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Collector Bruce Pascal has 4,000 Hot Wheels including the ultra-rare pink VW Beach Bomb

Bruce Pascal is one of the most devoted Hot Wheels collectors on the planet.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The first Hot Wheels arrived in stores in 1968 and it wasn't long until they became the number one toy. Bruce Pascal was seven years old at the time and remembers the toy immediately becoming popular with his circle of friends.

"It's hard to explain the craze today, but Hot Wheels was huge. All of my friends were saving up to buy all the Hot Wheels they could," Pascal said.

While he was growing up, Pascal, like kids across the country, kept his Hot Wheels in a cigar box. As he grew up, the cigar box gathered more dust, sitting on a shelf for 30 years until Pascal rediscovered the collection in 1999.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels The pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb is the most sought-after Hot Wheels car in the world. Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

"That excited feeling I had as a boy was rekindled instantly," said Pascal. "My friend offered to pay me $200 for the cigar box. I declined and held onto them, but it was his offer that made me start researching the value of Hot Wheels and pursuing collecting as an adult."

His search became a bit obsessive. Pascal began calling other collectors, taking out newspaper ads, and even used a 1969 telephone book of Mattel employees to see if any former workers had rare toys they would be willing to part with for a price. He collected everything he could, including Hot Wheels memorabilia like blueprints, original drawings, sales brochures, and wood models.

His collection grew from that cigar box to thousands of Hot Wheels. Yet Pascal was not satisfied. He still had not found the one Hot Wheels vehicle that was alluding him, the most valuable Volkswagen ever produced - the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototype.

The model was a bit of a folly. When VW and Hot Wheels initially created it, the car's narrow body and surf boards out the back window made the vehicle unable to stay upright when rolled. So, it was redesigned and the sides became more weighted and the surfboards were moved to the sides of the vehicle. This was the model that made it into production. The Beach Bomb was sold with a sticker sheet of flowers to decorate the vehicle, an offering that was very of its time.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels There are only two of the pink models in existence.Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The original prototypes with the surfboards out the back window are extremely rare, as only Hot Wheels employees had access to them. Of these prototypes, the pink ones are the rarest of all. There are only two known to be in existence.

"I already had heard about [the Beach Bomb] in purple, green, red, light blue and gold. I even had heard about an unpainted model," said Pascal. "But pink was extremely hard to find. Most Hot Wheels models were marketed to young boys, who the brand assumed didn't want to play with pink. They created just a few pink [Beach Bomb] models to market to their female audience."

Eventually, Pascal networked his way into purchasing both pink Beach Bombs models. He has since sold one of them to another friend and collector, but the one that is in the best condition has stayed with him.

Today, Pascal owns over 4,000 Hot Wheels models and about 3,000 pieces of memorabilia, but the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb remains his most prized possession.

"I won't say how much I purchased it for," said Pascal, "but it is worth an estimated $150,000 today."

To help prevent sun damage, the Beach Bomb remains in a dark, Plexiglass case. Pascal displays the model in his personal museum in Maryland, where he gives private tours to other Hot Wheels enthusiasts. He has also loaned the model out to other automotive museums and events for display.

"I want other people to experience the Beach Bomb. I've found so much joy in learning about classic cars and Hot Wheels, and I hope I can spark some of that in other people. It's a treasure to find these rare models," Pascal said.

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Some Volkswagens won't wear VW badging anymore.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Editor’s Note: After sources from Volkswagen confirmed this story on backgroundto reporters on March 29, 2021, the company’s spokespeople went on the record on March 30, 2021 to explain that the name change is merely an April Fool’s joke gone awry.

The brand currently known as Volkswagen is going all-in on electric vehicles. The company's commitment to the powertrain change is so strong that they've decided to change their name from Volkswagen to Voltswagen, replacing the "k" with a "t".

The change was announced in an apparent public relations slip-up on the company's media page with a press release publishing today, March 29, instead of the intended date of April 29. The release was quickly pulled down. The change has been confirmed by the automaker and was first reported by USA Today.

