I remember hanging out in the back of the ballroom at the Hot Wheels Convention Finale in Lexington, Kentucky in 2015. Robert Knox from Hot Wheels marketing was up front previewing some upcoming models. Towards the end, he dropped a bomb.
A slide showing a ’96 Nissan 180SX. Hot Wheels was doing an S13. Amazing. One of those stop-the-presses moments. Envision 1950’s era dudes in hats marked “press” running for the payphone to report the scoop. That was me as I beelined it to my hotel room to report the news on the blog. I posted it late Saturday, and at the time that was one of the most-read posts I had ever done. This, for so many people, was a big deal.
And Hot Wheels did not disappoint with its debut. The 180SX dropped in late 2015, in a gorgeous candy maroon, with all the Type X trim, a modern, lowered stance, and gold-lipped wheels. Plus a clean look with rear deco. It was a gorgeous model, and truly one of the best debut models Hot Wheels had done.
It’s an all-time great release. Truly perfect. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a white recolor, just as clean.
But that didn’t happen. What did happen is the 180SX changed outfits for 2016 and 2017, and it just didn’t look nearly as good. A Greddy-themed drift livery was ok, but way busy. The Hot Wheels racing deco from 2017 was just plain awful. I was sure glad to have the debut, because the subsequent models didn’t come close.
Well, finally something does. The 180SX is back, and it looks brilliant in Advan livery, sitting on the new Aero Cover basic wheels. It looks the part again.
The truth is Advan can make anything look good, so the S13 has that going for it. But the new Aero Cover wheels make it far more interesting, pulling the model back towards the 80’s instead of to the future like the debut does. I would still love to see this casting sporting a Volk TE37 look someday (in white, with clean deco, in Car Culture, but who’s counting?), but this one suffices, especially after the previous releases. It’s a beauty.