Buzzy buzz buzz buzz. That is what happens these days whenever a new Hot Wheels ’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser is released. The Gasser has become insanely popular. Basic releases don’t last long on the pegs, and previous releases, especially premium versions, have skyrocketed in value.
Now here is where you want to go on about “hype” or whatever. No. Don’t. Don’t do it. If someone wants something because someone else does that is their problem. There is one main reason this model is popular: It is awesome. What do the kids say? “It’s sick!” Some turn it into a question with misspellings. “That Gasser tho!”
And it transcends. As collectors we like to label ourselves one way or the other, but ultimately we like what we like. There doesn’t have to be any reason. You see it, you like it, and that is all that is required. And the Gasser is liked by a whole lot of people, whether or not they know the history of the 50’s and 60’s drag strip scene.
But it helps if you do. Brendon Vetuskey certainly does. Brendon designed the Hot Wheels ’55 Gasser, and for good reason. Those who have met him – he is a regular at the HW Conventions, and a joy to chat with – know he is a true gearhead, and his own garage is housing a 1:1 Gasser project.
He’s the guy in the Hot Wheels shirt in this pic taken last year at SEMA, during a Mattel brand t-shirt duel with Gerry Cody:
Take that knowledge and passion Brendon possesses, mix it into his design, and the result is what has become a signature Hot Wheels model. He shared with me a little history:
I volunteered to work on this when I saw “gasser” on the list of new models. I made my case and went with a 2 door post ’55, removed the hood for that 100% race car look, and did my best to add the details of a 1960’s era gasser would have with ladder bars, interior, etc.
The graphics guys usually let us recommend the first deco (color and/ or graphics) so naturally I asked for a primer grey look. This was an homage to the 2LBT gasser, as was the dash mounted tach, btw (which in this scale looks like a lump of plastic in the middle of the dash). Graphics master Jerry T. did the rest and threw my initials on there, as well as a nick name of mine, too. One other cool thing he did that I don’t see too often on HW mainline cars is he made the deco asymmetrical. On one side there is a Chevrolet logo, and on the opposite side there is a HW logo.
So it was no surprise that when it was announced that a ’55 Bel Air Gasser would be a Convention exclusive at Hot Wheels Nationals last month, the collector world turned on its head. And not only a Gasser, but a clear companion model to the legendary RLC-exclusive pink Candy Striper, sharing a similar deco. Demand was through the roof even before it was released.
But what got lost in all the buzzy buzz buzz was the fact that this is not the same Gasser casting. A new premium tool was created for the still unreleased (grrrrrrr) RLC membership model, and that casting is used here on the Nationals model.
At first you may not see the differences, but they are there, and they are significant. I asked Brendon about it, and he was nice enough to give a little background:
After it was decided to add this to the RLC we needed to retool the vehicle as it’s a different plant in a different country that makes our RLC product. So we took a look and made a few revisions that we could do to improve the car without changing the overall look and feel of it. The most notable one was moving the front spin post behind the front axle. This cleaned up the look of the car considerably as you no longer see the spin post detail in the front of the vehicle, and it reduced some of the mass there, too. Also, since the chassis would be metal, we were able to make a full fuel tank detail in front because we could make the frame rails thinner. The windshield wipers were removed, (but we kept the mounting studs for detail), and the chassis itself has more frame detail with frame rails, a driveshaft, and chassis material behind the rear wheels. You’ll also notice that the headers are more round, they stick out from the car a little more and have recessed holes at the outlets. The radiator is more detailed, and the master cylinder is better proportioned, too. The only compromise, if you’d even call it that, is there is a rib of material along the bottom of the firewall and this is for structure of the front spin post. I’m sure that most people wouldn’t even notice this, until now that it’s been called out.
Look for this new tool whenever the membership models are released, and in future premium releases.
Many thanks to Brendon for giving us this background. Buzzy buzz buzz.