According to mis-timed press release, Volkswagen's electric vehicles (EVs) will be badged 'Voltswagen' while gasoline-powered autos will wear the typical VW badge.

2017: Volkswagen ID. BUZZ Volkswagen says that a version of its ID Buzz vehicle is coming to the U.S. later this decade. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is currently amplifying its electric vehicle sales strategy going full steam into launching models like the ID.4, a small SUV, and promising that a production version of the ID Buzz, an electric concept that has its roots in the Volkswagen Bus, will make its way to U.S. shores as an electric vehicle.

Volkswagen Group, the brand's parent company, also owns Audi, which has developed an E-tron vehicle lineup that includes the E-Tron, E-Tron Sportback, E-Tron GT, and the forthcoming production version of the Q4 Sportback E-Tron concept car. Porsche, another Volkswagen Group brand, recently launched the Taycan all-electric sports car and the Taycan Cross Turismo wagon is on its way. Even sister company Lamborghini is getting in on the electrified powertrain bandwagon.

The automaker has plans to launch more than 70 electric vehicles worldwide by 2029 and sell 1 million by 2025. Those are lofty goals, though much of the optimism surrounding the target is bolstered by continuing government clampdowns that make driving gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles more costly and scarce. These regulations most strictly affect European nations and China.

Though electric vehicles are growing in popularity, in many cases because of government incentives, Americans are only very slowing getting on-board with adoption. Take out Tesla sales and EVs represent very few sales in the U.S. at the moment. Click here to see a history of Volkswagen's modern electric vehicle development.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is Volkswagen's newest all-electric offering.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

How long will your car last? Barring an accident, a vehicle purchased new should easily last a decade. With electric vehicles, the question of how long a car will last extends to the battery as well. Will you need to change out the battery of your Volkswagen ID.4 when it goes bad?

Volkswagen Group Components has spent the past several years developing ways to ensure the electric vehicle batteries of today meet the standards owners will expect today and in the future.

"Volkswagen tests almost every conceivable case that could affect the battery system during a vehicle's lifespan – from accidents to extreme temperatures," says Michal Bruna, Head of Electronics Development and Testing at the Battery Development Center of Volkswagen Group Components in Brunswick, Germany. "Every variant of an EV battery, including the software, has to prove its safety in more than 5,000 individual tests."

2020 The battery pack is located at the bottom of the ID.4.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

2020

The types of tests Volkswagen uses are varied. They include the impact of mechanical shocks simulating those caused by curbs, railroad crossings, or stone ships. During a two-week vibration test, engineers simulate the life cycle of a vehicle of nearly 125,000 miles. Other tests include measuring the impact of temperature shocks, such as those that could occur when driving through cold water, and check the battery's durability under extreme climatic conditions. At the end of the 5,000 tests, each battery system is disassembled and examined.

There are also tests during the production of the battery system. The Center of Excellence in Salzgitter tests the quality of the battery cells, and Technical Development in Wolfsburg tests the cell modules. The software and control units are tested automatically via hardware-in-loop test benches. When each battery is produced, its functionality and safety is checked before it is delivered to the vehicle plant.

Battery electronics are required to meet high safety standards. On Volkswagen's MEB electric vehicle platform, which underpins the ID.4, the battery is located at the bottom center of the vehicle, between frame rails, with a protective metal shield between it and roadway.

Like other automakers, Volkswagen also offers free and easily available materials to first responders to help safely respond to an accident involving an electric vehicle, with directions for how to safely disengage power cabling around the battery and where to avoid cutting the vehicle.

"If the airbag deploys, the battery system is automatically disabled. It can only be started and recharged after a safety check," Bruna explained

Beyond the labs in Germany, Volkswagen is building a battery test lab in Chattanooga, Tennessee that will teat the cells and packs that will power U.S.-assembled ID.4s.

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