My Little Cars

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by miniature models of things. I've also always been "into" cars. When I was five years old, Hot Wheels™ hit the market, and I thought they were some of the coolest things ever.

As I grew up and went through a number of moves and a marriage, only one HW remained from my childhood— a chrome King Kuda club car my dad bought for me in 1970. Decades passed, and every so often, when I'd pack to move or do serious housecleaning, I'd run across this Hot Wheels™ car that remarkably stayed in pretty good shape.

Through the '80s and '90s, Autoweek magazine mentioned Hot Wheels™ clubs a couple of times, but I had no idea how to look for one. They didn't advertise in the Yellow Pages or the local paper. So I lived without, busy doing other things.

Then in 1993 my friend Ned got a shiny new Internet, and spent the next year trying to get me to buy one, too. I finally relented and became Online, since it seemed trendy.

One winter night in '95, I again ran across my little chrome Hot Wheels™ car. I vaguely remembered that there had been another chrome club car, a Mustang called the Boss Hoss. It occurred to me that I could enter "Hot Wheels" into my computer, and see what the Internet said. The toy giant Mattel™ didn't have much of an internet presence at the time, and there was no Google, but as I surfed from a primordial search engine, I suddenly found a picture of that ol' Boss Hoss right there on some guy's homepage! I e-mailed him to ask, "Where can I get a Boss Hoss?" and he pointed me to the usenet group and a strange little website called eBay.

Turns out I was in on the beginning of a big collector craze. There were tons of nostalgic 30-somethings like myself who had just got a shiny new Internet and gone hunting for relics of bygone days. Suffering from sticker shock as I studied the Hot Wheels™ market, I swore I would never pay more than 30 dollars for an old Hot Wheels™ car. At the time, that was a lot.

Over the next fifteen years, I amassed about five thousand little toy cars in frenzied bouts of accumulation. That's not much— serious Hot Wheels™ collectors have ten, twenty thousand. But it slowly occurred to me that any sane person would think that 5000 was more than enough. I had bought lots of cars but I wasn't enjoying them. Most were boxed up in the garage. To prove it wasn't an addiction, I cut back. (Now I get about ten a year, which is less than 3 percent of my former habit.)

A friend of mine once said that what he liked about my little cars was that it seemed each one had some kind of story behind it. In order to begin enjoying them again, I started creating these pages as a self-serving way for me to tell the stories of some of my favorites.

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