Whether you’re an old school Hot Wheels fan, a classic car junkie, or just want to up your key game, this Hot Wheels Car Key build is a quick, simple way to rev your keychain into high gear.
Assuming you have the basic tools needed at your disposal for this project, it should only take you about an hour of your time and the cost of a single Hot Wheel to make this happen. For my key, I used a die-cast ’68 COPO Camaro, but after reading through this Instructable you’ll know how to adapt this build to any model that you prefer.
What You’ll Need:
Hot Wheel of your choice
Car, Home, Locker or any other key
Power Drill and Bit Set
Metal Grinder (a grinding wheel, Dremel, file, or oscillating tool will do the trick)
Bench Vise (or similar)
Epoxy (suitable for both metal and plastic use)
Safety Gear (I won’t mention it past this point, but ALWAYS use gloves and eye protection – especially when drilling or grinding into metal)
Step 1: Disassemble The Car
If you know Hot Wheels, you’ll be aware that each model may have slight variances in design compared to others. But the first place that we’ll start is a consistent feature in almost all Hot Wheels. The body is held together with two rivets which connect the metal body to the plastic undercarriage (and thus, everything in between). We’ll need to remove these before safely disassembling the car.
A bench vise (or similar means of securing your car during drilling) is crucial. I used some small pieces of fabric in between the teeth of the vise and the car to prevent scratching the paint off the body during this step. I recommend using a series of drill bits that are suited for drilling into metal. I found that 1/16″, 3/32″ and 5/32″ bits work best to remove these rivets without damaging the rest of the car and allowing for easy reassembly. The smallest bit helps to increase the size of the divot in the rivet head which ensures an easier time with the 3/32″ bit. It is with this bit that you’ll spend the most time drilling. The goal here is to drill out the center of the rivet deeper than the edge of the plastic undercarriage. This will make your last step cleaner and easier. Finally, take the 5/32″ bit and drill slowly until you’ve removed the outer edge that remains of the rivet. Once you hit plastic, you should have a cleanly removed rivet that allows for a proper reassembly. Take a look at the pictures above for illustration.
It will be easy now to separate the four parts of the car. You can set aside all but the die-cast frame for now.
Step 2: Cut The Key and Drill Holes
With the die-cast body now free, you’ll need to trim your key to fit within the frame of the body. You can use many tools to accomplish this task (grinding wheel, Dremel attachments, etc). I used my new Fein MultiMaster oscillating tool won in the Pallet Contest to grind away the excess of the key body. After cutting away the bulk of the key head, you can use a file to smooth the edges of your work.
Looking at the front of the car body, you’ll be using this rivet to help attach the key to the frame. I found that a 6/32″ bit made the perfect size hole for the key to fit snugly onto this rivet.
The last hole you’ll need to drill is for the key ring. You can place this nearly anywhere on the body that you like, but I felt that the best place would be along the back bumper. I used the 6/32″ bit for this as well.
Note: As illustrated in the last picture, some Hot Wheels bodies have the front bumper as a part of the die-cast frame (unlike a part of the plastic undercarriage, as was the case in my car). In this situation, you’ll need to use a grinder or metal-cutting attachment to trim away enough of the metal bumper to allow the key to fit into the car.
Step 3: Fit Interior Together
With the key in place on the front rivet and the key ring attached to the back bumper, you’ll need to make a couple of alterations to the plastic interior piece. I found scissors and a file to suit this job perfectly.
Examining the pictures above, you can see that you’ll need to file away a little of the rear undercarriage to allow for free movement of the key ring. Also, depending on how the interior of your model car is designed, you may need to trim away the front part that now interferes with the placement of the key. Even with this section removed, the interior will be kept in place once the car is fully reassembled. Before securing the car back together with adhesive, make sure that all of your parts fit together properly.
Step 4: Epoxy and Reassemble
Assured that all of the pieces fit without issue, you can now go about permanently affixing the body back together. I prefer using JB Weld ClearWeld Epoxy for most jobs, as it cures quickly and can be recapped after use for small projects such as this. You can mix the AB mixture together with a small stick or piece of cardboard and can use this to apply your epoxy as well. Make sure to use it liberally, while taking care not to allow it on to the surface of the car.
With the key in place, you can quickly reassemble the car, finishing the job with two dabs of epoxy into the holes left behind from removing the rivets earlier. After the time dictated by your brand of epoxy has passed, you should have a solid, secure bond that can hold up to repeated use.
That’s it! Enjoy your awesome new Hot Wheels key!