Hot Wheels super fan Mike has 30,000 toy cars

Meet the man with the world’s largest collection of Hot Wheels model cars – a record he’s held for nearly two decades.

Mike Zarnock, 63, is something of a celebrity in the collectables world and keeps his 30,000 cars in 2,500 square feet of storage space in his home.

He started his collection as a child and even bought cars on his first date with his wife Christina, 60, in 1988.

A Hot Wheels superfan, he estimates he spends up to $10,000 (£7,390) a year on the brand, including accessories like socks, sunglasses, toothbrushes and underwear .

Now a grandfather of two, Mike passed on his passion to his children and grandchildren by playing with them and encouraging them to create their own car collections.

The pensioner, from Deerfield, New York, said: “I’ve spent the last 50 years trying to redeem my childhood by collecting.

“It brings me back to a time when I don’t have to be the adult, I don’t have to be in charge, to be in charge; back to that time when all I had to do was make my bed, and I would get my allowance and go buy more Hot Wheels cars.

“I’m ten again playing with my granddaughter.”

Mike was ten years old when Hot Wheels cars were released in 1968 and fell in love the first time he saw them.

He said: “I was always going down to the store to get the latest model kit, and I walked into the store and all of a sudden I look up and there’s Hot Wheels.

“They had chrome everywhere, they had racing stripes, big supercharged engines and I fell in love instantly. It was love at first sight.”

The first two cars were the Beatnik Bandit and the Silhouette, both based on popular custom cars, and were part of Hot Wheels’ original “Sweet Sixteen” set.

Mike Zarnock with his Hot Wheels collection

Mike said: “Hot Wheels replicated the cars we saw driving on the road, and a lot of those cars you could hear and smell.

“They were down the road and when they passed the ground shook.”

The collection grew and one day a kid asked him if he knew who had the biggest collection of Hot Wheels in the world.

Mike said: “There was a guy who had 1,500 different car models, and I thought I had more than that.

“So I counted 3,128 cars at the time and sent them to Guinness and got the Guinness World Record in 2003.

“That meant everything. I have this monster certificate on my wall that says I have the biggest Hot Wheels collection in the world, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Now retired, Mike owns over 30,000 different cars.

He said, “I’m a historian and packaging is extremely important to me. I love artwork that represents different eras of Hot Wheels.”

Mike travels across America to meet other model car collectors and even acts as a brand ambassador.

The retired teacher and author said, “I collect Hot Wheels because it takes me back to my childhood. It gives me this wonderful feeling.”

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