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5 Best Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Cars of 2006

I finally decided to pull the trigger on the new Hot Wheels Mazda RX-8 earlier today. For weeks, I opted against paying almost four times the market value. Scalpers bought every item in stock from all the stores in a manageable reach, and I wanted this car badly.
5 Best Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Cars of 2006 31 photos
Photo: eBay/User hayd-kink
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I would like to know whether Hot Wheels collectors faced this problem at the beginning of the 21st century. The brand was already quite popular, having been around for over 30 years. But social media was still in its infancy, so the fear of missing out was less exaggerated than in 2023. Today's story takes us back to 2006 before Mattel had released the Super Treasure Hunt items.

Between 1995 and 2006, people could still buy Treasure Hunt models, most of which featured Real Riders wheels. Speaking of social media, Twitter went live in March of 2006! I played games like Need for Speed, Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto. I've seen plenty of kids obsessed with Roblox, and some of you might know that it went live that same year.

Sony introduced the world to its new Playstation 3 gaming console, and Fernando Alonso won his second consecutive F1 title by defeating Michael Schumacher. I have two more ways of sending you down memory lane. If you're a regular movie-goer, you might remember that flicks like "The Departed," "The Prestige," "Cars," and "Apocalypto" debuted that year.

People often associate memories with specific sounds, so a look over Billboard's 2006 list will reveal songs like Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" or Chamillionaire's "Ridin." I know the latter will ring a bell with most car enthusiasts, as it was an awesome song to play while going for a late-night drive. Over at Mattel, hardcore Hot Wheels enthusiasts celebrated five years of the Red Line Club with vehicles like the '67 Camaro in Spectraflame Dark Green or the Customized VW Drag Truck in Spectraflame Dark Blue.

Today, I'll be focusing on the 2006 Treasure Hunt collection instead. It featured 12 vehicles, only four of which were fantasy castings. Given that I decided to highlight the top five cars of the year, the three licensed items that didn't make the list are the '40 Ford Coupe, the Custom '59 Cadillac, and the Volkswagen New Beetle Cup. As for the rest, let's look closely at them below.

'67 Mustang

5 Best Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Cars of 2006
Photo: eBay/User hayd-kink
Michael Kollins designed the '67 Mustang for its 1998 debut as part of the Avon Park'n Plates series. The following year, Mattel upgraded it by adding Real Riders wheels as part of a Lexmark Promotional campaign. A good indicator of how special the '67 Mustang is is that it went on to co-star in the HWC.com Series 1 line of Red Line Club cars in 2002.

Only 10,000 units came from the factory, but you can still pick one up for less than $50. You'll find an even rarer 2003 Ed Watts Race Team variation with just 2,500 units. I'm a big fan of the two 2006 Ultra Hots iterations. When the Treasure Hunt model came out later that year, it almost felt like a downgrade due to the blue flames on the sides. Sure, it's a running theme for the company's products, but the pearl white and blue color combo isn't as exciting as the Metalflake Avocado Green finish on the Ultra Hots Mustang.

We can at least be thankful for the 5-Spoke Mag-Style Real Riders Wheels; this item receives bonus points! Getting the complete '67 Mustang collection will be a considerable challenge without digging too deep. You might not even want to look at the retooled version, as it lost the opening hood and switched to a plastic base. The TH Mustang could be as cheap as $25, but it's only one small step toward the whole picture.

1969 Dodge Charger

5 Best Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Cars of 2006
Photo: eBay/User drpaulscollectiblesllc
Dave Weise collaborated with Phil Riehlman on designing the 1969 Dodge Charger. It is one of my favorite American Muscle Hot Wheels castings. It debuted in the 2004 First Edition series with a simple black finish and 5-spoke wheels. Like the Mustang, the Charger featured an opening hood, something it would lose later in 2010.

In 2004, Mattel introduced three more variations in the Hot Wheels Whips series, all with BLING wheels on. Two additional Chargers came out later that year sporting the Blvd. Bruisers theme, and I would love to get my hands on the Metallic Yellow one. The 2006 Treasure Hunt iteration was the first '69 Charger of the year.

