Ohhhhh, let’s get into it!
You are here, so let’s rank this thing. No Lamley long-winded monologues on why this model is such a big deal. You know it is, that is why you are here reading this. Hot Wheels will not a skip a year with at least one (or more or many more) releases of the collector favorite.
And because it is a Gasser, and Gassers were known to be homemade dragsters in whatever deco the racer wanted, the casting is basically a blank canvas for Hot Wheels graphic designers. There is no deco too ugly or outlandish to work. Honestly, the more restrained, the less it works.
So with that in mind, I’m gonna rank all releases. From what doesn’t work to what does. There is some of both, with a lot in the middle. I am not accounting for the casting change. There is a premium version that has some subtle improvements, but the models are essentially the same. This is about the color, deco, overall look, and desirability. So yes, I will surely factor in elements like value and collector demand, but that is only part. Ranking by value would be boring, and you know the winner on that list. And I went ahead and put a link to ebay for EACH model so you can see where the value stands, if you are into that sort of thing.
Basically, this list is what I would keep if I could only have 10 Gassers. Or 5. Or 1. This is the rank.
Before I start, wanna know what the designer of the Hot Wheels ’55 Bel Air Gasser, and who has a real one he is working on in his garage, Brendon Vetuskey thinks? He gave me his Top 3 releases. From Brendon:
There have been many great versions of this casting made over the years, and it’s difficult to pick amongst the many great versions. I have noted a few below which are special to me:
I’d have to say my overall favorite is still the original release. There are several nods to the Two Lane Blacktop ’55 in this car including the primer gray paint, and I like how Jerry included my name and home town on the doors in a fun, vintage style font.
I also like the new release that Van worked on which is exclusive to the display case. The bold Hot Wheels logo and flames look good, it has a great color contrast and really grabs your attention from across the room. It just looks good.
I’m also partial to the red/ white/ black mainline version with the Holley logos on the doors. In addition a great graphic treatment my wife’s name is casually hidden on this car.
That’s a good Top 3 Brendon. Too bad it is wrong. Let’s get to the real list.
All 33 releases since 2013, including RLC, Convention, and Special Edition models, with two exceptions. I didn’t rank the employee-only models, a special Zamac version given to a small number of designers, and the MEA event model, knows as the Candy Cane Gasser. Both weren’t technically available to the general public, so we will stick to the 33 actual releases. Ready?
(Want to know values? Click on each rank.)
You can do anything to a Gasser, including give it a bland-as-hell deco.
The flames will always work, but this one is also bland, and following the New Model, Super TH, and Candy Striper, this one was totally forgettable.
You bought your 20, you kept your receipt, you were of course going to mail-in for a Gasser. Mattel must of known you’d get the Gasser no matter what. They saved the good decos for other releases.
Similar to #32 above. I like the #55, but the colors are a little bland, and number 55 spitting flames has always given me the heebie-jeebies because it looks like intestines in a Dr Suess book blowing flames.
I actually like the base color. And I am ok with the vintage wheels, but shrug.
Much better color combo than the burnt orange, but those intestines are still doing their thing.
Another premium down. Great name, not-so-great deco. Make it sloppy or go all in on classy. This doesn’t work.
Final attack of the intestines in this ranking. This one ranks the highest of the three because I like that it is a store exclusive. A little harder to find, and I actually like the colorway.
We will be visiting this deco two more times on this list. The deco is rad. The color is rad. This release has been shown up badly by two others further down the list.
Ok I think I bit off more than I can chew. Only at number 24 and I feel like I am supposed to put up Gassers I don’t like. I like this one a ton, but it is the second of three colors of the debut release and definitely the most forgettable. Still, the handpainted style of the graphics is spot on. They just look better on the other two.
Brendon won’t like this choice. This is how the Kmart mail-in should have looked. Bright colors, cool flames, Hot Wheels colors throughout. Cool as a Hot Wheels branding model, and nice to have a proper Race Team livery. But there are more exciting releases.
I like this deco, but about now is where the Gassers go in one of two directions: Super classy or Super sloppy. Or both. You’ll see what I mean. This one is such in the middle.
