Hot Wheels Has Never Made A Brubaker Box Toy Car. It’s Time To Fix That.

Brubakerpack Top

You know that urban legend/internet meme/collective false memory about a 1990s genie movie starring Sinbad that never existed, but people seem to remember it anyway? That’s sort of the situation we have going on here. If some agitated stranger ran up to you, soaking wet, seized you by the forearm, and demanded to know if there was ever a Hot Wheels toy of the legendary Brubaker Box, you’d probably say “yes, of course, now please unhand me, my damp friend.” Because it sure seems like there was a Hot Wheels Brubaker Box, right? It’s so easy to picture it. It has to have happened, right? Well, no. Somehow, it hasn’t. This is a grave oversight, and one that must be corrected. Immediately.

Just in case you somehow forgot about Brubaker Boxes (maybe you took a 2×4 to the head or accidentally mixed pills into your M&M satchel, I don’t know what you crazy people do) I’ve written about them multiple times at The Old Site. At its simplest, the Brubaker Box is a 1970s-era Volkswagen-based kit car. The Brubaker Box was one of the first to have a sort of sporty, low one-box van approach to a kit car, creating something that felt futuristic, strange, yet also undeniably practical and desirable.

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These have been one of my favorite of the VW kit cars since, well, ever. It’s such a clever re-packaging of the old Beetle chassis and mechanicals, and feels very different than VW’s own Type 2 Microbus. Only about 28 Boxes were every actually made, but for something with such low production numbers, it’s been remarkably visible in automotive culture.

I helped our Autopian partner Beau Boeckmann research the Box for an episode of his old show on Discovery:

Also, I even did a little video of my own a while back about some amazing Brubaker Box promo materials sent to me by Curtis Brubaker himself:

So, you get it, right? It’s odd and cool and if any car seems to embody the ideal Hot Wheels design, I think the Brubaker Box absolutely does. It already feels like a giant Hot Wheels car, so why hasn’t Hot Wheels made one, already?

I am by no means the only one asking this. Currently, the loudest and most persuasive voice is that of Randy Carlson, the Carchaeologist, one of the world’s most respected vintage Volkswagen experts, among other things, and a car restorer and historian. Randy is a great guy, and also appreciates the Brubaker Box, to the point where he has found one and is currently in the process of restoring.

Randy makes his plea for a Hot Wheels Brubaker Box with real passion, and you can see it right here:

If you understand the gravity and importance of the need for a Hot Wheels Brubaker Box, I suggest you sign this petition, right away. Now! Pull over, beach the boat, stop extracting that bicuspid, let the fire burn out on its own, whatever you have to do: just sign it!

I reached out to Curtis Brubaker about the push to get his Box immortalized as a Hot Wheels, and this was his response:

No, hadn’t heard––– that’d be cool, huh?   

I was slightly ahead of gen-Hot Wheels but often run into younger guys who tell me they grew up w/BOX posters on their bedroom walls––– some of whom even became great car designers including a pair from bedrooms in Scotland, Ian & Moray Callum–––  (which reminds me I’m supposed to find out if Moray wants to buy Tomo’s BOX in the Mattel blister pack.
We did have an early link to Hot Wheels though…  one of our first jobs after setting up shop in WLA was re-animating cartoon cars––– me, Harry & Todd applying our newly-learned Art Center car sketch skills by adding design, highlights, speed f/x and branding to hand-drawn cells from Ken Snyder Enterprises to produce a new kind of Saturday morning cartoon show called “Hot Wheels” …where it all began.  
Wait wait wait – there was a Hot Wheels cartoon? Holy crap, there was, from 1969 to 1971:

Amazing.
Anway, Mattel, if you’re reading this, look, it’s time already. Whatever point you wanted to make by not making a Brubaker Box, consider the point made. You’re done. Now it’s time to just go ahead and do what everyone already assumes you already had to have done: make a Brubaker Box Hot Wheels car.
Boxpack2
It’s time, and it’s the right thing to do.
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37 Responses

  1. I can only assume The Autopian is tracking my thoughts because just earlier today I saw the Brubaker in an article and thought “oh yeah I’ve seen a Hot Wheels of that”. I’m pretty sure I was in fact thinking of the Dodge Deora.

    1. It definitely seems like the sort of thing Hot Wheels would have done (even if as a generic nod), but the mid to late 70’s (when the Box was in kit production) wasn’t exactly a high point in HW’s history, and it was mostly generic stuff (both figuratively and literally).

