#VW Hot Wheels have always been a hit with collectors. The original 16 in 1968 had the Custom Volkswagen, and in ’69 came the Beach Bomb. Those two were the Volkswagen castings to have for many years. That all changed in 1996 however, when the VW Bus was introduced. The VW Bus — commonly referred to as the #Volkswagen Drag Bus now — became the Hot Wheels casting to collect. After its one release in the 1996 mainline, it became a premium casting that was essentially used as a billboard advertisement for all kinds of companies. It was also one of several castings to usher in the era of ultra-premium Hot Wheels vehicles sold exclusively through HotWheelsCollectors.com.
Hot Wheels Designer, #Phil Riehlman Designed the #Volkswagen Drag Bus. It’s safe to say he cemented his place in any kind of Hot Wheels Hall of Fame the day that casting was released. Phil has achieved much success during his tenure at Mattel as a Hot Wheels designer — where he continues to design to this day. More than 25 years later, Phil is part of the #Hot Wheels iD team — a team that has successfully managed to merge the worlds of diecast cars and digital gaming (and soon: collecting).
Phil loves Volkswagens, Drag Cars, Jeeps and Off-Road Vehicles. If you check out just several of the vehicles #Phil Riehlman Designed, you’ll see that he loves merging his interests… EXHIBIT A: the #Volkswagen Drag Bus.
The #Hot Wheels iD line has presented new challenges for him as a designer. Of those challenges, perhaps the most difficult, is creating cars that look cool, but are also extremely functional from a Hot Wheels track perspective. I’m sure Phil would have loved to include the Volkswagen Drag Bus in the iD line, but that casting wasn’t made to work on anything outside of the drag strip (aka: gravity track).
Enter the new, #Hot Wheels iD #Volkswagen T1-GTR. This new “VW Bus” was literally designed around smart track performance — by Phil of course. It may be smaller in stature when compared to the #Volkswagen Drag Bus, and even the Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus, but the chopped roof and extra-wide fender flares certainly give the T1-GTR some attitude.
Just like all the other cars in the #Hot Wheels iD line, the #Volkswagen T1-GTR features graphics by Hot Wheels graphic designer, Ralph Benitez. Ralph made sure to include a nod to Phil in the “RRS: Riehlman Race Service” graphic on the sides, in addition to the #25 which marks Phil’s 25th anniversary with Hot Wheels that he had just last year. Also, the #Night Burnerz Series name can be found just under that, while “Volkswagen Racing” sits on top. The German flag plays a prominent role in this design — since #VW headquarters is in Wolfsburg, Germany — as it’s featured as the striping pattern that runs from front to back, and also across the sides.
This is the #First Edition of the #Volkswagen T1-GTR casting, and many collectors have not realized yet that there is an #Opening Feature on this casting. The entire top of this casting is removable. How cool is that? Just like the #Volkswagen Drag Bus, the T1-GTR opens up in its own way to reveal its mid-mounted engine and the support system to its perfectly balanced frame. In a conversation with Phil Riehlman, he mentioned the balance of the T1-GTR and its low center of gravity — thanks to the removable plastic top that is textured to look like carbon fiber — as the key components to getting this car to be approved for the Hot Wheels iD Smart Track.
Will the Hot Wheels #Volkswagen T1-GTR ever reach #Volkswagen Drag Bus status? Most likely not. However, as a new casting that certainly has some spirit from that original T1 casting released back in 1996; collectors have been instantly drawn to it as there is certainly some buzz about it from the collectors that have already managed to find it at Target stores in the United States — leaving none behind. I expected demand to curtail a little bit when these appear for sale on Amazon within the next few days (or even hours) from when this article goes live. With that said, collectors are going to like this one. This T1-GTR just came out looking amazing. So much so, that I can’t wait to get my hands on another to test it on the smart track and see if it performs as intended. Look for the Volkswagen T1-GTR now, and let us know what you think once you get your hands on one!