Having photos of your treasured modified classic car, kit car or racing car is fine as far as it goes, but imagine if 1:64-scale die-cast models were made of it that the whole world could collect and marvel at.
That was the idea behind Hot Wheels Legends, a global competition recently launched by toy company Mattel, which owns Hot Wheels, to find the garage-build car that most embodies the brand’s values of performance, authenticity and ‘garage spirit’. The UK winner, who will be announced on 14 October, will go head to head with others from around the globe before the overall winner’s wheels are released in Hot Wheels’ 2022 range.
“From an imposing stance, full of presence, vivid colours and an impression of speed, Hot Wheels captures a creative freedom that inspires the rebel spirit in a car designer,” says former Jaguar design director Ian Callum, who sits on the panel of judges. “Hot Wheels takes me back to a misspent youth when I wondered why real cars couldn’t be this way. Well, now I know they can and are. They inspire an excitement that we all need in our lives.”
So there you are: the hook to this story and just the excuse I need to scrabble around in the loft for the two boxes of Hot Wheels cars my sons collected yonks ago. They got a car most times we went to the supermarket. Today, some 15 years later and despite being jumbled up in their branded carry case, the cars look remarkably bright; exquisite, even.
First, though, I call Mattel marketing manager Amy Cashmore to find out more about Hot Wheels. “Elliot Handler, the creator of Hot Wheels, wanted to make super-cool model cars and the first 16 he produced with Jack Ryan, a fellow engineer, in 1968 are called The Sweet 16,” she tells me. “Today, Hot Wheels cars are designed in El Segundo, near Los Angeles, and around 400 new models are released each year. The UK market has increased by 18% year on year while Mattel’s share of it is up 39%.