“The Over Chrome Jewels” Hot Wheels Redlines rarest of the rare.


Gold Over Chrome OHS Custom Mustang


When Hot Wheels were introduced just over 50 years ago in 1968, the immediate success was beyond what Mattel (the manufacturer) had expected. And unlike most toys, Hot Wheels are still being made decades later, and selling annually in record volume. Over 6 billion have been made since the first 16 different cars were released in their first year. (Ed: Yes, billion with a “B”.)


Back in the late 1960s, the most successful diecast car company was Matchbox, theirs were made in England, using dull paints. Boring gray, green, red, white, and other dull colors, none had much of a shine at all. One of the main differences with Hot Wheels was that they were electrostatically painted, just like a real car. Various translucent paints were applied over Zamak bodies. So, a Hot Wheels painted in Aqua looked very much like your neighbor’s real 1968 Camaro painted in Aqua.

Pale Gold Over Chrome OHS Custom Mustang


*The material Zamak is an alloy with a base metal of zinc and alloying elements of aluminum, magnesium, and copper; commonly used in “diecast” model, and toy production.
Aqua Over Chrome Custom Barracuda 


The “Over Chrome Jewels”


Mattel had a sophisticated advertising department, with incredible success in using TV to help sell its toys, and of course newspaper and other print media were a vital part of the Hot Wheels success. With the introduction of these new toy cars coming to the stores in May of 1968, Mattel knew it had to show them in the best light. With that in mind, the plant manager in Hong Kong was instructed to make the first batch of cars shine like ‘Christmas Ornaments.’


Hot Wheel Jewels Bruce Pascal

Aqua Over Chrome Custom Barracuda Base



And so they did, shining like no other toy car at the time; barrel plated and then painted, and their undersides looked like bright chrome. The plant manager told a fellow employee it took a long time to make these cars, and with orders of huge volumes of cars from companies like Kmart, mass production needed to be fast. So just that one special batch was made, no more. That one batch were the ‘Over Chrome Cars’ and I consider them to be the jewels of the hobby. They are exceedingly rare…. Around 30 are known to exist.


Hot Wheel Jewels Bruce Pascal

Antifreeze Over Chrome Silhouette



In 2001, I interviewed a former employee with Mattel who was a liaison engineer with the company. He always got the first batch of cars made, and was responsible for keeping them just in case a phone call came from Hong Kong needing advice from the factory floor. When he sold me his Hot Wheels cars, I was happy to see 6 of these sparkling jewels; I didn’t know their significance, but they sure did stand out. When I called him back to find out more, he said he didn’t know the exact reason they were made, but confirmed they must have been the first batch of cars, because that is what was always sent to him every year.


Blue Over Chrome Custom Camaro



Decades after introduction, so few of these unique pieces had been seen, that when one would appear, it caused collectors to wonder what was going on? These “Over Chrome” wonders were so beautiful, and no reason for their existence was known. But then around 2008, an estate collection of cars came up for sale on eBay. The collection being sold was from a Producer who had made TV commercials for Mattel. Among the pieces being sold were about 6 “Over Chrome” cars! With these now surfacing, others acquired information, and some more research, the connection of Mattel’s advertising and the cars was then established.

Hot Wheel Jewels Bruce Pascal

Aqua Over Chrome Custom T-Bird


A few other “Over Chrome” cars discovered and sold came from a former top executive at Mattel. Included in those was a one-of-a-kind strawberry red Mustang – probably the most valuable of the bunch known. If it was for sale today its price would exceed $40,000 easily.

Antifreeze Over Chrome Custom Camaro


Another short story of how 2 of these cars were found. In 1968 a young boy went to visit the factory, for a tour. When he arrived there, he was told that it was closed, no more tours. Crying, he begged for a Hot Wheels. The lady there ran back into the office, and handed him 2 cars, a Mustang and a Cougar. Both were “Over Chrome” cars! Sadly, by playing with them over the years, he beat them up bad. But even in poor condition, both were sold to a collector for over $3,000 each. Very few Hot Wheels in poor condition sell for that level of money, but the allure of these cars transcends logic.

These beauties also have rarer interior colors. An Aqua Barracuda with a purple interior sold for over $20,000. An Orange Cougar with a Brown interior sold for over $25,000.







