Minnesota Car Builder may Get His Own Hot Wheels at SEMA

It has been said that many car enthusiasts get hooked on their automotive passion when they are very young and only one dollar at a time. That is because many auto enthusiasts start collecting Hot Wheels when they are young. Hot Wheels only cost about a dollar each, and they can be faithful representations of real cars, or totally outlandish. Many car builders began as admirers of Hot Wheels diecast cars. Now, a Minnesota car builder may have one of his shop’s cars become a Hot Wheels.

A custom El Camino sits in the grass
The Hulk-Camino is a custom 1959 Chevrolet El Camino made by In The Weeds Hot Rods in Minnesota | ITW via YouTube

Who is Chris Walker?

Chris Walker always had Hot Wheels around him as a kid and was always doing something to them. In fact, he used to steal his mother’s nail polish so that he could paint the miniature cars. He moved from the Hot Wheels to bicycles, his wagon, his pedal car, and other things. He wanted them each to be customized. He did not want what everybody else had. 

Mr. Walker says, “I’ve always had gasoline in my blood and oil in my veins.” So, after graduating from college, he went on to work at a body shop. He was there for twelve years but did not find it satisfying.

A custom El Camino sits in the grass
The Hulk-Camino is a custom 1959 Chevrolet El Camino made by In The Weeds Hot Rods in Minnesota | ITW via YouTube

That is when he started building rat rods, a low budget car built with the mentality of making it work, versus shine it up. He says, “You’re not refinishing it or restoring it. Most of the time, you’re using parts that are scavenged off junkyard cars.”

Hot Wheels Legends Tour

Recently, Mr. Walker’s shop, ITW – In The Weeds, built a 1959 Chevrolet El Camino. In May, the 2020 Hot Wheels Legends Tour honored them by selecting the El Camino, which he calls the Hulk Camino, to compete for the chance to be turned into a Hot Wheels car. Mr. Walker will go to the SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada, in November to earn this rare opportunity. 

The Hulk-Camino is a heavy, muscle infused machine, that is also partially green. He started working on it in 2015, doing most of the work in 60 days. The car has been shortened by four feet from bumper to bumper. The bed of the car went from eight feet to two feet. The work has continued, and, in a neat twist, he now has the shifter mounted on the ceiling of the car and mated to a transmission supporting an 800 horsepower engine. 

The SEMA show

He did not think the car was good enough to be at SEMA last year. But, with the support of his family, he took the car there. The crowd reaction was the boost he needed to enter the car in the Hot Wheels Legends Tour. It was in that event that the Hulk Camino was picked out on May 16th. Now he will travel back to SEMA for this year’s show to see if his labor and overall persistence in the industry will net him a Hot Wheels car. 


Diecast Car Restorations Are A Thing

Passion, perspiration, and persistence have brought Mr. Walker to the point where his early love for Hot Wheels cars, has culminated in being recognized by the Hot Wheels organization itself. Whether Mr. Walker wins or not, that is a lot to be proud of.