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Sunday, September 21, 2014

50 Years of Mustang from Hot Wheels, with the 2015 Ford Mustang



2014 marks 50 years of Mustang, and what a way to celebrate than with introducing a completely new Mustang for 2015.  Well , I recently found the Hot Wheels version so I though it would be nice, along with its usual review, to look back at the best Hot Wheels Mustang's over the years.  I won't go over every model, nor every variation, and don't get me thinking about the stratoscopic look at every Mustang from every manufacturer!!!  For a complete list of the Hot Wheels Ford Mustang's, please take a look at SouthWest Texas Diecast's link at the right of the page; they offer a comprehensive list of every Hot Wheels model and variation to date.



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Mustang sports car

In 1962, Ford engineers wanted to create a sports car to rival the British versions, so in effect they created a two-seat, mid-engine roadster concept called Mustang.  The wedge-shape was very smooth, painted in white with blue stripe and FORD and MUSTANG letters on the hood, plus the prancing pony.  The headlights were pop-up, the trunk small, the side scoops more prominent, and the rear taillights hidden in the trunk bulges with dual exhaust in the rear.  The interior featured seating for two, a low windshield, 3-spoke wheel behind the comprehensive gauges.  The engine is in the middle and consists of a V-4 engine from the European Ford Taunus through a 4-speed manual.  Eventually Ford top brass wanted a practical sports car that would also appeal to women, so Mustang II (not shown) was created and was the closest look toward the final result of the new Mustang.  This Hot Wheels version has come in a few recolors so far, but nothing beats the all-original white and blue like this 2010 first release version shown.




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1964-1965 Mustang

Then the pony car came out in 1964 at the New York World's Fair and changed the automotive landscape in the U.S.  The Mustang was based on the compact Ford Falcon parts, but you wouldn't even know it by its round headlights, grille with prancing horse, side scoops, and tri-taillights in the rear.  The interior featured a twin-dash design with two round gauges behind the 3-spoke wheel and seating for four.  Available in coupe, convertible, and in 1965, fastback, with several engine choices from the I-6 to the 289 cid V8 through a 4-speed manual or automatic.  This '65 convertible was released by Hot Wheels in 1983 and still is a favorite today.  The hood opens to reveal the engine with eight throttle cups (note the 1998 blue version that I have features the rare full engine-painted variation), metal base below, with the grille being part of the base, as well as the rear taillights.  The interior nicely done as well.






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In 2005 the '65 coupe was released in the Hot Wheels Classics line, featuring the same opening hood and details, but with an enclosed roof and , surprisingly a feature missing on the convertible, a gas cap in the rear.  The Classics details look even great, though a major downside to this casting is that ever since the introduction of a new wheel design for Hot Wheels in 1995 the wheels never seem to fit flush with the body.  The blue with flames was a 2011 Wal-Mart exclusive, while the gold convertible was part of the 1996 Ford 5-pack.  Then in 2008 the fastback was introduced in a racing livery with some styling elements from the Shelby GT350 incorporated into the casting.  Additional touches include a hood bulge, side exhaust, and flared fenders to accept wider tires.  The interior has  a two-seat arrangement with rollcage.  The red and white were two excellent 2008 recolors, while the black and gold was a K-mart exclusive recolor in 2008, and why my red version has a frown in the front I dunno.




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1967-1969, with a little touch of Shelby

1967 saw a mild refresh with a front-end that stretches a bit forward, while the rear now has a cove developed to house the taillights.  It was then that Shelby's took an even more fierce bite in the performance ring, before the downturn in 1969.  The very first Mustang for Hot Wheels was the Custom Mustang in 1968.  This maroon version is from the 1994 remake, which still features an opening hood with detailed engine, hood scoop, flat-rear end (instead of cove), side exhaust, metal base, and redline tires.  Still looks feisty today!  In 2001 a remake was made in the form of the 1968 Mustang (though it was an entirely new casting), still featuring an opening hood and metal base, but the body design was more in line with the actual 1968 Mustang fastback.  The details are awesome!






