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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hot Wheels 1967 Austin Mini Van and Matchbox 1965 Austin Mini Van

Despite the plan to separate models at Hot Wheels from models at Matchbox, sometimes two get too close to each other.  One oddity is the Austin Mini Van, which was created by Matchbox in 2007 and was finely done, and then done five years later by Hot Wheels in the Pop Culture line.  What gives?  Well with the Hot Wheels version finally in the mainline its time to find out.

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Hard-working Mini

The Austin Mini was a revolution for Britian in the 1960's and an icon as well.  This car was designed for the narrower city streets and for those on a budget.  Despite the versatility, it was still a tad bit small for commercial businesses who need a versatile panel vehicle for the streets.  Enter the Mini Van, along with the Mini Pickup and the Traveller, on a longer wheelbase for those who need more space but still the compact size of the Mini.  The front-end still has the round headlights and signal lights as the Mini, but with slotted bars instead of the chrome horizontal bars for cost reasons (though custom versions will likely have the fancier grille).  After the B-pillar the Mini is stretched and, on the Mini Van, the rear windows are blocked off and a vent is added to the roof.  At the rear is the signature panel doors with just enough room for the required lights.  The interior is very simple with central speedometer and three spoke wheel usually on the right-side of the vehicle.  In the back the cargo area is nice and roomy for such a small vehicle.  Engine is a small 1.0L I-4 that makes somewhere just above 50 hp. through a 4-speed manual.  The van proved successful in British commercial businesses and even inspired the first-generation Ford Transit.  However, if you want a panel van for the New Mini Cooper you'll have to custom make one yourself as BMW tried to sell a new-aged Mini Van but poor sales and reception caused it to be dropped even before it went on sale.

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Hot Wheels vs. Matchbox

The Matchbox version is a beaut with the proper grille and front light details, the window vents, the exposed hinges on the front doors, and the back with the clear windows on the panel doors and the detailed hinges and lights.  Also note the space for Euro-style license plates on the front and rear of the vehicle, and the small mirrors on the doors.  The Hot Wheels version does the same, but with a finer-tooled front-end with the fancier horizontal-bar grille and a new front-bumper with a chin spoiler.  The sides are the same except for the flared wheelwells to accept wider tires.  The rear has an abbreviated rear bumper with dual exhaust and blacked-out rear windows.  The wacky color scheme of the Hot Wheels takes on what was first seen on the 2014 Bread Box recolor, and while it's not the ideal look for those who like traditional-looking deco's it is one interesting concept with faded (and different) door panels, Union Jack on the roof, and wheels that are tie-dyed to different shades of colors, making for endless wheel variations.

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The Matchbox version is more subdued, focusing on a more traditional design layout to match the real work liveries on the actual vehicle.  This red Benz version is from 2009 and so far is the only one that really excels at showing off the many surface canvas panels of the Mini Van.  The larger wheels on the Hot Wheels looks right, but on the Matchbox it looks rather odd.  The bases on both are bare, but the Matchbox version adds a few drivetrain components.  The interiors are similar at the front with bucket seats, central speedometer, and the right-hand 3-spoke wheel.  Then things get different as the Hot Wheels version is blocked off from the potential peep show, while the Matchbox version hangs it all out with a detailed radio-controlled glyder in the cargo area.

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No one knows why Hot Wheels would mess with the successful Matchbox version, but for now as the Matchbox version goes into hiding this Hot Wheels version may be enough to hold the stake for a while.

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