  2. Sure, I’d buy a HotWheels of it in a heartbeat. They’re only $1.

    But never mind that, I’m just sitting here trying to figure out how someone could feasibly resurrect the production and sale of Brubaker Boxes today. A modern reimagining would be something to see, but I would settle for a reproduction kit that could fit to an old Beetle, same as the old one.

    A quick Google search reveals someone ran a crowdfunded campaign a few years ago, but it looks like they only raised about $30k.

    But I’d build/drive one.

    1. One supply chains start stabilizing again, I bet Leaf drivetrains and chassis will be a heck of a lot easier to source than old Beetles. A crazy little fiberglass box seems like the perfect topper for a worn-out electric that otherwise would only have 50-60 miles left in it; lighter and enough range to take it around town and to your local cars-and-coffee-style-thing.

  3. At first I thought, “OK, but only if they do a Boonie Bug too.” But then it occurred to me: if you stick half a Sun Maid Raisins box over the top of pretty much any other Hot Wheels, you’ve got a Boonie Bug already.

  4. Yes, there was a Hot Wheels cartoon. I’m a huge animation fan and I’ve seen loads of animated shows. Thundar the Barbarian? Blackstar? Silverhawks? Fantastic Voyage? I remember watching the Hot Wheels show, but I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. It was that dull.

  5. Please PLEASE kill the spambots. I come here for the comments as much as the articles (I know next to nothing about cars, not really, but I love this site) and the spambots are like dropping boulders on a Pontiac- crushing the vibe.

    1. Your use of the word sp***ot caused them to spawn. Now I’m having great trouble resisting the urge to tell you about how I’ve made $540,000 working online this year, which, would you believe, I haven’t.

  6. According to Wikipedia:
    “The show took pains to stress that it was “pro-safety”, contrasting the safe and responsible behavior of the series’ racing-club protagonists with the reckless behavior of their rivals.”
    Which goes a long way towards explaining why that video, presumably the opening sequence of the show which seems to be rather less than accurate in depicting cars, shows a racer seeming to shift aggressively into first gear and then assertively pumping the brake pedal of what in fact appears to be an automatic car. Geez.

  7. The Brubaker Box looks like the sort thing people would drive in 70s Sci Fi movies.
    IIRC it had gullwing doors and has been at the edge of consciousness since I saw it Road & Track in elementary school

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  8. Damm, that silly Hot Wheels intro song hits me right in the deepest part of my brain where my 4th grade proto-motor head feels live. Crappy animation be damned, Hot Wheels on the Saturday morning cartoon line-up was uber cool back then.

    I’m all for the Brubaker box edition to hit the shelves, HOWEVER, if Mattel wants to make a bazillion dollars, they need to figure out how to bring back Spectraflame paint without the lead content.

    Spectraflame is what made the old Redlines sell and largely why the party was over in 1972 when they had to switch to boring non-lead enamel colors to keep us from not being capable of passing Algebra II.

    If they could duplicate what they did between 1967-71, a crap load of 60 somethings would be hanging out at the Target store waiting for shipments and buying them all out in minutes..

    Note: The lead in the Spectraflame paint probably cost me a few I.Q. points considering how much I played with my Hot Wheels. Totally worth it.

  9. I figured that since the Box was used as the Rover in Ark II that, even if not a Hot Wheel, there would be some form of Brubaker Box toy car, but no, I can’t find one. Am I the only one who watched Ark II?!?

    1. I have it on DVD, kind sir or ma’am. It is unfortunately not Masterpiece Theater. Where I get confused is that I, too, have no memory of this cartoon. How is that possible. I’m a child of the late 60s and I therefore consumed Saturday morning cartoons as if they were the essence of life itself.

    2. Hey, I watched it, too! This was my Saturday morning destination back in 1976. The Rover, the Ark itself, the jet pack – and Jean Marie Hon. Once the show was over, I was out of the house for the rest of the day.

  10. Where to begin?
    Holy crap, I can’t believe:
    a) there is no Brubaker Box Hot Wheels toy
    b) there were only 28 BBs made
    c) there was a Hot Wheels cartoon
    d) Jason didn’t mention where the tailights were sourced for the kit

    1. e) That I have a friend that stored one for another friend (right here in NC, Torch!) Don’t know where it is now, as first friend sold his house and moved onto a 40′ boat, obviously no room to keep storing the Bru box.

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