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Just last year, in 2013, we got the 1968 Shelby GT500 KR with even more incredible design, just like the 1967 GT500 that Hot Wheels introduced in 2010 (not shown), but with a front-end that has larger grilles and headlights.  With red color and different wheels this Shelby still has the goods to make it look good.  This is a casting that I highly recommend getting!  The other Shelby is the 1969 GT500 convertible with a longer, rounder nose and unique body panels.  The interior carried over from 1968 with the same high-end touches like wood trim on the dash.  Hot Wheels did a nice job on this one, however, a few extra details like blacked-out rollcage and front-end details would help accentuate the styling because at times from a distance it looks like a 1969 Camaro!  One other custom 1967 is the coupe that was introduced in the 2011 Garage series.  It takes the less-often made coupe into a looker with custom hood, side exhaust, and chin spoiler to enhance the excellent details of the stock mustang.  No doubt this is a Mustang when you first look at it; this brown version is from 2012 which also sported a Super Treasure Hunt version as well.


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Another custom Shelby was the 1968 GT500 that was introduced in the 2008 Modern Classics series.  This one uses the custom look that was used for Eleanor in the 2000 movie "Gone in 60 Seconds" and became one of the most popular looks for the Shelby Mustang, earning it the name GT500E (E for Eleanor).  Not too bad, but the front-end of this Hot Wheels version seems to be flat-faced!  The last Mustang is up for debate between collectors is the 1969 Mustang introduced in 2008.  The details are there, the stretched front-end, the usual Mustang design clues, but the stance and overall design is a bit cartoonish (a possible leftover from the 'toonish 2004-2005 era of Hot Wheels?).  Still nonetheless it still looks good and aggressive.  I believe the white version was a K-mart recolor in 2008.



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Second-Generation, bigger Mustang's

1970's saw the birth of a bigger Mustang and, sadly, the smaller Pinto-based Mustang II in 1974.  While Hot Wheels has made a few of the Mustang II, I won't go into that dreaded part of the Mustang life.  But before the 1971 redo the Mustang had one more chance to show off, and with Shelby now out of the picture some new players arrived, the Boss and Mach I.



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Even though both were introduced in 1969, the 1970 versions had a big styling difference from the stock Mustangs than the 1969's offered.  The front has a more pointed look with headlights integrated into the grille, the tachometer and hood scoop stick out of the hood, the rear window had louvers, a rear spoiler, and a flat-faced rear taillight panel.  I wish I had the Boss 302, done in Trans-Am deco introduced in the Hot Wheels Racing line in 2012, I don't at the moment, but I do have the Mach I introduced in 1998.  Again another debate for collectors here: some like it, while others (like me) don't.  It has the looks and details of the Mach I, but the front-end is small and the ground clearance has a bit too much height to it.  Meanwhile the Boss 302 Trans-Am looks like the real 1:1 car, stock or Trans-Am!  Still, some of the coolest is the yellow 1998 first release (the orange is the hardest to find), Wastelanders black with flames, and the two Hot Wheels versions from I believe 2006 in black or blue, with the blue featuring 7-spoke wheels.  Recently this casting was retooled to now feature a metal rear spoiler.

In 2010 Larry Wood, in his Larry's Garage premium series, introduced the 1971 Mustang Mach I.  In 2011 the casting appeared in the mainline in an attractive green, as a Boss 302!  Why the change, I don't know, but either way the Boss and Mach I looked identical in 1971-1973.  The details are nice, the size big, but the front-end seems a bit higher than it should be.  Otherwise it's a fantastic casting, with a few other nice variations: the 2013 Then and Now in blue (alongside a custom 2012 Mustang racecar), and the recent Mustang 50th in red with metal base (not shown).  Also not shown is the drag car that was introduced in 2003 that barely has any indication that it's a 1971 Mustang.



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It's Fox time!

After a dismal 1970's, it was time to bring the fun back in the Mustang. Based on the Ford Fairmont platform, the 1979 Mustang was just as small as the Mustang II, but with modern styling, more power, and the return of the V8 (though it did appear first on the last few years of the Mustang II).  The angular look is attractive, yet shows no retro signs to the original 1965 Mustang (like the Mustang II did).  Hot Wheels got on the train with the turbo mustang introduced in 1980.  Metal body, metal body-colored base, taillights that are part of the window trim, and cool graphics on the hood and sides.  This blue one is most sought-after (well, second most), and I got this one fifteen years ago at $4.00, now going for $50 and higher!  This casting made a grand return in the Flying Customs in 2013, only to be cancelled and moved to the Cool Classics series later in 2013.



