A couple months ago, I did a feature on my expansive Dodge Charger Collection. While grabbing a few details about the #Auto Affinity / #Blvd. Bruisers Series releases, I came across this pair of #’63 Chevy Impalas — erroneously marked as a “1964 Impala” on their cards. They reminded of a time in the early 2000s when Hot Wheels #Lowriders were popular, so much so, that they even had their own series at Target.
In today’s landscape of Hot Wheels collecting there are certainly some niches of Car Culture that have emerged over the last ten years, namely #JDM, #Gassers, #Off-Road Vehicles and “road course” #Race Cars. #Auto Affinity was essentially a precursor to #Car Culture as it encompassed several niches that were popular back in 2004: #Muscle Cars, #Lowriders, Rim/Wheel Culture and more. In today’s world of Hot Wheels collecting, its actually surprising that there isn’t much demand for awesome releases like these #’63 Chevy Impalas, as I was able to pick both up for relatively cheap.
The rims/wheels are some of the coolest you’ll find on a Hot Wheels car, but we will get to that in a moment. If you peek below, you’ll notice that these were limited to 20,000 pieces which is about twice the standard RLC piece these days. For a retail release, thats pretty limited as the 20K run is less than that of a 1996 or 1997 Treasure Hunt, which was 25K. Had the #Auto Affinity line been released in its entirety, these probably would have been released in higher, unspecified quantities like the ’47 Fleetside and #’69 Dodge Charger in the series.
Of the four vehicles in the 2004 #Blvd. Bruisers Series (’47 Fleetside, ’69 Charger, ’63 Impala & #Cadillac Escalade), the #’63 Impala was the only one to not be simply recolored. As a result, we have two different looks to this pair. One has a vibrant two-tone paint job, side graphics and oversized rims; while the other has a more classy, solid paint scheme with gold accents and #White Wall Tires.
The 2004 #Auto Affinity line was mainline meets 100% Hot Wheels as it was a premium line that featured castings from both ends of the Hot Wheels spectrum. There were even a few brand-new tools injected as well — like this #’63 Chevy Impala. Its easy to confuse it with the ’64 Chevy Impala which also came out in 2004, and to make matters more complicated, Hot Wheels packaged this one as a ’64 despite the base reading “’63 Chevy Impala”. The one major difference between the two castings is that the ’64 has a closed-off rear wheel well, whereas the ’63 is half-way opened.
Wheel culture was huge in the early 2000s and several Hot Wheels lines reflect that. This one wasn’t one of them, but that didn’t stop Hot Wheels from slapping some pretty nice shoes on this pair. The pink/purple #’63 Chevy Impala wears chrome #Real Riders Teardrop Bling Wheels which are seemingly perfect for this release. But just as I say that **glancing over at the maroon colorway**, you can’t help but notice how classy the #Real Riders BNG Wheels with #White Wall Tires looks. I’m not sure there has been a debut of a casting with two entirely different looks in the same series. Somebody nailed these two, and whoever that is, deserves a pat on the back.
Despite the stellar #First Edition releases of the Hot Wheels #’63 Impala, it never saw a premium line again as it received a modified (lifted) base for its 2006 mainline / Hi-Rakers series release, then was an Easter Eggsclusive (2009) and 3 Kings Day (2010) lowrider car, before ultimately seeing its last release in 2011 as part of the Chevy 5-Pack for that year. Such a sad ending to a casting that started as strong as it did.
Can you imagine if Hot Wheels did a #Lowriders series for #Car Culture? The #Auto Affinity / #Blvd. Bruisers Series #’63 Chevy Impala would be an awesome fit, especially if the release came out looking as good as either one of these. For now, these will sit on an island in my collection. Not sure where to include them, but thats okay, as I had to have this pair some 15 years after their initial release. They represent a time when cars like this would have flown off the shelves, but if we are being honest, I feel like they still would. Maybe one day we will see a segment of premium Lowriders from Hot Wheels, and if we do, the cars better look this good!