Hot Wheels 101

Hot Wheels 101

The following information is for those of you that are new to collecting Hot Wheels. It is a set of guidelines that can be used to help identify and estimate value of the early Hot Wheels cars. I use these same guidelines for pricing purposes for the cars on this site.

Wear Types

Nicks and chips edge ware are the most common and, as most types of wear, are due to play. Nicks typically refer to smaller flakes of paint missing and chips refer to larger areas. Scratches are also play wear and apply to paint, wheels, and glass. Toning refers to dark spots or patches under the paint caused by oxidation of the Diecast metal. This is due to age and not play wear. Pitting or “Flea Bites” is similar in that it is caused by oxidation but it is actually the paint lifting up(and coming off) in tiny bumps by the corrosion underneath. This is also due to age. Crumbling is more rare and refers to what happens to some car bases. Corrosion seeps into the cracks of a poorly cast base and over time literally starts crumbling. Everything else in due to play wear and include such things as scuffing or rubbing off of wheel and engine chrome or paint, missing or partly missing decals and parts, broken hoods, glass, and other parts. A lot can happen over 50 years!

Condition Rating

You may see collectors and dealers refer to cars being in a “C8” or “C9” condition. Well the “C” obviously stands fo “condition”, but actual condition is subjective. To help clarify, the following is a description of each level.

C10 – Perfect Condition(Mint) – Very rare for a loose Hot Wheel to be in this condition.
C9 – Near Mint – Minor flaws only. a single or no paint chips, minor toning, any other flaws barely noticeable (90% – 95% of mint)
C8 – Excellent – Does not look played with but has minor imperfections. May have mildly tarnished base and show some Tampo(decal) wear and/or other minor flaws.(80% – 85% of mint)
C7 – Very Good – Shows minor play wear, some chips or edge ware, dull wheels or some chrome chips, tampos(decals) show moderate play wear.(70% – 75% of mint)
C6 – Good – Has definite play wear, moderate amount of chips and edge ware, bent axels, dull or worn wheel chrome, and significant Tampo(decal) wear. (50% of mint)
C5 – Fair – Car is barely collectible. Good for a filler. Severe toning and tarnished base, a lot of chips and edge wear, Tampos very worn or missing. (25% of mint)
C4 – Beater – These cars have made kids very happy but have paid the price. Most of the paint is missing or severely toned, axels bent and 1 or more wheels missing or severely worn, tampos and other parts missing or damaged, glass cracked, scratched, and broken. These cars are good only for parts or restoration.

Spektraflame Colors

Forgive my misspelling, the actual name is trademarked, but spektraflame refers to the translucent paint used on the early Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning cars. There are common colors and rare colors and there are variations in color. Below is a chart of the common colors.

Wheel Types

The early Hot Wheels had 5 types of wheels, all removable to some degree. The first or Type 1 wheels simply pressed on to a nylon hub and came in 3 sizes. The Type 2 wheels were permanently attached to the axle but the outer caps were removable and these came in 2 sizes.


There are many variations. There are variations in country of origin (US or Hong Kong). US cars had smoked or clear glass, Hong Kong had blue glass. The car bases were different also. there are variations in paint color, interior and parts color, and even wheel types. way too many to list here.

For more detailed information on all of these topics and more I recommend picking up a good collectors guide. There are even pocket editions you can take with you to toy shows and conventions.