In 2013, Hot Wheels released the #‘55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser much to the acclaim of Hot Wheels fans around the world. Over the last 10 years the casting has become an all-time favorite among collectors — so much so that several of its releases sell for over $1,000 a piece! Hot Wheels designer, Brendon Vetuskey designed the casting earlier in his career at Mattel never thinking that it would be as popular as it is among collectors. His love for the ’55 Chevy Bel Air extends to his childhood when his neighbor owned one, and had always dreamed of owning one himself. He made that dream a reality a couple years back when he bought an old ’55 Chevy. Driving it was another story as he had bigger plans for one of his dream cars: making it into a #Gasser. Just last year, Brendon finished his project and now he is the owner/builder of his own real-life, 1:1 1955 Chevy Bel Air Gasser.
Brendon’s creation — referred to as the “TRIASSIC-FIVE” gasser — is quite the cretaceous beast in today’s world. Just about every car on the road seems to come in either mundane white, black, or silver; while the whole automobile industry seems to be going electric — yes, even Dodge. Brendon describes his creation as one that makes no excuses for how powerful and loud it is. Its designed to stand out, and that it does!
When the Hot Wheels Legends Tour came about in 2018 for the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels, the slogan “built not bought” was quickly adapted as this car show was to be unlike most. This event was to celebrate all custom vehicles, something the Hot Wheels brand is all about. Ultimately, a winner is chosen amongst all the finalists (who won their local event) and their grand prize allows for their vehicle to be immortalized by becoming a real Hot Wheels car sold around the world.
When you’re a designer at Mattel, this process can be fast-tracked. Brendon is no stranger to having replicas of his real life cars. His old Belvedere was made into a Hot Wheels car — by way of the ’57 Plymouth Fury casting — in the 2011 Treasure Hunt Series. More recently, his Custom ’67 Pontiac Firebird found its way into homes worldwide as he designed a new Firebird casting in 2017 to accurately depict his 1:1 driver. By all means, Brendon’s real life car collection hasn’t stopped there as at least a handful of other rides he has previously owned have found their way into the Hot Wheels lineups. Consider Brendon’s job as a designer of Hot Wheels the inside (orange) track to getting your car made into diecast form!
The Triassic-Five gasser exudes everything Hot Wheels is all about, Brendon is one of the best ambassadors for the brand, and he knows a thing or two about designing cars large and small. Originally his idea was to keep it looking like a project car but somewhere in the process decided to go with a hand-painted deco and a faux-patina. Shortly after he finished the build in 2021, he posted pictures and collectors got excited. Given Brendon’s history of having his cars made into Hot Wheels cars, and the success of the Hot Wheels #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser casting, everyone expected to see it in diecast form.
We wouldn’t have to wait long. In October of 2021, Red Line Club members were able to pre-order a special, made-to-order RLC exclusive of the Triassic-Five #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser for $25. Since most cars released through the RLC have #Spectraflame Paint, Brendon thought it was best forego the patina and make this release look as if the car was “showroom” new. Less than 10 months after the initial ordering period for the RLC Triassic-Five gasser, those collectors that ordered starting receiving their pieces.
In the mean time, the mainline version of Brendon’s Triassic-Five #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser was in development. This one would only cost $1 (US) and be available at wherever Hot Wheels are sold, worldwide. Done in a matte olive green — and subsequently recolored in matte lavender — this Triassic-Five gasser was meant to be raced down the orange track by adults and kids alike. It may not be as visually stunning as the RLC showpiece, but try to tell us collectors any differently who like to display these pieces together.
Again, there is no patina on either of the two mainline releases so you feel like that one has to be coming our way at some point in the near future but all that is beside the point.
Brendon’s TRIASSIC-FIVE #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser has become the quintessential Hot Wheels car. It has speed, power, performance, character, and was designed & built by one of the best Hot Wheels designers to date — both 1:1 and 1:64. This all piggybacks on that fact that the ’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser was already one of collector’s all-time favorite Hot Wheels castings. Just like how Brendon was inspired to own a ’55 Chevy because of the fact that his neighbor had one, you can bet a handful of kids — maybe even a few collectors — will look to build one based on this ’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser they now have in their collections!
I know I will most undoubtedly get asked this question so I figured to add it on here:
What does the “3 YARDS” license plate mean on the TRIASSIC-FIVE gasser?
“3 YARDS” is a reference to a quote in one of Brendon’s favorite movies, Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). The movie features a 1955 Chevy Bel Air Gasser as one of the hero cars for The Driver (James Taylor). Below is the actual quote:
“Make it three yards motherf*****r and we’ll have an auto-MO-bile race.”The Driver, Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)