What scale are Hot Wheels cars?

What scale are Hot Wheels cars, you ask? Unfortunately it varies a bit. They tend to be a bit less than 1:64. But scale isn’t Hot Wheels’ objective. Fitting in the package is. That means the size of Hot Wheels cars is between 2.5 and 3 inches, depending on what looks right for the prototype model. That’s when a prototype even exists. So it can take some homework to figure out the actual scale of any given model.

Or you can just not worry about it, assume they’re more or less 1:64, skip the next section, and get on with things.

Determining actual scale of Hot Wheels cars

scale of Hot Wheels cars
If you’re willing to do some math, you can figure out the actual scale of this or any other Hot Wheels car.

To do the math, find out the length of the real thing. Usually a Google search takes care of that. Then convert the length to millimeters. If you can’t find the length, get some other measurement from the real thing, like the width or the wheelbase.

Sometimes there is no real thing, so you have to approximate. Pick the real car that most closely resembles the Hot Wheels model in question.

Then measure the same thing on the Hot Wheels car. In millimeters, ideally, but convert if you have to. Then divide the measurement from the original by the measurement you took from the Hot Wheels car.

Here are some measurements I took from the Hot Wheels on my train layout:

Model Actual wheelbase (mm) Hot Wheels wheelbase (mm) Scale
1935 Duesenberg 3899 49 1:79.57143
1932 Ford Delivery 2845 43 1:66.16279
1940 Ford Woodie Wagon 2845 44 1:64.65909
1941 Willys Coupe 2642 38 1:69.52632

Let’s estimate a Ford Focus. We’ll assume the Hot Wheels version is 2.5 inches long, 63.5mm. The prototype is 4369mm long. If these assumptions are correct, it will work out to 1:68 scale.

With other makes of diecast cars it’s often possible to cheat, but if there’s something out there that lists the scale of particular Hot Wheels models, I haven’t found it yet.

Dioramas for Hot Wheels

I assume the main reason you want to know Hot Wheels scale is to make dioramas. Rather than duplicate a bunch of content, I recommend you check out my entry on Matchbox scale. The materials that work for Matchbox are perfect for Hot Wheels as well. Fortunately there are plenty of sources of good material, thanks in part to the hobbies of model railroading and holiday villages.

To rehash, I recommend 1:75 architectural figures. A bag of 100 figures costs around $5. They come painted and unpainted and you can paint them yourself fairly easily.  You can also use dollar-store holiday village figures.

For buildings, I recommend O/S-sized Plasticville buildings or Department 56 and Lemax buildings. For roads and sidewalks, you can use road pattern tape and HO scale sidewalks meant for model trains.

Further reading

I have some cheatsheets on model scales and model railroading scale that you might find useful.

You might also be interested in my blog post on customizing Hot Wheels. And of course, since I discussed Hot Wheels, I’ve also discussed Matchbox and old-school Tootsietoy scale. And speaking of old school, there’s Londontoy.

2 thoughts on “What scale are Hot Wheels cars?

  • August 27, 2018 at 11:38 am
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    I have a figures in scale 1:72, and there’s no chance that those could fit to hot wheel car as a “driver”. They are too big.

    • August 27, 2018 at 12:15 pm
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      Sometimes you have to step down a size for figures to put inside. I was able to fit 1:75 scale figures in most of my Hot Wheels cars but stepping down to 1:87 for driver figures isn’t unheard of. It happens with larger-scale diecasts too. Sometimes a 1:43 or 1:48 driver fits in a 1:43 vehicle and sometimes you have to step down to 1:64.

      One thing to remember about Hot Wheels interiors is they usually have almost zero leg room. The seat is usually pretty well proportioned to the rest of the car but there’s often just a wall of plastic behind the steering wheel, leaving nowhere for a driver’s legs to go. So for a seated figure to fit, you have to either open up the wall to give it some leg room, or just use the torso of a figure.

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