The old Hot Wheels standard seemed to be to release “castings destined for premium lines” into the mainline. Its unclear if this was to stir up interest in them or what, but this was the case with popular premium castings like the Volkswagen Drag Bus, Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and the ’55 Chevy Panel — which were heavy metal/metal castings that had an #Opening Feature. In 2007, this seemed to change as #First Editions of “castings destined for premium lines” were released in premium lines like the Hot Wheels Ultra Hots and Classics lines.
Nobody (besides the folks who work at Hot Wheels) knows what the cost associated with producing a Hot Wheels vehicle is, but as you can see, there can’t be a huge profit margin on releasing a casting like the ’55 Chevy Panel at the mainline pricepoint of $1. Its metal/metal, has an opening feature AND had a diecast motorcycle that extends out from the payload!
Hot Wheels designer Phil Riehlman (designer of the ’55 Chevy Panel) told Hot Wheels collectors in 2006 that the ’55 Chevy Panel would be a limited release in the mainline as the cost associated with producing it was too great to keep it in the mainline as-is. However, it did come on both the 2006 and the 2007 Hot Wheels blister cards meaning it was in production long enough to experience a transition in blister cards. 10 years later, the 2006 First Edition of the ’55 Chevy Panel sells anywhere from $9 to $15.
The Hot Wheels ’55 Chevy Panel casting continues to be released to this day. Exclusively a premium casting, we have seen many cool releases of it in #HWC, #Pop Culture and other premium lines. The casting itself has also gone through a few changes. As part of the 2012 Light Speeders, it received a plastic body (much like the Volkswagen Drag Bus) and a sealed-shut rear door (losing its motorcycle). The loss of the motorcycle and sealed-shut door has unfortunately carried over to a few of its metal-bodied releases. The casting changes haven’t all been negative as the 2009 HWC Holiday Edition featured a removable diecast snowmobile in the payload (in place of the motorcycle).