Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hot Wheels Legend Stops By

My long time good friend Ira Gilford stopped by the shop today. He was kind enough to take me and JD to lunch. Ira was a Hot Wheels designer at Mattel after leaving GM in the late 60's early 70's , among other things, and he is best known from designing the Twin Mill. Here is a snip from
Twin Mill from 1969, one of the most recognizable Hot Wheels designs

As it turned out, the Hot Wheels brand was a staggering success. The series "re-wrote the book" for small die-cast car models from 1968 onwards, forcing the competition at Matchbox and elsewhere to completely rethink their concepts, and to scamper to try to recover lost ground. Harry Bentley Bradley did not think that would be the case and had quit Mattel to go back to the car industry. When the company asked him back, he recommended a good friend, Ira Gilford. Gilford, who had just left Chrysler, quickly accepted the job of designing the next Hot Wheels models. Some of Hot Wheels' greatest cars, such as the Twin Mill and Splittin' Image, came from Ira Gilford's drawing board.

The success of the 1968 line was solidified and consolidated with the 1969 releases, with which Hot Wheels effectively established itself as the hottest brand of small toy car models in the USA.

I worked with Ira over 10 years ago, he is one of the most genuine, life loving guy's I've ever known. I think it's one of the coolest things to have a good friend that designed toys that I played with as a kid and is a part of American pop culture history, even cooler that he's just a good old dude. He's now retired but managed to get a kick out of the 66.

Thanks for stopping by old friend, lunch is on me next week!


  1. Awesome!!! Hot wheels were my passion as a kid!
    I still have my collection and no there not all pretty in the original boxes ether,most are worn from heavy playing. Still have my Hot wheels club certificate and chrome 68 camaro you get when you join the club (from 1970).
    Great story Caleb.


  2. Super Cool!
    All the Hot wheels & Matchbox cars of that era were such a huge part of my life.