These Are Some of the Rarest, Most Valuable Modern Hot Wheels
Collecting these rare, sought-after modern Hot Wheels is big fun, and sometimes big money.
We're sure you're by now well aware that musty, dusty cases of 1960s and 1970s Hot Wheels moldering away in the attic may—or may not—have some treasure contained within. No, we don't mean treasure of the nostalgic sort; if you manage to find one of the very collectible, very rare Hot Wheels variants from the Redline era, you could be sitting on thousands of dollars.
What you might not know is, it's not just the 1960s stuff that gets collectors all up in a tizzy. The Hot Wheels-collecting hobby is currently enjoying a new renaissance as of late, and some of the hottest late-model rare variants command hefty sums usually reserved for reasonably priced used cars. So, we put together a list of a few valuable, rare modern Hot Wheels that collectors can't get enough of. This list is in no way comprehensive, nor are we equipped to tackle the nearly impenetrable backlog of one-offs, errors, and condition-based models that can skew values heavily. Instead, we picked examples of rare Hot Wheels that give you a glimpse into what's driving the market.
Image courtesy of Orange Track Diecast
Rare Hot Wheels: '55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser "Candy Striper," $1,000-Plus
If there's one Hot Wheels casting that has successfully straddled both generational waves of serious collectors, the '55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser has the zeitgeist in a rare Hot Wheels stranglehold. Even the '55 Gassers cast for the Mainline—the term for the one-dollar Hot Wheels you find at the grocery store and the like—go for at least $8 on the extremely active secondhand market, mostly on eBay. Get your hands on a premium casting of the Gasser—rubber wheels, painted details like headlights, higher quality paint, and sometimes graphic decals—and your starting price is at least in the $40 range.
Find one of the many limited-edition Gasser castings, and you just hit the big-time—er, 1/64-scale time. Some of these special Gassers sit squarely in the $400-$800 range, with particularly popular or limited releases exceeding the four-figure mark. If you need a poster child for the modern, rare Hot Wheels collecting scene and the ludicrous price spike it's experiencing, check out the "Candy Striper" variant. Coated in the fan-favorite Spectraflame Pink paint with period-correct drag decals, the Candy Striper was limited to a reasonable 4,000 examples—significantly more than some limited releases. If you want to add a Candy Striper to your collection, be prepared to pony up more than $1,000 for the privilege, though the market remains volatile.
Rare Hot Wheels: 1995 Treasure Hunt '67 Camaro, $1,500-$3,000
In order to understand the prices behind this particular orange-over-white '67 Camaro, you need a bit of background on the Hot Wheels lineup. What, you thought it was all dollar-bins at your local Walmart? In reality, the annual Hot Wheels lineup is so complex and multifaceted it would choke BMW's product planners.
Let's stick to the Mainline for now. Again, these are the Hot Wheels you see hanging on pegs in bright blue-and-red cards, or piled high in dive-bins in the middle of the grocery or big-box store. The mass majority of the cars you'll find here are unremarkable on the subject of rarity, but Mattel (the parent company behind Hot Wheels) devised an insidious way of getting collectors to risk cardboard cuts while sifting through the Mainlines. In every few cases of these $1 Mainlines, Mattel slips in a "chase" variant of an existing Mainline casting called a Treasure Hunt.
The name should be enough to make sense of it. Don't think you will be able to spot one easily in the mass of blue cards, either—visually, you have to know what you're looking for, as only the cars themselves are different. Nowadays, the Treasure Hunt family is split into two levels of rarity between the uncommon Treasure Hunts and the notably rare Super Treasure Hunts. Skipping over the regular Treasure Hunts, the Super Treasure Hunts stand out with higher quality paint, rubber wheels, and more detailed decals when compared to their Hot Wheels Mainline counterparts.
As you might expect, this built-in rarity is like blood for sharky collectors, so for popular castings, Super Treasure Hunts can command between $50-$500. The kicker? Since these are hidden in boxes of $1 cars, that Super Treasure Hunt you found worth $100 on eBay will cost the very same at the grocery checkout—one buck.
