1970 Hot Wheels Speedometer Race Set

Speed!

Box art - front. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – front. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

When it comes to speed, supercars and high performance concept cars take center stage.

Today I’m putting 2 supercars and 2 concept cars to the test.

l to r: orange Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept Car, yellow '12 Acura NSX Concept Car, metal flake silver LaFerrari and lime green Lamborghini Sesto Elemento.

l to r: orange Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept Car, yellow ’12 Acura NSX Concept Car, metal flake silver LaFerrari and lime green Lamborghini Sesto Elemento.

And that test is all about speed. This is a race set where the 1970 dual-lane Speedometer tells us who is the winner.

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There is no finish gate. Whoever slams through the Speedometer with the fastest speed wins.

To generate the highest speed, I’m using a 1970 dual-lane Rod Runner with double rubber bands on each shifter.

IMG_3251

Here’s what happened…

So there you have it. A custom track. The 1970 Hot Wheels Speedometer Race Set.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - end. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – end. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - back. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – back. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors' Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Hot Wheels Sizzlers National Champ Race Set

At the dawn of the pony car era, the Sports Car Club of America created the Trans-Am Series.  This automobile racing series is best known for its American manufacturers championship that featured:

Ford Mustangs

NC4

Chevrolet Camaros

NC6

Plymouth Barracudas

NC2

Dodge Challengers

NC1

AMC Javelins

NC3

and Pontiac Firebird Trans-Ams.

NC5

The golden era of Trans-Am racing is considered to be 1968 to 1972.  The pinnacle year may well have been 1970.  In that year Parnelli Jones, driving a Boss 302 Mustang, won the Trans-Am title by a single point over Mark Donahue in an AMC Javelin.

Mattel’s biggest set for 1970 is the Hot Wheels Sizzlers National Champ Race Set.  It features a Boss 302 Mustang and a Firebird Trans-Am on the front box art.

National Champ box art - front.

National Champ box art – front.

Track components include 39 feet of orange track, 10 joiners, 1 dual-lane Speed Brake, 1 dual-lane esses, 1 dual-lane lap counter, 1 dual-lane speedometer, 2 dual-lane trestles, 2 dual-lane curves, 2 full curves, 4 half curves and 1 Power Pit.

NCcomponents

Here’s the instructions.

Instructions - step 1. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – step 1. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - step 2. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – step 2. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - step 3. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – step 3. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - step 4. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – step 4. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - step 5. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – step 5. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - step 6. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – step 6. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - add accessories. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – add accessories. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - last page. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – last page. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

This is the assembled National Champ course layout.

NClayout

It’s a long way to go.  Time to charge up.  I’m substituting the U.K. Power Pak for the original plug-in Power Pit.

L to R: A copper 1970 Firebird Trans-Am and a yellow 1970 Boss 302 Mustang.

L to R: A copper 1970 Firebird Trans-Am and a yellow 1970 Boss 302 Mustang.

Here’s a lap around the circuit.

Drivers. Start your engines.

Drivers. Start your engines.

Charging into the esses.

Charging into the esses.

Splitting up at the first set of half curves.

Splitting up at the first set of half curves.

Mustang out on the far left full turn.

Mustang out on the far left full turn.

Firebird husseling into the right side full curve.

Firebird husseling into the right-side full turn.

Back together after the second half curve set.

Back together after the second set of half curves.

Passing the dual-lane speedometer.

Passing the dual-lane speedometer.

Full banked tilt into the first dual-lane curve.

Full banked tilt into the first dual-lane curve.

Rushing into the dual-lane speedometer.

Rushing into the dual-lane speedometer.

Clocking this lap's speeds.

Clocking this lap’s speeds.

On the overpass.

On the overpass.

Racing past the Power Pak.

Speeding past the Power Pak.

Full speed into the second dual-lane curve.

Full speed into the second dual-lane curve.

Racing into the dual-lane lap counter.

Racing into the dual-lane lap counter.

Clicking through another lap.

Clicking through another lap.

Crossing the start/finish line.

Crossing the start/finish line.

After the double DNF (did not finish) on the California/8 Race Set video, here’s the Firebird/Mustang rematch on the National Champ Race Set.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Sizzlers National Champ Race Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

1970 Hot Wheels Racing Magazine.  Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Hot Wheels Racing Magazine. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Hot Wheels Racing Magazine. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Hot Wheels Racing Magazine. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors' Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

French and English text from the Canadian 1970 Collectors' Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

French and English text from the Canadian 1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - front. Close up.

Box art – front. Close up.

Box art - front. Close up.

Box art – front. Close up.

Box art - front. Close up.

Box art – front. Close up.

Box art - front. Close up.

Box art – front. Close up.

