When I was little there was only one good way to take apart your Hot Wheels cars – throwing them against the wall. Or often in my case, smashing them between bricks. Either method is quite efficient, but with my whole Hot Wheels racing kick in full gear, I needed a more “mature” way to get my cars apart.
I guess there is a fine line between “customizing” and “modifying,” if there is a line at all. I consider customizing more of a cosmetic change, whereas modifying I consider more behaviour changing. In the case of racing Hot Wheels, it’s more about modifying in an attempt to get a fast car (although customizing is where I’m heading next). With my track pretty much done and being used for regular heats, I’m having fun finding out which cars are fastest and then trying to figure out why. A lot of it is probably simple physics, but at the scale of Hot Wheels, little changes make big differences.
Thankfully one of my friends that has joined me on the Hot Wheels kick has a knack for modifying things. He also has a Dremel tool that is ideal for taking apart the cars cleanly and without all the mess of smashing. The trick, of course, is to be able to put your cars back together once you’re done.
After a few trials, getting a stock car apart isn’t too bad. Using the Dremel and a cutting bit, you can grind down the rivets that hold the car together so they are even and smooth. All you need to do is grind straight down on the rivet in small little circles until the rivet head is gone, leaving only the shaft. Once you have this done, the car body usually pops right off, giving you access to all the interior parts and wheels.
In this case, I had a stock car that I thought would make a good racer. It had nice big wheels that spun well and the wheel base was pretty wide. But the back wheels rubbed in the inside of the wheel well, which slowed the car down and cut into the back tires – this needed fixed. So again with the Dremel and the same cutter bit, I ground inside the wheel well until the tires didn’t rub. This sounds simple enough but it was very tedious because I just didn’t want to grind the fenders off, so I had to reassemble the car after every few strokes to check the clearence.
With the car apart, you can also play with the interior and windows. Obviously these parts add weight to your car, which may not be desired, but they might also effect how your car races. I haven’t really proven anything in this arena, but it sounds good. Windows in and the air goes around your car. Windows out and the air goes through it…stuff like that. It’s not very scientific, but it’s fun to think about all the same.
Another nice part about using the Dremel to cut the rivets clean is that you can assemble your car without glue and race with it. Obivously in the end you’ll want to glue the chasis to the body with some super glue, but if you’re wondering what changes effect your car the best, you can assemble, test, disassemble, modify, reassemble, test…etc…all you want. It’s quite handy. And naturally, having your car apart is essential for customizing your car with a new paint job or other alterations, but more on that later.
Using real tools to take apart your toys is a lot of fun. I’m not saying it’s any more fun that smashing your cars against the wall, that is a blast as well, let me tell you. But grinding, sanding, testing, and all that stuff is a lot of fun and challenging on such a small scale. It’s like your own little Hot Wheels chop shop. The only bad part is that now when I’m in Target looking at cars, I’m wondering what cars would make good mods!