This week I took on a project that totally kicked my ass, mentally and physically. My friend Bill started experiencing a grinding sound and wheel vibration on the right side of the car after having new wheels installed. Since he gave me his old used tires I went on a test drive with him after COSTCO did his tire install and quickly diagnosed it as a broken wheel bearing. Fast forward to Saturday Bill and I attempted to do the replacement of his 111k mile MX5 hubs to new Timken RX8 hubs from Rock Auto.
Bills hubs however took much longer and a ton more effort because of rust and the hubs were seized to the base they bolt in to. So over the course of the next four days I kept on spraying the hubs with PB Blaster repeatedly, used up a big bottle of that, not to mention a couple of more CRC degreaser I borrowed from my dad, and pounded the shit out of them using a rented slide hammer from Auto Zone.
On Monday the left side gave way. But the right side, the actual broken bearing would not budge for two more days. Bill researched a few suggestions on the forums. I tried them all and they all failed:
Using a stubby screwdriver to pound from the inside the wheelwell around the plastic ABS cover. Nope!
Pounding the plastic ABS cover, breaking it and hitting the bearing directly. Nope!
Going to Home Depot to buy longer bolts and banging them from the inside to push the hub out. Nope! The bolts sheared immediately and went right thru the hole like thru butter… Argh!
What finally worked was banging from the inside behid the wheel studs to push the thing ever so slightly. I used a chizel on one side because the metal brake duct was very much in the way. Plus more banging with the slide hammer of course. Eventually that worked millimeter by millimeter. A few times I hammered the hub back in place from the front just to move it back and forth, and after a total of maybe 12 or 14 hours of banging over 4 days it worked. Reassembly was very quick maybe half an hour. But after all that banging every bone in my body, every muscle, every cell hurt!
If you’re just getting into Hot Wheels collecting like me, you may get overwhelmed with all the variety out there, available at different price points… or frustration of not being able to find any of the cool stuff you see people brag about online. I’d like to share some resourses I’ve come across in my recent re-introduction to this hobby with the hope that this info actually helps someone. And I’m sure I’ll vent my frustration as well… although the simple solution to that problem is just to throw more money at it. If you really want a car someone will sell it to you for a crazy price $$$ on eBay. I have bought quite a few dozen such cars there already to help my collection start growing.
So, observation #1: it’s 2018 and while grocery shopping at my local supermarket I come across a Hot Wheels box dump where I pull out 3 GT3 spec race cars after a short time rummaging thru. Wow! I think to myself, that’s going to be quite a collection if there are tiny versions of all the different race cars out there from American IMSA racing series or Le Mans, Blancpain GT, Pirelli World Challenge, etc. But nope…. you should not worry about being overwhelmed because Hot Wheels produced at most 2 or 3 varieties of cars per year, and certainly not of every single model racing in the real world today. Lately I’ve noticed realistic GT3 spec machinery is increasing in popularity, good news for me, because that’s the type of HW I want to collect, but finding them is often difficult and requires a lot of trips to the store… which suddenly makes buying stuff off eBay more appealing and often a cheaper option than burning gas running around with no success.
Observation #2: Hot Wheels are released in cases of 72 car in Mainline or 10 packs for Car Culture premium models. Each case has some new additions and a ton of oldies from previous cases of the same production year or even previous years. Which is both cool (If you’re looking for something you missed in the past) and weird (If you don’t come across a new item because there was only one or two per case and another collector or kid buying a new toy beat you to the peg). Hunting for new releases is extremely frustrating especially when you compete against people that snatch all the good stuff when they come across it and then go and sell that stuff to people like me on eBay for profit. So key is to be quick and lucky.
Observation #3: and probably the most important one, is to use a web site like HW collectors newsletter to see what stuff is available each year, when it comes out and even who sells it when there are exclusives like Zamac or Red Line, Treasure Hunt and Super Treasure Hunts. Btw…. zamac are those unpainted Zink Alluminum looking cars that now come with a Zamac build # on the blue card. TH or treasure hunt models have a little Hot Wheels flame circle behind the car on the blue card also writing how exclusive that car is.
