You might or might not have seen it before. But there’s an extremely rare and important spectraflame green Hot Wheels 510 Bluebird Wagon that has been lurking around and in recent months surfaced to the market in pockets around the world. Majority of collectors, not knowing what it really is turned skeptical about its origins and often question its existence.
Just like any collector would have done, the first initiative is to look up on the web only to find out that there isn’t much information. Majority of the sellers that has attempt to profit from the car doesn’t even have the slightest clue what they were selling. There are rumors stating it was a prototype because of its 2012 base (think about it as pre-STH), while other say it was only awarded to important members of Mattel executives. But isn’t quite right.
Who is Jun Imai?
If you don’t know him, you might have heard about or came across his name somewhere over the rainbow. So who is Jun Imai? Jun Imai was former Head of Product Design at Hot Wheels from 2004 to 2018. Although his designs include classic American muscle cars, he was world renowned to be the first designer to introduce Japanese cars into the Hot Wheels collection we know of today. He has made replicas of his own 1:1 vehicles, most notably the ’71 Datsun Bluebird 510 Wagon and the Nissan Fairlady Z.
What is it?
Encased in a unique Convention style card and discreetly represented visually as a mainline, the card is made out of the same higher grade double laminated paper equally found across Car Culture series. It has a distinct wave die-cut at the top edge that constitutes it isn’t something ready-made for the mass retail market, despite inheriting a rear bar code which could be found at the back (last image below this post).
Sandwich in between the blister and card is the very same Hot Wheels Datsun 510 Bluebird Wagon you can by off the mainline pegs. But what makes it significantly so different and unique is the highly distinguishable spectraflame green, finished with matte copper and gloss black real riders, featuring the iconic tampo circle number zero as found on classic racers, JNC Japan Nostalgic Car logo at the side which is a publication about vintage Japanese automobiles, JCCS logo representing the Japan Classic Car Show, whereby in 2012 Jun Imai participated to showcase his personal 510 wagon, Jun Imai’s initials, Hot Wheels logo on fenders and Speedhunters logo on hood and rear fender.
It’s inevitable that green would be the key colour chosen over others, because Imai’s very own Datsun has transpired to this iconic casting was originally green. Although not similar and somewhat far-fetched to his very own car, since Boulevard series released, the essence of Imai’s characteristics is ever so prevalent in this creation.
Why is it so important?
Imai resigned from Hot Wheels May this year in 2018, after 14 years of service to pursue “other” interest (there is a rumor he is headed for M2 earlier but he is now at Roborace). Upon his resignation, the management prepared a tribute gift during the internal farewell party, most notably this very green Datsun 510 Wagon which were distributed to faithful attendees. Only a handful of them were made but a couple more as usual were siphoned from the factory, and were later found on eBay, regional website Carousell, and also local websites such as Shopee.
The runners who smuggled the cards were offering resellers and grey retailers to purchase between RM280 to RM350 ($66 to $83 USD) early in May, but without having the slightest clue of what it was. Grey dealers in particular were reluctant to buy them off and pay such a hefty price for the stock, many were later left behind and sold to private collectors at a higher premium ranging between RM500 to RM700 ($120 to $168 USD). Of course, gone were the days of such prices and now we are inevitably seeing staggering asking prices, one fellow in Singapore even tried to sell it at S$850 (RM2,588 or $620 USD)!
The cards are not numbered, so we couldn’t estimate how many of these were made in existence. You can either buy one carded or loose, loose prices tend to be 30-50% cheaper than the carded price. If you’re a keen collector who is focusing on building a top-notch JDM collection, this is a highly prized item due to its historical value and significance. We will surely miss Jun Imai and his creations, but the Datsun 510 series will always remain as a nostalgic representation towards the revolutionary changes he has brought upon Hot Wheels and the entire global community.