Make sense? Alright, so the '67 Camaro Treasure Hunt featured above is the most sought-after of arguably any modern Hot Wheels, partially due to rarity—the company made a whole lot less Treasure Hunts back in the 1990s, and they were the equivalent of today's Super Treasure Hunts—and as a result of the popularity of the '67 Camaro casting to begin with. This is an iconic casting for Hot Wheels, and remains excessively popular even as it enjoys its 37th year of production.
So, here we have a rare variant of an ultra-popular casting that launched one of the most popular aspects of modern Hot Wheels collecting. Prices of most old Treasure Hunts aren't too crazy, but the '67 Camaro is on another level. If you want one still in its (good condition) original packaging, expect to pay between $1,500-$3,000.
Rare Hot Wheels: Vintage Racing John Morton BRE Datsun 510, $700-$1,500
Funny enough, Hot Wheels collectors' tastes have evolved throughout generations to closely mirror those of real-life car collectors. The older generation of Hot Wheels fanatics hoarded mostly American and muscle-car castings, like the aforementioned '67 Camaro and '55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser. Now, the market rides high on an evolving roster of Japanese classics castings originally launched in the early 2010s. This new direction brought a whole new demographic into the 1/64-scale fold, inspiring younger enthusiasts to open their shelf space and wallets for the increasingly popular JDM releases.
Towering above these RX-7s, Skylines, Supras, and Civics is the Datsun 510 and 510 Wagon casting. In recent years, the rabid response to the 510 casting matches that of the Camaro and the Gasser, inspiring many multi-hundred-dollar values for harder-to-find variants and serious dollars for the rare and iconic ones.
If we're picking one 510 model to showcase, it has to be the excellent BRE-liveried Datsun 510 from the short-lived 2011 Vintage Racing set. This period-correct car is one of the most sought-after Hot Wheels of the last decade, regularly commanding between $700-$1,500, depending on condition.
Rare Hot Wheels: RLC Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Commemorative Edition, $500-$1,000
Surprise, surprise—another American casting. Another one of Hot Wheels' all-time greats, the Shelby Cobra is a fan-favorite, and ever since the initial run of 4,000 of these Commemorative Edition Cobras sold out, values moved steadily upward. To park one of these Spectraflame Blue roadsters in your collection, be prepared to write a check between $500-$1,000, depending on condition and serial number.
Rare Hot Wheels: 2013 Hot Wheels Collectors Gulf Racing Set, $1,000-Plus
This one's not so much an individual car as it is a limited-edition set. Released first in 2013, with an additional two cars added in 2014, this exclusive set was minted in just 4,000 examples of each car. As more collectors come into the fold and look to expand their collection, the Gulf Racing set is one of the biggest financial humps to get over, considering it's a set packed with castings that are absolute bangers. Meticulously detailed and swathed in a Spectraflame interpretation of the famous Gulf livery, the original 2013 set included the Porsche 917K, Ford GT40, Volkswagen Drag Beetle, and the ever-popular Volkswagen Drag Bus. The next year, the set went to the next level with the addition of the '67 Camaro and retro-futuristic Rocket Oil casting.
Individually, the cars can be had for around $250-$700 each, depending on which casting and condition. For a full set, it's going to set you back closer to $2,000.
Rare Hot Wheels: Volkswagen Drag Bus, $10-$1,000-Plus
Like the Gasser and 510, the Volkswagen Drag Bus holds court as one of the most popular Hot Wheels castings—ever. Many of the more common variants can be had for less than $25, but as is the case with most limited releases of popular castings, the rare stuff goes for much, much more. Considering the list of rare Drag Bus variations is long, we're not able to give an accurate read on how varied the price range might be, but most of the rarer ones go for more than $200, and we've seen them top out on eBay with bids exceeding $1,000.
Notable Rare Modern Hot Wheels
- '55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser "Candy Striper," $1,000-Plus
- Treasure Hunt '67 Camaro, $1,500-$3,000
- Vintage Racing John Morton BRE Datsun 510, $700-$1,500
- RLC Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Commemorative Edition, $500-$1,000
- 2013 Hot Wheels Collectors Gulf Racing Set, $1,000-Plus
- Volkswagen Drag Bus, $10-$1,000-Plus