How to custom die cast hot wheels

Written by rowan wood
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How to custom die cast hot wheels
Diecast metal cars can be painted and customised in any way you like. (toy car image by Waldemar Boniecki from

Modifying and customising Hot Wheels toy cars is a way to create model cars if you do not wish to work with large-sized models. Since Hot Wheels toys are made to scale, you can create very accurate depictions of real cars (even ones that do not exist as Hot Wheels) with a bit of drilling, disassembling and painting. As the toy cars are so small, customising one into your dream vehicle can be done very inexpensively.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1/16-inch drill bit
  • 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Electric drill
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Paint stripper
  • Wire brush
  • Paint can
  • Coat hanger
  • Bucket of water
  • Gray spray primer
  • Spray paint, acrylics or enamel paint
  • 2/56 by 3/16 machine screws

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  1. 1

    Locate the two rivets on the underside of your Hot Wheels car. Take your electric drill with the 1/16-inch drill bit and begin drilling out the rivets. Drill slowly. Once you make a slight hole, switch to the 3/16-inch drill bit and continue to drill carefully. Make sure to drill straight into the rivet or it will be hard to put the car back together. Remove the drill bit every so often to clean out the metal shavings and to check how much farther you need to drill. Stop drilling when you see black plastic.

  2. 2

    Pry the car apart gently using your flathead screwdriver. You end up with four parts: the metal exterior, the plastic interior, the plastic windows and the plastic chassis. Repeat drilling and prying with multiple Hot Wheels cars if you wish to swap parts from one car to another. Lay out the parts you wish to use for your custom car.

  3. 3

    Hook the metal body onto a coat hanger. Fill your paint can with paint remover. Submerge the metal car into the paint stripper and hook it to the side of the can. Wait a minimum of 15 minutes. Lift the car out and tap it against the side of the can to knock off any extra paint remover. Submerge the stripped car in the bucket of water and swish it around to remove excess stripper. Brush it clean with your wire brush.

  4. 4

    Dry off the car and spray it with grey primer. Let the primer dry and repeat to give it two coats. Allow the primer to dry completely before applying colour. Use spray paint, enamel paint or acrylics to decorate your vehicle. Spray paint is suitable for base coats, while enamel and acrylics are better for detailing. Wait for the paint to dry. Apply a light coat of clear spray gloss to protect and finish your paint job. Wait for the car to dry completely.

  5. 5

    Reassemble the parts of your Hot Wheels car. First the windows, then the plastic interior and the chassis. Use your 2/56 by 3/16 machine screws to reattach the metal exterior to the chassis, placing them in the rivet holes you drilled out previously and screwing them in with your screwdriver.

Tips and warnings

  • Print out decals and paste them to your car before putting on the gloss coat to give extra detail.
  • When spraying your cars with paint, hold the can a few inches away from the car to keep paint from filling the metal detailing.
  • Always wear protective gloves and eye wear when using the drill and paint remover.
  • Do not get paint remover on your skin or finished surfaces. It will burn your skin and peel the finish off of most surfaces.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area when using the paint remover, spray paint and enamel paints.
  • Parental supervision is required.

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