Hooniverse Asks- What Was Your Favorite Car-Related Toy Growing Up?

Yesterday we reached back into our collective childhoods to determine who had the most rad bike. Since a lot of us refuse to grow up, and in honor of Toy Story 3 opening this Friday, today we’re going to kick it again back to our short-pants wearing days and try and figure out what your favorite car toys were.

I’m sure for many of us, the answer lies not just in memory, but probably in a box or maybe a window sill somewhere around the present-day house. A trip to my garage will discover not only several thousand car magazines, but a tiny parade of Hot Wheels and  Matchbox cars as well as a few Huskys including a Citroen Safari and Buick Electra police car.
The Hotwheels of course  plied the orange track that inevitably overgrew our living room, and also made such a satisfying sound when thwacked against an annoying sister’s leg. I come from an era before Hotwheels got all vertical, but I did have a “gas station” with two rubber wheels in it that could either  send a car shooting down the attached track, or launch it in an ICBM-like arc across the room.
I really loved my Hotwheels, but I also had Whizzers and Whizzer Racers. Whizzers were tops, and you could rev them up and then drop the spinning gyroscope into the back of the cartoonish-looking car which would immediately pop a wheelie and spin madly across the floor. Hilarity would inevitably ensue.
Another one of my favorites, but one whose name I can’t remember, was a car that had a solar cell on its roof, and came with a flashlight. I can’t remember if it steered, but you could shine the light on it and it would go. As I recall, the flashlight broke and into the closet it went.
So how about you? Did you have some cool car toys when you were a kid? Maybe one of those rip-cord racers, or one of those uber-cool crashmobiles from the ’60s? Or was it just a hoop and a stick that kept your attention in between white-washings of  the fence? Either way, which car toy from your youth (or that you’re currently playing with while reading this) is your favorite?
Image source: [sodahead.com]

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50 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What Was Your Favorite Car-Related Toy Growing Up?”

  1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I loved my Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, but my favorite SINGLE toy car was my Kenner SSP Lakester. Mine was orange.
    <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_4sCUMFVBe2M/S3hOQROA_eI/AAAAAAAAA4I/QVfTwnXcW7A/s400/eliminator.jpg"&gt;

  2. engineerd Avatar

    I had an avacado green Buick Century (?) station wagon matchbox car. I don't remember if it was Matchbox brand or Hot Wheels or one of the others. I loved that car and played with it incessantly in my Lego and Lincoln Log cities. I also had a Ford Sierra matchbox car.
    Yeah, I was a weird little dude.
    One of my top favorite toys was an ERTL semi-truck. It was brown with a bald eagle painted on the trailer. This was back when they were all steel (except the smoke stacks). That was a nice truck, and I wasn't allowed to play with it outside. I think it's still somewhere in my parent's garage.

  3. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Any Ertl tractor ever made. I'm still amazed I'm not a farmer.

  4. sam Avatar

    that hot wheels (or matchbox) 57 chevy. Black with flames and tilt hood, chrome engine and opening doors. Did this exists? Or my imagination. Had to be around 1985 or so.

    1. Alff Avatar

      It exists, still in production. My boy has one in yellow.

  5. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    <IMG SRC="htt://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/jcwcat.jpg" height="310">
    Actually, J.C. Whitney catalogs occupied most of my free time as a kid.

  6. scroggzilla Avatar

    A slot car set with a Porsche 906 Carrera 6 and a Ferrari Dino 206 SP.

    1. nofrillls Avatar

      Awesome! My own first slot car set was a Porsche 917 and one of the Ferraris it was usually pitted against in the early 70's (maybe a 512s). I would saw my own arm off to have those cars sitting on my desk today.

  7. BGW Avatar

    Aside from the wooden box full of Hot Wheels/Matchbox cars inherited from my brother, of course: I had a "car crusher" playset. It came with simple little molds you used to make aluminum foil car bodies and pens to decorate them. Then, when their time had come, the body came off and went into the crusher, which spit out a compact, multi-colored aluminum foil block. At age 7, it was pretty damned cool. At age 33, I realize that it set me off on a path of automotive deviancy.
    Needless to say, I wish I still had it.

  8. Slow Joe Crow Avatar
    Slow Joe Crow

    The toy cars that probably shaped me the most were Matchboxes, the Land Rover 109, the Lamborghini Miura and the Honda motorcycle and trailer. Of course Hot Wheels were great fun and so were those SSP rip cord cars, although I didn't have the ones built to crash with the break away parts. It says something that I still have most of my Matchbox, Hot Wheels and Corgi cars 35 years later, although my Tonka trucks were handed down to younger kids.

