MOUNT VERNON — To Jason English, Hot Wheels are more than just collectibles. Ever since he bought his first one 20 years ago, it’s been something he just can’t get enough of.
English said he has around 1,000 of the tiny die-cast cars at his home in Surrey, B.C. And he’s still collecting them.
“We come down here at least once a month to buy hot wheels,” English said in the Walmart parking lot. “The chances of going on a treasure hunt up there and finding something, well, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning.”
Hot Wheel-heads and car enthusiasts from around the Pacific Northwest swarmed Saturday to the Hot Wheels Legends 50th Anniversary Tour.
Around 200 custom and collector cars were judged by a panel of industry professionals and Hot Wheel designers to find a new classic worthy of designing into a die-cast to be sold around the world.
Bill Brinkworth and his 11-year-old son Dylan Brinkworth of Langley, B.C., placed first with their 240-Z, taking home a limited-edition prototype 50th anniversary Hot Wheel and a chance to compete against 14 other national winners at SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) 2018 on Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Las Vegas, with one becoming a Hot Wheel.
The winning car Saturday was a rebuild project for Brinkworth and a friend, which he’s owned for three years. The license plate says “SaiSei,” which translates to reborn in Japanese.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Bill said. “We had no idea coming here that we’d win... there are so many beautiful cars here.”
Dylan was equally as astounded.
“I don’t know how we won,” he said.
Tour manager Stephen Enloe said each tour stop has had its own take on car culture.
“Even though a lot of people get inspired by Hot Wheels, they all get inspired with it differently,” Enloe said.
Throughout the parking lot, attendees looked on at life-sized versions of iconic Hot Wheels, like the Boneshaker and the Deora 2.
Mike Wear of Everett, founder of Hawkwheels, stood near his Seattle Seahawk-themed VW Bug, dressed head-to-toe in green and blue athletic wear.
Three other cars from Hawkwheels, a group of supporters that promote current and former players’ charitable endeavors, were in attendance.
Inside Walmart, Rod Lovelett, a North Vancouver, B.C., resident and collector, was elbow deep in a Hot Wheels toy bin looking for a collection of Datsun 240-Zs.
It took him about 45 minutes to find a couple.
“I figured I’d search the bins behind here where people haven’t been looking.” Lovelett said. “If I come home with too many, my wife gets mad.”
Lovelett said he has about 67 Hot Wheels, mostly Datsuns and Mini Coups. He said today he was looking for a collection that had just been released.
At the bottom of the bin he hit the jackpot – a red Fairlady Datsun.
“You want this Datsun?” Carter Johnson, 17, of Lynden asked Lovelett, referring to a white Nissan Fairlady Z.
“Are you sure?” Lovelett said.
“Yeah. I overheard (that) you liked the Datsun,” Johnson said.