For many of you, Hot Wheels played a major role in your early years and may have served as a gateway to your current automotive obsession. The reader who cracks a small smile after that first statement probably has a nice little collection right now, and hey, we’re here with you.
Gilbert Villanueva knows a thing or two about these 1:64 scale die-cast collectibles that have brought kids (and adults) so much joy over the years. He and his business partner Ryan, along with his wife, Cheryll, own HHwHH (Hella Hot Wheels Heavy Hitters), a small northern California storefront that caters to Hot Wheel enthusiasts and features a select group of other collectibles.
Having collected die-cast cars and assorted parts since 2009, Gilbert had amassed quite an assortment and much of it included multiple releases from Hot Wheels, Matchbox and other brands. While organizing his storage one day in 2014, he had the idea of bringing some of these duplicates to HIN Santa Clara to display on a six-foot table that was borrowing space from his friend’s vendor booth.
“I had always seen the same product all the time at trade shows – stickers, posters, clothes, etc.,” he says. “I thought my Hot Wheels would be perfect to show off at car shows because it’s obviously car related, loved by all ages and genders, and when I see kids going to shows, they don’t don’t last an hour because they get bored so quickly. Having toy cars there keeps them entertained.”
Finding his groove, Gilbert attended more shows and began offering free gift bags to children under 7, and it proved to be a hit with children and parents alike. Over the next few years, he presented his collectibles at 10 local shows a year before expanding to Southern California and Seattle. In 2019 things were cooking and with the toy cars, HHwHH would show off some real cars to drive home the point that they weren’t just a salesman, but real enthusiasts. Then all those auto shows came to a screeching halt as the world faced a pandemic and related lockdown. As a result, these collectibles have been left gathering dust in storage.
The modern Honda platform
Just before the pandemic hit, Gilbert took a leap of faith with an all-new chassis, a far cry from the familiar CRX builds he had grown accustomed to, at one point piling on six different examples at once. He pitched the idea for the FK8 to his wife and she agreed, but finding one at a dealership was next to impossible. An order was placed and there was a long wait, but it gave him time to research the chassis a bit more and figure out his plan of attack.
When the new Type R finally arrived, Cheryll was certainly feeling it. “We picked it up and right after that she liked it so much she started driving it every day,” he says. “Parts were starting to come in and even though I wanted to install them, time was a factor with work, family, etc.” As the pandemic engulfed the United States, its time was about to free up considerably.
“The pandemic hit and I was fired, as many have,” Gilbert recalled. Without his full-time job and no shows to attend to run his side business of collectibles, he had the time to install the pieces he had stockpiled. A bolt-on affair under the hood, the basics were taken care of first and included a GReddy exhaust and intercooler kit, Eventuri intake and crossover pipe, HKS front and mid pipes, and the lowering and PRL’s plug-and-play flex – fuel kit. Lots of Chasing Js dress up touches were sprinkled in and he was pleased with the look and power of the FK8’s K20C.
Gilbert raided shelves full of King Motorsports Mugen parts and returned with a front lip, side skirts, bumper trim, rear spoiler and taillights. The ever-popular TE37 wheels, this version in high contrast blue, were bolted to a Project Mu x Alcon forged 6-piston brake kit and the car’s ride height was selected with Fortune Auto 510 series coilovers. .
Two-seater Type R
The rear seats were deleted in favor of an EVS Tuning carbon fiber replacement and a Studio RSR roll bar fitted in place. The remaining seats have been removed to make room for Mugen’s modern MSZ bucket seats that match the trademark carbon-trimmed steering wheel and Schroth harnesses anchored to the aforementioned roll bar. As good as the factory shifter was, Gilbert went with CAE’s much taller and shorter shift assembly.
Amid the closings and free time to finish putting his Type R back together, Gilbert and his wife, along with his business partner, decided to open a storefront. Seems a bit crazy as the world was still figuring out their next move but after recognizing that a small commercial space wouldn’t cost much more than the storage that already housed their collectibles where they weren’t generating any income, he felt like the right decision.