Box art - front. Close up.

Box art – front. Close up.

Box art - front. Close up.

Box art – front. Close up.

Box art - side. In color.

Box art – side. In color.

Box art - side. Close up.

Box art – side. Close up.

Box art - side. Close up.

Box art – side. Close up.

Box art. Other side.

Box art. Other side.

Box art - end.

Box art – end.

Box art - back.

Box art – back.

Box art - back. Contents list close up.

Box art – back. Contents list close up.

1970 Hot Wheels Sizzlers Newport Pacer Set

The third, single-lane Sizzlers track for 1970 is the Newport Pacer Set.  Track components include: 14 feet of orange track, 5 joiners, 1 single-lane Speed Brake, 1 single-lane esses, 2 full curves, 1 single-lane speedometer and 1 Juice Machine.

The object of this track is to record the fastest speed possible for each Sizzlers car.  The trick to making this happen is using just enough Speed Brake to get through the esses.  Use too much brake and the car will clock a slower speed.  Use too little brake and you wipe out in the esses.

Here’s the instructions.

Instructions – page 1. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – page 2. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – page 3. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – page 4. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – page 5. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – page 6. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

I’m going to test 3 cars on this layout.

L to R: red 2006 Live Wire, light blue 1971 Spoil Sport, purple 1970 Ford Mark IV.

Here’s a hot lap.

Into the Speed Brake.

Handling the esses.

Accelerating down the front stretch.

Banking hard into the first curve.

Maximum speed into the Speedometer.

Clocking the speed.

Lining up for another lap run.

Check out my YouTube video to see what speeds I got from each car.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Sizzlers Newport Pacer Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

Box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - end. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – end. Courtesy eBay.

Newport Pacer Special Bonus instructions showing dual-lane Speed Brake and esses. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Newport Pacer Special Bonus instructions showing dual-lane Speed Brake and esses. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors' Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Newport Pacer Set in Hot Wheels 1970 Racing World Magazine. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Speedometer part of the Newport Pacer Set from the 1970 Hot Wheels Racing World magazine. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Speedometer part of the Newport Pacer Set from the 1970 Hot Wheels Racing World magazine. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

And, for something different, here’s the United Kingdom variation of the Newport Pacer Set which Mattel Rosebud called the Super Oval Set.  It’s the same as the North American Newport Pacer Set except it comes with a battery powered Power Pak charger instead of a Juice Machine.

Super Oval Set box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set car with box. Courtesy eBay.

Super Oval Set car with box. Courtesy eBay.

Decals and paper work for the Super Oval Set. Courtesy eBay.

Decals and paper work for the Super Oval Set. Courtesy eBay.

And one more…here’s the German Newport Pacer Set with Power Pak.

Box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

1970 Hot Wheels Speedometers

Measuring the speed of “The Fastest Metal Cars in the World” was a one year event.  In 1970 Mattel made both single-lane and dual-lane speedometers for Hot Wheels.

Box art- front. Single-lane Speedometer.

Box art – front. Dual-Lane Speedometer.

These purely mechanical toys use no batteries or electricity.  For such an inexpensive toy, the design structure is quite remarkable.  As cars enter the speedometers they are tilted  30 degrees onto their side where they first contact a plastic bar that automatically resets the speedometer needle to zero, then they hit a paddle mechanism that pushes the needle around the dial and records the speed of that pass.

Dual-Lane Speedometer “Tunnel Entrance” showing the automatic reset bars and the more distant black pads of the paddle mechanism which is connected to the speedometer needles.

On the underside of the speedometers is a dial that allows the spring sets to be adjusted which regulates how “fast” or “slow” the needles will move.  On the “fast” setting the springs are fairly loose and will allow the needle to move a long way around the dial and record a high speed value.  On the “slow” setting the springs are tighter and restrict how far the needle will move, thereby recording a slower speed value.

Underside “Tensioning Dial”. This particular Single-Lane Speedometer works best at the 4th space which I have marked with a black felt marker.

It stands to reason that every kid wants to see the highest possible speed on a race set but there are situations, primarily with high speed Sizzlers, where you want to slow the cars down a bit as they hit the paddle mechanism.

The other purpose of the tensioning dial is to balance both sides of the dual-lane speedometer.  You run a car through one side of the speedometer and set the tensioning dial to give a particular speed.  Then you take the same car and run it at the same speed through the other side, tensioning the dial, so that the second speedometer gives the same speed reading as the first.  If you happen to be running two single-lane speedometers side by side the same procedure would apply.

Here are the instructions for the single-lane speedometer.

Front page of instruction sheet.

Back page of instruction sheet.

And here’s the instructions for the dual-lane speedometer.

Front page of instruction sheet.

