American toymaker Mattel introduced us to the fascinating world of Hot Wheels in 1968, offering us a range of model cars. Since Hot Wheels first appeared, many automakers have had scale models of their cars made under license. As these are scale models, they are made from original car manufacturer designs to ensure as much accuracy as possible.
Although Hot Wheels were initially aimed at children and young adults, they have become popular with adult collectors, for whom limited edition models are available.
Most people think of Hot Wheels cars as toys found for a dollar at any local store. However, once in a while, a toy intended for children ends up becoming a collector’s item. This is usually because of their rarity, as Hot Wheels has had a few models produced in minimal numbers, making them hard to find. A few were also one-of-a-kind collectibles that shine nicely. The original packaging really helps increase the value of these collectibles.
There have been dozens of these Hot Wheels that are now worth thousands of dollars. And others easily reach five figures among serious collectors. A few even crack six numbers at major auctions and collectibles. These are the 10 best Hot Wheels toy cars that cost more than some real-life cars.
Updated October 2022: This article has been updated due to the popularity of Hot Wheels as a topic and to reflect changes to the top 10 list.
10/10 1974 Blue Rodger Dodger
This Hot Wheels 1974 Blue Rodger Dodger, based on a 1973 Dodger Charger SE, is usually found in the color Enamel Plum with a black interior and there are some with a white interior, but there was only a small number produced with this color combination.
However, the 1974 model car Blue Rodger Dodger in blue paintwork is particularly rare, and what makes it so rare is the fact that only seven examples were made. Interestingly, all seven models went to an English collector. If you’re lucky enough to find one of these special muscle cars, it could set you back around $8,000. Not bad for a toy.
9/10 1968 Python With “Cheetah” Base
This model was made in the USA and Hong Kong, based on a 1963 customized by Bill Cushenberry. A 1960 Pontiac and a 1961 Corvair got used to the styling of the 1968 Python.
In addition to the orange paint to make this model rare, take a look at the underside of the car. If it just has the usual Mattel/Hot Wheels logos, don’t get excited, because it’s not that expensive. If the word “Cheetah” is on it, it’s one of only nine made and is worth a major penny. That’s because these models were produced before it was discovered that “Cheetah” was actually a Chevrolet Corvette race car that was already registered with a GM executive. And so, the model name was changed to Python. A few variations include an international version in rainbow colors, but the most common color for this car model is Hong Kong red. If you find one in the very rare orange, you might find it’s worth around $10,000.
8/10 1969 Ed Shaver Blue AMX
New to the list is the Hot Wheels 1969 Ed Shaver Blue AMX based on the two-seat muscle car, which was manufactured by AMC. This particular model was actually designed by Ira Gilford, who worked for the American toy company Mattel and designed Hot Wheels toy cars.
The 1969 Ed Shaver Blue AMX was produced in the USA with a stunning white interior. In commemoration of Mattel’s partnership with Ed Shaver, a custom AMX model was released, and it’s most recognizable by its decals. One of these editions might cost you around $10,000.
7/10 1971 Purple Olds 442
One of the rarest of the first Hot Wheels line, this model was only made for factories and markets in Hong Kong, with no distribution in the United States.
It is a “Redline” car, which makes it very rare among collectors because it was produced between 1968 and 1977. During this period of manufacture, the wheels of these car models had a red stripe, where the name “Redline”. The purple color as well as the blue and white Stars and Stripes pattern also add to its rarity. Add to that the low production numbers, and the 442 can fetch over $12,000 for the lucky owner.
6/10 1969 Brown Custom Charger
The 1969 Brown Custom Charger is another fantastic model car from Hot Wheels designer Ira Gilford, based on an actual 1969 Dodge Charger.
Hot Wheels still excels in multiple colors for certain cars, but it’s notable when a model is much rarer in one color. Maroon is not the type of color you would usually put on a powerful muscle car, which makes this custom maroon 1969 Charger a rare and unique piece.
It is believed to have been a prototype not intended for large numbers, but this is the only time a normally dull color like brown may be desirable and why its value is around $13,000.
5/10 1970 The Mad Maverick
The Mad Maverick is actually based on a 1969 Ford Maverick. Revealed in 1970, production of this magnificent sports car ended in 1977. Particularly rare are the “Mad Maverick” variants, which bear this name under the model car, however, due to trademark permissions, the name was changed to Mighty Maverick before it was released to the public.
Only five of these models are actually known: two blue, one red, one purple and another unassembled and unpainted. This rarity is one reason why a pristine version can fetch a high price as long as the collector can tell it is, in fact, the real deal. But collectors are really going ‘crazy’ for this rare but wonderful toy and can pay up to £13,000 for this model.
4/10 1968 on Chrome Camaro
This is another gem from the 1968 Hot Wheels collection. The Over Chrome Antifreeze version was produced to support advertising campaigns. With only two produced, these car models are particularly collectible. They were also meant to shine, to stand out from other toymakers. The Camaro is one of the rarest models, and a good one can fetch a lucky owner around $25,000.
3/10 1968 on Chrome Mustang
It only makes sense that the toy version of an iconic muscle car would become a hit in its own right. Although Hot Wheels has made many Mustangs over the years, this particular Mustang car model is limited to two, for advertising purposes only.
The detail is great, like a pop-up hood showing off a perfectly recreated engine and special tints on the windows. Apparently one of these rare models was acquired from a private seller and collector Ralph Antone has a rarer “watermelon” color. An immaculate model can cost $40,000, a fitting homage to a fine muscle car.
2/10 2008 40th Anniversary Custom Diamond Encrusted Otto
Created for the 2008 New York Toy Fair, this baby was worth $140,000 when it was made, and possibly more. To celebrate Mattel’s 40th anniversary, Hot Wheels has prepared a gift from Jason of Beverly Hills. This recreation of a roadster is cast in 18k white gold and features more than 2,700 diamonds and red rubies for the taillights. Currently owned by a private collector, its value is around $60,000 – a Hot Wheels car that really shines its way.
But wait, there’s more…
1/10 1969 Pink VW Beach Bomb
It might be a jaw-dropping idea, but yes, this little pink toy, the holy grail of Hot Wheels model cars, is worth more than some actual Ferraris. The reason is that only two of these cars were produced in 1969. They produced two models before realizing that the surfboard sticking out of the back had thrown it off balance.
While other colors were also produced, the rose was the rarest of the lot. It is now owned by collector Bruce Pascal who owns the most expensive Hot Wheels car in the world and its value continues to rise. Currently, you can expect to pay $175,000 for one of these toys.