1970 Hot Wheels Speed Test Set

“The Fastest Metal Cars in the World!”  That was Mattel’s claim during the inaugural years of Hot Wheels.  Kids realized it was true but began wondering, “Just how fast is fast?” To answer that question Mattel produced 3 single-lane speedometer sets in 1970.

The first speedometer set is the gravity powered Speed Test Set.  Track components consist of 20 feet of orange track, 10 joiners, 1 speedometer, and 1 U-turn.  All contents are boxed individually and sold in a plain red, white and black package.

The original package for the Speed Test Set. Courtesy http://www.redlineprotos.com.

Speed Test Set track contents.

I am not sure how this set was distributed but it may have been tied into Hot Wheels’ national Speed Test Day of June 13, 1970.  Speaking of which, Speed Test Day sounds like a great time.  Newspaper archives mention the event throughout North America.  Kids went to their local toy stores that Saturday with their own Hot Wheels cars and put them on a track that ran through a single lane Speedometer.

Speed Test Day display. Courtesy http://www.redlineprotos.com.

Each child received a certificate showing their name, the car they tested, and the speed the car achieved.

Speed Test Day official certificate of entry. A blazing 138 mph! Courtesy http://www.redlineprotos.com.

Various giveaways were on hand including Hot Wheels Racing Patches.  Some stores gave out a grand prize, presumably for the fastest speed of the day, of a single lane Speedometer.

Speed Test Day flyer. Courtesy eBay.

Speed Test Day flyer. Courtesy eBay.

Here are my Speed Test Set contestants.

L to R: 2011 Corvette Grand Sport, 1970 Pontiac GTO, Aston Martin DBS, 1969 Camaro Convertible, 1970 Plymouth Superbird.

At the start.

Picking up speed.

Heading to the Speedometer.

A hard right tilt makes sure the car hits the long, white automatic reset arm before it contacts the small black foam piece of the trigger arm.

Flying into the Speedometer.

Hitting the trigger arm full on.

Recording the speed.

Blasting out of the Speedometer.

Into the U-turn…and stop.

What kind of speeds did my 5 cars produce?  Watch this video from my YouTube Channel to find out.  

The 1970 Hot Wheels Speed Test Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

Single lane Speedometer box art – front.

Single lane Speedometer box art – side.

Single lane Speedometer box art – back.

Single lane Speedometer box art – top.

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1969 Summary and Extra Pics

The track sets first released in 1969 are dominated by Super-Chargers.

1. The Double-Dare Race Action Set.

2. The Super-Charger Sprint Set.

3. The Super-Charger Double Action Set.

4. The Super-Charger Race Set.

5. The Super-Charger Rally ‘N Freeway Set.

6. The Super-Charger Grand Prix Race Set.

Here’s a video summary of the 1969 track sets that I documented on my YouTube channel.

Here are some extra pics for 1969.

Ready to go at the Double-Dare start.

1969 COPO Corvette flying around the Super-Charger Sprint Set.

Parked for lunch at the Super-Charger Double Action second floor restaurant.

Charging past the finish line on the Super-Charger Race Set.

100 laps on the Super-Charger Race Set is a long way to go.

The road is full on the Super-Charger Rally ‘N Freeway Set.

Super-Charger “Safe Driving Rules”. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Front page – 1969 Hot Wheels Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – back of a Full Curve Pak showing a Super-Charger “Over ‘N Under Freeway” layout. Courtesy eBay.

Comic book ad. 7 sets available in 1969. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front of 2 Way Super-Charger. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side of 2 Way Super-Charger. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back of 2 Way Super-Charger. Courtesy eBay.

Hot Wheels in 1969.

Still fast. Still fun.

1969 Hot Wheels Super-Charger. Inner workings.

A few weeks ago, I went looking for a Hot Wheels Super-Charger.  Easiest place to find one?  It’s gotta be eBay.  Getting a good one?  How hard can it be?

A promising looking machine was listed for the reasonable price of $18 plus shipping. Seemed nice.  Hopefully it had been well looked after.  And the icing on the cake…the ad stated, “It works!”  Sweet.

