A Tale of Two Corvairs: The Jay Leno’s Garage ’66 CHEVROLET CORVAIR YENKO STINGER is the modern day successor to the Hot Wheels VAIRY 8.

This isn’t only a tale of two Hot Wheels Corvairs — but also a comparison of pre-2012 premium with the modern era. When Hot Wheels designer #Mark Jones designed the #Vairy 8 for the 2003 model year, he went all-out with a super-raked take on Chevrolet’s classic Corvair. In addition to that, he kept the engine in the rear, but went with a massive V-8 powerplant behind the front seats — hence the name, “VAIRy 8” — replacing the flat-6 engine that came standard under the rear hood. Even though some collectors thought it was unlicensed due to the name, the Vairy 8 is licensed by General Motors. It actually had a pretty decent cult following of Hot Wheels collectors 15 years ago that would often lobby for it to be included in Hot Wheels premium.

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All 4 variants of the Hot Wheels Vairy 8 from the 2010 Hot Wheels Garage (Wayne’s)

Those Hot Wheels collectors would eventually get their wish as the #Vairy 8 made it’s premium debut in the 2010 #Hot Wheels Garage line as part of former Hot Wheels graphic designer, Wayne Scott‘s segment: Wayne’s Garage. The release ended up having three colorways plus one additional colorway in the end of year set. All four are shown above. Those releases would ultimately be followed up with a 2011 garage release, and the last release of the casting: 2012 Boulevard.

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Hot Wheels Vairy 8 from the 2012 Boulevard line (white) with the 2011 HW Garage release (silver)

Boulevard in 2012 wasn’t the same level of premium as it is today as it fell under the semi-premium designation, retailing at roughly $3.50 versus full-premium of that era — to the likes of Vintage Racing and Dragstrip Demons — which sold in the $5 range. You can see the car does have a paint mask where the blue was sprayed on — which is nice — however, there was a lack of consistency on this release, plus there is no front or rear detail.

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Top view of the rear of the Hot Wheels Vairy 8 from the 2012 Boulevard line

The Hot Wheels #Vairy 8 is still ranks among my favorite Hot Wheels castings of all-time as I have amassed every release of it plus some cool variations. The all-metal casting has a premium feel to it, and details like the rear hood vents and rear window scoop speak to how well this casting was sculpted. Plus, said “raked-stance” gives this car a very mean look which definitely departs from your standard Corvair.

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Hot Wheels ’66 Chevrolet Corvair Yenko Stinger from the 2022 Car Culture / Jay Leno’s Garage series (with 2010 Wayne’s Garage: Vairy 8)

10 years later, we are met with a new Hot Wheels #Corvair casting designed by the same Hot Wheels designer in Mark Jones. Mark has really found his niche in Hot Wheels premium by way of designing some of the most popular castings of the last several years. His newest, the Hot Wheels #’66 Chevrolet Corvair Yenko Stinger is a modern take on a rare Corvair straight out of Jay Leno’s Garage. And since it was featured on the YouTube series, Jay Leno’s Garage, you can watch the episode where it was featured below!

One of the things that got lost on the Hot Wheels #Vairy 8 — because of it’s rake stance — is the front grille, or lack there of, because the front is angled down. It is one of the more unique characteristics of the Chevy Corvair from the late ’60s. If you watched the video above, Jay Leno mentions that while driving his other Corvair, some people have asked him if it’s a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. In addition to that, this Corvair’s dual round front headlights are backed by a separate piece that — when painted a dark color like dark blue on the Yenko — have a “raccoon-eye” effect. What I am getting at is: the Hot Wheels #’66 Chevrolet Corvair Yenko Stinger is a great representation of one of the more rare GM cars out there.

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Hot Wheels ’66 Chevrolet Corvair Yenko Stinger from the 2022 Car Culture / Jay Leno’s Garage series

Mark’s second take on a Hot Wheels Corvair also lends itself to modern car culture better with its lowered approach. Sure, it was how the Yenko Corvair was designed (transforming it into a race car), but it follows modern Hot Wheels design as the “Hot Wheels rake” is no longer a brand directive. Even the silver piece of trim added to these cars by Don Yenko to stiffen the body for racing made it onto the casting!

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Hot Wheels ’66 Chevrolet Corvair Yenko Stinger from the 2022 Car Culture / Jay Leno’s Garage series (head-to-head with 2010 Wayne’s Garage: Vairy 8)

As you can see, the Hot Wheels #’66 Chevrolet Corvair Yenko Stinger is a distant relative of the heavily-modified #Vairy 8, and is truly one of the more underrated Hot Wheels releases of the year. I’m not sure how many #Corvair fans exist in the Hot Wheels collecting world, but this recreation of the most rare edition of the 1:1 Corvair out there will surely be coveted if other collectors take to this unique casting. Plus, 10 years without a Hot Wheels Corvair is a long time so its great to see a new take on an old favorite. You can grab this one now as part of the #Car Culture / Jay Leno’s Garage series. If there is one release of this casting you must have, this will be it.

QUICK LINK! Find the Jay Leno’s Garage: ’66 Chevrolet Corvair Yenko Stinger on eBay!

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Hot Wheels ’66 Chevrolet Corvair Yenko Stinger from the 2022 Car Culture / Jay Leno’s Garage series (rear view)

6 replies »

  1. I’ve always loved Wayne Scott’s design (RIP), it allowed me to really like the Corvair. The Mark Jones edition, closer to real, reminds my I don’t like Corvairs.

    • LOL. I don’t love Corvairs either, but I really like these Hot Wheels castings.

      PS. Wayne only designed the graphics for the Garage release. Both castings were designed by Mark Jones.

  2. Most of Mark Jones’ designs lately are among my favorites. I remember the Corvair in my SCCA autocross racing days. it’s a very unique and interesting car! It definitely made my collection.

  3. I feel like a dee dee dee because after 20 years of collecting I didn’t know the Vairy 8 was even a Corvair. Duh!!!! My first impression was unlicensed/fantasy and I just simply don’t collect such castings. With all that said and even with the new knowledge, I’d still pass on the Vairy 8. I just can’t dig it myself. It’s not a bad casting by any means, just not for me.

    I did make it a point to search for the Leno issue though. After MULTIPLE visits to NUMEROUS Targets I found one by complete accident. About to give up and walk away something caught my eye mixed in with some mainlines on the pegs and there it was! Made my day (it doesn’t take much).

    I wouldn’t normally do this casting at all but when HW gives us a rare American muscle piece like this you just gotta buy in. You may never see another one again. You just don’t know!

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