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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Final Saga: Hot Wheels Bugatti Veyron and Type 46



The final Veyron has been made, a successor will be out soon, and appeal to collectors of this discontinued casting has been soaring prices just like the Datsun 510’s.  So, in celebrating ten years of extreme speed (and price), I pulled out all of the Veyron variations, including the only other Bugatti Hot Wheels, the Type 57.




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The origins of France-based Bugatti dates back to the early 20th century as the premiere company for touring cars with racing pedigree.  The Hot Wheels model shown here, introduced in the 1980’s, is the a Type 46, a car considered the Molshein Buick.  Many variations have been made, but this 1999 version in black with yellow coves bears a close resembalance to the original car, and even the lace wheels are a perfect match!  As does the blue with gold pinstripes and gold 5-dot wheels.


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Unlike Hot Wheels today, this one is (almost) all-metal, body and base, long and bold. The front has a large grille with attached headlights that have that realistic concave look to it.  Remember I said almost all-metal?  Those sweeping fenders are hard to perfectly cast into metal back then, so Hot Wheels used a plastic layer sandwiched between the metal base and body to create the fender (all early 20th century castings from Hot Wheels in the 1980’s had this feature).  The cabin has a nice round look that carries on into the roof, doors, and small windshield.  Oh, and the doors open backwards as well.  The rear has a short trunk area to allow two spare tires to fit, and it’s worth noting that the central wheel hubs are the end attachment for the metal base.

Things get flat elsewhere with an interior that has the bench and steering wheel in chrome, and that’s about it!  The metal base show some driveline details and leaf springs on live or beam axles, with the rear axle also housing the 3-speed manual transmission.  Powering the Type 46 is a 5.4L SOHC Straight-8 that produces 140 hp. With an undersquare bore and stroke design.




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Bugatti, however, did not have lots of success as the company went out of business after a few decades, only to be revived in the 1990’s with the EB supercar.  In the next decade, VW buys out Bugatti and creates the most ambiguous decision of Ferdinand Piech’s career: build a 1,000 hp supercar!  That car would become the Veyron, and just before the car went to its first customers in 2004, Hot Wheels got their hands on one in 2003.




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To start off with, this Veyron got limited variations thanks to the strict demands of Bugatti, so every model has only the two-tone cove look with the hood and doors separate from the main colors, and Hot Wheels has cut the life of this casting short even before the final Veyron was made; last known variation was the 2011 Speed Machines, and all variations are fetching high bids.  Heck, even in 2003 this black and red First Edition was hard-to-find as well; I had to resort to two castings that have a bad case of paint rub on the sides.  Thankfully with a black Sharpie I was able to fill those voids where the red shows up along the black (you can’t even tell here!).  The color goes well with the 10-spoke wheels, though the ground-clearance is a bit high.  The front has detailed headlights with lower split grilles and a chrome horseshoe grille that is part of the chrome engine tab (with more to come!).  The beautifully-crafted body then extends to the sweeping rooflines with flared fenders.





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The rear has a round butt with quad round taillights, EB logo in the center, and a lower valence panel with chrome central exhaust that is again part of the engine piece.  The back area is out in the open with no cover for ventilation purposes, with the 8.0L quad-turbocharged W-16 (essentially two V8’s molded together, or four rows if I-4’s) that produces 997 hp. And 922 Ib-ft. of torque through a 7-speed automated manual transmission, by twin air scoops that hover slightly above the roofline.  Again, beautifully detailed engine area!   The base shows the underside of the engine and the mass tubes of exhaust headers, and to keep the Veyron on the road it is connected to an all-wheel drive system, countless intercoolers for engine, transmission, turbo’s; an air suspension that lowers at high speeds, and a rear spoiler after the engine that pops up at high speeds and also acts as an air brake.  All in told this car had no problem breaking the 200 mph record (also it uses special high-speed tires), and the bank account with a $1 million dollar asking price (higher for Grand Sport Vitesse models).


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With all this hyper speed, the interior is just as cozy as an S-class.  The dashboard is large, smooth with a chrome center stack that, again, is part of the engine piece and is old-school employing no navigation or touch screen.  The gauges are round classic dials with speedo, tach, auxiliary gauges, and horsepower output.  The seats are comfy and supportive, the doors open normally (no fancy tricks), and all-in-all it looks great and Hot Wheels did a nice job with the setup.  In 2006 the Veyron returned in silver-blue with blue two-tone effect and, on earlier versions, the new Faster Than Ever (FTE) gold 5-spoke wheels for an even faster Veyron!  Recently I acquired a long-overdue mistake: The last mainline release was in 2010 when the Veyron came in flat blue or Wal-mart-only flat red with silver two-tone color, front and rear lighting details, the EB badge, and blacked-out 5-spoke wheels.  I would’ve gotten these castings back when they were plenty except I’d prefer the metallic paint over the flat-based paint.  Thankfully a recent trip to a flea market reunited me with the blue version, and it was in great shape aside from a few rough areas from some play time.

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Will Hot Wheels make the Veyron successor?  Who knows, but truth is it is very rare for a low-end diecast toy maker to make something this fine or exotic (most other castings were made from other diecast makers at higher prices), and the Veyron will hold a special place in Hot Wheels history.

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