One of the "First 16" Hot Wheels in 1968, the
a customized "surfer truck" designed by Mattel's first Hot Wheels
designer, Harry Bentley Bradley.
Interestingly, in 1964 Bradley designed the real Dodge Deora in
collaboration with the Alexander brothers. The prototype vehicle
used the A100 pickup, and
incorporated parts of a 1960 Ford wagon and a sedan for the distinctive
roofline. Using Bradley's
moniker of the Dodge XTAB (eXperimental Truck by the Alexander
Brothers), the design was created
Nearing completion on the project, model kit-producer AMT requested
permission to produce a model based on the truck. But what to
call it? The XTAB,
while an adequate internal name, was just that. Both AMT and
Chrysler wanted a better name for the
In Harry's own hand: The
Deora Story! (Courtesy of Bruce Pascal)
Seeing opportunity, someone suggested a marketing ploy that would spur
interest in the new kit: a contest where model-builders could send in
possible names for
the custom truck, and entries would be reviewed by a panel of celebrity
judges. The deal was struck
and an ad calling for entries ran in the September 1965 issue of "Car
Model" magazine, accompanied by
Bradley's renderings and in-progress photos of the project.
A panel of judges was made up of Chrysler's quarter-miler Don Garlits,
Auto World's Oscar Koveleski, "Car Model" magazine Co-Publisher Bob
Director of Marketing Len Bolton, and of course the Alexander brothers.
The contest results were
announced in the February 1966 issue of "Car Model".
Thirteen-year-old David Hagedorn's entry topped all the others. It was
short and suitably exotic: DEORA. David explained that it meant
"golden" in Spanish
(which is slightly incorrect; "de oro" is Spanish for "of gold").
Since Bradley's original plan
called for finishing the project in gold, the name was perfect!
David was rewarded with the first AMT
A full-size version of the Deora
on display at the Peterson Museum in L.A.
When Bradley signed on to be
Mattel's first designer, he brought the
Deora with him. Elliot Handler's idea for adding two surfboards
to the otherwise plain bed of
the pickup gave the casting the "California Custom" look that Mattel
was seeking for its new line
diecast toy cars.
The US and Hong Kong versions of the Deora maintain
the characteristics representative of the factory differences
throughout the Hot Wheels line: clear glass (US)
versus blue glass (HK) and shiny chrome wheels (HK) versus a brushed
silver appearance (US).
A comparison of HK (L) and US (R)
Beyond that, there are a few other key differences. The front of
the US Deora chassis incorporates the front bumper, headlights, and
"grille" area, as well as the tail
light. The HK chassis includes the headlights and front bumper,
but not the "grille" area.
Headlights on the US version are louvered, while those on the HK Deora
are smooth. The HK Deora's front
bumper is better defined than its US counterpart, and has a much
thicker area of black paint on it.
Viewed from the rear, HK and US Deoras are virtually identical, with a
slight difference in the brightness of the tail light paint (HK paint
is slightly brighter), and
that the HK tail light appears to be mounted slightly higher than on
the US Deora. On both US
and HK models, the flat bed of the vehicle is painted flat black.
A pair of plastic surfboards
clip into openings in the rear window.
US Deoras can be found with white, champagne, dark brown, and in a few
cases, black interiors. HK interiors come in white and dark, with
white interiors being a bit
more rare in orange and gold Deoras, and about 50/50 in the other
single-piece US interiors have a dashboard and steering wheel, while
the two-piece HK interiors lack the
dashboard, and have a steering wheel mounted to the driver's side
door. HK Deoras often have loose
steering wheels (even on carded examples) that are rattling around
inside the car.
Unlike all other Hot Wheels cars, the Deora came with four small size
wheels. Early HK Deoras are often found with four deep dish
A gold HK Deora with deep dish
The bases of
US and HK Deoras differ slightly, mainly in that there are visible axle
mounts on the HK cars,
and round mounting holes on US cars.
Deora bases: US (L) and HK (R).
Very early production HK Deoras can be found with partially painted
bases. These cars are quite rare and have been found only in
antifreeze and gold.
Above and below: a rare painted
base HK Deora. (Courtesy of Jack Kaye)
feature among US Deoras is an unspun rear post (often referred to as
the "rivet"). On the whole, unspun posts occur on about half of
US cars, but this seems to
be most common with blue, green and red Deoras.
A group of US Deoras. Note
the unspun posts on the cars at left.
Of course, a signature feature of the Deora is the pair of plastic
surfboards on the rear bed. US-made surfoards are distinctive from
their HK counterparts. US
boards are red and yellow, have a short skeg (fin), and have a part
number on the underside.
Note that the first four digits of the part number match the Deora's
casting number (6210). HK
boards are orange and yellow, have a tall, thinner skeg, and have no
numbers on the underside.
The part numbers on the underside
of these surfboards reveal that these are US boards.
The following two photographs show three sets of original surfboards
and three sets of reproduction boards. In the photo on the left,
from left to right are 1) a
very early pair made of resin and with large thin fins, 2) a pair of
Beach Bomb boards with shorter fins and
more "grip lines" and a circle near the tip, and 3) a set of common
Deora boards made of plastic and
with large thin fins. The photo on the right, from left to right
are 1) a reproduction board with
thick fins and circles on the back side, 2) a pair of boards from the
30th anniversary issue of the
Deora (1998), and 3) a reproduction board with accurate fins but cast
in brighter colored
plastic than the originals.
Know your surfboards! The
real deal (L) vs. reproduction boards (R).
A red Deora with original US
A green Deora with reproduction
boards from redlineshop.com.
A rare blue US Deora!
& info credits: Phillip Davis,
Thomas Siembieda & Albert Cervantes
||hard to find
|very rare, if it exists
|rare w/painted base
|very rare w/painted base
(Additional reference: "The Deora Story" by Thomas Voehringer)
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