Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hot Wheels 1952 Hudson Hornet

One of the most successful stock cars of the NASCAR circuit in the 1950's was the Hudson Hornet.  Unfortunately, this did not transfer into successful sales as the car dwindled away after a few years.  Still, it's success in racing lives on as Doc in the 2006 Disney Movie 'Cars' voiced by the late Paul Newman.  Hot Wheels was a bit late upon the arrival of the car after the movie with their version of the Hudson Hornet, which arrived in the 2012 Boulevard series.  I passed on the first release in blue with whitewall tires because of the earlier Disney Cars version which was well-executed.  Now as it arrives for the first time in the mainline for 2016 I get a chance to explore the Hot Wheels version of the Hornet.

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The early Hudson Hornets between 1951 and 1954 were built by the Hudson corporation before AMC took over.  What distinguishes the Hornet from other cars that competed in the NASCAR stock car race was the uni-body construction that made the car sit lower than others.  The downside is that if the car is badly wrecked there was not much parts to reuse in a unibody car.  The car was fast: it was powered by a 308 CID high-compression I-6 that features twin-H carburator setup that produces 145 hp. and 275 Ib-ft of torque through a 3-speed column-shifted manual transmission.  It was the largest inline six engine in its class and it provides lots of torque to move the car.  Then there was the streamline styling that has lots of curves and none were against the wind.  Even the rear skirts are part of the body yet still allow the wheels to be visible and easily accessible.  Hornets won 27 out of 34 races in 1951, 22 out of 37 in 1953, and 17 out of 37 in 1954.  Despite the racing success the car was not very popular with consumers mostly because the lack of rapid year-to-year changes that other automakers were providing on their cars.  In 1955 AMC finally fixed this problem with a body-on-frame version with styling and power that was far from the original Hornet, and after two years the car was finally cancelled.

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For 2016 Hot Wheels also released their 1952 Hudson Hornet with a Super Treasure Hunt version featuring metallic red paint, chrome steel wheels with rubber tires, and flames on the hood.  The red with flames may be a bit overdone, but the rest of the casting really tells the story.  The front has round headlights with a lower chrome grille with upside-down V center and bumper pads near the signal lights.  The sides have the smooth streamline look with the smooth roof, split windshield, and lower chrome trim; this chrome trim in gold really sets the car off.  On the right-side rocker panel you can see the exhaust tip, while on the left rear fender you see a recessed notch for the gas cap.  The rear has a smoothly-curved trunklid with taillights tied in with the chrome bumper, upper bar, and pads.  Given this casting started as a Boulevard model in 2012 the details are top-notch.

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The base shows the side exhaust system, along with the live rear axle and leaf springs, large transmission support bar, and lower side of the engine.  The interior has front and rear bench seats for six and a flat, clean dashboard with central speaker for the radio and dual gauges behind a large steering wheel.  Finally, the stance looks correct and during a brief test the car feels just like the race car: quick and smooth with barely any body roll.  It's a great casting, but I would like to see it in more realistic deco next time around.

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