Volume IX, Number 1

Out of the Blue - Hot Wheels Fantasy Five-Packs
by Doug Breithaupt

The amazing variety of toy cars produced by Hot Wheels is one of the most appealing features of this famous brand. Since 1968, we have seen everything from T-Buckets to toilet cars. No vehicle genre has been missed although some might contend that a few of the wilder designs have missed the mark as vehicles. Love them or hate them, Hot Wheels have always been the most unique toy cars to be produced.

Every few years, Hot Wheels offers a toy car version of a real car that one never expected to see. In 2005, this happened again with the release of Bertone's amazing Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 9 concept car. This set me to thinking about other Hot Wheels models that have represented some historic and singular automobiles. The five models shown here all represent a real car. They are also the only example of this car ever done in small-scale, perhaps in any scale other than 1:1. All should be 'must-have' models for the collector as they represent unique creations in the story of the automobile.

Stutz Blackhawk - 1979

In the early 1960's, Virgil Exner had just finished a successful period as head designer for Chrysler. His 'forward look' of 1957 had taken the fins of the 1950's to amazing heights. In his final years at Chrysler, he became enamored with neo-classic automotive design, adding elements of the motorcars of the vintage and classic era to modern cars. After Chrysler, Exner designed three show cars that carried the neoclassic theme to new levels. His neo-Mercer and neo-Duesenberg were neo-offs, however, his neo-Stutz was produced in limited numbers on a Pontiac Grand Prix chassis.

Hot Wheels offered the Stutz Blackhawk as a 1979 casting. The toy car is quite faithful to the original and the casting survived for almost 25 years.

I.A.D. Alien - 1988

In looking at this toy car, few may realize that it represents a real automotive design. I.A.D. is a design institute in California. This institute has been the responsible for preparing many students for careers in automotive design. The Alien was a design of the late 1980's.

This design has the complete base and rear power unit in metal with the cabin and nose in plastic. The 'Ultrahot' wheels look perfect for this futuristic model. What makes it unexpected is that Hot Wheels produced such a faithful replica of the original concept vehicle.

Phantom Corsair - 1998

Rusty Heinz was one of the heirs to the Heinz (of catsup fame) empire. He was also an automotive enthusiast. He decided to build his own car, using a Cord chassis as a starting point. The result was the Phantom Corsair, an aero-shaped coupe with a flair that seemed more European than American.

The real car still exists and is impressive to see. For Hot Wheels to do this car as a toy was a big surprise. All the classic models produced up to this period by Hot Wheels, represented production models. The Phantom Corsair is a true departure from the Auburn or Bugatti models in that it represents a one-off design. The toy car is also quite accurate, unlike many Hot Wheels models.

Thomassima III - 1999

Tom Meade was an American automotive designer in Italy in the 1960's. He brought some of the American hot rod ideas to his creations. The Thomissima III was created on the chassis of a Ferrari 275. Clearly influenced by designs of the day from Pininfarina, Bizzarini and Drago, Meade also added an American muscle element.

The real car is quite obscure and without this Hot Wheels version, might be all but forgotten. This 'custom' Ferrari is again quite accurate to the original and has been offered in metallic red, blue and green, with the original red being the most correct color.

Alfa Romeo Bertone B.A.T. 9 - 2005

Of the five cars here, the B.A.T. 9 is easily the best known. One of three B.A.T. concepts produced by Bertone for Alfa Romeo in the early 1950's, this car is one of the true superstars of concept automobiles. With the earlier B.A.T. 5 and 7 models, the 9 has been a staple of classic car meets is Europe and America, coming to Pebble Beach twice including in 2005.

Perhaps this recent trip was motivation for Hot Wheels to offer one of the B.A.T. designs. If so we might hope for the 5 and 7 to be offered in future. I would have never bet on seeing his model as a small-scale toy car, especially from Hot Wheels. It is a delight