The term “Gasser” is a reference to a style of drag car that was popular in the late 1950s through the 1960s that ran on gasoline as fuel rather than nitro race fuel. In the speedier classes, gassers were fitted with a straight axle front suspension that produced the nose-up stance which marks the look of most gassers.
Hot Wheels, the classic car obsessive toy company, has spent a good portion of the year touring America in search of the next tiny custom car it will add to its collection of 1/64-scale diecast car models.
And the company is also invading the United Kingdom in search of international flair to the mix. In what is certainly a shocker, their UK addition is a Volvo P1800 modified as a classic American gasser which now moves on to the semifinal round.
Lee Johnstone, the owner of this fantastic machine, built his P1800 “Ain’t no Saint” from a stripped-down car which was just too far gone to restore. While the 1960s four-cylinder Volvo engines were highly tunable, Johnstone set upon an engine that while off-kilter, was ideal to make his dream car drag ready. The 454ci V8 he sourced from his Chevrolet parts stock was supercharged to develop about 600 horsepower.
This insane Volvo is no slouch on the track as it runs a 10.01 second quarter mile at 133 mph.
To keep it in the family, Johnstone races his P1800 with his three daughters and as a result he named his team Johnstone & Daughters (JD) Racing.
“This is a beautiful example of a gasser — a drag racer with streetcar form. Often with dragsters, the chassis is so important that the body gets overlooked, but this example is fabulous with great attention to detail. It completely hits the Hot Wheels brief,” said Jaguar design director Ian Callum, one of the Hot Wheels judges that selected the P1800 as the UK finalist.
The lineup of potential winners already includes several gassers, one based on a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. If there’s any justice in the world, Johnstone’s P1800 will stand a strong chance to become the next addition to the series.
The global semifinal round is scheduled for November 4, 2021, and “Ain’t no Saint” will compete against some of the previous winners.
There are two semifinal rounds yet to run before the grand finale planned set for November 13.