Since I don’t crack open any of the HotWheels cars that I buy I’m going to illustrate this post with anazing photos from HWCollectorsNews.com
The 2016 Mazda MX5 Miata was the unicorn in my collection even two years before I actually started collecting. Couldn’t find it anywhere I looked. I spent days scouring local supermarkets on a trip to California in 2016 and 2017… no luck. Same in Texas and in Florida. I even hit up a bunch of states from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas while driving to Daytona. No luck… so I ended up shelling over $5 for one on eBay. And it was well worth it.
Since then I’ve spent over $200 on Miatas alone, often clearing out the racks at my local supermarket whenever I come across a fresh display. I’ve got more than 50 of the white Mad Mike Miata from 2018 and at least a dozen of each of the others… and most of them I will probably give away to friends at future Miata events.
The other Mazda that I absolutely adore in my collection is the 2018 Car Culture premium model 787B Le Mans race car…
I’ve burned a ton of fuel going from store to store, week after week, trying to find one. Tempted to buy on eBay but not willing to shell out $10+ shipping for one. And finally came across a new case at a distant Target near NY/NJ border where they must have just gotten out out for Christmas. I bought all 4 on that display. And I’m sure it’s the best car in my collection, though I’m sure there will be more awesome HW stuff in the future.
The goal for my collection besides the Mazda’s is current and realistic / accurate GT3 race cars. And much like the amazing real variety at endurance events at Daytona, Sebribg, Bathurst, Spa-Francorchams, Le Mans or Nürburgring so too is the selection from HW:
The cars above represent what my collection is about. There are currently 45 total options available as I’ve learned from the amazingly detailed description of each model from HWCollectorsNews.com however I probably won’t collect every single model because it turns out only some are sold individually as part of carded models. The rest are multipack exclusives. And yet others are exclusively made for events and aren’t even available for sale. While yet others, like the Forza Motorsport Ford GT are way too ugly and too expensive for the price they are being sold for.
So price and availability are always a factor of what will go into my collection.
This brings me to Observation #4: Hot Wheels are typically only made in their Malaysian or Thai factories. I’ve bought some older First Editions models from 20 years ago that were made in China. I’ve seen stuff from Macau as well. But modern Mainline cars come from Malyasia while premium cars are made in Thailand.
Mainline Hot Wheels are Made in Malaysia & Car Culture premium models are Made in Thailand
So this is a pretty exotic hobby knowing each car came from Southeast Asia. And ironically the cars are typically sold cheaper in the US compared to what they actually go for in their home markets (regular price that is, not sale). That being said prices are all over the board nowadays for both Mainline and Car Culture. Wal-Mart is consistently cheapest with their 94 cent price tag for most main line. $1.27 for special carded mainline and $4.97 for the Car Culture models. While the same Car Culture premium sell for $7.99 at Target…. because they can. Even my local supermarkets sell mainline for different price weekly. Sometimes it’s $0.99, then $1.09, then $1.29, $1.49 and when they’re really greedy $1.99 especially Matchbox mainline seem to command the double price for some reason. I tend to buy stuff when I find what I like regardless what the price is, because chances are that when they go on sale the selection would be very limited. That said I think car culture cars are worth the premium especially the well detailed Race Car models like:
the Porsche 962 models with Real Riderz wheels. Though that Momo livery car that came as part of a Transporter series with a large HW truck costing $12.99 is ridiculously overpriced I think.
There was a cheaper $3.99 version of the Porsche 962 before I started my collection, but for the life of me I cannot find one for a reasonable price. Speaking of cheaper vintage Porsches we are lucky to get the Gulf Racing Porsche 917 LH in mainline, readily available and I made sure to stock up on them.
