Special Collections: Danny Akers’ Hot Wheels Buick Grand National Collection…
We are starting another feature here on Lamley. It is called “Special Collections” in honor of my time working at the Special Collections Library at the University of Arizona in the late ’90’s. The Special Collections Libraries hold all the valuable stuff. Stuff that is usually required permission to see, and stuff that requires 100% supervision while it is looked at. In the brief time I was there I was able to descend into the deep corners of the collection, where I saw many amazing pieces, like an original Beethoven manuscript, an extremely rare 1-of-1 copy of Ulysses by James Joyce, some maps dating back hundreds of years, and a ton of historic Arizonan relics. The highlight for me, however, was monitoring a researcher as she perused the original notebooks of a personal hero of mine, Edward Abbey. There are a million hoops to go through to see these notebooks, but this researcher successfully maneuvered them, and I was her supervisor. It was a cool experience, especially when looking at something that very few people have or would be able to see. Now admittedly that is a bit of a dramatic introduction to a profile on someone’s Hot Wheels collection. And no offense to Danny, but his Grand National collection is not on par with Edward Abbey’s notebooks…yet. But anyone on HWC who knows birdmandan knows that his Grand National collection is pretty darn amazing. So in our first “Special Collections’ feature, I asked Danny to profile his collection. And if you want to participate, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I cannot guarantee that we will move forward with your feature, but I am always looking for something that readers may enjoy. Keep it 1:64, and somewhat specialized. A year? A casting? A theme? You get the picture… Thanks Danny!
Do you know what this automobile represents to me in the Hot Wheels world?
One word: OBSESSION.
It took some time to get to that point, however. In fact, I had to stop and think where along those
lines the transition took place. Allow me to tell my story.
I began collecting Hot Wheels again during the summer months of 2006. To this day, I remain
unsure of what exactly grabbed my attention, but I became fascinated with the 2006 First
Editions series and began finding variations of those cars within that series. It was this series that
ignited my passion for collecting variations, however minor they may have been.
Fast forward to sometime in the spring of 2007. This was very early on in my college career,
while I was still ordering cases from my dorm room. I remember pulling three black Buick
Grand National New Models out of a fresh F case and thought, “Hey, these cars are kinda cool.”
You know what I did with those three Buick Grand Nationals? I traded them for three Treasure
Hunts from the early 2000’s. Obviously, the love for Buick Grand Nationals was yet to come.
Arguably, it was my passion (or obsession rather) for variations that drew my attention to the
Buick Grand National. In August and September of 2007, the first major variation to the Buick
Grand National casting came into the limelight. By this point, three variations had already been
established for the casting:
BLACK, 5SP (International release)
The next anticipated release for the Buick Grand National was to be:
Did you catch it? I’m sure a few of our variation collectors did.
Aside from the color, there were two distinct changes…..
So, what was the first big variation for the Buick Grand National casting?
That’s right! A transition piece from the Burgundy color, the chrome interior was sporadically
found in the Silver Grand National!
I recall these being found in the M cases of 2007, which hit stores (primarily) in August
and September of that year. I originally found six (!) of these transitions (all on the pegs at
Walmarts), but only retained two. Unfortunately, I traded the other four away…. and on that
note, we’ll move on from that topic. Can you tell the obsession still hadn’t set in?
But wait…. there was another variation that seemed to pop up in those M cases that was even
This variation was extremely hard to find! Of all the censuses I have done since that time frame,
I have confirmed somewhere between 12 and 15 in existence, although that total may be closer
to 18 – 20 with recent information. In total, I have had seven (7) of these in my possession at one
time or another. Although I am unsure of the number and amount of private sales for obvious
reasons, this seems to be the most valuable of the BGN variations. The last known sale of this
variation, to my knowledge, went for $350.
(On a side note, the Silver BGN with chrome interior is also a very desirable variation, often
fetching over $100, but I have also seen them sell for as low as $40)
Distribution was very interesting with the Y5 variation. A few were found at Walmarts, but the
majority of these were found in grocery store shippers & sidekicks, and the distribution was
almost entirely limited to the Midwestern states, namely Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, and Ohio.
Incredibly, I found two of these in the wild, my first on the pegs at a Walmart in eastern Iowa
in September of 2007 (along with two chrome interior transition pieces!) and the second in a
grocery store shipper in central Iowa later in the fall of 2007 (a local collector also found one of
these in the same grocery store two days previously).
This, I believe was the turning point of my obsession for the Buick Grand National casting.
The following release, a K-Mart exclusive for September 2007, only solidified it. Why?
Because I don’t believe Mattel could have possibly chosen a closer shade of blue than what this
was to my ultimate favorite shade of my favorite color:
Photo current as of 15 Oct 2012.
I loved the color of this car so much that, with the assistance of a collector from Ohio whose
local K-Mart was overflowing with these exclusives for a period of time, I inquired about buying
as many as he could fit in a flat rate box. I acquired 39 blue Buick Grand Nationals from him.
With that, I was hooked on Buick Grand Nationals.
But that still isn’t the complete story. In fact, I left out the rarest of all Buick Grand National
variations. Do you know what it is?
Above, ladies and germs, is the holy grail of the Buick Grand National variations.
I have only been able to confirm 4 in existence, although I would venture a guess that 8 to 10
may be out there. This variation was also found almost exclusively in grocery store shippers as
Why did I wait until now to mention this variation? Simply put, it wouldn’t have fit the timeline
of my story!
I was at the Collector’s Nationals event in Chicago, Illinois in April of 2008. By this time,
those that knew me in the Hot Wheels world knew I was obsessed with this casting. I remember
chatting with a collector from Minnesota in the lobby of the hotel, when I received a text
message from a fellow collector and my buddy, Steve. I couldn’t exactly make out what it was
other than a Silver BGN, so I gave him a call. Long story short, it was this very 5SP BGN!
I’m unsure exactly how fast I ran to the room he was in, although I do recall it took me nearly
20 minutes to regain my breath after I reached the room. With the 5SP BGN in my sight and
inspecting it, in hand, it was everything I could do to keep myself calm. After several hours of
allowing the owner to give some thought to parting with the car, after dinner on Thursday, Steve
and I returned to the room, myself with cash in hand. For a small fee, I added this car to my
collection and I have never seen another in person! In that sense, it is very difficult to put a dollar
value on this variation, but I would argue it could easily be compared to its fellow Silver variant
Several variations and releases have been seen since the great release of 2007:
2008 ENGINE REVEALERS Series: OH5s & Tinted Windows
2008 ENGINE REVEALERS Series: 3SP & Tinted Windows (International Release)
2008 ENGINE REVEALERS Series: OH5s & Blacked Out Windows
2008 MODERN CLASSICS: Black/Red
2008 MODERN CLASSICS: Blue
2009 FASTER THAN EVER Series: Red & Tinted Windows
2009 FASTER THAN EVER Series: Red & Blacked Out Windows (VHTF)
2009 FASTER THAN EVER Series: Gray & Tinted Windows
2009 FASTER THAN EVER Series: Gray & Blacked Out Windows
2011 CARS OF THE DECADES: Open Hood
2011 CARS OF THE DECADES: Fused Hood
2011 HW PERFORMANCE Series: Yellow & Chrome Rim PR5s