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- NBC is launching a prime-time TV show in which teams compete to build the best full-size Hot Wheels–style car, with the winner destined to be die-cast as an actual Hot Wheels model.
- The show premieres on NBC TV on Tuesday, May 30, at 10 p.m. ET and will be available to stream on Peacock the next day.
- We don’t have full details about the creations that host Rutledge Wood and guest stars will be judging, but it’s certain there will be plenty of wild ideas brought to life.
Fans of the wacky and wild in automobilia have a reason to celebrate. If you’ve been forlornly staring at the Mitsubishi Mirage in your driveway, bemoaning its lack of fish tank, or thinking your Ferrari 308 would be better if it could make spaghetti, we’ve got good news for you. There’s a new show on the horizon that shares a love of silliness and ingenious fabrications with those old classics like Pimp My Ride and Monster Garage but adds in more game-show elements and prizes. Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge is going prime time on NBC with a new car-customizing show that promises goofy themes and spark-filled grinding along with some genuine car-enthusiast emotions.
Rutledge Wood (Top Gear US, Floor Is Lava, NBC NASCAR reporter) is the lead host, joined by a panel of judges and celebrity guests. Contestants will get the chance to transform a car that’s important to them into a cartoony, full-size Hot Wheels car, and at the end of the season, the winning car will go into production as an official Hot Wheels die-cast. The audience can follow along on the design, fabrication, and presentation of each contestant’s wild ride.
Joining Wood is Ford designer Dalal Elsheikh and Hoonigan drifter Hertrech “Hert” Eugene Jr. Guest stars include Jay Leno—whom you probably expected—and actor Terry Crews—whom you may not have. We chatted with Wood and Elsheikh during the filming of the first season about the show, their own dream cars, and what fabrication skills most impressed them on set.
Wood started out teary-eyed remembering his first car, an ’81 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup. ” I always dreamed about making that thing cool. An engine swap, or the European wheels. None of that ever happened. But it’s still one that I dream about. So in this show, we reunite people with a vehicle from their past and give them the opportunity to redo the car they way they always wanted. Like for example, we filmed one episode where this guy does a Charger—that was his first car, a primer black ’70 Charger—and now he can put the Hemi in, make it do wheelies. We’re giving people a chance to be a kid again.”
Watch Fabricators at Work
Each episode features two teams, building on opposite sides of the Hot Wheels garage set, which in teasers, looks something like a mix between a toy box and the inside of a pinball machine. Contestants get professional assistance from welders, fiberglass artists, and painters, as they attempt to make their monster truck and wheelie dreams into reality. There are twists, says Wood, challenges and interruptions that the teams have to incorporate into their designs before they are judged at the end of their episode.
“It is so hard,” says Wood. “Sometimes you’re looking at these incredibly finite details and you’re thinking, man, the difference between a car moving forward to the finale or not could be something like, did they take the time to tuck the bumpers? Did they look at how this body line would change when they cut the roof off? If they said, ‘I’m going to make it look like a monster come to life,’ what if it doesn’t? People have put their blood, sweat, and tears into this thing and it’s so much more intense than I thought it would be to pick a winner.”
Fire Trucks and a Cadillac Skate Park?
For Elsheikh, seeing the professional fabricators work with the contestants has inspired her to learn a few fab skills as well. “There’s an interior guy named Slick on the show, and boy does he live up to that name. Some great fiberglass sculptors too, but in design school, I had a lot of experience carving things out of high density foam, so if I could have any one of the team’s skills, I’d probably go with welding. We have some incredible welders.”
Wood and Elsheikh couldn’t give too many hints about the cars we’d see on the show, so as not to ruin the surprise, but we can expect fire trucks, Cadillac skate parks, and possibly a car that looks like a piano? “I think the variety of cars on this show is going to keep car people intrigued, and people that don’t know anything about cars will be able to follow and really, really enjoy it,” says Wood. “We want to bring people into this hobby and this lifestyle that we love, and Hot Wheels is a great way to do it.”
Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge premieres Tuesday, May 30, at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC, and episodes will be available to stream the following day on Peacock.
Senior Editor, Features
Like a sleeper agent activated late in the game, Elana Scherr didn’t know her calling at a young age. Like many girls, she planned to be a vet-astronaut-artist, and came closest to that last one by attending UCLA art school. She painted images of cars, but did not own one. Elana reluctantly got a driver’s license at age 21 and discovered that she not only loved cars and wanted to drive them, but that other people loved cars and wanted to read about them, which meant somebody had to write about them. Since receiving activation codes, Elana has written for numerous car magazines and websites, covering classics, car culture, technology, motorsports, and new-car reviews.
Source: Motor - aranddriver.com