In 1968, Elliot Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, devised a plan to compete with the popular Matchbox model car line from the British company Lesney Products.
As apposed to Matchbox’s more realistic themed cars, Mattel’s cars were designed to look like the popular hot-rods of the era. They featured vibrant “spectra-flame” paint and were able to achieve extremely high speeds thanks to low friction plastic. It was the birth of Hot Wheels, and by the end of the decade Hot Wheels was the hottest toy car brand in the US.
The early Hot Wheel’s cars were affectionately referred to as “Redlines” because of the distinctive red pinstripe found of their wheels, and today they are highly sought after by collectors. While Mattel phased out the redline wheel in 1977, the Hot Wheels brand continues to be popular among children.