Bruce Pascal owns a collection of 7,000 Hot Wheels cars including a rare, $72,000 miniature pink Volkswagen van. But Pascal has never owned a Hot Wheels vehicle he could actually drive.
That’s about to change. Mattel Inc. and the Chevrolet division of General Motors Co. are teaming up to produce a special Hot Wheels version of the Camaro. This is the first time the El Segundo company has licensed production of a Hot Wheels-branded car since the toy line arrived on retail shelves 44 years ago.
“I am the perfect candidate,” said Pascal, a Washington, D.C., commercial real estate broker. “I wish there had been a car done earlier, but I am excited it finally came at a time when I could buy it. But if it was when I was 16, I could not have afforded it.”
The Camaro, which will first be shown at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Assn. show in Las Vegas next week, will be available early next year for about $37,000 to $44,000 depending on whether it is ordered with a six- or eight-cylinder engine. That’s about $7,000 more than comparable versions of the Camaro.
The two companies won’t divulge financial details of the venture, but both said they expected it to be profitable. Based on previous special editions, GM believes it could sell about 1,500 of the cars during the first six months of 2013.
It has the styling cues Pascal and other adults looking for toys will remember from their miniature cars. A Camaro was among the first 16 models offered by Mattel.
Hot Wheels’ red flame logo adorns the trunk lid and front panels. The 21-inch wheels have the same red stripe that has been a hallmark of the toy car since it first sold in 1968. Chevrolet also is using the red stripe to outline the grille. Inside, there are Hot Wheels logos on the passenger and driver door sill plates and embroidered into the front seats.
The original toy cars zipped down suspended orange tracks and were propelled by gravity, but the real-life version won’t need a boost from physics. The eight-cylinder version can generate 426 horsepower.
Mattel has wanted to license a production Hot Wheels car for years, said Felix Holst, vice president of creative for the Mattel Hot Wheels division.
“It is a halo proposition. ... part of moving the brand forward from a boys toy brand to a lifestyle and entertainment brand,” Holst said.
The toy company got its opening during a meeting with Chevrolet in which executives from the automaker said they were looking to do special editions of the Camaro. Previous limited runs included a car based on the distinctive yellow Camaro in the “Transformers” movies and a special high-end Neiman Marcus edition.
“There is a lot of shared history between Camaro and Hot Wheels,” said John Fitzpatrick, Chevrolet’s Camaro and Corvette marketing manager. Both the toy line and the car came out in the late 1960s, and Mattel has featured a Camaro almost continuously since then, Fitzpatrick said.
“If you lived your whole life playing with Hot Wheels, this is a chance to park one in your garage,” Fitzpatrick said.
Offering a production version of a Hot Wheels car is a savvy business move for both brands, said James Ellis, dean of the USC Marshall School of Business and former chief executive of American Porsche Design.
The venture matches a revered American car with a popular American toy, and both “convey youth, speed, flair and enthusiasm,” Ellis said.
“It will bring out your inner child,” he said. “If you created a Hot Wheels Honda it would be a problem. It just wouldn’t click.”