Orange Over Chrome Custom Cougar



For further “detailed” information—the best source out there for early/proto/unique Hot Wheels Redlines and other items from that era, please visit:




Original article

Issue #5 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
By Bruce Pascal


14 thoughts on ““The Over Chrome Jewels” Hot Wheels Redlines rarest of the rare.

    1. I have a collection of cars that are dated 67 68 69 us and foriene patents pending and som from England how can I have them appraised I was told they were for commercials not sure but I was looking them up and now I’m intrigued

  1. I enjoyed the article. I received a note from a fellow eBay-er saying that he thought the reason for my highly reflective red Heavy Chevy listing was because it was an over-chrome. Indeed, the chipped paint reveals a chrome undercoating.

    Have you heard of Heavy Chevys being over-chromed?

    I ended the active listing with three bidders, a real eBay no-no, while I looked into this.

  2. I have, what I believe may be an over-chrome Light-my-Firebird in Olive. The base is amazing and the olive paint has a depth that I haven’t seen in other spoilers.

  3. I recently picked up what looks like an over chrome magenta Evil Weevil. Does anyone know how I can get it authenticated? The Magenta color is much lighter than your average Magenta. More like a super shiny Red Rose, but according to all the color charts there is no Rose Red Evil Weevils. In some places where the paint is chipped, there is chrome underneath, but in other chips while this was once played with it’s down past the chrome overlay and into bare metal.

  4. So which castings are over chrome? This article leads to believe the first ones made, but I understand there are over chrome Spoilers which came later?

  5. I do restorations on really badly beat up 68 to 73 hot wheels. I picked up a classic nomad in spectra dark blue a 1970 car. A lot of corrosion on the car. I tore the car down stripped the paint and cleaned the corrosion off. I found copper where the corrosion was.the more I cleaned the more copper I found. Obviously I have replate the car now. Looks like it was a copper Nickel and chrome plating. I have a guide that showed some cars as promotions as over chrome cars. But there was no listing to what years and what cars were done. I guess I have one in a 1970 nomad.

  6. From what I gather, someone on Facebook stated the only cars that were over-chrome were the following, this is all copied from a redline private group. Barracuda, Camaro, Cougar, Deora, Fleetside Mustang, Silhouette, TBird. There are no other known over-chrome cars. A handful of these were made in 1968 by Mattel for use in TV commercials and print advertising. They were never sold to the public. These commercial cars are almost always sold behind the scenes for an insane amount of money. They rarely come up for public sale. I think there are less than 30 of these, many in poor condition. They are the absolute Crown Jewels of the hobby. Every detail about them were created so Mattel could showcase to the world how they were going to revolutionize the toy car market. Redlines are so engraved in American pop culture that their value will continue to rise for decades. They made special wheels, unique just for these overchrome cars so they would “pop” on the early commercials. The first thing (besides the glow) you notice on these pieces. The painted details are crisp, the taillights pop in regular light and glow insane under black light. The chrome bases are blinding. Chrome never tones like normal redlines do. and their finish will stand the test of time. The spectraflame painted over chrome shows a depth to the finish that is like no other and is something remarkable to experience in hand.

    . ——- From what was told on the discussion, a Fleetside in average condition sold for around 10 thousand within the past few years

  7. Take Facebook for what it really is. Fact is there is no way of knowing how many of these cars were produced or witch ones. All that is fact is the execs at Mattel had the first bach cars from 68 to 70 for the commercials. If you look at it in a bach sense it should be every car on that batch got the plating. Meaning all 16 from 68 and all were hong long cars. The US exclusive cars may have gotten the treated in California. Who really knows.

  8. I did get a chance to see a few and fell in love with the an Aqua T-Bird. It caught my eye like no other Hot Wheel ever has and it’s not my fvorite casting. At least I was able to confirm that my Rose colored Magenta Evil Weevil isn’t an OC car, but the explanation given me was this. Sometimes Zamac bodies came out less flawed ans much shinier than their counterparts. At least if I recall the conversation it was along those lines. One thing I was taught to look for is the chrome plating inside the wheel wells and using a loupe look in the holes of the Hong Kong bases. After seeing them up close, I sometimes see people selling shiny Boss Hoss, King Kuda’s and Heavy Chevy’s as OC, but when you get a real look, there is no chrome on inside. I’m not an expert by any means but if I don’t see ay trace of chrome it’s a hard pass for me.

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