It is based on the real-life Solar Eagle III which was a solar-powered electric racecar built by students under the guidance of faculty and staff of Cal State L.A. Solar Car Team from California State University. On Saturday, June 28, 1997, the Solar Eagle III won the prestigious Sunrayce 1997, the national intercollegiate solar car race. It completed the 1,230 mile, 10 day event without any breakdowns and finished 20 minutes in front of its nearest competitor.
The Hot Wheels Solar Eagle III features a reflective top section, mimicking the real-life solar panels. It also has a an opaque black canopy which hides the fact that it does not have an interior. It also has three small MC1 wheels, which does not make it compatible with some Hot Wheels playsets. It only had a short time in production after it was unofficially discontinued after its 2001 release.
The Solar Eagle III has come out in the following versions:
|Col #||Year||Series||Color||Tampo||Base Color / Type||Window Color||Panel Color||Wheel Type||Toy #||Country||Notes / Variations||Photo|
|Yellow||Black stripes, Black '8' & 'Cal State L.A.', & Red 'Solar Eagle III' on sides, Chrome Dark Blue solar panels||Metalflake Black / Metal||Black||Blue||MC1||18842||Malaysia|
|N/A||1999||Solar Racing Action Pack||Darker Yellow||Black stripes, Black '8' & 'Cal State L.A.', & Red 'Solar Eagle III' on sides, Chrome Dark Blue solar panels||Black / Metal||Black||N/A||MC1||18740||China|
|5pk||1999||World Racers||Black||Yellow, Red & White Stripes, 'World Racing Federation' and 'Brad Lee Racing 03'||Black / Metal||Black||Silver||MC1||21084||Malaysia|
|176||2000||Mainline||Red||"Cal State L.A.," "Solar Eagle III" and "Cal State logo"||Black / Metal||Black||Black||MC1||25377||Thailand||Also Found in Star Explorers 5-Pack|
|170||2001||Mainline||Orange||"Cal State L.A.," "Solar Eagle III" and "Cal State logo"||Black / Metal||Black||Black||MC1||53713||Malaysia|
From the back of the 1998-card:
NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPION OF SUNRAYCE 1997
The SOLAR EAGLE III is the result of the remarkable talents of Cal State L.A. Engineering & Technology students.