Meet the Hot Wheels Chevy Camaro worth 4 times as much as the real thing
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Anyone who thought that 'retro' and 'nostalgia' trends were just temporary fads at the turn of the millennium should well and truly have eaten their words by now. Twenty years into the century, and the love for old-school is as strong as ever before. And Hot Wheels collectors have been among the core benefactors.
Support from guilty pleasure adult collectors is at all-time highs at the moment, with plenty of current releases selling out instantaneously at shops around the world. But, it's one of the brand's oldest models that's drawn global interest this week.
Pawn Stars star and toy collector Joel Magee recently stumbled across the plain white red line Chevrolet Camaro pictured above — ironically recounting to Fox News that he couldn't remember where he'd even bought it from given the number of events he attends. It was only after some further inquiry from a collector friend that Magee realised the model was a prototype, valued in the realm of US$100,000 (NZ$156,605).
Back in 1968, Hot Wheels released its first 16 castings — known now among collectors as 'The Original 16'. The 'Custom Camaro' was one of them; depicted in a deep reflective purple. Magee understands this white, Hong Kong stamped Camaro to be a prototype from the production of that original set.
Prototype models are a common part of diecast production. Model car companies will often request prototypes of their castings during various stages of the production cycle. These days, Hot Wheels get a 'first shot' prototype made from 3d-printed plastic, followed by prototypes that depict the full construction of each model in individual components, and then final decorated prototypes just prior to the green light on production.
In the early days of the company though, Hot Wheels would receive prototypes painted in Enamel White specifically in order to find defects in the casting and production. Magee ended up consulting with former Hot Wheels designer John Wood, who helped confirm that the model was a Hong Kong model that had slipped into American retail circulation.
"It didn't resonate with me. It was actually another Hot Wheels person who asked for a better picture. He said, 'Oh my gosh, I've never seen or heard of one of those before, especially Camaro,” Magee told Car & Driver. "If you can pick any Hot Wheels car, the Camaro is at the top of the list. It's hard to imagine a little toy car is worth more than a real one."
With 2020 Chevrolet Camaro pricing starting in America at around US$25,000, four of them can be crammed into the 'Hong Kong Camaro's' valuation price. It's also just $17,385 shy of the flagship Camaro ZL-1's New Zealand sticker price.