Turn Your Favorite 'Hot Wheels' Car into a Mini-RC Model

Follow this simple guide to turn your old, 1/64-scale 'Hot Wheels' car into an RC version.
Christopher McFadden

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Wouldn't it be great if "Hot Wheels" made some mini-RC versions of your favorite cars? Well, as it turns out, they do make some, but that doesn't mean you can't make your own. 

You can with some simple tools and a few components, actually build your own! Follow this guide to find out how. 

diy rc car complete
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

But, before we get stuck in we will need some things first. 

Tools and equipment needed

With all these in hand, we can now get on with the build.

Step 1: Select your victim "Hot Wheels" car

Your first port-of-call is to choose a "Hot Wheels" car to use. You can choose hours paining over which one is the best, or simply grab the first one you can find. 

diy hot wheels rc car choose
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

For this build, the creator is using a 1/64 scale Nissan Skyline GT-R R34, but you can use any other similar car. With your victim car selected, you can then move on to modifying it into your own mini-RC car.

Step 2: Prepare the model car for the build

Next, remove the undercarriage of the "Hot Wheels" car. You will need to drill out the rivets and remove any screws that may be present. Take your time here and try not to damage the "Hot Wheels" car too much. Be sure to wear gloves too, just in case. 

diy hot wheels rc car rivets
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Once complete, open up the car and separate out any, and all, interior features. With that complete, carefully remove the rest of the rivet points using a Dremel. 

diy hot wheels rec car rivets
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

As before, take your time here and try not to unduly damage the "Hot Wheels" pieces. Dremel off other internal features to create as much space as possible to house the RC components later. 

diy rc hot wheels interior
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Next, take your Dremel once again, and remove the rear parts of the undercarriage. Again, take your time and try to make a precise, clean cut through diecast metal. 

diy rc car undercarriage
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Do the same for the front of the undercarriage. You basically want to remove any, and all parts, from the rivet onwards, retaining as much of the center as possible. 

diy rc hot wheels undercarriage
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Step 3: Prepare the RC component housing

Next, you will need to design the main internal housing for the RC components. Use whichever CAD program you are most comfortable with. 

You can find the CAD files used for this model here. 

diy rc car internal housing
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Once you are happy, either 3D print the model, or get a friend with a 3D printer to help you out. 

Step 4: Build the RC components

With the housing printed, gather together all the RC components needed. 

diy rc car rc bits
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

You can also remove the headlights and rear lights using a modeling drill. These will be used to expose the RC receivers and transmitters later. 

With everything in hand, we can begin to assemble the RC parts and interior of the car. 

First, take the original "Hot Wheels" glass part you previously removed. Glue this back into its original place before you dismantled the model. This will help obscure the RC components inside. 

diy rc car glass
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Next, take the original front wheels, and mount them into the wheels mounts of the RC steering mechanism (also 3D printed). Use the original pins or other suitably sized screws. 

diy rc car steering prep
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Assemble the rest of the steering assembly as needed. 

diy rc car steering mech
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Repeat for the other steering wheel too. This will be fiddly, so use tweezers and mini-magnetic screwdrivers to help you out. 

diy rc car steering complete
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Next, wire up (and solder) the micro-servo (for steering), micro-motor (for propulsion), receiver, radio-link, micro-switch, ESC, and other components, as required. See the image below for more details. 

diy rc car components
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

With regards to the other wires, one will be used to connect the battery, another for recharging the battery later, and another for powering the LED headlights that will be installed later.

Step 5: Continue the car reassembly

Next, take the other original "Hot Wheels" internal components, add adhesive and glue back inside the main car chassis. 

diy rc car internal parts
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Next, take a small length of a paperclip (or similar), bend into a horseshoe shape, and connect the two main steering wheels together. Again, this will be fiddly, so use tweezers to manipulate the parts. 

diy rc car steering
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Take another length of a paper clip, and bend it into a hook shape. Connect to the servo arm, and insert into the steering mechanism, as shown in the video. Again this will be fiddly, so take your time. 

diy rc car servo and steering
Complete RC components and the steering mechanism. Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

See below for a closer look at the steering mechanism. 

diy rc car steering mech
A closer look at the steering mechanism and its attachment to the servo arm. Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Next, take some small lengths of heat shrink wrap, and wrap around the main driving wheels. This will provide them with added friction vital for the RC car when in action. 

diy rc car heat shrink wheels
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Mount the wheels onto the main propulsion micro motor. 

Step 6: Add LED lights and finish the RC car

Next, take some small LED lights, wire and solder them to wiring, and connect up to the main RC micro-electronic circuit. Glue the LEDs into place on the upper chassis. 

diy rc car headlights
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Connect the battery and ensure the switch is off. Next, glue, or otherwise secure, the RC components, and their housing, into the upper chassis piece of the car.  

diy rc car parts inside
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

Step 7: Test the build and have some fun

With that, your mini-RC "Hot Wheels" car is effectively complete. Now you can flick the switch on and test your perfectly crafted little RC car. 

The steering should respond on command, and the main propulsion should kick in on-demand too. You can also check that the headlights function as desired. This function will depend on your build. You may, for example, want the headlights to be always on. 

If none of this happens, you may need to open up the model and check the microelectronic components for any issues or wiring errors. 

diy rc car test headlights
Source: Slick Diecast/YouTube

The last thing left to do is to get to grips with the handling of the car before you run it through its paces. 

With that complete, you'll probably be looking for a new project to spend your spare time on. Can we recommend assembling and painting a realistic-looking Soviet T-34 tank

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