Elliot Handler, one of the original founders of Mattel, Inc. worked to improve the die cast auto made popular by the Lesney company's Matchbox cars. Handler's first offerings in 1968 did the trick. The early vehicles replicated the popular "muscle cars" of the late 1960s. Kids coveted the die cast Barracudas, Corvettes, Cougars, and Firebirds in the psychedelic colors Mattel offered just as their older brothers and fathers longed for the real thing. Mattel designed its cars with low-friction axles and soft wheels that allowed the toys to reach phenomenal speeds on specially made race tracks. Corporate legends describe how the toy was named: Elliot, upon watching a prototype of the die cast toy in action exclaimed: "Wow, those are hot wheels!" Mattel's combining the miniature car of proven popularity with speed proved more appealing than even Handler could have imagined. The company sold more than 16 million cars in the brand's first year. Sales in the nearly 50 years since have hardly slowed. Mattel has produced more than 2 billion cars, more than the Big Three automakers combined. More than 10,000 models of Hot Wheels have been manufactured, and these days, two cars are sold every second.