If you’re into cars there’s a better-than-average chance that you collected and played with toy company Mattel’s Hot Wheels when you were a kid, heck, you still might do that to this day. Harry Bentley Bradley was the very first designer of Hot Wheels for Mattel, and helped to create countless gearheads. Sadly, Bradley passed away on May 13 at the age of 83, but his legacy will continue to live on in the car culture.
The original “Sweet Sixteen” Hot Wheels that Bradley designed in 1968 were the Custom Fleetside, Deora, Ford J-Car, Custom Corvette, Custom Camaro, Silhouette, Beatnik Bandit, Python, Custom Barracuda, Custom Cougar, Custom Mustang, Custom Eldorado, Custom T-Bird, Custom Volkswagen, Hot Heap, and the Custom Firebird. Bradley also helped design the Oscar Mayer Weinermoble for Mattel in 1993.
Bradley worked for General Motors before he joined Mattel, and this played a critical role in how he approached the design of the Hot Wheels toys. After leaving Mattel in 1969, Bradley continued designing some iconic custom cars brought to life by different builders. Bradley would also spent some time lecturing at the Art Central College of Design.
There’s really no way to accurately measure just how much of an impact Bradley had on the custom car culture. To this day, you can go to any race track, car show, or playground and see young children in the dirt playing with their Hot Wheels and dreaming of their own builds. You’ll want to check out this video from ToyCarCollector.com where he goes into even more detail about the original Sweet Sixteen Hot Wheels that Bradley created.