Aaarrggghhhh this was a big mistake. How could this beauty be number 21? I really like this model, but then again if I didn’t like the Gasser I wouldn’t be collecting all of them. Love the color, the deco, don’t like the 5-spoke front wheel, and wish it was the new casting.
This one pairs well with the Isky model from 2014, and it looks awesome. There are just a few more exciting.
2018, the year Hot Wheels celebrated 50 years, was quietly the Year of the Bel Air Gasser. Two Convention models, the Amazon 10-pack, and two 50th Fave models. Great color, but confused by the windows, and the rarity of the black model makes it slightly more desirable.
My guess is many of you think this is too high. Are those windows odd? Yep. Is the color combo disturbing? You bet. Is it ugly? Beautifully ugly. It makes no sense as a car, it makes perfect sense as a gasser. I could put it higher but there are better versions. The wrongness of this one makes me happy for all the right reasons.
The first and only tie. I said these next few models go classy or sloppy (good sloppy). These are WAY classy, and in spectra flame with classic ’55 Chevy trim these don’t look like any other ’55 Gassers. Not much different between the two, so let’s put them together. Of course, there is a third, coming soon.
Is it black? Or really dark metal flake blue? I think the former. And is it a TRU exclusive? Or a Kroger? That was never determined either. The story was that this was meant to be an exclusive at Toys R Us in the US, but that changes when TRU closed its stores. Kroger claimed the exclusive, but it barely showed there, and some were even found at other stores like Walmart. The mystery of what happened to all the models made remains, as there are not a lot out there. That adds some mystique, the deco does the rest. I dig this one a lot.
When you are in the middle of a list like this, there will be a mix of models that exceeded expectations (see the Zamac above) and models that didn’t match them. This one should be higher. Even with that bright color, it doesn’t live up its RLC Counterparts graphics-wise. Blame us collectors, as it was our choice to in the Selections process. It is a bit of an afterthought at this point. We collectors could have been a little more original by picking a different model.
Ranking models like this is completely arbitrary, and solely based on the author, so after complaining about weird windows earlier, maybe I shouldn’t rank this one so high. But I like this one. I like that it was a 10-pack exclusive made available only at Amazon (outside a few that made them to stores by accident), and I like how it looks. I like the wheels. Hot Legend.
Wheels win on this one. Color is great, TRI-ME is a cool theme, deco looks sloppy enough, but the wheels win.
This one is what we can call a postponed release. The distribution started with the Miami Legends event, but then Covid happened, the Legends Tour was cancelled for 2020, and this model sits in limbo. Whether or not Hot Wheels will hold onto it for whenever the Tour starts up again, or if they will repurpose it in another way remains to be seen. But there are a few out there now, and more are coming, whenever that will be.
So treating this as a release, I will make it the final model before the Top 10. I love that Hot Wheels has revisited legendary Super TH decos for the Legends models, and this Isky deco is great. Obviously, as the Super TH itself hasn’t shown up on the list yet. But I like the blue better than the gold.
As we start the Top 10, let’s visit the debut model again. Black was the third color, and with the gold font mixed with red and white, all vintage looking, this one is so darn sharp, and such a perfect gasser. But there is one more from this trio, and we will visit it soon enough.
Still a few Convention models to get to, and it is time to visit the Wicked Gasser. The first Convention Gasser, the striped roof seemed to make it the less-shiny cousin of the Candy Striper. Cool graphics, Mooneyes is there (always a plus), and one of the most sought-after Gassers.
One of the most sought-after Gassers now, and the cleanest of the Gasser-appropriate decos. A Top 5 Super too. It was going to be in the Top 10, we just now know where.
This is a beautiful model. The second of two Convention Gassers released in 2018 to celebrate 50 years. We will get to the first one in gold, but this black model with gold trim is so darn sharp. Of all the models celebrating 50, this model with its gold counterpart are the models to have.
The black gasser theme continues with the classiest of the ’55’s. Jet black with silver trim and it’s best feature, a fabulous chrome roof. Not a car that would pull up for a drag race, but a beautiful Hot Wheels car nonetheless.
“Whaaaaaaa?? Not Number 1? Not Top 3? Is this to just get us worked up so we will look at your stupid ranking?”
