By Brad Bannach
Two of the most popular Hot Wheels castings of today are the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser and the ‘71 Datsun 510 -- castings that are undoubtedly different. But they weren’t instant favorites in the Hot Wheels collecting world. Sure, they both appealed to their niche groups at the time of their initial releases, which were 2013 and 2009 respectively; but no one predicted at the time that either would cause the commotion they do every time one is released.
They do share something in common. Both castings had a defining release that acted as a catalyst, setting off a chain reaction among Hot Wheels collectors that elevated these castings to a level of collectability seen only by Hot Wheels like the ‘67 Camaro® and the Volkswagen Drag Bus.
For the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser, it was a release that was so iconic, it’s commonly known by collectors as “The Candy Striper.” At the time of its sale, the 4,000-piece run didn’t sell out until day two. But it didn’t take long after collectors got these in hand that they realized how special the piece was, which in turn, turned the masses onto the casting, and Gassers in general. As the value of this piece inches closer to $1,000 on the secondary market, many will point to this significant release as the reason why so many collectors choose to collect the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser – and it speaks as to why the Red Line Club is so popular today.
The ‘71 Datsun 510 had a more gradual rise to stardom, as the casting notoriously sat on pegs in 2009 when it was first released. In 2011, John Morton’s Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) Datsun Bluebird 510 was the oddball in the premium Hot Wheels Vintage Racing line, as it appeared in a line that was dominated by American muscle cars. In some areas of the United States, the release also sat on pegs for months. There was even an HWC Special Edition release John Morton’s #46 BRE Datsun 510 in 2013 that had Spectraflame red paint and neo-classic redline wheels.
Shortly after that, secondary market prices on both BRE Datsuns started to rise, exposing the Hot Wheels collecting masses to the international and domestic interest in Japanese domestic market (JDM) vehicles. The movement echoed that of 1:1 car culture at the time, and in the wake of this shift in collecting, many Hot Wheels collectors scrambled to collect these premium BRE Datsuns and any other versions of the casting that they could get their hands on. This ultimately vaulted the ‘71 Datsun 510 to not only the most popular Japanese-branded Hot Wheels car of all time, but arguably one of the top 10 Hot Wheels castings of all time. Had it not been for the BRE Datsuns, the popularity of the ‘71 Datsun 510 may not be where it is today.
These are just two popular examples of Hot Wheels castings that vaulted in popularity after a specific release. Certainly, there are other examples of significant releases that served as a catalyst to ignite collectors’ passions when it comes to certain castings -- from the masses down to the individual.
Do you collect a certain Hot Wheels casting? What was the reason you began collecting it? Can you narrow it down to a specific release? Share with us in the comments below!