G’Day diecast enthusiasts! I’m Reece (aka @aussiehotwheelscollector on Instagram) and I’m the newest member of the Lamley writing team. Sharing my Top 10 cars of 2022 seems like the perfect way to introduce myself, so you can see where my passions lie. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into it.
10. ’69 Ford Torino Talladega
As you’ll come to learn in this Top 10, I love vintage race cars, and older cars in general. There’s a certain rawness about old cars that strikes a cord with me. Simply put, they’re pure, and it comes from how analog they are. It’s just the driver, the machine and the road, nothing else in the way. No matter how much faster, more advanced and overall superior modern cars are, they don’t invoke the same feeling in me that old cars do.
And I love when Hot Wheels tap into that era. While this Torino Talladega isn’t based on a real life race car of the day, it definitely captures that same spirit. It looks like it just came off the racetrack in 1969 and will be right at home in my collection next to the two Vintage Racing versions of this casting. From the coloured steel wheels wrapped in Goodyear tyres, to the race number on the headlights, every detail of this Torino screams “60’s NASCAR”.
The 1969 and 1970 NASCAR seasons are remembered for the “Aero Warrior” cars which had outlandish aerodynamic devices specifically designed to improve performance in NASCAR racing. The ‘69 Dodge Charger Daytona and ‘70 Plymouth Superbird are famously known for their pointed nosecones and enormous rear wings, but Ford’s aerodynamic special ‘Torino Talladega’ was comparatively modest. The Talladega received a slightly extended front end and flush-fitted grille as the only aero modifications. Nevertheless, the Talladega was a strong competitor against the Daytona and the 1969 NASCAR Season concluded with Ford being crowned the Manufacturer’s Champion.
9. ‘65 Ford Galaxie
From one Ford NASCAR to another. The ’65 Ford Galaxie casting has been around for over a decade, first appearing in the 2011 Vintage Racing series, and it’s one of my favourites. I’m a sucker for an old Ford race car, so that elevates it in my eyes right away, but the casting is also fantastically executed. The details are nice and crisp, and proportionally, it’s a very accurate representation of the real car.
This ‘65 Ford Galaxie was released in the Team Transport series, paired with the Ford C-800 transporter truck as part of an ongoing unofficial series of ‘Ford Racing’ themed vehicles. Like the Torino, it doesn’t appear to be based on a real life race car, but it does hearken back to that era. Actually, without any race numbers, it doesn’t seem to be a race car at all, despite all the other decorations.
It would have been nice to see it based on or inspired by a real NASCAR, as the ’65 Galaxie was one of the most successful NASCAR’s ever, due to strange series of events. GM had withdrawn their factory support from NASCAR in 1963, and Chrysler followed suit at the end of 1964, this effectively left Ford as the only manufacturer competing for most of the 1965 NASCAR Season. And as a result, the ’65 Galaxie won 49 out of the 55 races that year.
8. Porsche 962
Although it’s not a Ford, the Porsche 962 is a casting I’ve gravitated towards. Among the multitude of Porsche castings that Hot Wheels have made in recent years, the 962 stands out to me as one of the best. It’s long, sleek lines are captured perfectly, and just like the real car, it looks like it’s going fast even while standing still. Every Hot Wheels version has been based on a car that raced in real life, and this version from Team Transport has easily become my new favourite.
The Shell racing livery is iconic and fits in fantastically with the other Shell cars I have. Shell Oil have been a major sponsor of motor racing globally, with their logo appearing on hundreds of real racing cars over the decades. Hopefully Hot Wheels can continue making them so I can add more to my growing Shell garage.
This Porsche 962 is a near exact replica of the car which raced at the 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans, achieving the Pole Position, fastest race lap and 2nd place on the podium. The 962 was the pinnacle of speed in the 1980’s, it’s multiple Le Mans wins secured its legacy as one of the most dominant and recognisable cars of the Group C era. It also had great longevity, being raced for well over a decade, which gives Hot Wheels a nearly endless supply of cars to draw from when planning future releases.
7. Rover P6 Group 2
The Rover P6 Group 2 was an unexpected but welcome addition to the Hot Wheels lineup for 2022, and it’s a perfect example of where the Hot Wheels brand is going. In the last few years we’ve seen the Hot Wheels casting choices make a progressive shift from US-centric cars, to cars with an international fanbase, and sometimes an even deeper dive into esoteric territory like this Rover which is virtually unknown to most people, apart from dedicated fans of vintage race cars.
