The Hot Wheels Garage: 20 August 2009
20 August 2009: Why Collect Redline Hot Wheels? ---For those of you who know me, you know that I'm first and foremost a VW Drag Bus and Redline collector. I still pick up the new stuff as it appeals to me, but my passion lies with the history of the Hot Wheels line.

Collecting Redlines isn't for the faint of heart...or the light in wallet, it seems. You have to be a disciplined spender, and know your limits. It's very easy to get stoked about a Redline on eBay, get into a bidding war, and *BAM*...before you know it, you've bitten off more than you can chew, and spent too much. Then comes the buyer's remorse. That being said, this scenario only seems to play itself out with the "in-demand" Redlines; the Beach Bombs, Olds 442's, Classic Cords, Bi-Focals, etc, etc. These castings typically demand the highest premiums on eBay, even in today's rotten economy. But, you don't have to be a big player to enjoy buying Redlines! Seriously! And, I'll tell ya why...
We're all aware of the current state of the economy; it sucks. It's going to get better, but it's in the tank right now. But, somewhere along the line, the economy affected Hot Wheels collectors as well. Take a look on eBay and you'll see that Redlines simply aren't fetching what they used to. Folks are guarding their "disposable" income, and survival has taken a front seat to Hot Wheels. It's apparent in EVERY aspect of the hobby, and Redlines are no less affected.

A restored Custom 'Cuda that I did. Restoring beaters is suddenly becoming very popular!

So, how do Redline collectors benefit from a bad economy? It's simple: Redlines are selling for up to 50% LESS than what any printed price guide will quote you for any particular model. Very few Redline castings have held their value throughout these difficult times. The aforementioned models, the Beach Bomb, Classic Cord, Olds 442 and Bi-Focal are in a very small group of Hot Wheels that even REMOTELY approach price guide values. Most of the other Redlines are quite a different story.

It's not uncommon these days to pick up common castings for under $10.00. Sellers simply aren't getting what they used to for Redlines. And, your 10 bucks might even get you a EX-NM model at that! I'm losing count on how many I've personally picked up on eBay that fall into that "lower class". Castings like the Torero, Turbofire, Twin Mill, Splittin' Image, Mantis and Silhouette are all models you can find on the cheap side, and in good shape.

Your "middle class" Redlines are typically castings like the Mighty Maverick, Custom Corvette, Custom Camaro, Sand Crab, Custom Mustang, etc, etc. Those are the models that will garner a little (to a LOT) more on the market than the "lower class." These castings seem to hold their value due to the popularity of their 1:1 counterparts. It seems the more realistic the casting, the more value it retains. A complete Mighty Maverick (complete meaning with an intact rear plastic wing) can demand a pretty high premium, and it stands a very good chance of being sold in an auction. The Custom Mustang falls into that category as well; a pristine example will sell very high, despite the economy. The willigness to shell out hard-earned cash is very highly predicated on the popularity of a certain Redline model.

Lastly, the "upper class" Redlines. These models always seem to very nearly hold their value, at least with the common Spectraflame colors. However, try putting a purple Classic Cord up on eBay for sale at it's price guide value of $'s probably NOT going to sell. The HTF Redlines are still very rare, of course. It's just that very few collectors are willing to shell out top dollar for toy cars at this point in time. That's simply a sign of the times, and it's not going to change anytime soon. Even after the economy recovers, collectors are still going to be very guarded with their purchases until a certain comfort level returns.

So, in short...despite the current economic woes, it's a VERY good time to be a Redline collector as long as you remain a disciplined spender. All kinds of below-market deals are being snapped up right now, and it's probably going to continue throughout the remainder of 2009 and well into 2010.

I prefer Redlines over the newer stuff simply because the new stuff just can't duplicate the sense of history that Redlines convey. You can hold a Redline in your hand, flip it over and look at the date, and just FEEL the history behind it. Think about it a little more, and your mind will probably begin to wonder about the all the adventures that particular car has gone through, where it's been, and who owned it. It's mind-boggling, really. And, the reality is this: A Treasure Hunt can't possibly replicate this feeling. Not in a million years. Treasure Hunts are fleeting; they're typically enjoyed when they're found, and then stored away in a cool, dry Rubbermaid container in the closet. Not Redlines. Redlines demand to be the center of attention, with their bright, shiny Spectraflame colors, ultra-cool retro Mag wheels and replica models representing a bygone era of the automotive history. History...that's the key word. And, that's why I'll always be a Redline collector. Until next month...keep your tracks elevated and your Hot Wheels runnin'....

~Neal Giordano