Before Hot Wheels, the market for small car models was dominated at that time by the British company Lesney with their Matchbox cars. Elliot Handler, co-founder of Mattel, decided to produce a line of die-cast toy cars. He was able to capture much of this market by introducing a number of innovative features, including low-friction wheels suitable for racing on a track, and styling in tune with the times of customized, racing and show cars. These cars first arrived on the marketplace in 1968 with a smashing success. They came out with sixteen various cars, which are now commonly known as the “Sweet Sixteen”.
“Sweet 16″Cars released in 1968
* Custom Barracuda
* Custom Camaro
* Custom Chevrolet Corvette
* Custom Eldorado
* Custom Firebird
* Custom Fleetside
* Custom Mustang
* Custom T-Bird
* Custom Mercury Cougar
* Custom Volkswagen (designed by Ira Gilford)
* Deora (based upon a real custom surf-truck designed by Harry Bradley for Dodge)
* Ford J-Car (based on the real race car that became the Ford GT40 Mk IV)
* Hot Heap (based upon the Model T roadster known as “Tognotti’s T”)
* Python (originally called the “Cheetah” - based on Bill Cushenberry’s “Dream Rod”)
* Silhouette (based upon Bill Cushenbery’s custom car)
* Beatnik Bandit (based upon Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s custom show car)
Hot Wheels made between 1968 and 1972 are know as “Redlines” because of the red stripes on their tires. (Some of our Redlines are marked 1967, but the info we have found says that they were not sold until 1968.)
There was one notable difference in the first run production cars and that was a lack of “Door Cuts” in the molded cars. This was thought to be more accurate to the scale as door openings would be nearly invisible at that scale. Later they were added due to public preference.
The metallic “Spectraflame” paintwork also separated these models from drab enamel of Matchbox cars. The attractive finishes were achieved by firstly polishing the bare metal of the body shells and then coating them in a clear colored lacquer.