California Gold: 1957 Chevrolet Gasser

Building a custom car is an endeavor in hubris. The factory had an army of designers and engineers that designed our pride and joy to be stylish and reliable. Improving it to fit our vision is fraught with perils. When we finish, it may match what we envisioned, or it may go wildly astray. Selecting a theme sets boundaries that will increase our chance of succeeding while creating the problem of finding parts and making changes that fit the theme. Our subject, 1957 Chevy Bel Air is a fine example of building to a period theme years after that era has passed. Not only was it a 2016 Grand National Roadster Show class winner, but it was also named the Best Gasser of Show by Gasser Wars Magazine. You can find it here on eBay out of Upland, California. Bidding stands at $37,600 with a Buy It Now of $45,000.

Power comes from a small block Chevy that is a mix of traditional and modern aluminum components. The attention to detail and quality components combine to make the claim of 450 horsepower credible. An attractive air scoop is attached to the carburetor and pokes through a hole in the hood. The healthy little V8 exhales through fender well headers connected to hidden side pipes that exit in front of the rear tires. Overall, the engine compartment and chassis are neatly done and give the impression of the gasser era while making reasonable compromises to modern components.

The interior is clean and has benefitted from a quality restoration. Vintage speed parts include auxiliary gauges, Moon gas pedal, dog leg shifter for the Muncie four-speed, and subtle pinstriping. The builder resisted the temptation to clutter the interior with nonessential equipment and created an attractive cabin that looks straight out of 1963.

The paintwork does the heavy lifting in selling the vintage feel. Hand-lettered graphics cover the sides of the Chevy and fit into the Bel Air trim. There is tasteful pinstriping around the car, and a ’60s style painted panel covers the roof. Together, these elements set the build in time. Your mind is sold on the idea that this could be a car built during the Kennedy administration and ignores the modern components that are strategically integrated into the chassis.

The rear view of the 57 provides a look into the perfect stance that the builder was able to achieve. Gassers usually carry a reverse rake to promote weight transfer. Our little Chevy has just the slightest rake while maintaining enough tire visible through the tight rear fenders. It is obvious why this Chevy was an award winner. The next owner is going to have a modern interpretation of a classic design.

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    If you are going to build a car and call it a “gasser“ at least use vintage performance parts. The second I see modern performance parts it’s time to move on. There are plenty of cars with this style of build, or day two cars where the owners have put in the effort to track down period correct parts, those are the cars worth paying attention to. That’s not to say this isn’t nice, it’s just that it’s like almost every other car at a show, there isn’t much to differentiate one from another.

    Steve R

    Like 9
    • Dickie F.

      I was involved in certain categories of motorsport for many years, but my drag racing was restricted to road racing and one track (strip) day with my modified 56 Porsche Speedster.

      Although I will recognize a “gasser” when I see one, I always wondered, other than the front beam suspension , what is a gasser ?
      And what is the tank for, located in front of the radiator ?
      Beautiful car presented here.

      • Steve R

        A gasser is more of a style of car than anything. Raised front, 50’s or 60’s body style. The Gas classes that run in my area are index classes, 7.60, 8.60, 9.60, 10.60 that allows anything other than a dragster to compete as long as it doesn’t use a delay box or electronically controlled throttle stop, there is nothing nostalgic about the class it cars. Most “gassers” you see today are street cars which are “interpretations” of earlier race cars and were never designed to do anything other than cruise the local fairgrounds.

        Steve R

        Like 1
  2. Pat L Member
  3. mgreene

    Neat car. But it needs a tunnel ram and a Grumpy lump.

    Like 3
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    Nice car. Very high build quality. Love to see that kind of work.

    Like 4
  5. Jay E. Member

    A beautiful build, especially considering it was started its life as a gasser in 1968! You will definitely get people looking your way at shows of on the street. Great stance, even if it isnt the nose high traditional gasser version. Love to own it, but my one car garage is filled with “Dolly” my original Tropical Turquoise 57 4 door Belair, and its not going anywhere.

    Like 2
  6. bobhess bobhess Member

    Dickie F… Have seen the front tanks used for fuel on smaller cars and oil on larger engined cars. If you are running a dry sump oil system (no oil in the pan except for what comes off the crank for a return pump) then something like the front mounted tank is your oil supply.

  7. tonyt

    A “Gasser” was an NHRA-term for “Gas Coupe/Sedan” classes. From “AA”, supercharged a la Stone-Woods-Cook” and “Ohio George”, down to small-motored “F/Gers” … classes separated by at-track “weighed” weight divided by cubic inch displacement. This allowed, for example, beam front axles and fuel injection, usually port-fed Hilborn. Fiber glass panels allowed. Eliminations … event class winners against each other … were handicapped according to current NHRA national record (for each class) ETs. Dead, now? Killed by Bracket Racing.

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