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The pink car is not 100% Hot Wheels, it's the Corgi tool, along with others, used by Hot Wheels in 1996-1997.  This one has a lower stance, flush headlights that are part of the window trim, 5.0 badging, and smaller rear taillights with an opening rear hatch.  Also note the indication of a past trailer hitch during the Corgi era.  After a few recolors this casting disappeared after a few years.  In 2008, with the demand for more Fox-body Mustangs, especially the 1987-1993 model years, the 1992 Mustang LX coupe was introduced in the Modern Classics line.  The details are proper Mustang with flush headlights, taillights, and rear spoiler, but includes a raised hood scoop.  It looks nice, but is a bit thick in the beltline.  After a brief appearance in the Modern Classics, it appears in the Mainline in 2010 in, my personal favorite, all red with only a Nitto graphic on the lower doors.  They did it again later in 2010 with the K-mart exclusive dark blue.  In 2013 it was part of the Then and Now series (yes, two mustang's that year!) in green with simple decals, alongside a similar custom 2007 Mustang (who also appeared first in the Modern Classics series next to the '92), who also gets the Super Treasure Hunt option (I have one, but it's not pictured).  Also not pictured is the birth of the 1984 SVO in the 2012 Hot Ones and 2013 Boulevard series.  Again, it was up for debate since most complained that the body was too thick and looks too much like the 1992 LX casting.




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The rebirth of the Mustang

After nearly angering Mustang fans with plans for a FWD Mustang (which became the Ford Probe), the 1994 Mustang was revived on the Fox platform, but was longer and more stylish with cues toward the original Mustang.  It was odd to see Hot Wheels get a late start as their casting didn't appear until 1996, but it was worth the wait because the important change in 1996 was the change from horizontal taillights to three large vertical ones.  Even more so is the level of details on this casting, the metal base that is fully-detailed, and the similar resemblance to the 1965 Mustang Convertible.  Also this was the start of easy coupe/convertible conversions as the 1996 Coupe first appeared in the Decades of Pony Power set; basically a convertible with a plastic roof that is part of the windshield, painted in sections that is the roof.  After that, Matchbox and Johnny Lightning took similar approaches.  Sadly, as much as this is a great casting, it was Final Runned in 2003.  Why, Why, Why!!!



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In 1999, the Mustang gained edgier styling, new engines, a Cobra with the first independent rear suspension for the Mustang, and 35 years of age.  The Hot Wheels version shared the same details and, oddly, the same interior and base, to the 1996 Mustang, but at a smaller size.  Only this first release is the best, with the hard-to-find variation being the dark blue version.  But there was a change that was happening, and as the Mustang was preparing to launch on the new DEW 98 platform (shared with the Lincoln LS, 2002 Ford Thunderbird, and Jaguar S-Type), a concept in 2003 showed the future look.  The roadster was a red, two-seater with automatic transmission, while the coupe was a silver, two-seater with glass roof, full-size spare where the rear seats normally are, and 6-speed manual.  The styling evoked the classic look of the original 1965-1967 Mustang's.  Hot Wheels, along with Matchbox, Maisto, and Beanstalk, took the liberty of tooling the 2003 concept's.  The Hot Wheels version was, unfortunately, the least appealing version when it was introduced in 2004.  The details are there, but the size is small, and why on earth do we need the side graphics???  Compared that to Matchbox, who was eating the bottom of the barrel with their 2004 line, did a shockingly impressive job on the 2003 coupe concept!  The Hot Wheels concept now sees duty as a police car (with a light bar on the roof).


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The new look of the Mustang

2005 arrives and the concept design makes it to production, though a bit toned down.  Classic round headlights with foglights in the grille, square trt-taillights with gas-cap logo, twin-cockpit dash, and a new platform that, under a demanding change, finally relocates the gas tank to ahead of the rear axle.  Even V6 models didn't look as cheap as the previous version.  Hot Wheels jumped the chance to erase the bad 2003 Concept with the 2005 GT in 2005.  Looks similar, but look again:  The body may still be narrow, but the front-end has the proper detailing (but missing the prancing horse in the grille!), rear end, and interior details with seating for four.  Look at the mound of variations for 2005: Red with chrome interior and black base (the standard), rare black interior and chrome base, one with double and wider 5-spoke wheels, and finally the one that uses the 2006 Faster Than Ever wheels.  Later in 2006 the recolor arrives in solid yellow with black hood and chrome base (still with chrome interior).  The gray recolor adds the grille to the black hood color scheme.