Back page of instruction sheet.

In general, it’s always been true that certain Hot Wheels cars work better on some sets than others.  With the speedometers I find that the fastest readings are determined more by the front end design of the car than by the speed of the car.

Cars with a square front end will hit the paddle mechanism more solidly and push the needle further around the dials.  So, even though my purple 2007 Shelby GT500 is faster than my magenta 1971 Plymouth Road Runner, the rounded front end of the Shelby will usually record a slower speed than the square front end of the Road Runner.

Aerodynamic front end of the Shelby Mustang compared to the square front end of the Road Runner.

Here’s an example of what I mean from my YouTube Channel: Smackeral Cafe.

What should you look for when purchasing a 1970 Hot Wheels Speedometer?  Ideally, on the top of the dials, the needles should be sitting at “Zero”.  And on the bottom, the tensioning dials should be sitting on “Fast”.  Any other position will place extra tension on the speedometer springs and, over 40 plus years of storage, those springs will stretch out and make the speedometer less functional.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Speedometers.

They show you that Hot Wheels are still fast.  Still fun.

Box art – side. Single-Lane Speedometer.

Box art – back. Single-Lane Speedometer.

Box art – side. Dual-Lane Speedometer.

Box art – back. Dual-Lane Speedometer.

1970 Hot Wheels Dual-Lane Rod Runner Drag Set

In a prior post, about the 1970 Super Speed Action Set, we saw that the single-lane rod runner clocked the highest car speeds of the three single-lane speed sets produced that year.  Now we are going to look at a set that, basically, puts 2 Super Speed Action Sets together and creates a drag set.  But this time, not only are the cars launched at high speed, they are also brought back down to a stop with drag ‘chutes.  It’s like those real world auto tests that show how quickly high performance cars can race from 0 to 100 mph and then brake hard all the way back down to 0 again.

This set is the 1970 Dual-Lane Rod Runner Drag Set.

Dual-Lane Rod Runner box art – front.

It comes with 28 feet of orange track, 10 joiners, 1 dual-lane rod runner with 1 “fair start” T-bar, 1 dual-lane speedometer, 1 finish gate, 2 ‘chute traps, and 4 drag ‘chutes.

Here’s the instructions:

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Track layout. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Track layout. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Set contents close-up. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Set contents close-up. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

This may well be the busiest track set that Mattel ever made for Hot Wheels.  Just to get ready for a race you have to load the drag ‘chutes, set the finish gate flag, adjust the speedometer, cock the rod runner handles down to start position, and place 2 cars on the track in the cradle of the “fair start” push bar.

The race, itself, is totally high speed.  Getting a smooth, even start with the push bar takes a bit of concentration.  In the moment it takes to satisfy yourself with the start, the cars have already gone through the speedometer.  Before you can even look at the dials, the cars have flashed through the finish gate.  And before you realize who won, the ‘chutes have popped and the cars are slowing down.  You almost need a mental “instant replay” to appreciate the recorded speeds and who won the race.

Set up time, the actual race and post race evaluation takes a couple of minutes for just one person to do.  And then you have to do it all over again for the next race.

If you look at Mattel’s original 1970 TV ad for this set you will notice that there are 3 kids playing at the same time.  I have come to realize that there is a lot of merit to having a bunch of people help you run this drag set.

Also, close-up shots of the cars in the TV ad are presented only in slow motion (which still looks fast).  Even then, the speedometer section requires 3 repeating views from different angles for the action to be grasped.  This set is what fast is all about.

Here’s Mattel’s original 1970 video courtesy of Mark Roach:

And here’s the 4 cars I’m racing on this drag set today.

L to R: ’67 Pontiac Firebird 400, ’70 Pontiac GTO, ’71 Dodge Charger and ’70 Camaro.

At the starting line.  Waiting for the Rod Runner handles to be shifted down and a push from the T-bar.

Flying out of the Rod Runner and heading for the speedometer.

Hard tilt into the dual-lane speedometer.

Clocking the speeds.

Flat out to the finish.

Winner about to take the flag.

Hitting the ‘chute traps.

Poppin’ the ‘chutes.

Here’s my YouTube video of this set in action.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Dual-Lane Rod Runner Drag Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. The “short track” version! Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art -front: 1st close up.

Box art – front: 2nd close up.

Box art – front: 3rd close up.

Box art – front: 4th close up.

Box art – back.

Box art – side: full color.

Box art – side: red, black and white.

Box art – end.

A complete Dual-Lane Rod Runner Drag Set with box insert. Courtesy eBay.

