One-and-Done: Jun Imai’s Forgotten Nova

OK, so not quite literally a one-and-done, but it was only featured in one series, in two colors. But anyway…

In 2005, Hot Wheels had started a retail series simply called Classics, releasing cars in spectraflame colors and all metal/metal construction. The original premise was a call back to the original redline-era cars of 1968-1972, releasing a few cars in multiple colors. Originally a hit among collectors, interest started to wane a bit by Series 3 in 2007 (and somewhat rightfully so: it was a bit overkill, with 25 or 30 cars a year, sometimes in upwards of 7 colors per car; mostly 3 or 4 per car though). In 2008, the Classics series was, for all intents and purposes, split into two factions: the main Series 4 of 15 castings to be released as usual, and then there was Modern Classics, a set of 15 castings, with numerous new designs by Jun Imai, and exclusive to Walmart (in the US anyway).

Nowadays, this 2008 iteration of the Modern Classics moniker is known for introducing castings such as the ’83 Silverado, ’92 Mustang, ’77 Firebird, ’70 Torino and ’80 El Camino, it was also the original home to a couple more or less forgotten gems: ’70 Plymouth Road Runner and the ’70 Nova. While the Road Runner eventually popped up once since (2011 Vintage Racing in Petty colors), the Nova has languished and hasn’t been seen in 14 years and counting, with only a spectraflame race team blue and a chrome colorway to exist.

In a way, I can understand how this casting gets forgotten, besides only having these two colors released seen here. Mainly, the general design of the casting. Jun had a particular look to some of his creations. The ’92 Mustang for example, it has a rather large, stocky look to it despite being a small car. The ’70 Torino is short and wide compared to the real deal. Even the Silverado has a bit of an odd look if you really look at it, even for a regular cab short bed truck. And the Nova is no different. It’s blocky, stockier than one would expect. However, to me, this is part of its charm. Yea it’s odd, but in a good way. But comparing to the ’68 Nova that debuted in 2004 or the new ’70 Nova that debuted in the Fast & Furious line in 2021, this one just doesn’t seem to fit. The ’68 has a pure muscle look; the ’70 a great “correct” look. But this Nova? especially compared to those, I can see why it’s not as respected.

Seeing as it’s been 14 years since this casting saw the light of day, I highly doubt we’ll see it again (same for the Road Runner but that’s another story; I’ll have to cover that one too eventually). But here’s hoping that maybe there’s some love for it and we see it return some day.

Check out the few Modern Classics Novas on eBay, or maybe you fancy the more accurate looking gem.

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