Hot Wheels goes vintage racing - 1950's style
by Doug Breithaupt

Vintage racing is becoming one of the most popular activities for lovers of classic sports racers. Those that can, buy and race these wonderful old race cars while those that can't, (like me) are happy to go the the many racing events.

Several years back, a diecast company asked my advice on what models they should produce. As always, I was happy to suggest a variety of models not seen in small-scale. I also suggested that they seriously consider doing a vintage racing series. They were concerned that vintage racing was not what the consumer of toy cars wanted. I hate to say I told you so.

Clearly Mattel and Hot Wheels have seen the success of vintage racing and made the most of it. Some of the most popular new Hot Wheels models of the past few years have been vintage racers. HW has produced vintage race cars from the earliest days of racing to the 1970's in their vintage racing offerings.

Vintage racers of the 1950's are some of the best remembered of the racing sports cars. In the 1950's, many of the sports racers were simply 'tuned' street models and were often offered buy the factory with the same racing modifications, for street use. It was the age of gentleman racers.

Hot Wheels has produced four of the best-loved vintage race cars of the 1950's. The first to be offered is one of the most beautiful sports racers ever produced, the Ferrari 250 Testarossa. The 250TR had great success on the track but HW has only done one version in racing livery. If you have never heard the V12 of a 250TR scream down the straight, you have missed the best automotive sound of all time.

The second vintage racer of the 1950's from HW was the lovely Jaguar 'D' type. This time HW did it right by presenting the first edition of the car in the number and colors that won Le Mans in 1957. The 'D' type with it's disc brakes and DOHC six was and still is one of the all-time greats.

In 2001, Hot Wheels introduced the Cunningham C4R. Not as well known as the Ferrari or Jaguar, the Cunningham was the work of enthusiast racer Briggs Cunningham. They were produced to win Le Mans but third was the best they ever did. A small number of street versions were made. Offered by HW in American racing colors, all that's missing are racing numbers.

For 2002, the latest '50's vintage racer is out. The Corvette SR2 first raced at Sebring and then fell victim to GM's ban on factory supported racing. As a result it was never developed into a winning race car. Still, with it's twin racing windscreens and shark fin tail, the SR2 certainly looked the part. Again, HW did it in racing colors and remembered the number this time.

Several other great sports racers of the 1950's need to be done to fill the grid for this sub-set. We need the Mercedes-Benz 300SLR, which Maisto already offers in larger scales. We also need the beautiful Aston Martin DBR1 that won Le Mans in 1959. Fangio's Maserati V8 sports-racer of 1957 is a must as well. Tomica does a nice sports-racer version of their Porsche 356 cabriolet and Maisto and Hongwell offer the Porsche 550 Spyder but none yet in racing colors. Johnny Lightning has the M.G.A. and Triumph TR3 but has not done racing versions.

Hot Wheels have also produced some great vintage racers from the 1960's and as soon as I find the new Ferrari 330 P4, we will be seeing a review of these cars.

Ready for the Le Mans start

Cunningham C4R

Jaguar 'D' Type

Corvette SR2

Ferrari 250 Testarossa