When the Super-Charger arrived it looked like a good buy.  The stickers were in good condition, the housing was intact, and the battery area had it’s little door.  How good is that!

It looks good!

I put batteries in and fired it up.  Yup.  It worked as advertised.  But…the howling squeal from the electric drive motor was akin to finger nails on a chalk board.  Turn it off!  Turn it off!

Whew!  Peace and quiet.  That’s better.  I suspect there is no useful lubrication getting to the internal workings of the drive motor any more.

So…what do you do?  Send it back?  Shipping costs make that unreasonable.  A lot of times returns are not accepted.  Keep using it?  Maybe you get use to the racket after a while.  But how would you hear yourself think?  What about opening it up?  There is a video on YouTube of a Super-Charger that was opened, had a transformer installed, and now runs on plug-in electricity. It must be possible to look inside.

Turns out it is possible…but not advisable.  Mattel never meant for these things to be serviced.  Super-Chargers are sealed with glue around all the edges where the roof meets the walls.  A knowledgable person might know how to get inside without causing a lot of damage, but I don’t.  Working with a used dental pick and some thin wedges, I was able to, eventually, get the roof off.  But it wasn’t a clean job and the roof took a beating.

Still…the inside of a Super-Charger is now ready for inspection.  With the roof off, here’s what’s inside:

Let’s start with a closer look at the throttle and rheostat. The rheostat is a metal coil (looks like a fine thread screw).  When the throttle is moved, the metal slider attached to it also moves up and down the rheostat.  This changes electrical resistance and alters the amount of current reaching the electric motor.  As the throttle is moved to the “faster” mark, the metal slider moves closer to the electric motor, electricity has less distance to cover so resistance goes down, more current flows to the motor and the motor spins faster.

Throttle with attached metal arm to slide along the rheostat.

Rheostat attached to electric drive motor and it’s little drive wheel.

The little drive wheel in the foreground is running the two big wheels.

The big wheels with their foam covers propel the Hot Wheels car onto the track.

One big wheel out for a side view.

Both big wheels out.

Now everything is out. Only the battery housing in the foreground is left.

This little electric motor is running this big, old Super-Charger.

Out of the house and lined up.

Oiling the electric motor shaft helped, but it was still abnormal.

What was my final solution?

Admit defeat, write a blog, make a video and buy another one naturally.

Here’s a link to my YouTube channel showing the inside of a running Super-Charger.

So…my next purchase came from North Tonawanda, New York.  Here it is:

And this time…success.  Great condition, starts right up, runs smooth, and no tired squealing components.  Booyah!

So there you have it.  The 1969 Hot Wheels Super-Charger.

It’s still fast!  Still fun!

From 1969 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – front.

Box art – back. The electric motor is “Made in Japan”. Everything else is “Made in the USA”.

Box art – side.

Box art – flap.

German Super-Charger: box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

German Super-Charger: box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

German Super-Charger: box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

German Super-Charger: box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

German Super-Charger: Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

German Super-Charger: Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

1969 Hot Wheels Automatic Lap Counter – quick fix

The 1969 Hot Wheels automatic lap counter is a cool device for…well…counting “lap after lap” action.  It’s a neat design that reminds me of a race track control tower where someone is watching and recording all the events.

Front/side view of Automatic Lap Counter.

Back/side view of Automatic Lap Counter.

Primarily, it came with Super-Charger sets.

Instruction sheet for Lap Counter with Super-Charger layout. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

But it could be used anywhere.  I find them quite useful on orange track Sizzlers sets where they count laps and slow cars down for upcoming hills or curves.

It’s a straight forward device that uses a swingarm to trigger each lap count.  The problem is, most automatic lap counters sold on eBay, Craigslist, and your local garage sale don’t work properly.

Typically, the one’s counter (0 through 9) works fine.  But the ten’s counter usually doesn’t work at all.  I’ve noticed this pattern even on eBay sales where the description says, “this automatic lap counter works!”