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If that doesn't satisfy you, then check out the revived 2007 Shelby GT500 introduced in 2008.  Yea, still the body is small, but the details are sharp in the first year with stripes galore, front end and hood vent details, and side stripes with Shelby logo.  Even the wheels look just like the actual Shelby wheels!  2008 also seen a plethora of colors from red/white stripes, to black with silver stripes, to a K-mart only white with blue stripes, and a neat blue/orange Gulf colors with new blacked-out 5-spoke wheels.  The blue one with FTE wheels is the 2010 version in royal blue with the addition of a stripe on the sides; this version is my favorite.  Also introduced (but not shown) is the custom 2007 Mustang coupe in the Modern Classics series that finally features the proper size of the actual car.



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2009: same look, bigger casting changes

The Mustang was redesign in 2009 with a narrower headlights and grille, and a larger rear hump with new taillights.  The interior has a redesign center stack for a navigation unit, and console to relieve driver's elbows from banging into it when they shift the 5-speed.  Hot Wheels finally fixes the small size problem of the previous generation with a bigger and wider Mustang GT coupe in 2009.  Now it looks better!  Also added is the long-lost prancing pony in the grille, and detailed taillights in the back.  Red and blue were 2009 colors, and are the best on this casting!  In 2010 the Shelby GT500 was next with the improved dimensions as the 2009 GT, but with lower ground effects, a front bumper that is part of the metal body, the hood scoop is part of the window trim, Gurney rear spoiler, exterior mirrors, Snake logo on the grille and sides, and the usual white stripes.  It's one impressive casting!  Even more interesting is that the 2010 also joins a new 1967 GT500 tooling in the same year!



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But that's not all!  2011 saw the introduction of the Shelby GT500 Super Snake in metallic red or dark blue.  The hood is now taller with vents and hood pins, the wheels are the proper 10-spoke to the actual car, the stripes are darker, the snake badge on the sides has more information, the taillight decals in the back missing, and the coolest feature: note the A-pillar gauges that is molded into the window trim!  It's a bit big, but still impressive nonetheless.




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Finally is the return of the Boss in 2012, the 302 Laguna Seca.  The new trim joins the new 5.0L DOHC V8 and 6-speed manual.  The Laguna Seca trim features a larger front chin spoiler (with adjustments), rear seat delete with integrated rollcage, and auxiliary gauge pack in the center atop the dashboard.  Using the 2009 GT tool, the Laguna Seca arrives in 2012 in black with red stripes and red wheels.  The hood is reshaped, exterior mirrors added, new rear spoiler, the base with most of the revisions with added ground clearance, new front bumper with chin spoiler, and larger rear exhaust.  The interior is completely new to obtain the two-seat layout of the Laguna Seca.  The blue and black version is an interesting version: It was only created as a special one-off to be sold at Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale in 2012.






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The New Age of the Mustang

And here we are, the new 2015 Ford Mustang GT.  Sporting the usual red color, the new Mustang has more shapes and curves than the slab-sided 2009 model, with slimmer headlights with integrated LED running lights, larger grille with prancing logo and vertical bars, and now the foglights and turn signals are now at the lower bumper.  The front seems tall and for a reason: since this is the first Mustang to be sold worldwide, it must meet the Euro Pedestrian Safety Standard.  The hood has integrated vents, the side is more shapely with wider rear fenders, but why did Hot Wheels pinch the doors, add unnecessary lower trim, and remove the mirrors?  The best view is in the rear where the fastback pillars now look narrower, and the taillight cove is redesign back to the original tri-bar look, blacked-out panel with GT logo, and the reverse lamps move toward the lower bumper alongside the dual exhaust.  Base details are the same, just as long as it has the same drivetrain layout.



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The chassis is the same, but the newest feature is the use of an independent rear suspension on all Mustang models!  The engines are the same 3.7L V6, 5.0L V8, or the new 2.3L Turbocharged I-4, through a 6-speed manual or automatic (the latter now has paddle shifters on the steering wheel).  Still to early to gauge performance numbers and estimates yet, but I can imagine that this pony car will definitely be able to take on the world's finest sports cars.  The interior has the same dual-dash layout, but uses a chrome strip that spans the width of the dashboard.  The gauges are the same, but now feature a new central information center.  The center controls are now integrated with Ford's Sync and MyTouch display, though there still is controls for the radio and ventilation system below.  Also below the center controls and to the left is the push button start.  The shifter is now full chrome-aluminum.  Elsewhere the seats and door panels look almost similar to 2014, but with better material content.



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Hot Wheels did an impressive job with the 2015 Mustang, and it will look right at home with the family of other Hot Wheels Mustang's.



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