Collectible toy expert and Pawn Stars TV show star, Joel Magee, has stumbled upon a rare Hot Wheels model valued at US$100,000 ($150,000).
The ultra-rare 1968 Custom Camaro model was a prototype for the Hot Wheels brand’s debut set of 16 cars –also known as the ‘Sweet 16’ –and was never intended to see retail circulation.
A 1968 Custom Camaro model would have sold for only $0.59USD ($0.88) at the time.
What makes Magee’s find even more unusual is that, whilst all prototypes were painted enamel white to help locate defects in the castings, this example is stamped with ‘Mattel Inc. Hong Kong’.
This makes the 1968 Custom Camaro the only known Hong Kong-produced enamel white prototype ever made.
Mattel began production in Hong Kong when demand for Hot Wheels surpassed US production capacity. The dead giveaway for a model’s origin is that Hong Kong-produced models wore blue-tinted windshields, while the American-made windshields were clear.
Magee has various theories regarding how the Hong Kong-made model ended up in the USA and entered circulation.
These include travelling back to California as a prototype and being accidentally packaged alongside production models, or the idea a designer might have taken the prototype home for their children and not accounted for its absence.
With its considerable value, Magee believes the Hong Kong-made 1968 Custom Camaro prototype ranks in the top three most valuable Hot Wheels collectibles of all time.
"The Beach Bomb and the Olds 442," Magee says, "are the only other rare Hot Wheels on the level of the white enamel Hong Kong Camaro."
Photos sourced from Mr. Magee's personal Instagram.