Hoping to make their lifetime dream a reality, hundreds of car owners from around the country showed off their custom cars at the Hot Wheels Legends Tour in Santa Clarita Saturday.
The event, which featured everything from retrofitted Volkswagen vans to cars made in the likeness of Darth Vader, was the final leg in the car show tour hosted by Mattel. The 15 finalists will go on to attend the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) 2019 championship in Las Vegas, where one car is expected to be inducted into the Hot Wheels Garage of Legends and made into an actual Mattel die-cast toy car.
The event, held throughout the morning in the WalMart parking lot on Carl Boyer Drive, saw an estimated 4,000 people in attendance with 325 cars being showcased.
In attendance and helping with the judging was Larry Wood, the senior designer for Hot Wheels for 50 years. The event, Wood said, was special for him because a number of people who participated in or attended the tour across the country told him their fascination with cars had begun when they started playing with the cars Wood had designed over the years.
“They played with my cars back when they were kids,” said Wood. “That’s the biggest thing because that’s 50 years worth of cars.”
One such person, Steve Jasik, has been around modeled cars and car collectors his whole life, he said, and he attends the events to see people receive joy from seeing his cars.
“It’s a one-off, custom car,” said Jesik. “Volkswagen is already an iconic piece … so to see something that’s this extent of customization is just fun.”
Jesik’s vehicle on display Saturday was a shortened 1966 Volkswagen van complete with a Nissan Leaf electric engine, Porsche wheels and all leather interior.
Another contestant at the event, who said Hot Wheels had been a large part of why they had grown up building souped up vehicles, was Jon Dias. His “Outlaw” 1929 Ford two-door sedan was being showcased during the event and is complete with lambskin leather, copper finishing throughout the whole vehicle and a .45 caliber handgun mounted as the gear shifter.
“It’s every kid’s dream to just go see Hot Wheels cars, and as an adult, I have a car that I built from the ground up,” said Dias. “And to come to Hot Wheels and maybe become an actual toy is a big goal of mine. I created that and then that company created my car.”
The overall winner whose car will be made into a collectible Hot Wheels toy will be announced at the 2019 SEMA Championship taking place from Nov. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.