What happens to the cars on Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge?

HOT WHEELS: ULTIMATE CHALLENGE -- Pictured: "Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)
HOT WHEELS: ULTIMATE CHALLENGE -- Pictured: "Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal) /

Reality TV is hitting us right in the childhoods. NBC’s show Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge, which premiered in late May, is revving up our imagination and giving us a reality competition full of creativity and nostalgia.

The show, hosted by auto racing analyst and former US Top Gear host Rutledge Wood, pits two contestants against each other each episode to bring to life in one week a full size version of a Hot Wheels car. The participants are encouraged to design their vehicles with their own personal stories in mind, throwing in a dash of pop culture for kitschy goodness. For example, one contestant recalls always wanting to pop a wheelie with his dad in a 1969 Dodge Charger, so the build team adds hydraulics to his life size Hot Wheels car to bring his dreams to life.

The two contestants in each episode are assisted in their work by dedicated technicians deemed ‘The Car Pool’, who help build and perfect the contestants vision for their Hot Wheels car. The contestants are put on the spot to be the most outrageous car designer, who have the opportunity to transform regular, everyday vehicles into truly anything they wish.

How does Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge work?

Participants are judged by a panel of guest judges (previous judges have included the likes of Terry Crews and Anthony Anderson). Based on how creative, how successful the design is, and how well the vehicle translates to the real world, a winner is chosen and wins a prize of $25,000.

There’s also a consideration of the ‘hotness’ of the vehicle, putting into play the judge’s desire to see the Hot Wheels brand represented. Ultimately there will be a champion for the season, and that contestant wins $50,000 and the ability to create their own die-cast Hot Wheels car.

The competition sounds intense, and it’s amazing to see the creations the competitors think up throughout the show, but what happens to the vehicles once the show is taped and the winner is chosen? Do the competitors get to keep their creations?

What happens to the cars on Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge?

With the contestant’s imaginations running wild throughout their episode, it’s hard to remember that the cars they are designing are not for function, but purely for aesthetics. Therefore, none of them are street legal, and can’t be driven on designated roadways. Also, the contestants do not get to keep their creations.

According to host Rutledge Wood, “I think most of them are sitting in a warehouse, kind of wondering what their fate is going to be.” He also states that some of the cars will be recycled for their parts, while a few of the higher end vehicles may go to collectors who can fix them up and possibly make them street legal. So, in the end, the contestants only get a few moments onscreen with their dreamed up Hot Wheels cars, and then are parted from them.

Hopefully some of these amazing creations do end up being road worthy, as the creativity and thoughtful design that the contestants put into their life sized Hot Wheels cars shouldn’t just be sent away to become spare parts. These vehicles are truly works of art, calling back to a childhood filled with possibilities, and if that justifies the existence of this reality program, so be it. Where else can you see people’s ideal car creation come to life in the span of a week?

You can catch Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge on NBC, Tuesdays at 10 p.m EST.

Next. Which streaming TV shows are canceled?. dark