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When I tell people I collect Hot Wheels they always ask if I collect Matchbox too. While I consider myself a Hot Wheels guy, just like any other collector, there are Matchbox cars in my collection. Somewhere in history the battle was between Matchbox and Hot Wheels. It’s hard to say who won the true battle, but on the race track there is no contest. We put the two long time “rivals” to the test.
A classic battle
When people ask me what the difference is between Hot Wheels and Matchbox, I usually tell them realism. For as long as I can remember, Matchbox cars have been modeled more realistically than Hot Wheels. Matchbox cars are made more for looks than for trick tracks and performance. Any kid that tries to launch a Matchbox car through a loop-de-loop will find that out the hard way. Hot Wheels have always been about speed and racing.
However, in the interest of putting legend and myths to bed, I went out to prove the theory that Hot Wheels perform better on the track. Of course we’re talking about racing on the official Redline Derby race track. No loops. No jumps. Just a heads-up race. I found matching models of Hot Wheels and Matchbox, a VW Thing and an Audi R8, and let them fly.
A clear winner
As you can see, in both cases the Hot Wheels won by no less than one car length in each race. But why are the Hot Wheels faster? If I had guess I’d say the wheels and axles. Axles and wheels vary even between similar Hot Wheels models, but the difference between a Matchbox and a Hot Wheels is pretty big. The Matchbox axles are much looser and the wheels vary per model, certainly trying to achieve realism more than performance. A quick glance will also show that Matchbox cars are a little bigger than Hot Wheels. They’re not a consistent 1:64 scale.
The best of both worlds
I’ll be the first to say that Hot Wheels look great whether it be on the shelf or the track, but Matchbox cars are honestly one step closer to visual accuracy. So the challenge then becomes making a Matchbox car race track ready. You’ll certainly get some looks when you show up at your next derby with a speedster that can not only perform butlook really good.
Since we’ve already proven that the Audi R8 from Hot Wheels is quite a bit faster than the Matchbox counterpart, my goal is turn the Matchbox Audi into a speed demon that will come back to bite the Hot Wheels in the ass. I’ll do my best to document the process with photos and commentary. There’s no doubt the wheels and axles will be replace, probably some weight added…and who knows what else. I won’t stop tweaking until that car rolls better than the other…or until it’s proven that it just won’t be faster.
But for now, Hot Wheels wins. And I suppose since Mattel now owns both Hot Wheels and Matchbox, it’s safe to say Hot Wheels won the battle of history as well.