Due to the global pandemic, subsequent lockdowns, and cancelation of several events, I haven’t been to a single car show or even local car meet almost all year.
It’s been a huge bummer but it was the right thing to do to help protect my family given the current situation. So, when people come together to create the fun and culture of a car show that everyone can enjoy from their homes, I very much appreciate it.
That is exactly what Hot Wheels did this year with their Legends Tour this year. The Hot Wheels Legends Tour is an car show series started in 2018. The tour travels all over the country and the best in show car at each stop becomes a finalist.
At the end of the year all of the finalists enter a finale show in which the winning car is chosen to become a Hot Wheels die-cast. I did a video feature last year on the inaugural winner, Luis Rodriguez and his “2jetZ” custom open-wheel car.
Due to the global pandemic, Hot Wheels knew they couldn’t do the usual car show tour this year. Instead, the tour went completely virtual with the audience being able to follow along via livestream at each stop. Thus, turning the entire tour into an event that families can watch together from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Just like in the years prior, each stop in the tour had a winner and this past weekend all of those finalist cars were shipped to Jay Leno’s garage for the finale.
The event was hosted by Jarod DeAnda AKA the voice of Formula Drift and featured judges Jay Leno, Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias, Snoop Dogg (yes, really), Mattel Head of Vehicle Design Ted Wu, stunt driver Bri Lynch, and Hot Wheels Design Director Bryan Benedict.
There are even a few guest appearances like Ben “The Stig” Collins.
Speaking of, I was lucky enough to grab a quick word with Ben before hand. I didn’t have the time to do a full-on interview so I just asked him one question: What was your biggest “oh crap” moment behind the wheel of a car?
Ben replied “There have been several ‘oh crap’ moments in my career but the most memorable, and painful, was right after I crossed the line to claim Pole Position for an FIA International GT race in Romania.. No sooner had my team radio’d me to say ‘congratulations, you owe us a round of drinks’, than the driver in the car behind me slammed into my car and spun me around at 130mph.
As I made my pirouette towards a crashed Lamborghini I thought, ‘I’ll bounce off that like a pinball and I’ll be fine’ – but in reality I crunched to a dead stop, broke four ribs and destroyed my car – oh crap!”
If that happened to me, I definitely wouldn’t have said “crap”… Though I’m glad that he was able to walk away from such a crazy incident! I’m sure he was pretty enthusiastic about himself.
I also had the chance to pick the brain of Ted Wu before he jumped on the judging panel.
Being the head of vehicle design I was curious to know if the changing times, EVs becoming more common place, and declining interest in cars among young people, has had an effect on how Hot Wheels approaches their artistic design.
Or, does Hot Wheels still lean on the fantastical and nostalgic car culture trends when designing new cars.
“The answer is all of the above. About eight-billion Hot Wheels have been sold in our 50+ year history, meaning there is a huge variety of outrageous vehicle designs that appeal to all aspects of car culture. The Hot Wheels Design Team draws inspiration from pop culture, car culture and even our own fans’ builds to ensure Hot Wheels is a source for the not only the latest trends and technologies, but also fresh takes on nostalgic classics.” Said Wu.
He continued, “We know technology continues to be a driving factor in the automotive world, which is why we’ve launched new and innovative products like Hot Wheels id, a digitally connected racing system that blends physical and digital play, and the new Hot Wheels Cybertruck R/C. By the same token, there’s huge interest in fantastical designs like character cars, cars from movies, etc. No matter the niche, Hot Wheels is constantly innovating to address our fans’ interests!”
Good to know that the design crew at Hot Wheels is finding the balance between keeping up with the times but not abandoning the roots of car culture.
Getting back to the tour finale, the judging panel got to check out each finalist car in person right in the middle of Leno’s garage and when it was all over, a winner was chosen. Though just in case you want to watch it yourself, I will embed the video of the full event below and I’ll mention the winner at the end of this article.
Hot Wheels Legends Tour The Finale at Jay Leno’s Garage
If you want to check out photos of all the Hot Wheels Legends 2020 finalists you can visit the gallery below.
Hot Wheels Legends Tour 2020 Finalist Gallery
TL;DW (Too long; Didn’t watch)
It is totally understandable if you can’t spare the time to watch the full finale event so if you want to know which car is the 2020 Hot Wheels Legends Tour winner, the judges chose Riley Stair’s 1970 Pontiac Trans AM.
Despite, the Trans AM looking like it was built in a multi-million dollar garage, with top of the line equipment, Stair actually did most of the work himself (except for paint and final body work) in the side-yard of his parent’s house on the weekends.
Considering the level of fabrication work on display, it’s not surprising that the majority of the judges were won over by it.
What do you think about the winning car? Is it the same one you would have chosen? Let me know your pick in the comments below or tweet to me at @MotorworldHype.
Thanks to Mattel and Hot Wheels for providing the photos seen in this article and to Ted Wu for taking the time to chat about Hot Wheels design!