To give some background, Hot Wheels first started making toy cars in 1968. Seeing a potential market for 1:64 scale die cast toys that rolled as fast and looked as nice as their full-size counterparts and the lack of such a product in the height of the muscle car age, Mattel seized the opportunity, hired a few custom car fanatics and designers, and that was that. The original line included 16 cars, all of which had red-lined tires (hence the nickname "Redlines"), suspension made of "music wire" that prevented axle damage in the event of accidents, "frictionless" wheel bearings, and "Spectraflame" paint. Most models also included opening hoods, exposed engines, or removable parts. The goal was to extract the maximum "play value" from a toy car while still keeping retail price under a dollar. In the years immediately following, Hot Wheels also released "Sizzlers," which were electrically-powered 1:64 cars designed to propel themselves down sections of the already-famous orange track. Through the 1970s, Mattel gradually cut costs by removing the suspension and red tire lines, reducing the number of cars with opening or removable parts, and downgrading to regular enamel paint. While the novel features definitely set the cars apart in the beginning, there is no doubt that children and adults enjoy new Hot Wheels cars today just as much as they have been for almost the last 50 years.
A few months ago, I was cruising the usual website-of-bidding-wars-for-old-parts-and-goodies when I realized I could finally get my hands on some of the original Redline Hot Wheels cars I've wanted for so long.
The Deoras have a story of their own. Back in 1964, Harry Bradley and the famed Alexander Brothers were tasked by Chrysler to give their new Dodge A100 pickup/van a creative twist. Along with a healthy dose of sheet metal work to the original panels, the Brothers actually used quite a few parts from the Ford parts bin, namely Thunderbird sequential indicator/tail lights, Mustang tail light trim for side scoops, and the roofs of a '60 Ford sedan and wagon for the cockpit (check out this sketch by Bradley himself). Here, I have a Hong Kong (antifreeze) version, a US (aqua) version, and a new-in-the-box-till-I-got-it Deora II from about 1999 that I had to have after receiving the first two.
The stickers from the Sizzlers '70 Mustang are gone but that's all the better because that means more of the absolutely stunning metallic-ish yellow color is visible. I am really impressed at how the plastic shell stayed in such great shape over all these years. Also, I grabbed the Juice Machine separately but I like how it was designed to be easy to use while retaining a good level of similarity to a real gas pump.
I stopped myself after purchasing a few cars because as I stated before, I'm not big into collectors' value or anything. I just thought the idea of playing with some cars that were played with by kids generations ago was pretty cool. I wanted to have a bit of Hot Wheels heritage in my collection and I liked the special features the original cars had. I started adding guitar string suspension to some of my cars years ago because I was inspired by the originals and it made them more fun to play with. Anyway, I don't feel the need to acquire any more Redlines because the newer cars are much cheaper, much faster, and more finely detailed. They're also less valuable so I can play with them or modify them to my own leisure. I like to enjoy my vehicles, toy cars included, but these vintage specimens are still very nice to have.