  9. dukeisduke Avatar

    Wow, I could make a list. Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Corgi, and Majorette cars. The Majorette cars were made in France, and usually came with some other goodies, like road signs, or tiny orange plastic cones.
    I also had a battery-powered Buddy L gas pump. Well-made (mostly of plastic), it had a magnetic nozzle with a plunger switch built in, that started the rotating numbers in the pump turning (along with a buzzing/dinging noise) once the nozzle was stuck to the metal of your Tonka/Buddy L/what-have-you vehicle. The price on the pump? Twenty-five cents a gallon. Way cool.
    I just looked on eBay, and the ones for sale there are nowhere near as well-made as the one I had. The ones on eBay are from the late '70s, and mine was a good ten years older than those.

    1. LTDScott Avatar

      Majorettes always had the best trailer hitches, with a little plastic piece that would go over the hook to keep the trailer on.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        Yeah, and unlike a lot of later Matchboxes, the hitch (like the rest of the underbody) was metal, so it wouldn't bend/break if the car/truck was picked up with the trailer hanging from it.

  10. LTDScott Avatar

    Once again, Hooniverse's Nibbles equivalent ate my post because I posted a photo in it.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi


      1. FreeMan Avatar

        Sounds like a snack cracker for car fans.

  11. dukeisduke Avatar

    Anybody else remember the Auto World catalogs from the '60s? It seems like they were headquartered in Michigan, run by a guy with the last name of Kovaleski. It was the model car/slot car equivalent of the J.C. Whitney catalog (and yes, I used to read those, too).

  12. superbadd75 Avatar

    I of course loved Hot Wheels cars, but one of the really cool, unique toys I remember having as a kid was Dan Van. It was a black van with multi colored stripes, and had voice activated movement. You’d say “Go Dan Van” and it would move forward, and there were also “Stop Dan Van”, “Left Dan Van”, and “Right Dan Van” commands. It was pretty cool, and totally fit its era to a “T”

    1. Alff Avatar

      I can almost picture my dad screaming from downstairs, "Come pick up your Dan Van!"

  13. P161911 Avatar

    I really need to find that book. I have Tad Burness' American Car Spotter's Guide 19something to 1980, but I have never seen the Import one.

  14. omg_grip Avatar

    The original Need For Speed. Sure there were a few cool car related toys and games before, and many after, but this is the one I remember the most. I still have the discs, I wish I could make the newer computers run it properly.

    1. dr zero Avatar

      My brother and I used to play Test Drive II:The Duel. Which probably explains why I still love F40s and 959s today.
      As for running old games today, you could try DOSBOX (I think that's right). There are also programs that will slow down your processor which can help older games run.

  15. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    Does a Green Machine count? 'Cause that thing was definitely the most bitchin' wheeled toy I had. If not, I'm going to have to go with my Evil Kneivel 1/32 scale Snake River car.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I had a Green Machine, too! That thing was bitchin' and all the kids with Big Wheels were jealous. Or they made fun of me for not have a Big Wheel and conforming.

  16. engineerd Avatar

    Yes! Oh, how I miss it.

  17. TurboBrick Avatar

    Just like everyone else here, I had a whole heap of Matchbox, Majorette and Corgi cars. My uncle made me a couple of wooden trucks that I decorated with appropriate stickers ("Mazda RX-7 rally team" and Saab 99 & Talbot Horizon ads, hah!). But the most favorite one must be my 1:43 scale '57 Ford Thunderbird that was made by Corgi in GT Britain. Fortunately, my parents have a big attic and they don't throw too many things away. So, I found it, cleaned it up, and my son plays with it now, which has made it even more special for me.

  18. Goingincirclez Avatar

    I can still hear the glorious cacophony that would erupt every time I pushed mine off the cliff from the top of the stairs. Such beautiful, indestructible racket. Hmm… maybe this is why I like industrial music. At any rate, once the wall at the bottom had more dents and damage than the truck, it was taken away.
    Heh, looking back to stunts like that, I'm amazed my parents let me live at all.

  19. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    My grandparents had a large-scale slot-car set that my grandpa bought as part of a promotion at the local Dodge dealer. Both of the cars were '68 Chargers. We played with that set for at least a decade.

  20. Jim Avatar

    I really enjoyed my metal-flake blue SSP and my Tonka fire truck that you could hook up to your hose and have it shoot water. But my favorite car-related toy wasn't really mine. My kindergarten teacher had this big crate, painted gray, with a steering wheel and column out of a '63 Ford stuck in it. I could sit at that "driving" all day happily.

  21. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Holy cow! That brings back memories! That was the only toy available to me at my late grandmother's house.

  22. Seth L Avatar
    Seth L

    That never works, anyway:
    A-Team van + exploding bridge + Dynamite Plunger = Happy childhood.

  23. CptSevere Avatar

    Man, you must really be reading my mail! Yet again you hit on one of my favorite things growing up. Yesterday it was the ill-advised practice of extending bicycle forks, today it's this. Yeah, I remember having one, and a few of my buddies did, too. They flat hauled ass. Until you stripped the teeth on the T-handle that got the flywheel going, then you had to borrow a handle from someone else. These were great, except for the plastic teeth on the handle. Thanks for reminding me of these things.

