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Hot Wheels NHRA Is a Set of Six Epic Gazz-Guzzling Funny Cars

Hot Wheels NHRA Is a Set of Six Epic Gazz-Guzzling Funny Cars
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My phone rang early yesterday morning. “Sir, I’ve got a package for you.” I wasn’t sure what the man was talking about. But 30 minutes later, I opened a small box with a Hot Wheels Team Transport collectible inside. I had ordered it months ago and forgot all about it.

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I’ve previously opened all my Team Transport models, but I’m having difficulty doing the same with this one. It’s a mix of the Fleet Street and the 1997 Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR. I can list several reasons this car is God Tier level, yet I’m struggling to remember if I’ve ever seen it up close. And I’m desperately hoping that Mattel would consider retooling the old Porsche 911 GT1 casting soon.

If not, I might have to look it up in another manufacturer’s portfolio. But there I go, dreaming again. Instead, come with me on a journey to the 2010s, when the El Segundo-based company launched a series of cars under the Hot Wheels Racing Series name. It arrived as a replacement for the 2011 Vintage Racing line-up, which was, in turn, a way to continue the Dragstrip Demons collections.

The 2012 Racing Series had six themes ranging from the NHRA series to the Road Racer line. Today, I’m discussing the first one, a tribute to the good old days of quarter-mile (402 meters) racing. In some parts of the world, it isn’t as popular as it used to be. But I’m not convinced that means it will be the end of it. With six different castings to look at, let’s get to it.

Snake Cuda

Photo: eBay/User kslep

Interestingly, the NHRA set contains three castings from Larry Wood and three from Phil Riehlman. The Plymouth Barracuda Funny Car is the second oldest model, debuting in the 1994 Vintage Series. It’s no longer part of the Hot Wheels catalog, but the company developed 33 variations until its demise in 2012.

You’ll find at least four designs with a limited run of 10,000 units or fewer, including an RLC sELECTIONs item from 2006. Quite a few Cudas received the Spectraflame treatment that year despite not even rolling on Real Riders wheels. The 2012 NHRA iteration pays tribute to the legendary Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, one of the first Funny Cars drivers to exceed 250 mph (400 kph).

This theme is central to this casting’s existence, as you can tell by its name and previous releases. And it looks fantastic with the mismatched Mag-Style Real Riders wheels. A $20 budget should be fine; just don’t mistake it for older models that could be twice or three times as expensive.

Mongoose Duster

Hot Wheels NHRA Is a Set of Six Epic Gazz\-Guzzling Dragsters

Photo: eBay/User Lynn Collectibles

Formula 1 thrived off the rivalry between Senna and Hunt, and drag racing benefited from that of the Snake versus the Mongoose. Don Prudhomme’s adversary, Tom McEwen, was also part of the tiny universe of Hot Wheels cars.

Larry Wood designed this casting for its 1970 debut, and Mattel developed five variations until pulling the plug on it for almost two decades. From 1994 to 2012, we saw an additional 12 more variations. Most featured RedLine wheels, and the 1997 JCPenny 24K Collection model was particularly rare, with just 6,000 units leaving the factory.

The NHRA Mongoose Duster featured the iconic red livery with the same wheel setup as the Barracuda. Finding this second item in the NHRA set was easier for me. With prices starting at around $17.50, they can go up to over $52, depending on the seller.

Morris Wagon

Hot Wheels NHRA Is a Set of Six Epic Gazz\-Guzzling Dragsters

Photo: eBay/User salswheelsiroc1969

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The Morris Wagon is arguably one of the least exciting castings in the NHRA mix. Mattel used this weird design between 2001 and 2013, starting with the First Editions series and ending with the Holliday Hot Rods one. That was time enough for 14 variations, only a few of which were particularly special.

I’d say the first one was the 2004 Treasure Hunt Morris Wagon: one had the ugly CM6 wheels, while the other release featured Real Riders rims. I’m sure plenty of collectors adore this casting, but I’d never purchase any variation except maybe for the 2012 NHRA Dragster.

5-Spoke Mag-Style Real Riders do wonders on any tiny Hot Wheels car, but I’m not crazy about the Candy Wagon livery. The market for these isn’t as tough as expected, and $8 to $15 will get this casting into your collection, no worries.

Pass’n Gasser

Hot Wheels NHRA Is a Set of Six Epic Gazz\-Guzzling Dragsters

Photo: eBay/User B.Moorefinds

The Pass’n Gasser is better than the Morris Wagon, and there is more history here. The most recent release came out in 2023, sporting a Metalflake Brown finish and basic 5-spoke wheels. It was the 49th variation since the casting debuted in 2008.

The Silver and Pink one from the 2009 Larry’s Garage is the first to attract my attention, and it came back just as strong in a similar set one year later. The purple and white livery on the 2012 NHRA Gasser could’ve been all right if not for the Gold wheels, but I can at least appreciate the Firestone tires on the rear axle.

Judging by the sub-$20 price tag, collectors aren’t too enthusiastic about this release either. Some of its older variations could cost up to $200, but that doesn’t mean a complete collection will lead you to financial ruin.

’74 Chevy Vega Pro Stock

Hot Wheels NHRA Is a Set of Six Epic Gazz\-Guzzling Dragsters

Photo: eBay/User cjtrtriumphs

Judging by the number of variations, you could say the ’74 Chevy Vega Pro Stock is a rare casting. We saw four different designs between 2011 and 2021: the Vintage Racing model was first, then the NHRA release, it joined the Flying Customs in 2013, and finally, the Car Culture: Team Transport line-up several years ago.

The Lil’ Wonder livery looks fantastic on this machine, and the Firestone Drag Slicks complete the look thanks to a set of RR Mag-style rims. $17 to $20 is enough to buy this one iteration of the Chevy Vega. This may lead to a few people buying the entire collection while waiting for a new release from Mattel.

’73 Plymouth Duster

Hot Wheels NHRA Is a Set of Six Epic Gazz\-Guzzling Dragsters

Photo: eBay/User salswheelsiroc1969

The last car you need to look for if you’d like to own the whole 2012 NHRA mix is the ’73 Plymouth Duster. This one is a Premium-exclusive casting, with only four variations since 2011. The first two Dusters rolled on Mag-style Real Riders, while the latter had Steelies.

Mattel somehow hit the nail on the head with all four iterations, and this is one casting I’m adding to the bucket list. I spotted an example of the “Holy Moly” Duster listed for $50 on eBay, which sounds reasonable enough. The First Edition car could cost just as much, and I don’t think that will stop any serious collector from buying it.

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As I continue digging through Mattel archives, I find more exciting castings I never knew I wanted. And I get the feeling that it will be a neverending journey.



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