Edmunds Inside Line is reporting that Mattel co-founder Elliot Handler passed away on July 21 at age 95.
Handler was personally responsible for developing the Hot Wheels brand of model cars in 1968. An entire generation of boys, including me, collected, traded, raced, and thoroughly enjoyed the realistically detailed die-cast toys. In large measure, Handler can be credited with kicking off the market for die-cast model cars.
Beyond being simple models of actual production cars and famous hot rods, Hot Wheels had the distinction of free-spinning axles and tires, so that they would roll farther and faster than other brands. This gave rise to a whole line of tracks and equipment for racing the diminutive models. The track came in lengths of connectible plastic with short sides, and a basic launch mechanism allowed realistic gravity racing with Hot Wheels. Carrying cases shaped like tires and diorama garages soon followed. I had all that stuff and loved it!
For those of us who grew up in the 1970s, collecting Hot Wheels was a passion, and it's rare to find a car enthusiast from that era who doesn't keep a small collection to this day. Mattel says that over 41 million people have purchased Hot Wheels over the years.
If Hot Wheels are a part of your history with cars, and with Corvettes in particular, take a moment today and remember Elliot Handler and thank him for the memories!