Celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year is one of, if not the most popular Hot Wheels vehicle of all time. Picked as the #1 Hot Wheel of all-time in 2008 for Hot Wheels 40th Anniversary, the Volkswagen Drag Bus (or VW Bus) continues to be a collector favorite.
As the lore goes, Hot Wheels designer Phil Riehlman was asked to create a Hot Wheels vehicle that would serve as a “promotional billboard” which would mean it would have lots of real estate for graphics. Phil had initially came up with the “Coke Truck” (nicknamed for its Coca-Cola graphics in the original sketch) which would later become the Blown Delivery after a 2009 movement in HotWheelsCollectors.com’s Red Line Club. But I digress. After all, it was the VW Bus that got the nod to become this promotional billboard.
Released in the 1996 First Editions — IN THE MAINLINE, AT RETAIL — the VW Bus was quickly consumed by everyone and their mother. It was one of the heaviest castings Hot Wheels had ever made and was #Great for Gravity/Downhill Track. So good that at future Hot Wheels conventions they had to have special races specifically for the VW Bus. A nearly identical version of it was released in 1998 as part of Hot Wheels 30th Anniversary.
Several castings have been made as a direct result of the VW Bus’s success. We have seen the Volkswagen Drag Truck come into fruition in 2004 and we have also seen the VW Bus modified into a plastic-bodied, riveted-shut version for its 2012 Hot Wheels Light Speeders release and we’ve seen a “21-Window” Volkswagen T-1 Drag Bus released in 2010 as part of the Hot Wheels Garage as well. In 2009, it even received a light bar across the top so it could represent the Police, Fire, Military and Taxi paint schemes it was given for the 2009 Red Line Club Membership.
Over the last 20 years, the VW Bus has served as that aforementioned “promotional billboard”. Early on, it was the graphics of Van de Kamp’s, Penske, Blue Angels and General Mills that graced the sides of this casting. Once HotWheelsCollectors.com (HWC) came into existence circa 2001, the VW Bus transitioned into more of an internal billboard as it became a staple of #HWC and its Red Line Club, along with it being released at numerous conventions as an event exclusive.
So far we have not seen anything in terms of a 20th Anniversary of the Hot Wheels VW Bus release but rumor has it that one is in the works. It sounds like we will most likely see this as a HWC Exclusive. So keep your eyes peeled as this is one casting that never lasts long.