The History of the Hot Wheels & Matchbox Z cars, by Doug Breithaupt of Tales of Toy Cars

Let me introduce you to Doug Breithaupt. I have known of Doug since my early days of collecting, when I was a frequent visitor to MCCH, the Matchbox forum to visit at the time. Doug not only shared his vast knowledge on Matchbox there, but on all kinds of diecast, from popular brands like Hot Wheels to far more obscure brands.

Doug has since moved his site Tales of Toy Cars to Facebook, and it truly is a must-follow for any diecast collector. I noticed that he had done a comparison on the new Hot Wheels 300ZX with the old casting, and I shared it on my Facebook page. The response made me think that I should share more of Doug’s knowledge here, and he was happy to oblige.

I am hoping this is the beginning of several features that Doug shares with Lamley Readers here on the blog. But to truly share in his knowledge, following his Facebook Page is imperative.

So we start with a history of the Z from Hot Wheels and Matchbox. Let’s see where we go after that.

Thanks Doug. Everyone enjoy the article:

In 1977, Hot Wheels offered their first Japanese car.  The ‘Z Whiz’ was a modest custom model of the first generation Datsun 240/260 Z.  Early examples could still be found with the famous Redline wheels, then in their last year.  The affection from Hot Wheels for the Z Car has continued for 42 years.  The latest addition is a much-improved second casting of the 300ZX from the 1990’s.  

With this new 300ZX, it seems Hot Wheels intend to continue producing more pleasing examples of different Z Car generations.  They have already offered three different takes on the original 240Z/Fairlady models of the early 1970’s.  All told, there are ten Z Car castings from Hot Wheels.  I have selected one example of each in a rainbow of colors for the group image.  One generation is still missing, the 280Z/ZX. 

The latest 300ZX in white extends a selection of Z Cars from Hot Wheels with shades of that color.  It is possible the production of so many white variations reflects that traditional Japanese racing colors have a base of white.

By comparison, Matchbox has offered six different Z Cars.  Like Hot Wheels, their first Japanese car was the 260Z 2+2 offered one year later in 1978.  Matchbox continued to produce each new generation of Z Car up to the 350Z.  They have yet to include a 370Z in their line.  

Many other toy car companies have offered Z Car models with some like Tomica including every generation.  A comprehensive review of all of these, separated into generational comparisons could be the focus of future stories.

With Mattel’s continued interest in producing more Japanese and JDM models, existing gaps in the Z Car lines from Hot Wheels and Matchbox could soon be filled.  For many collectors, completing these model histories with an unbroken line of toy car examples is very satisfying. 

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4 thoughts on “The History of the Hot Wheels & Matchbox Z cars, by Doug Breithaupt of Tales of Toy Cars

  1. The 280Z is a USDM model of the S30; it’s not the same as the 280ZX, which is on the S130 platform.

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