One of the most exciting Hot Wheels collaborations of the year is currently hitting collectors’ mailboxes — including my own.
Introducing the Roadkill Rotsun: a rustastic 1971 Datsun 240z project car
If you’re not familiar with the Roadkill series, it follows Hot Rod magazine editor-in-chief David Freiburger and staff editor Mike Finnegan around as they find and buy sketchy, and somewhat obscure cars and perform wild modifications to them. Direct from the Roadkill About Us page:
“David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan are two guys behaving badly with cars. They are on a gearhead quest to track down all types of worn-out gassers, hot rods and muscle cars, and then push them to their limits.”
I could literally go on for pages and pages about how amazing the Roadkill series is as a whole. I am a huge fan of the show and have even see the guys live at the Woodward Dream Cruise, and had a very small part in one of their project cars by helping name the Vanishing Paint Dodge Challenger. David and Mike are incredible hosts, talented writers and photographers, and definitely know their way around a build (to say the least). They have created some of the most well-known project/Youtube cars of the last decade: General Mayhem, Stubby Bob, the Mazdarati, the Disgustang, and of course, the Rotsun.
The Rotsun is a rotted-out 1971 Datsun 240z that first showed up in Roadkill episode 25, way back in 2014. The first iteration of the car had it powered by Chevy 4.3L V6 engine with a turbo from a Ford Powerstroke 7.3L diesel. After a few of their usual “engineering” hiccups, the car ended up making nearly 400hp…but in true Roadkill fashion, the 4.3 ultimately met its demise during a LeMONS Race. A year later, around episode 64, the guys swapped in a 5.0L Ford engine and much of the same turbo kit that was on the 4.3. The car ended up making good power to the tune of 500+ hp, and I believe that’s where the car was left.
The Hot Wheels Rotsun is one of two cars that was sold through a special collaboration between Hot Wheels and the MotorTrend Group, who own and operate Hot Rod’s media. The deal was unique as it not only included two exclusive Hot Wheels models, it also included a 1-year subscription to MotorTrend’s streaming platform, MotorTrend On Demand.
I believe this is the first time Hot Wheels has done a multi-car, staggered release as well. This is the first of the two and is the “before” version, with the second release being the “after” version that features a new turbo set-up casting sticking out of the hood.
The “before” version of the Rotsun comes from Mattel packed in a Hot Wheels Kar Keeper and on a special card that resembles a piece of cardboard with the Rotsun to-do list on it, something commonly seen in Roadkill project car garages. I appreciate the art work that went into it too. It’s the little things like card art that make a big impact sometimes.
The car itself is based on the 2006 Hot Wheels Datsun 240z casting designed by Phil Riehlman. Where the car really differs from past releases is the unique rust “wrap” that covers the car — and is where the Rotsun truly comes to life.
Part of the allure of the various Roadkill projects is watching them turn ugly, wrecked cars or rust buckets into performance cars. So in order to properly show the “before” version of the Rotsun, Hot Wheels really had to nail the rust look — and they did. The car looks great, well, as great as a rotten ’71 Datsun could look, ha.
The car is covered in a unique tampo style that is more of a wrap than a bunch of traditional print-screen tampos. I’m assuming this style of tampo/wrap allows for more intricate print-detailing as the accuracy of the rust lines are truly amazing. On top of headlight. taillight, and Datsun badge tampos, nearly every panel has rust spots on it. Much of the car has rusty water stains that you’d typically see on an old car that has sat outside for more than its fair share of seasons. It’s very well executed.
The car rolls on a staggered set of Hot Wheels steelie wheels, in mis-matched colors as per true Roadkill style. I know a lot of people online have complained about the car rolling on plastic wheels rather than Real Riders, but I’m not one of them. I personally don’t equate price or quality with what type of tires a car has, as I think the plastic wheels look good and some times hold up better than rubber (especially since older cars with rubber tires start to break-down over time and crack). The second release is slated to get Real Riders for those of you that prefer to have their cars ride on that luxurious rubber.
Check out the unboxing video below and take a closer look at how rad the car looks while riding on a rotating display:
To say I’m a fan of the Hot Wheels Rotsun is an understatement. To me, it’s more than a car – it signifies (what I hope to be) a long, beautiful new partnership between Roadkill and Hot Wheels….that I hope will one day spawn an entire line-up of Roadkill castings.
We’re looking at you, General Mayhem 🏁