by Doug Breithaupt
|In the last several years, Hot Wheels has joined the likes of Revell, Jada
and Racing Champions in producing 'low-rider' models. Also known as 'lead
sleds', these models are best known for their lowered suspensions, small
tires and wild graphics. Big coupes from the 1960's seem to be the favorite
cars for conversion to low riders.
Hot Wheels now has three of these cruisers, all dating from 1965. The Chevrolet Impala was first, followed by the Buick Riviera. The Riviera is actually a combination of the '63-65 model years but with the most styling cues from 1965 (hidden headlights behind the front fender covers). The 2003 models are now appearing on the shelves and one of the first is a nice 1965 Pontiac Bonneville, again in low-rider form.
Hot Wheels has offered other low-rider/lead sled models including a '59 Chevy and more recently, a ''59 Cadillac. The simple answer to why these cars are favorites for low-rider treatment is that they were cheap and yet had plenty of style and power, when the low-rider movement was beginning in the 1970's. While low-riders originated in the Hispanic/Latino culture, they have now been embraced by many enthusiasts.
The Hot Wheel castings are close enough to the stock cars that they could be offered with factory paint and regular suspension quite easily. This would certainly extend the life of these models. The reverse has already occurred with the 1961 Lincoln Convertible and the 1963 Ford Thunderbird. They were first offered in stock colors but have now been done in low-rider style.
Hot Wheels has also done several collector models as low-riders including a 1969 Buick Riviera. A 1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo low rider has appeared in the regular line. Continuing with this GM theme, HW should consider the '67-68 Cadillac Eldorado, '66-67 Oldsmobile Toronado, 1964-66 Pontiac Grand Prix and perhaps even some of the stylish GM wagons like the Olds Vista Cruiser or Buick Sportwagon.
As the big GM cars from the 1960's have become more valuable, low-riders from the 1970's and '80 have appeared like the '80 Monte Carlo. With new wheels and lowered suspensions, HW could re-release some castings like the Dodge Mirada or Cadillac Seville in low-rider colors.
1965 Pontiac Bonneville
1964-65 Buick Riviera
1965 Chevrolet Impala