It features an Orange finish and Deep Dish Real Riders wheels, and it can cost as much as $330 from various online markets. If you've developed an appetite for this casting, there are 56 iterations to collect! The five items on this list are in chronological order, but I'd vote for the Charger as the number one Treasure Hunt model for 2006.

Hummer H3T Concept

5 Best Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Cars of 2006
Photo: eBay/User tropical--exotics
The only Hummer I've ever remotely been interested in is the H1. I want a replica of the one that appeared in "Down to Earth" featuring Chris Rock; thank you very much! As for the H2 and H3, they never quite lived up to their predecessor, did they? And that's obvious if you look at the design cues of the new GMC Hummer EV.

Does anyone even remember seeing the Hummer H3T concept almost 20 years ago? Mattel was sure to pay attention and launched a replica with the 2004 First Editions series. Phil Riehlman designed this one, but it was a relatively short-lived project. Between 2004 and 2012, only nine variations left the factory in Malaysia.

Only one featured Real Riders wheels: the 2006 Treasure Hunt H3T. The diecast manufacturer opted for a gold and silver color combo, and this is the kind of Hot Wheels model any pickup truck enthusiast would want in his collection. And it's an entirely attainable dream, as prices for this car range between $10 to $50.

Corvette C6

5 Best Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Cars of 2006
Photo: eBay/User cuebas0_0
Larry Wood designed the Corvette C6 for its 2004 debut, which was surprisingly good despite being a simple Mainline model. Mattel was aware of this casting's potential, so they quickly moved on to fit it with Real Riders wheels that same year.

Nothing special popped up until the 2006 Treasure Hunt C6, which certainly looked unique with a black paint job, a gold chrome interior, and gold 5-Spoke Mag-Style Real Riders wheels. In a rather strange twist of events, the most expensive C6 TH I've come across has a price of $100.

You'll find plenty of options for $40 or less, and that's excellent news for any Hot Wheels Corvette enthusiast. The sad part is that we have only seen one variation of this casting since 2018. Does that mean Mattel is planning to phase it out entirely? Indeed, a car this iconic needs a fresh remake after 20 years.

Dairy Delivery

5 Best Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Cars of 2006
Photo: eBay/User melkij11
The last item on this list might surprise some of you. When deciding on my top five favorite 2006 TH models, I oscillated between the VW New Beetle Cup and the Dairy Delivery for the last spot. Despite its name, the latter draws inspiration from a 1985 Divco milk delivery truck, so it's not a fantasy casting. It all boiled down to the overall look of each item: I could picture someone driving the Dairy Delivery TH into one of the SEMA Halls and winning an award.

The white, blue, and orange Beetle is cute at best, but some of you might prefer it over the milk truck. Phil Riehlman designed the Dairy Delivery for its 1998 First Editions series release, and several special editions immediately followed suit in 1999. In 2001, the Troy Lee Designs series introduced three rare variations, with a limit of a maximum of 1,000 units per model.

The Dairy Delivery was also part of HWC Series 1 in 2002, with just over 15,000 units coming out of the factory in Thailand. A more insane design appeared for Series 2, with Wayne Scott in charge of the fiery livery. 2006 was a good year for the casting, with several premium releases and the Treasure Hunt version. The latter featured a Metalflake Olive Green with tattoo-themed graphics, with White Wall Deep Dish Real Riders wheels with gold hubs.

And you'll rarely see this item going for more than $30, which only adds to the excitement. That's my take on the 2006 Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Series. I'll return with a review of the 2005 diecast hunting season soon.
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About the author: Dragos Chitulescu
Dragos Chitulescu profile photo

The things Dragos enjoys the most in life are, in no particular order: cars, motorcycles, diecast cars, and drifting. He's seen (and driven) many vehicles since he started his writing career back in 2009, but his garage currently houses a 1991 Mazda RX-7 FC3S Turbo II and a 1999 Suzuki SV650-S.
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