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Hot Wheels toys inspire real car builders


Editor’s note: Get more news from the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas by checking out our dedicated page for daily updates.

For 50 years, Mattel’s Hot Wheels have provided countless hours of play for children, but they also have inspired adults to create their own grown-up Hot Wheels, and that’s grown up into full-size, road-worthy running vehicles.

As part of its silver anniversary, Hot Wheels staged a 15-city national tour this summer, hosting car shows for those toy-inspired vehicles. At the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the cars voted the best at each of those 15 tour stops have been gathered together for a super showcase — and the news that one of them has been selected to be turned into a genuine Hot Wheels toy car.

Hot Wheels, Hot Wheels toys inspire real car builders, ClassicCars.com Journal
2Jetz, the creation of Luis Rodriguez, will be shrunk from driver-size to become a real Hot Wheels toy

Hot Wheels were Elliot Handler’s answer to the success of his wife’s Barbie doll. Elliott and Harold Matson founded the company in 1948, taking the Mat from Matson and the Ell from Elliott to provide a name for a company that made picture frames and dollhouse furniture. 

When Matson’s health was failing, he sold out to Elliott, with Ruth Elliott joining her husband in management. In 1955, the company sponsored the Mickey Mouse Club television show, and in 1959, it launched the Barbie doll. 

Barbie was Ruth’s creation and Elliot wanted a toy with similar appeal to boys. So he hired a car designer from General Motors and a rocket scientist, and that team created Hot Wheels. The Custom Camaro was the first of the 16 Hot Wheels cars to be introduced that first year. Since then, there have been more than 25,000 additional models, with worldwide sales in the billions.

Joining them will be a Hot Wheels toy based on 2Jetz, winner not only of the New Jersey stop on the Hot Wheels 50th anniversary tour but also of the Las Vegas showcase.


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.



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