Article and images by John Grafman
The winner of the local Hot Wheels Legends Tour stop in in El Segundo, California was just announced. The festive atmosphere surrounding this is like the merging of the Oscars and the Indy 500. Okay, perhaps it’s a bit more subdued under the grey morning skies. Nevertheless, this event never fails to bring out a diverse selection of custom machines. Each entry is battling for one of the most coveted prizes known to mankind, or at least among auto enthusiasts.
“Southern California car culture is second to none, and being able to celebrate these incredible rides at our very own Hot Wheels headquarters is always a memorable day for our team and the local community,” said Ted Wu, Vice President, Global Head of Design for Vehicles, Mattel. “We expect a wide range of submissions this year, from lowriders and American muscle to exotics and JDMs, so the competition will be fierce. The fan car that best exemplifies authenticity, creativity, and garage spirit will move on in the global competition for a chance at making Hot Wheels history.”
The Hot Wheels Legends Tour is a rolling circus
Now in its fifth year, the Hot Wheels Legends Tour spans an incredible five continents and 16 countries, making it the largest traveling car show in the world. As Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is not operational at the moment, Hot Wheels Legends Tour could possibly be the greatest show on earth!
Each stop is a platform for custom car builders to showcase their passion projects with other automotive enthusiasts. The winner of the El Segundo event will advance in the Hot Wheels Legends Tour for a chance to compete in the Global Grand Finale later this year. Once chosen, the 2022 champion will have their one-of-a-kind car immortalized as the next 1:64-scale official Hot Wheels die-cast vehicle sold in more than 150 countries around the world.
Now, if anyone can think of a better prize one can walk away with in their lifetime, aside from winning the Mega Millions lottery, please let us know!
Not all lowrider are created equal
Taking the cake, err, prize is the radiant 1969 Buick Riviera built by husband-and-wife duo Mario and Nora Zamudio of Los Angeles. Members of the renowned Imperials Car Club, Mario and Nora spent countless nights and weekends over the last four years fabricating and assembling pieces and hunting down a long list of parts for this Pagan Gold candy-painted passion project. The 1969 Riviera is a fully rebuilt lowrider featuring shaved body molding, hydraulics, custom interior, and the original 430 Buick engine.
The judges included Ted Wu, global head of design for vehicles at Mattel and Brendon Vetuskey, Hot Wheels designer (esteemed Hot Wheels Designer Director Bryan Benedict was unfortunately out – bitten by the bug). However, one didn’t need decades of professional experience to understand that this Buick was bingeworthy. One can’t get enough of this rolling work of art.
Now, it’s easy to get lost on the toys for the big boys. But, at the heart of Hot Wheels is the toy that has conquered the imagination of kids for generations. It’s those little die-cast cars that inspire the desire to pursue real life, road worthy Hot Wheels. Sure, there are those that might think this is just a lot of hype. But stop and think about this for a moment, we currently have nearly 8 billion people on the face of the earth, with many people in the 80+ year-old demographic. On the other hand, Hot Wheels has been around only 54 years, and there’s been more than 8 billion cars produced by Mattel”. Just hype? We think not!