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
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|
|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.
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.