One of the more interesting Hot Wheels releases of the mid-2000s was the #2006 First Editions #Nissan 350Z. At the time, #JDM wasn’t was it is today (in the hobby) and some Hot Wheels collectors even questioned the release of “another Z, but with wing and body kit”. It was the second of three #Nissan #Z castings to be released in the 2000s, but the only to not be of the stock variety. But that isn’t what makes this release interesting…
Ask any collectors who were grabbing these back in 2006 and they will most likely tell you it was the wheels. The Co-Mold 6-Spoke Wheels, or CM6, started appearing on mainline vehicles at the very end of 2005 once the AcceleRacers line was on its last leg. Only a handful of #2006 Hot Wheels mainline cars wore them — in addition to only one 2005 mainline car that I can remember. And of those handful of vehicles to wear them, I can’t recall a better suited vehicle than the #First Edition of the #Nissan 350Z.
The three colorways of the #2006 First Editions #Nissan 350Z each wore different colors of these CM6 wheels. First came the yellow colorway with gray CM6 wheels (which also had a FTE variant), then came the blue colorway with orange CM6 wheels, followed by the matte black colorway with red CM6 wheels. The wheels seemed like they were made for #Tuners and the bright colors on the last two colorways really made them pop on the pegs. Somewhere I have a small box of extras as these were super cool and it seemed like a good idea to buy extras for those who do wheel swap customs.
So while it was more-than-likely the wheels that attracted collectors, kids and tuner lovers to this release; it was the graphics that had some of those purchasers scratching their heads — or maybe it was just me. See, I owned a 1:1 2005 Mazda RX-8 at the time and recall that the 2005 Hot Wheels Hot Import Nights (HIN) D Force Mazda RX-8 (1:43 scale) had these same “ROTORA” graphics. They made sense. The 1:1 RX-8 had a rotary-engine and the graphics seem to represent that. So to see these graphics re-purposed on the RX-8’s competitor at the time — the #Z — seemed blasphemous. EDIT: It appears Rotora is an aftermarket designer & manufacturer of brakes.
One of the parts of this revised graphics scheme the RX-8 didn’t have was the “A. TAM” on the door. This #Nissan 350Z is one of many Hot Wheels #Cars featuring names of Mattel Employees and the “A. TAM” represents the casting’s designer, Alec Tam.
Its easy to say that the #Faster Than Ever (FTE) variant stands apart from the other three because those CM6 wheels look so natural on this casting. The FTE wheels weren’t implemented into this release for aesthetics though — just like the other vehicles to wear them. No, the FTE wheels serve one purpose: track speed. If you were a Hot Wheels racer at the time and loved the #Nissan 350Z, chances are, the FTE-wheeled variant is the #Z you sought out to get.
The metalflake blue and matte black colorways presented collectors additional opportunities to buy this #2006 First Editions release of the #Nissan 350Z in additional color schemes. Collectors (like me) who fell for the yellow colorway were eating these up, buying multiples to use for the aforementioned wheels swaps and sending those blister cards in for the mail-in mystery car promotions that ran throughout 2006.
The Hot Wheels #Nissan 350Z has endured a decent run from 2006 to 2015 but its unclear if we will see this casting again. It was last used in the Fast & Furious line and could be used in such a line again. While that was a really great looking licensed release, I’m not sure any of its decade-worth of releases top the variants from its initial #2006 First Editions run — “ROTORA” graphics and all.