With a name like the Hot Wheels Legends Tour, it’s obvious that this is going to turn into a special occasion. In fact, a very special occasion that revives childhood dreams: we’re talking about a travelling celebration of the 50th anniversary of Hot Wheels. Who didn’t have those little cars as part of their lives when they were kids? The event will be backed by Pirelli, an Italian company that’s always believed in getting close to people and their passions, whether that’s through Formula 1 or having fun with tyres made for the road. The point is, there’s always been a strong social connection.
And it’s certainly going to be a social occasion. Loads of people will be involved in the Hot Wheels tour, featuring its most incredible cars, a few one-offs, and some other special models throughout the 15 cities that the roving exhibition will visit. Not only is it set to be a nostalgic feast for the eyes but also a significant commercial occasion, because out of all of these thousands of cars, just one will be chosen to be displayed on the Hot Wheels stand at the SEMA Auto Show in Las Vegas this year. And here’s the really exciting part: the chosen car will then be turned into a special 1:64 scale die-cast model, of which millions will be sold all over the world. So, what will it be?
The Hot Wheels story begins quite a while ago. In 1968, a business luminary, a rocket scientist and an automotive engineer (for real; there’s no punch line…) created a one-off model car, which Elliot Handler – the founder of Mattel – then launched as a toy. The concept behind Hot Wheels was to reinvent the idea of model cars as jazzed-up hot rods, as opposed to the rather staid reproductions of road cars that were the norm at the time. In 1968, Hot Wheels released its first collection of 16 cars, known as the ‘original 16’ or ‘sweet 16’. These now command impressive prices from eager collectors.
Fifty years later and history is still repeating itself, with Hot Wheels continually looking for fresh ideas and new cars to make, with some unique inspirations behind them. That’s easy enough to say but almost impossible to do, given that in half a century Hot Wheels has already reproduced practically everything: from real cars to cars that have starred in cartoons or films. So, the idea of a tour was born to celebrate this immense cultural heritage, which also involves the Walmart chain to reach as many people as possible.
The 15 cities being visited weren’t chosen at random. Instead they are the places inextricably associated with cars: from Detroit Los Angeles, New York to Dallas and Washington to Miami. People coming to the exhibitions will be able to see five main themes: ‘history’ (representing the story of Hot Wheels through rare models taken from the museum), ‘design’ (demonstrating how the models are created), ‘authenticity’ (some of the most off-the-wall cars sold: the sort of cars that make people say ‘hey…it looks like a Hot Wheels car’), ‘hand-built’ (showcasing models built piece by piece) and finally ‘performance and fun’ (where the cars on display are let loose).
It all adds up to a gloriously unmissable event for anybody who wants to revisit their childhood. Or even their adulthood.