A couple of weeks ago we wondered what “JDM” car Barbie would drive if she wasn’t in a Corvette. Turns out this chick has more cars than Jay Leno. We learned more than we ever wanted to know about her car collection, which includes a ton of weird made-up vehicles but also some that are actually cool. As a dad who doesn’t want to give his daughter unrealistic car toys, it was a deep rabbit hole to fall into.
Probably the most complete resource for Barbie vehicles is a post documenting every single one up to 2019 on Barbie List Holland. The very first Barbie car appeared in 1962 and was an unlicensed Austin Healey 3000. That was soon followed by a Mercedes 190SL. A lot of the early cars looked pretty goofy. The iconic Corvette, a C3, didn’t appear until 1976.
In the 80s they started to get ultra-realistic with surprisingly accurate versions of the C4 Corvette, VW Cabrio, and Ferrari 328. The coolest of them was probably the Porsche 964, whose particular shade of pink was damn close to Sternrubin and whose sticker package would make a Radwood attendee’s head explode. It would be fun to put a Rauh Welt Begriff widebody kit on one of these for my daughter.
Where were we? Oh yeah, the “JDM” Barbie cars. In 1991 the Rockin’ Rhythms SUV hit the market. Though described as a Jeep, the 4×4 is a first-generation Suzuki Sidekick/Escudo/Geo Tracker. What’s particularly cool about this toy is that it doubles as a functioning cassette tape player and recorder. There aren’t many toys of this Suzuki, period, so having a large-scale one with a working sound system gimmick is pretty neat.
Next up is an Lexus RX300 packaged as “Barbie Pet Doctor on the Go”. It’s a mobile veterinarian’s vehicle equipped with a fold out pet bed and associated medical equipment in the trunk. The C-pillar and rooftop spoiler are unmistakably RX300, as is the two-tone color scheme. This one appears to have ahead-of-its-time mods, having been lowered on Advan SA3R wheels.
No car collection would be complete without a Miata, and Barbie does not disappoint. The Paint ‘N Dazzle Car came out in 1993, when the Mazda MX-5 was the hotter than the sun’s surface. The gimmick of the toy was that you could decorate the car any way you like thanks to a transparent plastic cover.
Speaking of Miatas, there was an even more realistic one made for Barbie’s less popular rival, Sindy. Sindy was Britain’s answer to Barbie, and as a result most of her Miatas appear to have been sold in Europe. The graphics on the car can be “wiped off’ with cold water and made to reappear by applying hot water, just like a color changer Hot Wheels. The details on this one are really nice, though the wheels have eight spokes instead of the factory seven.
Of course, we all know that Barbie’s best car was the red Nissan 300ZX that let her ditch Ken and take off with GI Joe instead. It wasn’t a toy that you could actually buy, but the Nissan spot was probably one of the greatest car commercials of all time. There was even a sequel to this ad, in which she is once again rescued from a life of boredom with Ken, this time in a Pathfinder.
So while Barbie doesn’t have a ton of Nihon steel, there’s still a few good ones to choose from. And really, how many giant plastic cars does a kid need, anyway. Nevertheless, we’d love to see some other options for ol’ Barbs. Perhaps a nature preserve Barbie with an FJ40 or a rally Barbie with a Subaru 22B. Better yet, how about a bosozoku Barbie with a custom convertible Nissan Cedric complete with deppa chinspo and takeyari exhaust pipes?