The only chance you have of getting a fully functional automatic lap counter is when the one’s column is showing “0”.  If an automatic lap counter has been stored for the past 40 plus years with the one’s column showing “1, 2, 3…or 9” then the little plastic retainer that engages the metal clip against the ten’s column has been stretched out of shape and no longer works properly.

Tweezer pointing at the little plastic retainer (which is T-shaped) that engages the metal clip against the 10’s column.

Fortunately, the fix for this is quick and easy.

You need a small, rubber “O” ring, about the size of your little finger.  These are readily available at hardware and automotive centers.

Slide the “O” ring onto the swing arm of the lap counter.

Push it up the swing arm.

The final position is on the little plastic retainer just below it’s cross piece.

This reinforces the plastic retainer and allows it to now engage the metal clip against the ten’s column when the counter comes round to it.

Final position of the 0-ring on the swing arm.

When storing an automatic lap counter you want the plastic retainer mechanism at full rest and not under pressure.  This is achieved when the one’s column is showing 0.  It doesn’t matter what the ten’s column is showing.

When the one’s column is on the 0, the metal clip that moves the counter numbers is sitting in an open recess on the one’s column side which is white in color.

The recess in the one’s column is white in color. The right side of the metal clip is resting in it between the 2 and 3.

Here’s a link to my YouTube channel which demonstrates the “quick fix”.

There you have it.  The 1969 Hot Wheels Automatic Lap Counter.  It’s easy to fix.  It’s still fun.

Here’s a 1969 Collectors’ Catalogue image:

Here’s an example of an Automatic Lap Counter that is “sold seperately”:

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – bottom. Courtesy eBay.

ALC2

Box art – top. Courtesy eBay.

 

Box contents. Courtesy eBay.

1969 Hot Wheels Super-Charger Grand Prix Race Set (part 1)

Mattel’s big set for 1969 is the Super-Charger Grand Prix Race Set.  It gives you 100 lap events on a grand scale.

Track contents include:  44 feet of orange track, 16 joiners, 12 half curves, 2 Two-Way Super-Chargers, 2 automatic lap counters and 8 white trestles.

My strongest childhood memory of Hot Wheels ads is this one:

A classic comic book ad for the Grand Prix Race Set. Courtesy eBay.

This is the boxed set.

Super Charger Grand Prix Set 1

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Super Charger Grand Prix Set 2

Box art – front with included cars visible. Courtesy eBay.

Super Charger Grand Prix Set 5

Box art – top. Courtesy eBay.

super-charger-grand-prix-set-6 (1)

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Super Charger Grand Prix Set 10

Grand Prix Race Set cars in this case (L to R): Splittin’ Image, Ford J-Car, Twin Mill and Turbofire. Courtesy eBay.

Super Charger Grand Prix Set 12

Close up of Splittin’ Image and Ford J-Car. Courtesy eBay.

Super Charger Grand Prix Set 13

Close up of Twin Mill and Lola GT70. Courtesy eBay.

A nice video of the Grand Prix Race Set comes from this original 1969 Mattel TV commercial for Super-Chargers.  This footage is courtesy of Mark Roach.

Here are two 1969 Collectors’ Catalogue images (copyright Mattel, Inc.):

Some great Grand Prix Race Sets have been offered on eBay including this Japanese one:

Japanese Grand Prix Race Set. Courtesy eBay.

Japanese Grand Prix Race Set. Courtesy eBay.

Japanese Grand Prix Race Set. Courtesy eBay.

Japanese Grand Prix Race Set. Courtesy eBay.

Japanese Grand Prix Race Set box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Japanese Grand Prix Race Set box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Here are some miscellaneous goodies that go with the set.

Paper contents. Courtesy eBay.

Instruction sheets. Courtesy eBay.

Art work from redlineprotos.com (2)

Box art – side. Courtesy redlineprotos.com.

Instructions – page 1. Courtesy eBay.

Instructions – pages 1, 2 & 3. Courtesy eBay.

Instructions – pages 5 & 6. Courtesy eBay.

So there you have it, the 1969 Hot Wheels Super-Charger Grand Prix Set.

It’s still fast. Still fun.