The Hot Wheels #Cat-A-Pult was first released as part of the 1998 First Editions and was definitely a pegwarmer until the casting was ultimately retired as part of the 2004 Final Run Series (shown below). See this little car just never caught on in the mainstream Hot Wheels crowd as many couldn’t see past what seemed like a little car with an ugly catapult windshield. What few collectors know is that this casting is actually based off of a real car.
Its evident by the play on words in the “Cat”-A-Pult name that Hot Wheels Designer, Mark Jones‘ inspiration for this casting came from the vintage Cheetah race car — a car designed to compete with Carroll Shelby’s Cobra as it was engineered and built in 1963 to 1966 by Bill Thomas who was Chevrolet’s performance tuner.
There have been a few nods to the Bill Thomas Cheetah in a couple of the Hot Wheels releases. The original 1998 First Edition had the #64 on it as a nod to the 1964 Cheetah and this #Final Run release has the face of a large cat, which I assume to be a Cheetah, hidden in the pin-stripping.
Speaking of the 2004 Final Run Series release we are talking about today, the Cat-A-Pult shown below did not stick around too long as Hot Wheels customizers grabbed these for their #Co-Mold Wheels. I was digging through a box of older cars a couple weeks ago and I had to have a dozen or so of these #Final Run Cat-A-Pults stored away in there, waiting for their wheels to be plucked. Hot Wheels eventually released this Cat-A-Pult with #3-Spoke Wheels after the supply of Co-Molds ran out, creating a wheel variation on this release.
Knowing the history of this car, it kind of stinks that we will never again see it released by Hot Wheels. Since it was a #Final Run vehicle, Mattel can not legally produce it as it was advertised/claimed on the packaging that it would never again be produced and that all tools were destroyed. While that is a major bummer, it would be nice to see Hot Wheels grab the license to the Bill Thomas 1964 Chevrolet Cheetah race car and produce that! Check it out in the video below.