This is could be the earliest Hot Wheels Japanese car ever made. The Hot Wheels Datsun “Z-Whiz” 240Z of 1977 is certainly the first Japanese casting, but this is a pre-production prototype of that casting, making it one of the earliest Z-Whizes known to exist, and it’s currently on eBay with a BuyItNow price of $4,295. Yes, that is a dollar figure that is utterly ridiculous and exceeds some actual Zs, but there is probably some crazy collector out there that will shell out for it because it is an extremely rare piece.
Before the 1990s boom of special editions and short run rarities, the most sought after unicorns in the Hot Wheels universe were prototypes. Like the name says, these were test runs produced by the design team before being shipped off to the factory in Hong Kong (now in Malaysia) for mass production. As such, these are “zamac,” or unpainted metal and have no country of origin, number, or Mattel markings on the chassis.
This prototype also comes at the tail end of what originalists fondly call the Redline Era, denoted by the red circles on the wheels. Redline-wheeled cars are highly desired by collectors as well, and in fact mattel produced a tribute car to the Z-Whiz offered to Red Line Club members using the updated Datsun 240Z casting.
According to the seller, it came from the collection of Mark Keller, a former Mattel employee that worked on the He Man lineup. Is it worth nearly $4,300? Maybe to the ultimate Z fanatic. Surprisingly, it’s still not the most expensive Z toy ever made. That honor goes to the platinum Nissan Fairlady Z432 built for Tomica’s 40th anniversary by Ginza Tanaka worth $80,000. You can find the auction on eBay.
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