Hot Wheels Tuning Ultra Hots/Hot Ones Cars

The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower is an awesome piece of equipment. Actual testing and tuning of your toy cars…Amazing! However, this does raise one question today…”Which cars can be tuned on the Tune-Up Tower?”

There are 4 groups of Hot Wheels that work with the Tune-Up Tower.

  1. Redlines
  2. Ultra Hots
  3. Hot Ones, and
  4. 2002 – 2007 Hot Wheels Collectors’ Neo Classic cars.

What do these 4 groups have in common? They all have thin axles. Thin axles reduce friction at the hub of the spinning tire. This makes the cars faster.

Thick axle Super Stinger from 2015 on the left and a thin axle Custom Mustang from 1968 on the right.

Unfortunately, bending thin axles out of shape is easy, making Tune-Up Tower adjustments all the more important. Thicker axles are much sturdier and tend not to bend. Thick axles also resist manipulation efforts.

The small notch on the tune-up wrench only fits thin axle cars.

The tune-up wrench can’t accommodate thick axles.

Now for some tuning of Ultra Hots and Hot Ones cars. My test track is a Road Trials Set powered by a Super-Charger instead of a Rod Runner.

With the track ready, I’ll start by running two old Ultra Hots.

l to r: green Wind Splitter and purple Quik Trik.

Followed by 2 high mileage Hot Ones.

l to r: White Turbo Mustand and a red Front Runnin’ Fairmont.

Here’s my video for tuning Ultra Hots and Hot Ones cars:

So there you have it. Using the 1970 Tune-Up Tower to service vintage Ultra Hots and Hot Ones cars. Making thin axle vehicles still fast. Still fun.

The theme from the get go? “Go faster…roll farther”. From 1968 Collectors’ catalog. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Quik Trik on the treadmill.

1970 Hot Wheels Hi-Performance Set

There aren’t a lot of these sets around. I never saw one as a kid. They don’t show up on eBay very often. And until a few years ago, as an adult, I didn’t even know what made up a Hi-Performance Set.

Today, we’re going to fix all that by putting together and running a complete Hi-Performance Set.

Here are the components.

Here’s the layout.

I’ll use a 2005 Ford Mustang to go through the set.

On the second floor of the Tune-Up Tower.

Taking the elevator to the top floor.

Backing out on the third floor.

Checking wheels speed and drift on the Dyno-Meter treadmill.

On the ramp, ready to go.

Lifting the ramp to launch the car.

Heading for the track below.

Taking the first curve.

On the floor and running toward the main track.

Into the bottom of the 2-way Super-Charger.

Blasting out of the Super-Charger.

Charging through the elevated section of the Figure-8 track.

Crossing the bridge and going back to the Super-Charger.

Powering out of the 2-way Super-Charger again.

Speeding past the bottom floor of the Tune-Up Tower.

Running strong, lap after lap.

Here’s my YouTube video of this track in action. I feature 4 redlines from 1969 that represent Mattel’s first in-house-designed fantasy cars.

So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Hi-Performance Set.

Making Hot Wheels still fast.  Still fun.

1970 Hot Wheels Hi-Performance Set: Introduction

The Tune-Up Tower was packaged three ways in 1970:

in it’s own box,

Tune-Up Tower box art – front. Courtesy eBay

with the Road Trials Set

Box art – front.

and, most prominently, as part of the Hi-Performance Set.

Mattel described this set as a “giant freeway system”. The idea was give your car a tune up, then head out on the busy roadway. And for traffic, 4 new cars came with it. That was more cars than any other set Mattel offered in 1970.

A Custom Corvette and a Custom Volkswagen on the left side. Courtesy eBay.

A Torero and a Lola GT70 on the right side. Courtesy eBay.

Here’s an example of the rest of the contents that came in a Hi-Performance Set.

The Super-Charger and track. Courtesy eBay.

Track and Tune-Up Tower pieces. Courtesy eBay.

Collectors’ catalogue and stickers. Courtesy eBay.

Here’s what the Hi-Performance Set does.

Measure wheel speed and drift.

Adjust axles with the Tune-Up wrench.

Move cars between floors with the elevator.

Use the 2-Way Super Charger to power your cars.

Like all images from the redline era, the box art on this set is amazing.

Box art – side (color)

Box art – side (red, black & white)

Based on the 1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo Concept car, here is Mattel’s 1970 released Carabo being launched out of the Super-Charger.


Maserati Mistral on the treadmill, Mercedes Benz 280 SL parked by the 2 hoists, Heavyweight Tow Truck on the launch ramp, Custom Continental Mark III on the elevator and the Custom Police Cruiser heading down to the track.


Custom AMX waiting for the elevator to come down and a blue Custom Nomad roaring past the Tune-Up Tower.

Box art – back

Close up of contents list.

Close up of 2-way Super-Charger.

Close up of Tune-Up Tower.

Box art – end.

So there you have it. An introduction for the 1970 Hot Wheels Hi-Performance Set.

Making Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue image of the Hi-Performance Set.