In 2019 Hot Wheels will have several new sets of their Premium Car Culture line: Gulf livery, Open Track, etc. Many more GT and GT3 offerings among them like another Audi R8 LMS and a brand new pair of Acura NSX GT3’s among them. Even main line will have more new Cadillac and Mercedes-AMG race cars. I’m looking forward to finding them and adding to my collection.
I’ll keep HWCollectorsNews.com as a reference guide to know before I go to the store to understand what I’m looking for. This was already helpful the other night when I found my very first Treasure Hunt of 2019 at ACME in beautiful spectra gold finish and Real Riderz wheels in Mainline cars.
Extending my invitation to all of you for end of 2019:
Mark your calendars!
The Miata turns 30 next year and you’re all invited to the celebration at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on October 11-13th.
Now that we have a firm date, we’re working on all the various details including adding special things to commemorate the 30th anniversary. We will also be sharing information via Facebook, Instagram and Miata.net as in previous years. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel to catch our latest videos. If you have any Miata friends who think they might be interested in attending, please have them sign up for the email list via the home page at our website as these emails are our primary channel for reaching out to you. In the meantime:
Lots of track time? Yes!
Parade laps? Yes!
All the top suppliers of cool Miata goodies and services all in one place? Yes!
Stay tuned for more…….
As always, the website remains the official source of information for the event, where you will also find the link to register when registration opens.
Event registration will open at 9am Pacific time on Saturday, June 15th.
We’ll also send out a reminder before registration opens to provide you with further information.
See you in October!
The Miatas at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Team
I think it’s time to pump the brakes on this hobby a little. Since I started to obsess over this idea a month ago I think I’m about $200 bux all in already, because I keep sweeping my local supermarkets of the models I want. And it’s a good time for a reality check.
The good news is that historically Hot Wheels do go on sale closer to the holiday season. They are a great stocking stuffer, and a good gift to give. But by that time the selection will dwindle in stores or there will just be random models I have little or no interes in.
Over the past month I have hoarded about 75 Miatas! There’s 5 different kinds. The two 2016 red Miatas I ordered on eBay at $5 each. Since I posted about trying to find a white Mad Mike MIATA I’ve added 40 of them to a shoebox I keep them in. I bought 16 of them today alone. Probably should take a breather on that one. I used to get so angry at assholes that snatched up all the red Miatas so that all i could do is pay five fold for it on ebay. Now I’m the asshole for doing the same thing in the 20 mile radius around my home, from all the supermarkets in sight. Not all were $1 either. I notice stores do a 29% to 49% markup from week to week. Only Wal-Mart is consistently charging 94 cents for both Hot Wheels and Matchbox which brings the total to roughly a dollar with tax. Im glad i also found a few more of the baby blue Eibach spring model, I had the least of that one.
I have been unsuccessful finding a Mazda 787B or Porsche 962 from the Real Riderz Car Culture Circuit Legends line. Visited several Walmarts twice this week alone, no luck just wasted fuel.
But I did pick up a bunch of the Euro Speed cars including another Audi R8 LMS, BMW M1 Procar, Mercedes Benz 190E and an Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA. Ordered them in one shot from Wal-Mart and they arrived in one day to the store. Wish ordering a Mazda 787B was that easy. I have a feeling there may be a recall on them since people that bought the preorder in September complained on Reddit of a deformed rear wing, which on a $6 dollar 1/64 scale premium model is kind if insulting. I’ll be on the lookout. Still. While the rest is on pause.
I did get a ton of cars I really wanted, like the blue Ford GT or the #33 Lamborghini Super Trofeo. I even got the full Fiat 500 line up, including a short card version from a local mom and pop store called Ton of Toys. Got my first 2019 Hot Wheels Mercedes Benz Unimog at Wal-Mart too. And a few Lamborghini Miura specials at Kmart whom now charges $1.09 for 2018 models and $1.29 for 2019 and 50th anniversary cars like the Ford Escort RS 1600.