Nope. It is a good solid Number 5. In fact the legend of the Candy Striper, one of the most sought-after Hot Wheels cars in the last 20 years, is a real thing, and that legend solidly puts in the Top 5 even if I hated it. It commands crazy money, it sticks out in its bright pink color, it is a definitive RLC, and it single-handedly made the Gasser the casting it is to collectors today. I love this casting too. Anything Top 10 is surely in my Favorite Zone.
The card art was part of the deal, and the model by itself is a beautiful. But in the Gasser catalog there are four above it. Those four are riding on the Candy Striper’s coattails, but they have moved on.
If I could only keep three Gassers, and value had nothing to do with it, this is not one I would take. If I could keep five? Yeah this is one for sure.
This is everything cool about the Gasser loaded into one model. The bright gold reminds me of the Candy Striper’s standout pink, the deco says racing like a Gasser should, Mooneyes, some of the fonts look handpainted, and it is the best 50th Anniversary Model Mattel made. Part classy, part raw gasser, totally significant. It’d be Top 3 if is wasn’t for the incredible good looks of…
The perfect Hot Wheels Gasser. The best wheels on any ’55, even if the spokes on the front don’t make sense. The Flying Tiger bomber look is rad on any car, and in spectra flame olive is just amazing. The placement of the Mooneyes logo is goofy as shit, and I love it. It is a mashup of classy and classic. Aesthetically it is the best Gasser Hot Wheels has done.
I struggled with many slots on this list, but the Top 2 was BY FAR the toughest. Broke all 33 Gassers down by separating them in groups, giving them Top 10, 20, or 30 status, and then ranked from there. The Top 2 became clear pretty quickly, but I couldn’t decide which of them would be Number 1. I’ll explain why I picked what I picked for Number 1 next, but let’s focus on the Number 2 choice.
The first release of the Gasser HAD to be Top 2. I called the Flying Tiger the perfect Hot Wheels Gasser, but maybe I should call it the perfect Hot Wheels PREMIUM Gasser. The perfect Gasser by Hot Wheels (see the difference?) is this one. Primer grey, done in vintage graphics, with a shoutout to the designer. I mentioned Brendon has a Gasser in his garage, a project he has been working on and documenting on Instagram:
Kind of looks familiar in that primer gray. Obviously Brendon has his plans for this one, and who knows how it will look when he is done, but this release makes me think of Brendon and his iconic design. It was the first. And Gassers are supposed to look homemade. This fits that look perfectly. If I end up regretting my choice for Number 1, and redo the list, this will take that slot.
How did this one, the latest release, end up #1?
First of all, it is this release that prompted me to do the list. It kept growing on me once I had it, and I started thinking where I would place it if I ranked the Gassers. So I made this a feature. And sure enough it ended up #1.
It came down to this: If I could only keep one Gasser, which one would it be? It’s this one. Not because it is based on a real car, the storied brought-back-from-the-dead ’55 by Jon Chase, Creative Director at Hoonigans, although that is pretty cool:
It is because it is the most basic Gasser there is. Outside of the handpainted name on the front fender, and a few stickers, and a bullet hole, this car LOOKS like a gasser in a garage covered in rags, a gas can, some old magazines, and whatever else got stored on top of it for years, before it finally saw the light of day, was revived, and brought to the track. It’s all primer gray, and I love that. Until Hot Wheels does a full premium rusted out replica – and don’t think I haven’t talked to Brendon about that – this plain version is my choice.
But then again, Gassers are known for their simple graphics on the side, painted maybe that day for the race. Shouldn’t the #2 choice then be my #1? That is where the dilemma lied. I totally thought that too. It had to be a primer gray gasser as my #1, and finally the factor that separated 1 from 2 was the fact that the Boulevard is premium. If I had to keep one, one that I could beat up, it would be the premium. With Car Culture, the resurgence of RLC, FnF, and now Boulevard, this is the Premium Age at Hot Wheels. I’ll pick a premium to keep.
That’s the list. All 33 releases ranked. I want to know what you think. I want you to tell me how wrong you think I am, even though you are wrong.
And I’ll do this again. If there is one thing for sure, more ’55 Bel Airs are coming. We already know of the Black Hole ’55 coming in the Premium Boxed Set, and I know of a couple more that will be here within the year. All might fight for a Top 5 spot themselves.
And there are other signature castings to take on as well. What do you want to see next?