  24. CptSevere Avatar

    Yeah, I had one too. I must have hauled thousands of cubic yards of sandbox overburden with mine. At one point I had a loader, too.

  25. CptSevere Avatar

    I had Matchbox, Corgi, and Hotwheels cars as a kid, of course, and the normal Tonka toys, and a slot car setup in my grandparent's basement until they retired and moved to Florida. Normal stuff, and I loved the hell out of all of it. But, for about two months back in the late sixties, when I was in elementary school, my stepdad, who was a builder, parked what must have been about a '54 Ford stepside in the back yard after it had thrown a rod or something. I asked if I could play in it, and he said he didn't care, so I got to "drive" it (work the shift lever, turn the wheel about 1/4 turn and make engine noises), crawl around the engine compartment, pull the plug wires, look into the carburetor, unscrew and break the glass fuel filter bowl, play with the junk in the back, jump up and down on the cab roof, all kinds of fun stuff. My buddies were all jealous, but they got to play on it, too. I remember being heartbroken when Al finally had it dragged off to the junkyard, but it was fun while it lasted.

  26. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

    I had some Hot Wheels cars — I remember a Maserati Bora — and at one point I got some of my father's scale-model cars from the fifties, which unfortunately I did a lot of damage to. In general, though, when I was a kid, I had no interest in cars unless it was in a James Bond movie or was the Batmobile.

  27. ptschett Avatar

    -Legos, as long as I wanted a boxy car. (They were great for the series of '92 F-150 variations I did, or the XJ Cherokee… the Dodge Viper GTS coupe that followed, not so much.)
    -I had a thing for the Ford of Europe Matchboxes. The Mk. 2 Escort RS2000 was one my first ever Matchbox cars, and must have had decals once but now is just a plain white car. Also I loved the Supervan 2 and the Sierra XR4Ti. I always liked Matchbox better than Hot Wheels, the spindly Hot Wheels axle bothered me.
    -Ertls were probably the most common in my toy box, between the 1/16 and 1/64 tractors, the 1/64 implements, the 1/43 "Vintage Vehicles" and the odd 1/32 scale models (an IH S-series grain truck, an IH axial-flow combine and a pair of Steigers.)

  28. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    Are you sure this wasnt from the late 50's? Notice that it has the outlawed P N D L R shift sequence. That was outlawed some time around 61 or 2 as I recall.

  29. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    I haven't thought about SSP's in a loooong time. These were HUGE when I was in kindergarten (circa 1970). During recess while the girls were doing whatever the heck the girls did (who paid attention to girls at that age?) we were off to one side having SSP drag races.

  30. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    Those earlier models, with their "Turbo Diesel" badging, were arguably the best. I still have a couple around the house, believe it or not – all but one really ought to find new homes.

  31. dr zero Avatar

    I'm not really sure if it counts as a toy car or as a toy robot, but my favourite thing to play with growing up was Optimus Prime. The old, metal, easy to transform one, not the plasticy overly complex thing that came out a couple of years ago.

  32. ptschett Avatar

    In the late 80's I was in grade school and had subscriptions to Hot Rod and Four Wheeler, when both of those magazines were doing swimsuit issues. Hilarity ensued when I took one month's centerfold car and posted it on my wall… I just hung it up because I liked the car, even though there was this half-naked lady standing beside it for some reason.

  33. BPR Avatar

    Nice truck!
    What's that in the background behind the cab? It looks like your neighbor has a giant broccoli tree?

  34. nofrillls Avatar

    I soooo wanted one of these things when I was about 7. Didn't this thing also come with a funky trailer?

    1. P161911 Avatar

      It had an optional 5th wheel sort of trailer that could be programmed to dump, but that was about it. Best I remember the dump function on mine broke or caused the whole control computer to freeze up, not sure which now.

  35. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    That's the Deluxe Playmobile, made by a company called Deluxe Reading or Reading Deluxe. And that gets my vote too. Best dashboard toy ever. And it's definitely an early sixties item. I probably got mine Christmas '62, maybe '63. PNDLR shift quadrants still existed on some real cars then; I have owned a '63 Cadillac with it. The Playmobile is not a copy of a specific car but it is definitely overall an early 60's design. Looks to me mostly like a '63 Ford with some Mopar DNA mixed in.

  36. Game Videos Avatar

    Very good post. I’d like to use some of this information on my blog if you don’t mind, and I’ll provide a link back to your site.

  37. Simon Weri Avatar
    Simon Weri

    check out this commercial, there’s like thousands of matchbox cars in a desert


  38. Jim Liedtke Avatar

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  39. Sal Avatar

    My SSP was Red