder and radiator. The engine is chrome, along with its big Supercharger injection system and traditional fenderwell headers. Hot Wheels graphic design guru Steve Vandervate did the graphics on all these cars, and the sponsorship decals on the ’55 are nothing less than perfect: a large Hot Wheels “50th Anniversary” logo on the door, “327 Chevy” on the front fender, and “Handler’s Garage” on the rear quarter panel. The trunk has the event details on it, along with a vintage California license plate that reads “Finale” to finish it off. To say this car was a huge hit would be an understatement; it was in great demand before the Finale was even over.
The fourth car of the set, the Dinner Car, was in honor of Hot Wheels designer Phil Riehlman’s 25th anniversary with Mattel. Phil has designed many castings during his tenure with Hot Wheels, including the Volkswagen Drag Bus and the PR5 wheel design. Phil is a lover of everything Volkswagen and enjoys off-roading as well, so why not have a Hot Wheels casting reflecting both interests? For his Dinner Car, Phil designed an Off-Road Volkswagen T1 Rockster pickup truck. Painted in two-tone yellowand-white enamel, it has black brush guards and fender flares to accommodate the enormous knobby Real Rider tires. This mini monster looks as if it could climb over anything. The detail on the T1 is just as good as the other three event cars, with its front lights, VW nose emblem, and bumper winch. As with all the other cars, the event details are on the tailgate along with detailed taillights and a “PHILTHY” California license plate.
All four of these event cars can be found on the secondary market for much more than their original price tag, reinforcing my opening statement regarding the reason collectors regret not attending the event.
An exclusive collector pin was also given out at the dinner.
Larry Wood’s “Copperhead” ’66 Super Nova was the first of three event cars. Half of them came with roll cages and half without, creating quite a sensation at the Nats! 53
The slammed ’83 Silverado with its two-tone paint and Real Rider tires was a big hit.
Left and below: Phil Riehlman’s Volkswagen T1 Rockster was the car given out at the dinner event to celebrate his 25 years at Hot Wheels.
Above and right: The surprise Finale car was another Gasser: the everpopular ’55 Chevy Bel Air, designed by Brendon Vetuskey.