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Flying Customs: ’70 OLDSMOBILE 442

Hot Wheels collectors are always caught wondering, “what will be the next casting I collect?” or “what will be popular several years from now?”. Will that casting be something new? If history has taught us anything, chances are, its a casting that is collecting dust in some storage bin of ours, or possibly its something we initially passed up on the pegs in lieu of the almighty treasure hunts.

My bold prediction for the time being is that we will see a surge in the popularity of Hot Wheels #Off-Road Vehicles by the end of the year. Why? Not specific reasoning other than I am playing off of a hunch. But, hopefully after this article, you’ll come to love one of my favorite off-road cars: the #’70 Oldsmobile 442.

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Hot Wheels ’70 Oldsmobile 442 from the 2013 Flying Customs (side view)

Back in 2012, distribution of Hot Wheels to retail stores was horrendous. It caused many collectors to be frustrated in finding product, and most retail stores came visibly frustrated as well because their pegs sat empty — causing them to drop premium lines like the 2012 Hot Wheels Racing & 2013 Flying Customs. Why are these two important? Well, they play a large role in the history of the #’70 Oldsmobile 442 casting. The 2012 edition of the Hot Wheels Racing line closely resembled the #Car Culture model for a line, with several car-culture-centric themed series, predating Car Culture by four years.  Rumor has it that this off-road 4×4 version of the #442 was suppose to appear in that 2012 Hot Wheels Racing premium line, however, due to the last couple series of that line being cancelled, we never got to see what that would have looked like.

Fortunately, the #’70 Oldsmobile 442 casting was already developed and it ultimately made its #First Edition debut as part of the 2013 #Flying Customs, the very next year. It appeared in yellow wearing an ambiguous #442 racing livery, and many collectors laughed at the thought of an off-road #Muscle Car as this one reminded them of the other off-road 4×4 442 that Hot Wheels made — “ruining” the beloved Olds 442 W-30 casting (below, right).

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Hot Wheels ’70 Oldsmobile 442 from the 2013 Flying Customs (with Olds 442 Off-Road, head-to-head)

That certainly was not the case as the new #’70 Oldsmobile 442 was not an “off-roading donk”, but rather a rarely seen car from a time in the early ’70s when some of the most famous drivers of the time took on a Mexican race called the Baja 1000. According to a 2011 article on hotrod.com, drivers by the name of Ak Miller, Bill Stroppe, Parnelli Jones, Danny Ongias, Don Prudhomme, Jim Garner, Steve McQueen and Peter Brock, all modded their former race cars — whether they be American muscle, European air-cooled or Japanese compact — to compete in this off-road race, because their racing spirit extended past the race track.

In this video (fast-forward to the 1:10 mark), you can see the Off-Road 442 that was originally raced by Jim Garner, in action. Notice how this casting closely resembles it? Could it be that this casting was originally intended to appear in that Jim Garner “Grabber Olds” livery in that 2012 Hot Wheels Racing line — or even in 2011’s Vintage Racing? That would have been something!

At this point, I am not sure if I will ever have confirmation on if that was the case. Fortunately, the casting wasn’t scrapped altogether as we did get this one release of it. It almost seems like since the Jim Garner “Grabber Olds” didn’t work out (for whatever reason) the ambiguous deco this one wears is a consolation prize — albeit, a good one. If you notice, the colors are reversed as the car is yellow with light blue stripes versus the original grabber blue paint with yellow stripes the Garner one had. In addition to that, the racing stripes have the same pattern.

Despite the generic livery, the #Flying Customs #’70s Oldsmobile 442 came out looking rather nice, and had it been in more of a vintage racing kind of series — oppose to the Flying Customs — I think more collectors would have been turned onto it by now. Instead, these can be had rather cheap as many do not know the racing lineage of this one-off casting. But, now you do, so I am advising you not to sleep on this one. Rumor has it that an off-road series is coming to #Car Culture later this year. If this casting appears in that series wearing that Jim Garner “Grabber Olds” livery, there may be a mad dash to acquire its only other release: the 2013 Flying Customs one. Even if it doesn’t, picking up this release should be worth the price of admission, as its a stellar piece from the end of a discontinued line. Feels like we’ve heard that before, huh?

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RELEASE DETAILS: Yellow Enamel Body (metal). Clear Windows. Dark Gray Interior. Light-Blue-Chrome Construction Wheels. Unpainted Metal Base. Made in Thailand. Toy# X8176. Released in 2013 as part of the Flying Customs line.

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