Today, the HHwHH storefront is in full swing and Gilbert reports that he has also returned to his usual full-time job from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. With the resumption of auto shows and associated events, you can also find their vendor booth in action. “I still can’t believe what we started,” he says. “At the start of 2021 we were seeing other Hot Wheels/diecast vendors at import car shows and events and we have to respect the hustle and bustle. We think we’ve started something really good. Thank you for all the support, we appreciate everyone. Come fundraise with us!”
Auto 2019 Honda Civic Type R
Engine Hasport mounts; GReddy intercooler, piping, oil cooler, SP HG exhaust system, 3 inch. front tube, middle tube; HKS black edtion purge valve; Eventuri V2 turbo pipe, intake, carbon fiber valve cover; black edition PTP turbo and downpipe cover; PRL downpipe, flex fuel kit; Radium coolant reservoir, dual oil catch canister; Rywire Grounding Kit; Chasing Js Titanium Hardware, Coolant Cap, Oil Cap, Dipstick, Windshield Washer Reservoir Cover; ATX-30 antigravity lithium battery; mele Design Firm rally battery tray; Carbon fiber APR cooling plate; custom carbon fiber fuse box, aluminum A/C caps; Hondata Flash Pro
Transmission Exedy stage II ceramic clutch, lightened flywheel; CAE ultra-shifter
Suspension Fortune Auto 510 series coilovers, camber plates; Quick springs; Hardrace rear camber arms; front/rear BeatRush titanium shock tower bars; Studio RSR chromoly roll bar; HKS suspension EDC kit
Braking Project Mu x Alcon stirrups; Project Mu 380mm front rotors, steel braided lines; 350mm Paragon rear rotors; powder coated polished silver rear calipers
Wheels and tires Volk Racing TE37 SAGA 18×11 +37 front, 18×9.5 +33 rear; Toyo Proxes R888R 295/30 front, 265/30 rear; ARP elongated studs; Chasing J’s titanium lug nuts, valve stem caps
Outside Mugen front lip, side skirts, rear spoiler, rear wing, side visors, front bumper trim, carbon fiber mirror caps, LED taillights, door handle guards, titanium badges; Chasing Js Bolt Kit, Front License Plate Bracket; First Molding super aerodynamic ventilated hood; Honda Access door moldings, optional rear bumper applique; EVS Tuning front grille; Racebred 3 in. front splitter with quick release brackets, front tire spatulas; Updated OEM rear vent; Clear OEM JDM side markers; 3M matte black roof wrap; custom aluminum rear wiper delete; Diode Dynamics Elite Series fog lights; Rplate digital license plate; LaminX headlight film
Interior Mugen Recaro MSZ seats, steering wheel, start button; Recaro sliders, brackets; Schroth Racing 3 inch. Harness Profi II ASM; Studio RSR Harness Retractors; Chasing Js teardrop shift knob, shift pattern plate, door sills; Custom carbon fiber shift plate detailed by Panem; Delete EVS Tuning carbon fiber rear seat with Chasing Js hardware; Tuxmat floor mats; H3R Performance fire extinguisher, Prolock quick release bracket; Honda Access first aid kit; Diode Dynamics interior LEDs
Thanks First I would like to thank God for every achievement and success I have. And to my family, especially my wife, Cheryll Hermosura, for giving me her FK8 and trusting me to work on a new chassis and to my two angels Ezra and Tatum, my day one supporters! To my extended family and friends at HHwHH Ryan, Gervin, Mark, Baek, Giann, Gerard, Mike, Jerry, Alex, Jessie, Jomar, Danny, Arjan, Shawn, Brian, Eric. And to all my sponsors/supporters Fortune Auto, SpeedImage Usa, Chasing J’s, Toys Tires, Anti Gravity Battery, MeLe Design Firm, Paragon Brakes, RaceBred Components, Greddy Performance, Mackin Industries, Evasive Motorsports, Diode Dynamics, H3R Performance, Detailed By Panem, Amsoil inc, P3 Gauges, LaminX Film, SlipLo Usa, BlackVue, Tracklife Composites, Exedy Usa, Fkn Prints, Mr. SexyS2K, Brian Garage, StreetOutCast, inspire Usa, Studio Rsr, Mistrshop, illumaesthetic, Dsr Prez, Dsr George, and QuickWorks.