The Python, initially introduced as the Cheetah, joined the 1968 Hot Wheels lineup for around two years, being produced in both U.S. and Hong Kong facilities. Only a handful of rare specimens have emerged, with Hong Kong editions exclusively in red; a recent discovery revealed a U.S. gold Cheetah. Notably, the term "Cheetah" is inscribed on the bottom of these scarce examples, confirming its intended name.
The original Dream Rod, constructed in 1963 by Bill Cushenberry using components from a '60 Pontiac and a '61 Corvair, was initially powered by a small block Ford engine. After several years on the car exhibition circuit, the Dream Rod underwent a redesign into the "Tiger Shark," sharing a closer resemblance with Mattel's Python.
Differences between the U.S. and Hong Kong models include a more intricate interior with matching bucket seats and steering wheel, as well as a larger rear window in the U.S. version. The Hong Kong model boasts a contrasting black steering wheel (separate from the interior), providing a striking visual against other Hong Kong Hot Wheels castings. Early Hong Kong Python production models featured deep-dish wheels.
While most Pythons display a flat black-painted roof, some exceptions exist, such as red, orange, green, blue, and purple variants. In the U.S. version, some models feature a full black roof extending to the rear deck, believed to be early production runs that might have been discontinued due to cost considerations. U.S. Pythons came with clear windows and a dual-injector engine, while the Hong Kong counterpart maintained consistency with other models from that debut year, featuring blue-tinted windows and a blower-equipped engine.
In terms of design, the U.S. variant showcases a smaller grille with integrated headlights and taillights within the base casting. Conversely, the Hong Kong version boasts a larger grille with the front and rear lights forming part of the car's body.
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