I’d love to sound smart and say that I knew all about this car before the Hot Wheels version was announced, but truth be told, I had no idea. I knew about the Rover P6, but I never knew there was a racing version and the interesting story behind it. That’s what I love about these types of Hot Wheels cars, they open up our eyes to parts of car culture that we may have otherwise never known about. Without the Hot Wheels version, I may have never been prompted to learn about this awesome piece of automotive racing history.
While the P6 does have a V8 engine, it’s not exactly what you’d call a “performance car”, but British Leyland did see potential for it to publicise a performance image for the brand by racing it in Group 2 Touring Car competitions. There were only ever two Group 2 P6’s made before Rover’s competition department was closed down. The red car that Hot Wheels replicated here competed in Touring Car races throughout the UK, achieving a few race wins. The second car was painted in blue and was raced at the 1970 Marathon de la Route, a gruelling 84 hour endurance race at the Nurburgring, and was then sent to Australia where it competed in Sports Sedan racing. I’m looking forward to future versions of this casting, and maybe one day we might see it like how it raced here in Australia.
6. ’32 Ford Hot Rod
The ’32 Ford is the classic, iconic and ultimate Hot Rod. If you close your eyes and imagine what a Hot Rod may look like, there’s a strong chance that the image you conjured up in your head is of a 1932 Ford.
The ’32 Ford is colloquially known as ‘The Deuce’, and has been ingrained into pop culture by the famous Beach Boy’s song about the car, “Little Deuce Coupe”. It’s fitting that the only decoration adorning this ’32 Ford Hot Rod is the four-of-a-kind deuces.
The level of detail in the casting shows the passion that the Hot Wheels designers have for the cars. The Halibrand style rear wheels and the spindle fronts give it the perfect raked stance of a tough Hot Rod. Add to that the blown Hemi engine and burnt extractors which complete the look and tell us that this Deuce is both show and go!
5. BMW M1 Procar
The BMW M1 Procar casting is not new, but it is still fantastic. It has only seen four different versions since its debut in 2017, which I think is not nearly enough. The casting represents the ‘Procar’ racing variant of the BMW M1 supercar. It raced in the “BMW M1 Procar Championship” which was a support race to the 1979 and 1980 Formula 1 Seasons where the world’s top drivers in several disciplines (including Formula 1) competed against each other in identical BMW M1’s. It also went on to compete in the World Sportscar Championship.
But this BMW M1 Procar isn’t from any of those races, its from the world of rallying. BMW of France decided the best way to show off the company’s new flagship supercar was to send it hurtling across the European countryside in tarmac rally stages. For most of its racing career, that M1 wore the standout red & white livery of the French oil company Motul. Unfortunately the car didn’t perform as well as it looked and was plagued with reliability issues for most of the three years it raced, in addition to being too wide and heavy to navigate the twists and turns. It only scored one podium finish (in a non-WRC event) and would be quickly outperformed by the new breed of four-wheel-drive Group B cars, but it went down in history as one of the most unique cars to ever hit the rally circuit.
The BMW M1 Procar casting is fantastic, and is a great representation of the actual car. I like how short and wide it is, just like the real thing, and how the windsheild wiper sticks up in the middle of glass. There were plenty of M1 Procars raced throughout the years and hopefully we can see some more of them recreated as Hot Wheels cars, most of all the Art Car painted by Andy Warhol. Motul becoming a brand partner with Hot Wheels is especially exciting for me as a fan of historic racing cars, as they have sponsored several cars and teams over the years. From this M1, to the Mugen Honda Civic, TWR Jaguar XJS and more, there’s plenty of potential for cool Motul sponsored cars.
4. Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800
The Mk2 Ford Escort is a casting that Hot Wheels absolutely nailed, everything on the casting is perfect. I love the fog lights in the grille, how the mud flaps are cast into the base and even the most minute of details like how the hood-pins are actually a raised part of the casting. While it doesn’t appear that the first version of the Hot Wheels Mk2 Escort was based on a real life rally car, there is no doubt which car this version was inspired by.
It should go without saying that Hot Wheels can’t put tobacco advertising on what is essentially a children’s toy. And that creates a problem, because nearly all of the coolest looking historic racing liveries and sponsorships were tobacco companies! What Mattel have to do is change it just a little so it’s not quite the same but is still recognisable to those in the know. Such is the case with this car, which is clearly emulating the Rothman’s livery from the Escort RS1800 which took Ari Vatanen and co-driver David Richards to three victories in the 1981 World Rally Championship and earned them the World Driver’s Champion.
