- 2021 is the fourth year of the Hot Wheels Legends competition, in which builders vie to have their car chosen to be re-created as a small-scale collectible
- Car and Driver was invited to join Jay Leno, Ted Wu, Bryan Benedict, Brendon Vetuskey, Henrik Fisker, Sara Choi, and Mad Mike to choose a winner.
- The judging will be livestreamed on Jay Leno’s Garage on YouTube or Hot Wheels Facebook Live at noon ET on Saturday, Nov 13.
UPDATE 11/13/21: The 2021 winner of the Hot Wheels Legends competition is a dark-green Volvo P1800 Gasser, built from a 1969 P1800 and dubbed “Ain’t No Saint.” Owner Lee Johnstone started with a “rusty rolling shell” and completely restored and modified the car, adding a 454-cubic-inch big-block Chevrolet engine, a 671 GMC supercharger, and dual four-barrel carburetors. The car will now be immortalized as a Hot Wheels car. Choosing it was a difficult decision: every car in the running could have made an amazing Hot Wheels model. In the end, the judges were drawn to the originality of the Volvo gasser, the backstory of the whole family racing it, and the clean, well-fabricated build. Congratulations to Lee and family!
Hot Wheels started its Legends Tour in 2018, and each year since has hosted a traveling car show to choose regional winners, and finally, an all-out champion from car builders all over the world. We were on hand for the debut of the 2020 winner, Riley Stair’s 1970 Firebird, and now, this year, we have the pleasure of helping choose which of the 2021 finalists will get to see their big car made small and ready to go through the loop-de-loop.
The judging is taking place in Jay Leno’s garage in Burbank, California. Just being in Leno’s garage is already like falling into a car toybox, so it’s the perfect place to see some of the Legends contestants in person, and argue passionately for a winner. The judges, besides me (Elana, trying hard not to shame Car and Driver by being too excited about absolutely everything), include several designers from Hot Wheels, full-size car designer Henrik Fisker, customizer Mad Mike, and drifter Sara Choi.
We’ll be narrowing it down from 10 cars to only one, and it’s not an easy decision. All the entries would be excellent in miniature form. Some have incredible backstories, others show impeccable work, some have both! There’s also a wide variety of cars to choose from. American muscle, German luxury, Braaaaaaap-ready rotaries, and complete one-off, hand-built customs.
Here’s a quickie list of what we’ll be looking at during the judging.
- 1991 Porsche 911 Baja from Sun Valley, California: This thing is so clean, it would win a purist over to the Safari 911 thing.
- Custom aluminum racer named “Lulu” from Santa Fe, New Mexico: Paul Kalenian built an Indy-inspired, polished aluminum car from scratch.
- 1969 Daytona Charger Superbird “Scraptona” from Macomb, Michigan: With a NASCAR small-block under its patchwork fenders, the Scraptona is in the running for best-sounding for sure.
- 2003 Exoskeleton Nissan 350Z from San Mateo, California: What to do with half a 350Z? Make a tube-frame back end, and drive around looking like a render come to life.
- 1968 Mercedes Benz 250S from Penticton, British Columbia, Canada: Perfect patina and a surprising stance for a classy Merc.
- 1990 Volkswagen Beetle from Mexico: This is a neat little car. Chopped and stretched, it sits low and looks like a toy already.
- 1969 Volvo P1800 Gasser from the United Kingdom: This one isn’t just for show, it’s a family-owned race car that regularly runs Santa Pod dragstrip.
- Wittgenstein from Germany: What’s a Wittgenstein? We’ll all find out together.
- 1986 Daihatsu Mira from Malaysia: This tiny truck is all forehead. And green glitter.
- 1973 Mazda 616 Capella from New Zealand: Giving the Dodge some competition on the engine-noise front. Braaap.
It’s going to be a real challenge to choose between them.
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