1970 Hot Wheels Road Trials Set: in action

Every car owner knows that regular maintenance and periodic repairs are an integral part of keeping your vehicle on the road. However, for kids, the mindset is more one of running your toy car into the ground and then getting a new one. But in 1970 Mattel took a different approach by letting the young enthusiast work on his car to keep it running “faster than ever”!

The Tune-Up Tower provided the back bone for Hot Wheels maintenance. The Road Trials Set planted the tower inside an oval track powered by a single-lane Rod Runner.

Box art – side.

That meant you could bring a slower running car in for an evaluation and adjustment, then send it out on the track for a “trial” run to see if it moved faster.

This time around I am working with 3 open wheel redline cars that Mattel released in 1969.

Indy Eagle on the left and 2 Lotus Turbines on the right.

All 3 of these machines ran in the 1968 Indy 500.

1968 Indy 500 starting grid.

Dan Gurney piloted the #48 Indy Eagle.

Dan Gurney in the #48 Indy Eagle. Courtesy

He drove a spectacular race and finished second behind race winner Bobby Unser.

Joe Leonard grabbed the pole position in his #60 Lotus Turbine.

Joe Leonard and the #60 Lotus Turbine. Courtesy

He was leading the race with only 9 laps to go when a fuel shaft broke and put him out of competition. He finished 12th for the day.

Every Hot Wheels Lotus Turbine car came with a #70 sticker sheet. The original #70 Lotus Turbine was driven by Graham Hill.

Gr.ham Hill and the #70 Lotus Turbine. Courtesy

Hill won the Indy 500 in 1966 but finished 19th during the ’68 race.

Here’s some pictures of the Road Trials Set in action and a YouTube video to bring it all to life.

Track layout.

Another view of the layout.

Open wheel Hot Wheels parked on the 2nd floor.

Two F1 Racers parked on the 1st floor.

Lotus turbine heading up the elevator.

Purple Lotus Turbine on the Dyno-Meter treadmill.

Indy Eagle on the hoist. Tune-Up Wrench at the ready.

Lotus turbine getting a full suspension work over.

Indy Eagle on the 3rd floor ramp. Getting ready for a track run.

F1 Racer running through the lane merger and onto the race course.

Heading into the Rod Runner.

Blasting out of the Rod Runner.

Racing past the Tune-Up Tower on a fast lap.

So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Road Trials Set with Tune-up Tower and Rod Runner. Making Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

1970 Hot Wheels Road Trials Set: Introduction

The 1970 Hot Wheels Road Trials Set appealed to the mechanic inside of every kid. Here was an opportunity to evaluate your car on a rolling treadmill. Use a custom tool to make wheel adjustments at the axle. And get your Hot Wheels vehicle running “faster than ever”.

Box art - front.

Box art – front.

The box art for this set is simply spectacular.

Box art - side.

Box art – side.

Five pictures tell you what this set can do.






There are 9 different cars on the front and side of the box. Interestingly, one of these cars was not even available in 1970. For an entire year, kids would have no way of running every car they saw on the box.

Let’s take a look at the 9 cars.

Continental Mark III. Released in 1970.

Continental Mark III. Released in 1970.

Mercedes-Benz 280SL. Released 1970.

Mercedes-Benz 280SL. Released in 1970.

Shelby Turbine. Released in 1969.

Shelby Turbine. Released in 1969.

Custom AMX. Released in 1970.

Custom AMX. Released in 1970.

Custom Charger. Released in 1970.

Custom Charger. Released in 1970.

yellow Custom AMX parked by a red Classic Nomad.

yellow Custom AMX parked by a red Classic Nomad. Both released in 1970.

Lotus Turbine. Released in 1969.

Lotus Turbine. Released in 1969.

The Demon. Released in 1970.

The Demon. Released in 1970.

And then the mystery car. Do you recognize it?


There’s no rear spoiler on it, but this is…

Olds 442

The Olds 442

It was released for only one year…1971.

from the 1981 Hot Wheels Collectors' Book. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

from the 1981 Hot Wheels Collectors’ Book. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

The catch is…if you look at the details for the Olds 442 you will see that this car was copyrighted in 1969.

1969 copyright on collectors' button.

1969 copyright on collectors’ button.

1969 copyright on Olds 442 base.

1969 copyright on Olds 442 base.

Typically, Mattel copyrights a car one year before it goes into production. That means the Olds 442 should have been sold during the 1970 model year. Certainly, the artist behind the box art for the 1970 Road Trials Set thought it would be there.

I’ve never heard an explanation for the 1 year delay in it’s store shelf appearance. That delay would be critical for the car. Because The Olds 442 was limited to one year of production, 1971, it ranks among the most desirable of Hot Wheels cars to collect.

Olds 442 racing by the Tune-Up Tower.

Olds 442 racing by the Tune-Up Tower.

You can check out my YouTube video that introduces this set here.

So there you have it. An introduction to the 1970 Hot Wheels Road Trials Set.

Making Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

Box art - side.

Box art – side.

Box art - back.

Box art – back.

Box art - end.

Box art – end.