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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Piston Cup Racers Windshield Variants

From 2006 and through 2014* Piston Cup Racers had a raised painted windshield eyebrows, painted to match the main body color. Of course, most CARS released from 2006 to 2008 had raised metal windshield eyebrows. When they started designing and planning lenticular releases, most new CARS characters starting in 2008 (for 2009 release) contained a flat windshield with a painted windshield eyebrow for the fixed eyed releases and of course, an insert space for lenticular eyes for those releases (taking the raised windsheild portion off anyway).

*(well, technically 2006 to 2010 and 2013 to 2014 since no Piston Cup racers were released in 2011 & 2012),

It’s not easy to see but you can sort of make out that Sally lost her raised eyebrows when she was released with Cone.


Sally with Cone was essentially the same as the lenticular version with a segmented front mouth (though of course without Cone). Sally with Tattoo is a flat windshield. If you have the 2-pack of Sally with Radiator Springs LM, what does she look like now?

So, all characters released since 2008 pretty much have flat windshields including Expanded Universe CARS & CARS 2 characters.

BUT, they have started to go back and replace CARS characters available from 2006 to 2008 with flat windshields. While they save a little in metal, the main thing is the flexibility in the expressions – it’s much easier to change eye expressions by making the windshield eyebrows larger or smaller (along with moving the eyes around) if the mouth expression is mostly generic.

The most noticeable is of course, Lightning McQueen …


The pre-2014 release is on the right and the current one is on the left. Mater has also lost his raised eyebrows but not everyone. The last Chick & King still have raised eyebrows. While Ramone seems to have lost his raised eyebrows, Charlie Checker has not – basically characters that do not have a lot of versions releases seem to have kept their raised eyebrows – I think only Snot Rod of the Tuners has lost his raised eyebrows.

Since the Piston Cup Racers (other than the Big Three) are essentially 3 body shapes – it’s safe to presume they will all switch over so if you’re a variant collector …

N20 Cola

The switchover started sometime AFTER March 2014 when the 11-pack Mack came out. Most of the Piston Cup racers in the box had RAISED EYEBROWS but a few already had the flat windshield. I think with subsequent releases as singles, they switched over – did anyone order the 11-pack Mack recently?

The recent 5-pack seems to all contain flat windshields?

I think even characters with minor eyebrows like Lizzie and Sarge have switched? I have not opened the Lizzie from last year – did you open one recently?

Happy variant collecting!


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  • Ryan says:

    So they make the eyes more easily changeable by just painting them a different way and removing the raised eyelids/brows…..yet they go back to unibody which has a mouth expression that is not readily changeable. Yeah, that makes sense……lol

    • Mack_me_Bucko says:

      With a multi-slide die system, they can trade out portions of the die block that form the mouth area for other segments, and change the mouth expression by that method. A unibody car shell would normally need a six slide die.

      Imagine the die blocks as a six sided puzzle box, that closes to form the six surfaces of a Cars toy within it. One slide forms the interior area, one the top, one the left side, one the right side, one the rear, and then one for the front grill.

      I’m of the opinion that a raised eyelid line makes the cars look better though no matter what.

      • Ryan says:

        Then what was the point of switching from unibody to segmented mouth, and back again to unibody?

        I agree…the raised eyelid line looks much better.

        (MET: There’s no official word but I presume they crunched the numbers and making plastic inserts cost more than metal inserts or just a new mold … accounting for multple runs, etc … and it does color-match better).

        • Mack_me_Bucko says:

          Perhaps they had multiple tooling — one older with segmented mouthplate, and one newer with unibody? One factory has older molds but quicker turn-around time? Bad communication when the new tooling was ordered? It’s industry, mistakes happen.

          Keep in mind that for many of the Cars, they don’t have just a single set of tooling. I would guess for something like LMQ or Mater, they have maybe 20 die sets for each to increase production. Those pegwarmers take a lot of time to make!

  • BMW says:

    Great article Met!
    Good ole Tumbleweed Mcqueen in 2008 got the flat eyes, while 2008’s Cactus Mcqueen has the sculpted eyes. I have a 2010 regular Mcqueen with sculpted eyes. all three are unibody releases.
    New collectors may not care about these changes, but those of us who have been at this Disney Cars collecting a long time do notice. We have a whole thread on CTT documenting the changes over time.

    Thank goodness that the Cars 1 Kmart RT Piston cup racers all have the sculpted eyes. The flat eyes are quite noticable on the current Shifty Drug release compared to the Rubber tire Shifty Drug. the 3 dimensional look of the furrowed brow makes the piston cup racers look great.

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