If you’d told me beforehand that the most expensive item I’d bring home from my recent trip to the Matchbox Gathering was a set of Hot Wheels, I don’t think I’d have believed you. But strangely, this Porsche set, bought in an antique mall during a stopover on the road trip home, turned out to be the marquee purchase that I didn’t make in Albuquerque. Not that there wasn’t tons of great stuff to tempt me – there always is! – just that the rarer or more expensive pieces I wanted weren’t there this time.
Still, this Porsche 50th Anniversary set from 1999 is anything but a consolation prize. It’s absolutely fantastic. I’d never seen one in person until I spotted it in a consignment case packed full of these older sets from the Cool Collectibles/100% Hot Wheels era. But it had always been on the radar because of one model, the Gulf 917K.
Of course, if you buy any of these older models with opening parts, you’re hoping the rubber bands haven’t stuck to the paint and caused damage. Thankfully that wasn’t the case here.
One of the first articles I wrote for this blog was a rundown of favourite Porsche racing cars in 1:64 scale. You can still read it here. One of them was the classic ‘Hippy’ machine of Jo Siffert/Kurt Ahrens from the Nine Hours of Kyalami in 1970. That was issued in a 100% Hot Wheels black box in 2003 but there were two more – the red Attwood/Herrmann Le Mans-winning car from the same year (which still eludes me) and this Gulf issue, which I think is modeled after the 1970 Daytona winner.
These three are different from the later casting with the engine cover welded shut, which appeared in Gulf colours first as an RLC in 2013 and again in the 2020 Iconic Racers Car Culture set (and was coincidentally still on the shelves of a Walmart I dropped into a day before I bought the anniversary set).
There’s something about this opening-parts 917K casting that I really like. The proportions are good but the engine bay detail clinches it for me.
The orange print is too red, but that’s about it for downsides. The relatively high price I paid for this set (though still cheaper than the going rate on eBay) is mostly due to the presence of this most Gulf-y of Gulf-liveried cars, but I think it was worth it! You could easily spend more on a Super…
What I hadn’t bargained for was how great the rest of the set would be. Hot Wheels has produced a few different 930 Turbo castings, from the old Flatnose one, via an RWB to the latest Cyberpunk release, but the 930 in this set is terrific. Like every other casting here, it made its debut in this set, in red; typical of the 100% models, it was used only a handful of times until 2003 before being retired.
A few things stand out: the stance, the size – it’s much closer to true 1:64 than most Hot Wheels, and certainly more than any of the other 930s – and the fantastic engine detail under the opening rear lid.
The wheels have too much chrome and it’s missing a little paint on the arch (a production issue – this set had never been opened) but those are the only negatives for me.
Updated: after publishing this article I found out that at least two resin preproduction examples of this set are in collectors’ hands…with a 993 Turbo in place of the 930! (Thank you Scott, appreciate the message!) Amazing. Not sure why the 993 was never produced. Maybe they decided the 930 better reflected Porsche’s history? Here are some pictures of one of those prepro sets, with huge thanks to Alcides DaSilva.
Be sure to check out Alcides’ IG feed, @Porsche1_64. It’s a treasure trove of great info and fantastic pictures of 1:64 Porsches from his collection. Thanks again Alcides!
OK, back to reality. Next up, the yellow Boxster, which has unique wheels that superbly reflect the five-spokes of the real car. No opening parts here but the detail and proportions are again terrific, even if the paint finish isn’t the cleanest.
Sadly, this casting was only used twice. What a pity – it looks as good today as it did when it first appeared.
That just leaves the 550 Spyder. Wow. This piece is magnificent, my favourite of the set even ahead of the Gulf 917. Just look at it!
For one, it’s tiny, just 5.5cm (2.2in) long – much smaller than the current Matchbox Moving Parts, for example (which I still haven’t been able to find on the pegs). Its size, delicacy and opening engine cover put me in mind of the Shelby Collectibles models.
Then there’s the detail – another amazing engine bay, a beautiful cockpit (check out that ‘wood-rimmed’ steering wheel) and bespoke wheels that look like they just shrank a set of real rims.
Criminally but predictably, this beautiful casting was used only twice more after this set. It only reinforces what I said in an earlier article about the 1957 Oldsmobile – that these Cool Collectibles/100% Hot Wheels from 20+ years ago are as good as anything Hot Wheels is doing today. Some, like the Porsches, are rising in value, but you can still find them for good prices, especially if you’re not fussed about the box. And you shouldn’t be, because with their detail and opening features, these Porsches deserve to be displayed.
I’m glad I grabbed this set when I saw it, it’s even better than I thought it would be. There are many other good ones from around the same time – I picked up the beautiful Jaguar set for a friend, too. Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures and remember to check out those random antique malls, you never know what you might find!
(follow me on Instagram @diecast215)