The Mk2 Escort was an extremely popular choice for rally racing in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, so it offers Hot Wheels numerous opportunities for future versions of this casting to be based on real life rally cars. One improvement I would like to see, which could be applied to other Hot Wheels rally castings, is the introduction of a new Real Rider tyre with a tread pattern. The only off-road Real Rider tyres we currently have are too big, leaving small cars like this to race in the dirt on slicks!
3. De Tomaso Pantera Gruppo 4
The De Tomaso Pantera is one of Hot Wheels collectors most highly requested cars. Up until this point, we’ve had to fill the void with the unlicensed La Fasta, which is a great casting but can’t compare to the real deal. The car which Hot Wheels replicated here was a real race car which was campaigned by the ‘Jolly Club’ team to contest the 1973 European GT Championship in the Group 4 class. Pantera’s only won two out of the nine races for the season, but that didn’t stop them from winning the hearts of gear heads worldwide.
The Pantera is regarded as one of the greatest combinations of beautiful Italian styling and brutish American Muscle with its Ford 351ci V8 engine, but would it surprise you that the Pantera also has a unique connection to Australia? While the 351 Cleveland engine was discontinued in the USA in 1974, it was still being produced in Australia to power our Ford Falcons well into the 1980’s, so when the US supply ran out, De Tomaso struck a deal to source their engines from Australia.
I’m glad that Hot Wheels chose to replicate an early version of the Pantera, rather than the later and arguably more well known GT-5 variant with its Countach-inspired wings and scoops. I’m also glad they waited until the small size RR8SP was developed because any other wheel on this casting wouldn’t be right. The base which comes up onto the sill creates a nice colour-break, as does the engine cover. I’m looking forward to future versions of this casting, and hopefully we’ll see it in the Fast & Furious Premium Series as the car from the train heist scene!
2. ’87 Ford Sierra Cosworth
The Ford Sierra Cosworth is a car I have been waiting ages for Hot Wheels to make, so I knew as soon as I first saw it announced that it would be a casting I would collect every version of. The first release of the Hot Wheels version is an obvious homage to the Sierra’s raced by Eggenberger Motorsport during the 1987 World Touring Car Championship, with the red Mattel ‘meatball’ logo taking place of the Texaco logo on the real car. Why this car is interesting to me is it’s infamous legacy in Australian motorsport history.
The crowning jewel of the Australian Motorsport calendar is the Bathurst 1000 which was part of the 1987 World Touring Car Championship, and had many international teams contesting it, including Eggenberger Motorsport with two Cosworth Sierra’s. The two cars finished first and second, blitzing the competition, but were later found to have illegal modifications and were subsequently disqualified. This awarded the true victory to the local hero Peter Brock, and denied Eggenberger the points which would have won them the championship.
The Hot Wheels version has some nice details, and crisp casting around the rear wing, but unfortunately has a large rivet post going through the rear. It detracts from the car a little bit, but not enough to knock it off the Number 2 spot on my list. The Cosworth Sierra was one of the most dominant Group A Touring Cars so there’s plenty of potential for more racing liveries on the casting. I’d love to see a replica of the famous Australian DJR Shell Sierras, or a stock version in the iconic Moonstone Blue.
1. ’73 Holden Monaro GTS
As a self-confessed ‘Ford Guy’, it may come as a surprise that a Holden would top my end-of-year list, but the only thing that exceeds my passion for the Blue Oval, is my passion for Australian cars. The second-generation Holden Monaro is a staple of the Australian car scene, go to any car show or open up a copy of Street Machine Magazine and you’re guaranteed to see one. It’s muscular style, 350ci Chevy V8 engine and range of 1970’s high impact colours give it a broad appeal and make it an obvious choice for Hot Wheels to showcase to the world what Australia has to offer.
It’s been a decade since we last saw an Australian car introduced into the Hot Wheels lineup, and this HQ Monaro was worth the wait. It caused a commotion down here and was near impossible to find on the pegs. It would be an understatement to say that Australian Hot Wheels collectors went crazy for it.
The model itself is flawless, the body lines and details are perfect. The LW5 RR’s are an underused wheel type but are right at home here. I’d imagine that recreating a car in 1:64 without seeing the real thing wouldn’t be easy, but having seen quite a few of these, I can say that it’s spot on. Some collectors have mentioned that the addition of the roll cage and side pipes don’t make sense on a street car, but hopefully that means that there might be some racing versions in this casting’s future.
It’s nice to take a moment and reflect on the year that was. There were a lot of cool Hot Wheels cars in 2022, and so many more I loved that didn’t make this list. I’m sure that this year will be just as exciting, and I’ve already seen a few that will be on my 2023 Top 10 list. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time.