The above Drag Set unpackaged. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section.  Mattel's Hot Wheels Ad for drag racing with the Dual-Lane Rod Runner.  August 30, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel’s Hot Wheels Ad for drag racing with the Dual-Lane Rod Runner. August 30, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

1970 Hot Wheels Super Speed Action Set

The third speed set for 1970 came in a red, white and black package.  The Super Speed Action Set.

Super Speed Action Set. Courtesy eBay.

It contained the following boxed track items:  A single lane Rod Runner, a single lane Speedometer, and a Hot Strip Track Super Pak (that’s 20 feet of orange track and 10 joiners).

Super Speed Action Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

This set was distributed exclusively by Allied Stores.  Allied was a department store chain that operated from 1935 to 1988.  It merged with Federated Department Stores in 1988 and is now part of Macy’s, Inc.

Credit goes to someone at Allied Stores who had the insight to spot a niche opportunity.  The popular Hot Wheels brand was offering a couple of ways to measure toy car speed in 1970.  The gravity powered Speed Test Set was limited by the gradual onset of acceleration.  The Super-Charger powered Speed Test Set was limited by car stability issues against the spinning Super-Charger wheels and the track curves.  But if you took 20 feet of straightaway and meshed it with the sudden power burst of the new Rod Runner, then you had all the ingredients for clocking the fastest speeds yet.

Super Speed Action Set track components.

Since it was never reissued or reengineered, the Rod Runner stands out as one of the most unique devices Mattel ever came up with to power Hot Wheels cars.  When today’s kids get their hands on it, they are so impressed that they will spend hours with it, launching car after car.

The Rod Runner is simply powered by a rubber band.  Tension on the rubber band can be adjusted by a control knob at the front.  Push down the shift stick handle until it locks into position.  The rubber band is stretched taught.  Run a car into the back end of the Rod Runner.  The car lifts up the internal push mechanism.  This unlocks the apparatus, the rubber band snaps the push mechanism forward, the shift stick comes up, and the car flies out of the Rod Runner.

Instructions for single lane Rod Runner. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Like a run at Bonneville Salt Flats, this is a straight forward layout.

Quickest way to make this set fly?  Use 2 rubber bands in the Rod Runner instead of the usual single rubber band.

Here are my 5 test cars that will try to bend the Speedometer needle on the Super Speed Action Set.

L to R: 1971 Mustang Boss 351, 1971 Maverick Grabber, 1971 Plymouth Road Runner, 1969 Pontiac GTO and 1970 Monte Carlo.

The Rod Runner is cocked.  The car is ready to go.

Into the machine and the car bursts out.

Hard right tilt into the Speedometer.

Winding the needle around the dial.

Twenty feet later, the cars are still travelling at high speed but are running out of track.  The solution?  An air bag in pillow form is the ticket.

Here’s my YouTube channel video of the speeds these cars achieved.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Super Speed Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

The single lane Rod Runner:

From 1970 Hot Wheels Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – front.

Box art – side.

Box art – end. This Rod Runner is made in Canada. French wording.

Made in Japan Rod Runner. Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Made in Japan Rod Runner. Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Any risk of a power shortage?  Nah.  Rubber bands by the quarter pound.

1970 Hot Wheels Super-Charger Speed Test Set

Mattel’s second speed set for 1970 put a Super-Charger behind the thrust to get Hot Wheels cars blazing.  Unlike the other two speed sets, this one let you run a car on an oval and keep upping the power to achieve faster and faster clockings.  Eventually you would record the fastest possible speed for a given car before it reached the limits of it’s stability and crashed.

The 1970 Super-Charger Speed Test Set includes 16 feet of orange track, 8 joiners, 1 Super-Charger, 1 single lane Speedometer, 2 trestles and one bridge.

Here’s the track layout.

And here are my 4 test cars.

L to R: 1968 COPO Camaro, 1986 Monte Carlo SS, Custom V-8 Vega, and 2007 Ford Shelby GT-500.

A lap around the track starts at the Super-Charger.

With no waste of time or speed, the cars blast straight into the Speedometer.

Nearly 120 MPH / 200 KPH and looking for more the next time through.

Up and around the elevated first full curve.

Over the bridge.

Around the second full turn and back into the Super-Charger for another speed shot.

Here’s a link to my YouTube channel showing the speeds these cars recorded as the Super-Charger spun faster and faster.  

There you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Super-Charger Speed Test Set.  “The fastest metal cars in the world” is what it’s all about.

And it’s still fast.  Still fun.

1970 Hot Wheels Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - other side in red, black and white. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – other side in red, black and white. Courtesy eBay.

A nice example of complete contents. Courtesy eBay.

Speed Test Set with instructions. Courtesy eBay.

The set with instructions. Courtesy eBay.

The set with instructions. Courtesy eBay.

The set with instructions. Courtesy eBay.