Taking apart your Hot Wheels cars easily and with minimal destruction is pretty easy. Sure, throwing them against the wall like we did when we were kids is more fun, but they’re a lot hard to put together afterwords. All you need is a drill and a few select bit sizes and you’re all set.
Most Hot Wheels and other 1:64 diecasts have two rivet posts that hold the metal body to the plastic chassis. The rivets are sort of like pop-rivets in that their head is just stamped and folder over. This means there is no screw for easily disassembly. Instead you must drill out the rivet head along with some fine grinding.
It starts with a drill
I usually start with a 1/16 drill bit and drill down into the middle of the rivet on the underside of the car. You don’t have to drill too far, just deep enough to go beyond the height of the rivet head. This smaller hole will act as a guide for the larger drill bit and also helps later when you want to put the car back together.
After the guide hole is drilled, swap in a 3/16 bit. You’ll want a 3/16 bit that is meant for metal. Most drill bit sets have a 3/16 bit included but the Black & Decker set I got proved to not last long. The bits were billed as “general purpose” so after numerous metal drillings the bit started to wear down. You should also pay attention to the angle of the bit tip.
You don't want a bit with too much of a point
Because we want to simply ground the rivet head away we don’t want a bit that has too much of a point. Ideally you’d want a bit that has a mostly flat tip. If your bit tip is too pointy you’ll do nothing more than push the rivet head even wider, which doesn’t make disassembly any easier. I bought a Milwaukee 3/16 bit designed for metal and it works great – it was only $2 at Home Depot. It has less point than the B&D bit I had in the set so it grinds down the rivet rather than spreading it out.
Slow and steady
Make sure you are drilling down on the rivet as even as possible. If you drill at an angle or off-center you’ll get an unevent grind and will start drilling away the plastic chassis. You will have to grind through a bit of the plastic but not enough to too ugly or that should effect play performance. Don’t apply pressure too hard too soon. You’re not drilling into a stone wall. Check your rivet every few seconds to see how much farther you have to go and stop when you see the black plastic showing through.
Once you’ve reached plastic drill very slowly. You may have to angle your drilling to get some of the edge metal left over from the rivet. At this point you can also whip out your Dremel with a small grinding bit and get whatever metal is left over.
Drilling out, before and after
After you’ve drilled out the rivet head you should be able to separate the body from the chassis pretty easily. Don’t force it too hard if it’s not separating. Use your needle-nose pliers to get some leverage but you don’t want to bend/break the plastic or metal – especially the axle.
Once apart you’ll usually be left with the four parts that make up a car – the metal body, plastic chassis, plastic windows, and plastic interior. You’re now ready to customize the car as you see fit.