Most experts in the antiques trade use the term "vintage" to refer to an item that is over 50 years old, though an increasing number are beginning to use the term for items exceeding 20 years of age. Any item over 100 years old is considered an antique. If a Hot Wheels track can be verified to be more than 20 years old, it can be considered vintage.
Determining the age of Hot Wheels tracks can be difficult, as date stamps are not typically placed on them by Mattel. "Hot Wheels Accessories, The Ultimate Guide," written by Michael Zarnock, author, columnist and two-time Guinness World Record holder for the largest collection of model cars, is considered the best source for dating Hot Wheels tracks. Zarnock's reference guide provides comprehensive information for all Hot Wheels tracks and other accessories dated from 1968 to 1998.
The first Hot Wheels track was introduced by the Mattel toy company in 1968 along with the original 16 die-cast cars. The original Hot Wheels track consisted of a two-lane starting gate and strips of orange plastic track, which could be interconnected to form straight lanes, jumps and loops. A C-clamp was provided to attach the start of the track to an elevated surface, thus allowing gravity to propel the cars along the raceway.