Three Cherry Gasser: What happened when Michael Heralda got his hands on the ’55 Chevy

With no end to Gasser-mania in sight, the Hot Wheels ’55 Chevy casting was a logical choice for the dinner car at the Weekend of Wheels event in Modesto, California in June. One hundred custom red ‘Three Cherry Gasser’ models were produced for attendees by a stellar combination of event promoter CJ Cramer, legendary designer Michael Heralda, pro-customizer Chris Stangler and package designer Lee Allen. Fifty further blue models were made available for sale via the House of Cars website – the version I bought and have pictured here.

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Michael Heralda’s ‘ADLAR58’ designs need no introduction but for a quick backgrounder on his long association with Hot Wheels and Matchbox, don’t miss John’s recent IGTV interview. I reached out to Michael for some info on how his Three Cherry Gasser design came about. Generous as ever with his time, he gave me the full story.

“This was a fun design to work on. I have spent the last few years in retirement working mostly on Matchbox models but since so many collectors like the ’55 Chevy Gasser model, I thought it would be a great opportunity for my decos to reach Hot Wheels collectors again.

“For the last couple of years, I have been creating graphics for CJ, the host of the Hall of Honor / Las Vegas Diecast Super Convention as well as the Weekend of Wheels events. Since the Modesto Weekend of Wheels event would be the third event model I created for CJ, I thought it would be a good idea to include the number 3 as a main component of the deco (even though I did not include the numbers one or two on my previous decos). CJ commissioned me to create the deco and Chris Stangler produced the models.

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“Working with Chris is always a pleasure. I was informed at the very beginning of the process that the body color for the Gasser would be Cherry Red. So now I had the color red and the number 3 to work with. I decided to theme it on slot machine imagery (I guess I was still in Vegas mode after creating the deco for the Las Vegas Silverado) and that’s when the three Cherries idea was born.

“I would like to add, and this goes for most of the designs I create, that part of my design process is to figure out how and where to add a bit of humor and I found the ideal opportunity with the name of the Driver – Wynn Knerr (WINNER) – a Vegas slot machine connection!”

The team also made 20 red ‘Ghost’ (chase) models for the event, with white wheels and different card art. Michael kindly shared an image of his.

Chase

Michael was later informed that CJ was going to offer a second color of the model for online sales to collectors unable to attend the event in Modesto. Michael modified the artwork slightly to accommodate the blue body.

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However, that wasn’t the end of the story, as Michael relates.

“After the event, CJ mentioned he was sending me something special. A few weeks later I received in the mail three versions of my deco, including one for which the Gasser body was white with a gold VUM engine, interior and wheels! I also noticed the package had a switch on it. When I flicked the switch, the package lit up! How cool is that?! When I asked CJ if the white bodies were also sold at the event or online, he said, “…this was made just for you!”

Michael kindly sent photos of the models he received so that we can all see the difference between the three versions of the ’55 Gasser that are now proudly on display in his studio.

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In the spirit of DLM, I usually open most of the models I buy and had planned to do the same with this one. But when I took it out of the shipping box (House of Cars did a fantastic job with that, incidentally), I was blown away by the blister card art, which is metallic and composed of multiple layers. As Michael says, Lee Allen at Nuclear Mindz Design did an outstanding job on the Gasser package designs, having previously created the package cards for the 2019 Weekend of Wheels ’55 Gasser and the 2020 Las Vegas Super Convention Silverado with the Aztec-themed design. Lee also signed the back; hopefully I can add Michael and Chris’s signatures to it one day.

Blue

Michael finishes by saying, “Having the opportunity to work with CJ, Chris Stangler and Lee Allen has been a wonderful experience. As a matter of fact, the working relationship developed with Chris has spawned a collaboration between the two of us on a separate project – a STANGLER/ADLAR58 5-Car limited edition Chevy Series. Stay tuned for more info and photos when they become available!”

We certainly will!

Find Hot Wheels ’55 Gasser on eBay

Graham Heeps

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