And that’s what $200 bux in little toys looks like, money I’ll never see again 😉 but I have to say I do enjoy looking at them with admiration, a lot of the cars bring back fond memories from my racing days.
It’s not the first time I got scammed on eBay. Some five years ago I won a bid on a gorgeous Miata in torch red from a Miami seller only to find out it had three major/moderate damage accidents on it’s CARFAX report. Obviously I didn’t pay for/buy that car.
But more recently I did shell out $12 bux on a 1:18 torch red NC2 PRHT model that turned out to be a scam. Maybe the selling price should have been considered, other die-cast models from China sell for $95. But I figured the Bburago NC1 I wanted to buy forever was typically $9.99 before people figured they could get at least $40 for them on eBay. So yea, that red flag was missed. Didn’t see any negative reviews either. Until everyone started crying wolf and I realized I’ve been scammed too.
Anyway… here’s some pic of the car I thought I was buying, but now have to wait another month before I could file a money back guarantee claim;
Sure is pretty ain’t it?
Screw you to the Chinaman that scammed me… karma is a bitch.
This is pretty awesome news from the motorsport spies in Italy. Fiat really is developing a GT4 version of the Fiat 124 Spider.
SportsCar365 says so
And so does Daily Sports Car:
This was either just picked up from a translation of a French fan site of Italian machinery. Or reporting of further sightings of the car being tested.
I’m really happy to see this.
I’m a huge fan already of the Fiat Abarth Rally car that came out a while ago:
The GT4 which apparently will be seen racing in a single-make Italian series, would be an amazing addition to the American version of the Global MX-5 Cup as well as the Japanese Miata series and European MAX5 series.
I’m a fan of Donut Media on YouTube/Facebook and for those of you stumbling onto my little blog that haven’t heard about these videos yet, I think you should totally check them out!
The idea is simple and familiar to most “motorheads” as it was blatantly ripped off the British Top Gear show’s Celebrity in a sensibly priced car or whatever Jeremy Clarkson called that segment. But instead of some random real celebrities driving a POS KIA C apostrophe D, we get YouTube “celebrities” driving a Miata RF, and I enjoy watching that more.
They’re only a few episodes deep and since the project hasn’t been shut down by a seize and desist order from the BBC, I’m sure each future episode will only get better and better. The first few are bloody brilliant in all sorts of comical ways not least of which include a minivan having no issue of keeping up with a Miata on a racetrack, because let’s face it… it’s not really a race car lol
I wish the chubby bearded guy and his crew the best of luck with this project, not that they need my wishes as the channel has reached a million subscribers. But they are clearly doing an awesome job! Keep it up. I am especially looking forward to future episodes… hopefully nobody crashes the Miata (I would hate to see it replaced by another random donation from a manufacturer or a cheap rental to keep the show goin)
If you were ever in a market to rent a new Miata, there’s a brand spanking new RF at my local Enterprise in Paramus, NJ
To be perfectly honest I was quite surprised to find it on the lot while casually passing by…
Because on my recent travels to Hawaii, or Florida or even California last year I was amazed to find no Miatas at airport rental lots. Ford Mustangs, Chevy Camaros were the most common convertibles. And the duo was joined by the bulky Dodge Challenger in the hardtop coupe category. But no Miatas in busy touristy spots.
Having a new RF in NYC suburbia is a bit puzzling. Granted it is a more affluent area but even then the car is wearing a very pedestrian gray paint job that will blend in easy with the other beige cars on the roads. I would think RED would be an obvious more attractive choice for a highly rentable vehicle, but what do I know?
A few businesses down the road: Avis/Budget had a new Mazda CX5 too. I would love to take that one home for a day or two to see if I really want to buy one for my mom in the near future.
Good to see Mazda’s at my local car rental places!
Motorsport Marshal, Miata Driver, Hot Wheels Collector