• A garage-built, street-legal aluminum car will be one of 10 finalists in the ongoing Hot Wheels Legends tour this year.
  • Lulu was handmade by retired engineer Paul Kalenian of Santa Fe, New Mexico. With a crate engine from GM, the low racer has already covered 5000 miles.
  • The tour winner will be announced in November and then turned into a Hot Wheels toy for anyone to buy.

    The shape of the 2021 Hot Wheels Legends Tour finalists' circle is coming into focus. This week, Mattel announced the latest winner from one of the tour stops: a fully street-legal aluminum racer called the Lulu. The low, shiny ride secured its spot as one of 10 finalists that will compete in November, with the winner being inducted into Hot Wheels' Garage of Legends and then turned into a 1:64 Hot Wheels die-cast toy.

    A hand-built vehicle loosely based on Mickey Thompson's 1963 Harvey Aluminum Special Indy race car that set 35 national and eight international speed records in its time. Lulu was put together by 70-year-old Paul Kalenian of Santa Fe, New Mexico, a retired engineer.
    Kalenian built Lulu in his garage over seven months, spending at least 1,500 hours and $35,000 on the project. The turbocharged four-cylinder LTG crate engine from General Motors was originally rated at 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, but Kalenian and his team increased it to 325 horsepower in the 1530-pound Lulu, which uses a six-speed manual gearbox. The engine is structurally mounted behind the driver.

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    Lulu is impossible to miss on a sunny day thanks to its shiny aluminum exterior, and the lightweight vehicle uses an aluminum frame and coil suspension as well. While Kalenian has already put 5000 miles on his home-built ride, he knows Lulu's street-legal aspect isn't exactly an indicator that the car is particularly special. He told Autoblog last fall that it was easier to register Lulu where he lives in New Mexico because it's "the Wild West, where a donkey with a motor can be plated." According to FF Journal, Kalenian is working on another custom design called the "Lu2," which will use a BMW K1600B MC engine and is expected to weigh around 850 pounds.

    Kalenian has also entered Lulu into other competitions, including a virtual car show benefiting the Children's Miracle Network of New Mexico last fall that named a 1969 El Camino Super Sport the winner.

    Other competitors in the Hot Wheels Legends tour stop that crowned Lulu the winner include modified versions of a 1962 Ford Falcon, a 1966 Novetta, and a 2007 Jaguar XK.

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